CIS Farmer Focus: A Struthers & Son, Lanarkshire
Third-generation farmer David Struthers runs two family dairy herds, with his father, in Lanarkshire. The farms cover 600 acres. The first dairy unit houses 300 British Friesians and the second with 200 Holstein Friesians. They operate an autumn and spring block calving system breeding all their own replacements, with most of the herd being bred using British Friesian sexed semen.
Milk recording with CIS Area Manager Karen Scullion is completed monthly as David and father Jim believe it is important to keep a close eye on milk quality, cell counts and yield. They also use the CIS health testing service to test for IBR, Lepto, Johnes and BVD. David monitors and manages all results using the YourHerd management system and three members of his team have the MobileHerd app downloaded on their phones. David finds it very useful to have everything at his fingertips from calving dates, cell counts and services.
“We recently moved from a liquid milk contract to Butter Fat and Protein solids milk contract so have been using the milk records to help with breeding choices to fit with the new contract. The Ketosis and Acidosis graph available on the YourHerd management system is excellent. The graphs display the fat and protein ratios of the cows within the herd and their susceptibility to the risks of ketosis and acidosis. I also look at the fertility graph regularly with our vet to pinpoint problem cows and assess the whole herd at a glance”, says David.
The British Friesian herd is milked in a 15:30 Fullwood parlour and the Holstein Friesian herd in a 10:20 GEA. Milk samples taken are also tested Johnes quarterly and David also tests on an ad-hoc basis for IBR, Lepto and BVD. Herdsman John Dick and two other members of the dairy team have the MobileHerd app downloaded on their phones. David in particular finds it very useful to have everything at his fingertips from calving dates, cell counts and services. They are also adding medicines to the YourHerd management system so they can start using the new medicine book feature on the MobileHerd app. Once ready to use the team will be synchronising the app before deleting and re-installing the new upgraded MobileHerd app on their phones.
“We have also recently started purchasing our BVD tissue sampling ear tags through CIS as they were very competitively priced. I am very impressed with the reliability of the tags and the turnaround time for receiving results is excellent - the lab must be the quickest in the country!” adds David.
Plans for the future will see an extension to the calf housing at the new farm which will provide step mum Alison with more space to rear the calves. They also plan, long term, to re-organise the two herds so all the spring calvers are at one farm and autumn calvers at the other. David feels the industry is finally going in the right direction and believes it is going to become more about the quality of milk rather than quantity.