Tuesday 29 October 2019Duynie Case Study Of Dairy Farmer Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey: Inspiring, Energetic and Full of Ideas

Here at Duynie, we meet lots of inspirational farmers, but every so often someone really stands out from the crowd. Sam Bailey is one of those people. As a new-entry farmer, he’s thrown himself wholeheartedly into building up a dairy business that’s ambitious, enterprising and positively bubbling with new ideas.

Getting Started

At the age of just 23, Sam Bailey has a business of which many seasoned farmers would be envious. How come? Well, sheer hard work and determination, mainly. A graduate of Reaseheath College, Sam kicked off his career in farming by looking at what he had at hand and making the most of it. That meant starting a sheep enterprise with 50 ewes kept in polytunnels at the bottom of his mum’s garden. Before long – as is the way with sheep – 50 had become 470, with Sam running his flock on rented grazing.

In early 2018, Sam took his next step, scaling back on sheep to venture into dairy on his Staffordshire farm. It’s a council starter farm and when he applied for the 10-year tenancy, Sam was working 18-hour days as a contractor and was one of 105 applicants pitching for the 31ha site. A daunting proposition for anyone, but even more so for a rookie first-timer who was the youngest on the shortlist by six years. Thanks to a knockout business plan, Sam was selected to take on Green Lane Farm.

These days, Sam runs a herd of 140 Holsteins, Jerseys and Swiss Browns – all breeds that have large feed capacity (big stomachs), are strong on their feet and calf easily. As the farm lacks buildings in which to rear youngstock, this is a ‘flying’ herd, with all replacements bought in as mature animals. Calving is a year-round undertaking.

Getting Hands On     

Passionate and unquestionably driven, Sam gets stuck into all aspects of his operation. The flying herd set-up allows him to strictly monitor his calving index and, with the help of fortnightly visits from his fertility vet, he does his own AI to maximize insemination windows. The bulls chosen for AI are meaty double-muscled Belgian Blues, with a Limousin sweeper picking up any cows that haven’t taken after two rounds.

To keep down costs, build his skill base and ensure he knows every animal in his herd personally, Sam does most of the foot trimming and general husbandry. Since taking over Green Lane, he’s made improvements to the cowshed and doubled the capacity of the parlour. The addition of a 4,500-litre tank and a 14-ton-capacity silo has readied the farm for future growth.

Getting The Feed Right

When he started with his dairy herd, Sam was feeding homegrown forage in the form of silage (cut three times a year) plus maize for the winter. A dry blend was added to this, with a 14% crude protein compound in the parlour through the summer and an 18% crude protein compound in the winter.

During the blazing summer and ensuing drought of 2018, forage was hard to come by, so Sam turned to Duynie’s Boost Blend as a replacement. Somewhat to his surprise, he realized it was more than just a forage replacer – this quality ‘moist compound’ improved herd fertility and overall health. Proof of this is seen in Sam’s stats: a calving index of 368 days compared to the national average of 420 days, an increase in the number of lactations per cow, increased milk yield and improved milk quality.

Describing the moist blend as being ‘like butter on toast for cows’, Sam observed that its moisture content and palatability are fundamental in driving feed intake. When fed as part of a total mixed ration (TMR) it encourages consumption of even the driest forage.  

Duynie’s moist blend – made from a combination of dry, liquid and moist co-products – is a high-energy, balanced feed packed with quality protein sources. Energy comes from digestible fibre, starch, sugar and fats. These combine to meet the nutritional requirements of Sam’s cows, maintaining condition and helping reduce negative energy balance in early lactation.  

Before trying Duynie moist blends, Green Lane Farm’s dry-cow policy was to feed silage and dry-cow rolls. But having seen the benefits on the rest of the herd, Sam decided to feed the moist blend with silage and a dry-cow mineral instead. This enables the cows to transition to the full milking TMR after calving.

Farming might be Sam’s passion, but it’s also a carefully balanced business, so he recognized that feeding Duynie blends over concentrates would reduce compound costs and increase his margin. Studying his data, he noted that when he moved back onto the dry blend in the winter, the herd performed less well. A move back to the moist blend in spring increased dry-matter intake, yields and overall cow health as well as improving fertility.

Sam was so impressed by the marked improvement in appetite and uptake of forage that he began to reduce his dry blend usage in favour of moist. Eventually, he was confident enough to replace dry altogether with moist blend, feeding compound only in the parlour.

Sam Bailey’s Stats & Facts

  • Part of the Müller three-year Next Generation group
  • Has the cheapest production costs of the group at 21p (including feed, labour and all overheads)
  • Milk Yield: 31 litres from grazing 50kg, grass silage 30kg, Duynie Boost Mix 8kg fed outside and then topped up with 14% crude protein compound in the parlour
  • Homegrown maize introduced into the diet during indoor overwintering
  • Milk quality average: 4.1 butterfat, 3.2 protein
  • Milk contract: Müller white water liquid contract

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