High Sugar Grass improves milk yields at Drumgallon
Brothers Vincent and Martin Gunn, along with their father Sean, run a herd of 120 crossbred cows at Drumgallon near Newtonbutler. Their milk is sold to Glanbia at 4.2% butterfat and 3.45% protein, with rolling cell counts in the region of 100,000.
Maximising high quality grass production on a heavy land base is the cornerstone of the Gunn’s operation, and a programme of regular soil sampling, liming and reseeding has helped maintain this.
“We’ve seen a huge benefit from reseeding around 5-10% of the farm each year, both in terms of milk yield and cow health. Current yields stand at approximately 8,500 litres,” said Vincent Gunn.
“We use crossbred cows because of their ability to graze, maintain milk quality at grass and produce a good calf. We’ve been using Morton’s grass seed and have experimented with different mixtures across the farm to see what works best for us. Interestingly, we’ve noticed that by including high sugar grass in swards, we see a real lift in cow milk yield, in comparison to conventional varieties,” said Vincent.
The Gunns have had an excellent year for grass growth, as Vincent continues,
“We’ve been putting cows into some fields after just 14 days to keep on top of our growth. I’m a firm believer that grass topping should be kept to a minimum. If fields get too strong, we close them up and make our own silage. Depending on the year, we’ll take 2 or 3 cuts off approximately 115 acres,” he said.
Jonathan Dunn of Morton’s highlights the value of regular analysis and reseeding,
“Vincent and Martin’s reseeding regime highlights the importance of getting soil analysed and pH corrected and then matching grass mixtures to the individual demands of the land type and grass policy of the farm.
“A tailored mixture containing mainly Diploid Perennial Aber Magic and Hybrid Aber Echo has proved very successful at getting cows out early on the farm when ground conditions have allowed. They haven’t been afraid to experiment with grass variety choice to boost cow performance and are rightly choosing varieties with high digestibility and total annual yield,” he said.
Our picture shows local Morton’s Advisor Jonathan Dunn with brothers Vincent and Martin Gunn and father Sean.