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Demonstration of technologies and best management practice to improve milk protein content in a commercial dairying situation

  • R.H. Henning (a1), M.V. Mulholland (a1), A. Cushnahan (a1), A.C. Peoples (a1) and D.W. Bruce (a2)...


A technology transfer project has been set up to demonstrate management techniques to help raise the weighted average annual milk protein concentration to 36 g/kg in a cost effective manner using feeding, breeding and management techniques over a period of five years. A herd of autumn calving Holstein/Friesian cows was selected for the project on the basis of performance records and a number of commercial farms were selected for demonstration and benchmarking purposes. Methods which have been employed to improve milk protein include the use of extended grazing, improvements in silage quality, the use of specifically formulated concentrate supplements and the development of a breeding strategy designed to improve milk protein. Herd performance currently stands at 34.2 g/kg milk protein. Improvements in protein content to date have coincided with improvements in silage quality, the early introduction of grazed grass and the use of a specifically formulated concentrate. To date heifers entering the herd have not improved milk protein content. However, this appears to have been a result of the breeding policy adopted prior to the start of the project. Farmers have been able to develop their own competencies and management skills through project features on the Internet, in press articles, during visits to Greenmount College and through John Thompson and Sons Technical Department.



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Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland 1998. Statistical Review of N.I. Agriculture.
Gordon, F.J. 1980. The effect of interval between harvests and wilting of silage for milk production. Animal Production 31: 3541.
Keady, T.W.J., Mayne, C.S. and Marsden, M. 1998. The effects of concentrate energy source on silage intake and animal performance with lactating dairy cows offered a range of grass silages. Animal Science 66: 2134.
Mayne, C.S. and Laidlaw, A.S. 1995. Extending the grazing season – a research review. In Proceedings British Grassland Society Discussion Meeting, “Extending the grazing season”, Reaseheath College, 27th April, 1995.


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