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Shropshire Dairy Farmers and Students on Spring Grassland Tour

Posted 5 June 2005

Shropshire Grassland Society joined forces with Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, to arrange an interesting and informative day trip to South West Wales.

Twenty-six Grassland members and students enjoyed the tour on May 24, which started with a visit to Gelli Aur College Farm. There, John Owen, Farm Manager, gave an insight into the three different dairy systems used at the Newport-based university college. The group was able to see a robotic milking machine in action, which milks a group of 50 cows giving 10,000 litres each, and two block calving herds while grazing. They learned that the Autumn calving herd (pure Holstiens) are giving 8,500 litres per cow from 2.5t concentrate but with a 25 per cent replacement rate. The Spring calving, extended grazing herd (including some Jersey cross Holsteins) are giving 5,000 litres per cow from grass, citrus pulp and a small amount of hay but their replacement rate is below 15 per cent and they are stocked more tightly than the Autumn herd.

After lunch the group travelled to Newcastle Emlyn where Aled Jones showed them his commercial Spring block calving dairy system. Aled is also moving towards cross bred Jerseys to improve yields from grazed grass and ensure cows get back in calf. He has seen replacement rates drop by 10 per cent compared to the pure Holstein cow he had previously. The group were interested to see the collecting yard and backing gate system which enables optimum throughputs in the new parlour.

Gillian Young, Shropshire Grassland Society treasurer, said: “Both the Grassland Society members and HAUC students thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see alternative dairy systems in practice and debate the pros and cons of the systems with fellow farmers. Thanks go to Jim Huntingdon, Harper Adams lecturer and SGS secretary, and Neil Manning, SGS President, for organising the trip.”

For further information on membership, meetings, and farm walks please contact:-

Jim Huntingdon, Harper Adams University College, 01952 820280 Gillian Young, Shropshire Grassland Society, 01952 728896 or 07887 625962

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