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Organic dairy farmers should be head and shoulders above their conventional counterparts when it comes to husbandry and management, particularly in the area of young stock rearing.

The managing director of a leading organic feed company claims stricter governance over time-of-weaning, welfare and health means organic farmers cannot cut corners at any stage.

Ian Proctor of Hi Peak Organic Feeds told farmers visiting his 100% organic Mill this week that conventional farmers could learn a thing or two from organics: “Young stock rearing is a prime example. It is a corner stone of the organic ethos and lays the foundation for all that follows. For organic farmers medication is the last port of call so husbandry and stockmanship are key.

“Organics is about realistic production expectations over longer lifecycles, and to achieve this you must start with a well developed animal boasting a strong immune system. I am amazed when I hear of young stock taking a backseat – it is a blatant false economy.

“The average cull for conventional dairy comes before the forth lactation. Such early culling does not sit comfortably with organics where producers normally look to realise revenues from fifth and sixth lactations. Achieving this depends on replacement stock being in optimum condition.
“Attention to detail must carry right through to the heifer calving. If buffer feeding during grazing is only the reserve of cows in milk, then it is highly probable autumn-calving replacements will fall well short of the mark,” he said.

Mr Proctor added that linseed was an important ingredient for providing young stock with essential fatty acids to help the immune system. Molasses he said were useful in encouraging early up take of solid feeds and proper mineral inclusion was necessary for best skeletal development. None of these criteria could be meet by chance he warned.

Further information from:
Ian Proctor
Managing Director
Hi Peak Organic Feeds
Tel: 0114 248 0608