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Five-figure £-cost savings and good contractor relations

About £10,000 a year, or £110 a cow, is being saved through careful and planned use of slurry at Paul Cashmore’s Rowley Park Farm near Rugely, Staffordshire. Mr Cashmore is also on his contractor’s short list of favourite customers because the slurry pipeline up to a kilometre long and tanker’s trailing shoe hoses hardly ever block up.

The farm’s 56 all grass hectares (138 acres) support 80 cows plus followers. Production is 8,000 litres a cow at 4.6% butterfat and 3.6% protein. Winter forage is multi-cut big bale grass silage. Weather permitting, cows graze February to October. Bagged fertiliser use is zero, hence the cost savings, and maximum concentrate use is 1,800kg per cow.

The herd was established in 2015 with Holstein Friesians. Since then, Paul follows a Procross programme to breed a three-way hybrid using Montbeliarde and Swedish Red genetics. He says this is for strong health traits, big appetites for forage, good feet and low maintenance.

The cornerstone of Rowley Park’s slurry-based grassland productivity is once a week dosing of the lagoon with SlurryBugs to enrich plant nutrient content, minimise crusting and reduce smell. From time to time, Paul sends a sample to EnviroSystems for analysis, enabling accurate applications of nitrogen, phosphate and potash.

Getting ready for spreading, the lagoon only needs a couple of hours for stirring. Before SlurryBugs, this would take a day or more. Apart from briefly when stirring begins, there is little or no smell.

In addition to slurry enrichment, cow comfort is another of Paul Cashmore’s priorities. Cubicle beds are Pasturemats with 30mm foam topper, dressed with a good covering of EnviroBed Premium.

At 95% dry matter, this is a comfortable and high welfare bedding option that encourages longer lying down times. Usage on mats and mattresses is around 1-2 kilos per cubicle per day. It can also be used in loose housing and deep bed cubicles. Twice a day, soiling is scraped off the beds then disperses immediately into slurry.

Hygienic cubicles and clean cows help achieve a herd average somatic cell count of 148, and total bacteria count, 15. Moreover, cows coming into the parlour with clean udders and teats makes milking routine much easier and more hygienic.

SlurryBugs and EnviroBed are UK-made by EnviroSystems. To find out more, please call 01772 860085. EnviroBed Premium is available all year round and delivered on eight- wheelers, tippers or walking floor artics, as well as in palletised 30-litre sacks or tote bags.