Scotland - Ann and William Willis - Glasgoforest Farm - Aberdeen

Published 16 February 17

Area: Scotland William Willis

Trading Title: A&A Willis - William and mother, Anne.

Farm Address: Glasgo Forrest, Kinnellar, Aberdeen.

Milking herd numbers: 150 cows.

Herd yields: 8,500 litres a cow a year (4,000 from forage) at 4% fat and 3.24% protein.

Breeding: The herd is predominantly Holstein Friesian, but the farm has crossed some to Norwegian Red and Fleckvieh. The aim is to breed fertility into the herd, with good legs and feed. Late spring calving also means they want a cow that will respond to concentrate at housing, without putting weight on.

Replacement rate (%): 20%

Calving interval (days): About 381 days.

Calving pattern: Spring block. Heifers calve at the front of the block in mid April. Cows then calve from the end of April until the end of July. The farm changed from all year round calving to a spring block four years ago by rearing their own replacements and pushing some cows round. This means a few still calve in August/September.

Average age at first calving current (months): 24 months.

Average age at first calving target (months): 24 months.

Average heifer yield: 6,800 litres.

Calf housing set up: Calves are left with the dam for up to 12 hours and then moved to a number of calf sheds. Calves are housed in individual pens until they are ‘up and running’. Depending on the numbers coming through, they will then be penned up in groups of three. At 3-4 weeks old, they will be moved into groups of 15-20.

Calf feeding system: The aim is to calve outside on three dedicated calving paddocks, although this will depend on how bad a spring it is in North East Scotland. All calves are tubed with colostrum within two hours of birth. Colostrum is also tested with a refractometer and the best is frozen and fed to heifers. Calves are fed whole milk through teat feeders and receive two litres day and night, increasing to three litres day and night. Straw is provided in racks.

Main person responsible for calf management: William.

Weaning target (weeks/weight/feed intake): The farm is organic, so calves are weaned at 12 weeks of age and milk feeding is reduced from 10 weeks of age. Calves consume 2.5kg of concentrate a head by weaning.

Any other information of interest:

The farm is currently comparing different colostrum feeding strategies to try and determine the best route for maximum immunoglobulin absorption. To begin with they tried feeding four litres within two hours. Last year they changed to feeding three litres in the first feed and 1-2 litres in a second feed, four hours later. However, immunoglobulin levels were no different. This year, they will try feeding five litres in one feed. They will then compare immunoglobulin absorption levels between the different strategies. (AHDB Dairy agreed guidelines of three litres of colostrum in within two hours of birth in one feed, with a wide cross section of the industry in 2016.)