2014-03-26   facebook twitter rss

Dutch Treat for Drumlina Holsteins

Sandy Moore and son Andrew were the first milk producers in the British Isles to install a Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat last September on their family farm near Smithborough, Co Monaghan.

This followed a major investment the previous year in a new dairy unit, complete with two Lely Robotic milkers, for their Drumlina Pedigree Holstein Herd.

Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat

Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat

This is a closed herd of 80 cows bred to maximise margins. “This past year our herd averaged 9,600 litres per cow at 3.7% fat and 3.25% protein in an area where cattle have to be housed for up to six months per year,” Sandy explained.
“A totally different scenario to farming a few hundred miles further south where low input, low output herds are outdoors when in milk and fed almost no concentrates.”

Sandy and Andrew Moore view lameness as a key animal welfare issue impacting on milk margins as AFBI, Hillsborough reckon lost income per lame cow averages £180 a year.

“A problem our Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat plays a key part in keeping at bay as every hoof is sprayed as many as 14 times over a three day period,” Andrew noted.

Developed in the Netherlands by dairy farmer turned inventor Gert-Jan Vink the Hoofcare Spray Mat, unlike traditional foot baths, does not let the wash become contaminated.

Instead the pressure of the cow walking over the mat ensures her hooves are automatically sprayed in the right spots. There is no easily dirtied trough of water, the mat does not present an obstacle to animal movement, is permanently in place and can be switched on as required.
As Andrew revealed,” Every three weeks for three days we turn the Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat on so cows leaving the Lely Robotic milkers have their feet washed.

“An average cow over a three day period will visit a robotic milker 14 times. Though on some visits she will be rejected as not ready to milk, gain no feed and leave, but still cross the Hoofcare Spray Mat to have each hoof automatically sprayed with a water based solution of your choice.

“Unlike old fashioned foot troughs detergent is not contaminated after the first few cows have had their feet cleaned. This Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat really works a treat for us as lameness is not a herd problem.”

Despite the temptation to use a beef breed bull as a sweeper to produce valuable dropped calves and stores the Moores concentrate on breeding replacement heifers.

“Rearing replacement heifers is a costly business, but a closed herd helps us control where the business is going and dramatically reduces disease risk,” Andrew affirmed.

“Currently we are producing more good, even heifers than we need so some are sold here in the yard or through Taaffe Auctions in Carmaross Mart, at Kells, Co Meath.

“Having a productive herd where lameness is not an ongoing problem impresses buyers and is another reason why installing the Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat was an excellent idea.”

With a second son Simon, working for Lely, another innovative Dutch company, it might seem Sandy Moore was bound to install their robotic milkers. However, the hard headed Monaghan milkman made the decision on business grounds.

“Like the Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat the Lely Astronaut, I feel, is way ahead of rivals. So, yes, installing robotic milkers and the very latest Vink Hoofcare Spray Mat were big decisions, but the right ones. The margin of milk over concentrates displayed for each cow on the computer screen tells us we are on the right path.”

Agrihealth

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