ACCURATE and consistent dairy cow identification has become so important nowadays to assist with many decisions regarding feeding rates, breeding data, disease management, calving dates, etc, which all need detailed performance recording and analysis.
Record keeping and animal identification are vital to ensure that the constant workload of calving, weaning, implementing health protocols, grassland management, accommodation and marketing will keep all livestock groups thriving and the enterprise viable.
James and Pamela Brown, who farm 145 acres at Seaview Farm, Ballywalter, are well-known for their excellent grassland management and their very efficient Ayrshire dairy herd. They are the second generation on this farm. What started as a 30-cow milking herd in 1975 has grown progressively to a current herd of 160 cows.
James, who uses the Caisley BVD tags supplied by Countryside Services Limited, highlights: “To ensure that all of the tasks run as efficiently as possible, animal identification is paramount. I need to invest in an ear tag that is durable and will stay in the animal’s ear for its lifetime. The Caisley tag has a fantastic retention rate so it is obviously the tag of choice for my enterprise. The simplicity of the design, ease of application and print design, with a management space to write the calf’s sire, are added bonuses.”
He explained: “When you consider the number of times that you need to look at an animal’s ear tag for all of the on-farm tasks it is really frustrating and time consuming if it is missing and could possibly lead to mistaken identity, resulting in blips in your record keeping and management procedures.”
James chose Ayrshires as they are a smaller breed which are easily calved, make efficient use of grass and are easily managed, in addition to providing excellent milk quality with 3,000 litres per cow produced from grass. The herd is mainly Spring calving with 80 per cent of the cows calving from January 10 until the end of March.
The grazing season is extended as far as possible with the herd out in February and March (weather permitting) and is grazed until October, leading to an on-farm utilisation of 11 tonnes of DM per hectare on the farm. Considering current concentrate feed prices, this management practice is more important than ever.
Milking takes place in a 16×16 point parlour with up-to-date technology used to record health status and all aspects of feeding, milk production and milk quality. For the milking parlour, the cows are tagged with a reusable electronic button also supplied by Countryside Services Limited. James adds: “The reusable electronic buttons are very efficient for cow identification and milk recording.”
James also makes reference to the Caisley tag design for collecting the ear tissue sample. “The BVD sample is easily collected, resulting in less empty samples compared to other brands. All of this is complemented by the quick turnaround of samples due to Countryside Services’ local testing facilities in Dungannon.”
He continues: “The team at Countryside Services provide an excellent and friendly customer service and specialist advice on animal identification and BVD testing.”
n For more information on Caisley tags and the testing services provided, farmers can contact Countryside Services by calling 028 8778 9770 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org