With the dairy herd established by Mr Bernard Rice, near Ballinahinch, County Down, an interesting method of housing and managing the cows has been adopted.
The milking herd consists of commercial Friesian cows.
All calves born are reared and in addition a few are bought-in and brought on with the home-bred animals.
Stores are also bought and finished for beef.
In re-organising the accommodation for the milking herd a lean-to was built against a hay shed which measured 60 feet in length by 25 feet wide.
This lean-to has approximately the same flow area as the hay shed and became the lying in shed for the cows.
The lean-to was separated from the hay-shed by a nailed partition, the rails being spaced sufficiently far apart to permit the cows to get their heads through.
The hay-shed is filled with hay much as usual except that a passage of about two feet six inches in width is left along the partition. Hay is simply thrown along this passage during winter and the cows help themselves.
Though silage is made, none of this is fed to the cows in the early part of the winter season. They have hay only supplemented by a ration of cereal and concentrates.
The silage is fed to the stores which are housed under cover alongside the silo for finishing.
They have no hay but have the silage supplemented with a barley plus concentrate ration.
This year stores finished in this way were sold off in January and February,
After the stores are sold the cows are then given access to whatever silage remaining.
They are milked in the original byre and the whole set-up is arranged so that either cattle or the attendant caring for them move round in a circular fashion with several gates leading off to the fields from various points.
Every part of the set-up is thus easily reached and no more than one or two gates have to be opened.
Grassland has a liberal dressing of farmyard manure plus three to four hundredweight of Richardsons Two-Sward in spring and some Nitro-Chalk in the season.
“Some fields on the farm do not lend themselves to strip grazing but in those which do this method has been adopted,” says Mr Rice.
“In wet weather, with lush grass, perhaps the farmer has the advantage since movement to this lush growth is not without its risks.”