Leading Galway Dairy Farmer Recommends Animax Bolus for Herd Fertility
Noel and Bernadette O’Toole won the overall prize at the Irish Dairy Board Dairy Farmer of the Year awards in 2010. They farm at Hearnsbrook near Killimor in East Galway. They have built up their herd over the years to 200 spring calving cows. The average yield from this crossbred Jersey Kiwi herd is 5,200 litres pa or around 420 kgs of milk solids.
Their focus is very much on milk production per ha and not per cow. Milk is supplied to both Aurivo Coop & Kerry Plc. The EBI herd average is around €160 and Noel is using exclusively LIC genetics. He is a member of several dairy discussion groups and finds this very beneficial.
About 20 years ago, the O’Toole family adopted the New Zealand system of grass production and low-cost spring calving. Noel believes in keeping down feed costs and optimising milk production from forage. He has been focusing on breeding robust animals that can graze in all conditions and can achieve a compact calving pattern with minimal inputs. Herd fertility is excellent, with a six-week calving rate of 89% a. His stocking rate is intensive at four livestock units/ha on the milking platform.
The O’Tooles grow 17 tonnes of grass DM/ha and utilise 90% of the forage available. Noel says, “All winter feed comes from quality standing grass. We conserve around seven bales of silage per cow for winter feed with another bale/cow to cover any summer droughts.”
Cows are straight out to grass from their calving dates in February, with 85% calved within six-weeks and empty rates below 10%.
According to Noel “It’s very important to achieve compact calving so our breeding season is around 10 weeks or maybe a little less. So, the cows have to be in prime condition for calving down and for the breeding season.”
To achieve these ambitious targets, they use the Allsure® Cattle bolus on their cows at drying off and again just a month before breeding. A happy Noel says, “That seems to be doing the business for us and we have a good calving rate and very healthy stock. We have a calving interval of around 362 days, or thereabouts, which is near perfect”.
According to Noel, “We have to get the minerals right for good fertility and for the correct body condition score as we are in a high Molybdenum area.”
“We also bolus the calves with Allsure® Calf when they are three months old, at the end of the year and again the following spring, a month before they go to the bull.”
Noel has been a satisfied Animax customer for over six years.
Rory Dicker, Noel’s local Animax area representative, says “Allsure® Cattle and Allsure® Calf provide a slow and consistent release of the four trace elements [copper, selenium, iodine and cobalt] so each animal receives the optimum amounts for their weight for approximately six months.”
Rory continues, “The copper oxide needles are released from the bolus and lodged in the stomach lining. Copper builds up in the liver as the rods disintegrate at a steady and consistent rate. The copper reserves in the liver are then released gradually.”
Inadequate copper levels may be due to insufficient copper in the diet. Secondary copper deficiency results from the adverse effects of molybdenum, iron or sulphur upon copper reserves.