Rhydeden Farm is a 100 hectare, 300 split block calving dairy herd with 175 calving in the spring and 125 calving in the autumn. The herd is currently averaging 6500 litres per/cow with 4.5% Butterfat and 3.6% Protein, and 75% of the spring calving herd calves within 6 weeks.
Over the past few years, herd size has increased along with investment in the farm infrastructure since Eurof joined as a farm manager. The grazing platform has been optimised and the business is looking to improve its profitability without large investment through improving the genetic performance of the herd.
All of the heifer replacements come from the spring calving herd which allows easier management for rearing youngstock. Dairy heifers are bred through sexed semen via A.I for all the bulling heifers and every cow that comes on heat in the first 5 weeks of the cycle. After the first five weeks, all the remaining cows and the autumn block are bred with beef semen.
Eurof is keen to start genomically testing all of the youngstock to select heifers for breeding replacements on genomic figures such as milk kg of protein and butterfat and also fertility as this significantly increases the reliability of the animal’s potential rather than predicting from sire and dam performance.
Rhydeden is aiming for a more uniform herd and in terms of traits they will be focusing on kg of protein and butterfat %, fertility, Spring Calving Index (SCI), the Breeding Worth (BW). These traits are very important for the farming business as improving milk quality (kg) will increase the farm gate milk price without much investment, and increasing fertility % will reduce the herd’s calving index and the greenhouse gas emissions produced.
Genomic testing figures will aid Eurof and produce SCI and ACI figures for each animal tested. This will aim to accelerate the genetic potential of the herd and will allow the farmer to make timely decisions almost instantly in the first few weeks of the animal’s life rather than having the cost of rearing heifers and then analyse the production/profitability data in the first lactation.
The future aim following the genomic testing is to breed replacements from the top performing cows and heifers within the herd in regards to the three focus traits kg of protein and butterfat and % of fertility. NMR GeneEze genomics test will also be included as part of the project to provide an easy method to monitor the herd’s Somatic Cell Counts (SCC).
Through driving further improvement in efficiency in these key business areas, the project will also contribute to the Sustainable
Land Management outcomes including:
- reduce the farm’s greenhouse gas emissions
- contribute to high herd health and welfare.