Farmers Journal - My farming week: Keith Agnew, Newry, Northern Ireland

Farmers Journal speak to Cogent customer Keith Agnew that runs 600 Holstein Friesian cows on the outskirts of Newry and supplies milk to Lakeland Dairies.

"I’m a dairy farmer in Newry, Co Down. I farm in partnership with my wife Ruth and our sons Josh and Jonny. Our other son David is an accountant. We have 600 Holstein Friesian cows and we supply our milk to Lakeland Dairies. I sit on the board of Lakeland too.”

Cow performance: “The cows are averaging 9,500 litres at 4.2% butterfat and 3.5% protein. The cows have been performing very well all year. Margins are very tight on all dairy farms this year despite it being a good weather year.”

Diet: “The cows are on a 50/50 diet of grass and maize silage.”

Calving: “We calve all year around here on the farm. It’s a busy system but there’s good structure to the setup too.”

Breeding: “Because we’re calving all year round, we’re breeding all year round too. We have been working with Cogent who take care of all the breeding. An AI technician visits the farm every morning to AI cows and heifers. We have been using sexed semen a lot in the last couple of years and it has been going well.”

“It’s an expensive route to go down, but sexed semen has worked for us. Conception rates are only 10% lower than conventional semen and you have that peace of mind from knowing you have heifers. Of the last 75 animals to calve, 69 were Holstein heifers, two were Angus heifers and four were Holstein bulls.”

“The sexed semen is a bigger expense but it’s very rewarding when you see heifers born by sexed semen now coming into the parlour. Use of sexed semen will become more important on farms.”

“We keep all the bull calves for rosé veal. The bulls are finished at around 10 months of age through Linden Foods in Dungannon.”

PC: Farmers Journal

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