Front / Rear Mowing Boosts Efficiency

As herd numbers have grown at Bullsgreen Farm, the home of JM Griffiths & son’s Bargreen Herd at Nantwich, Cheshire, pressure has been on to make sure there’s enough forage to feed the 360-cow herd plus followers.

But after several years of chasing bulky crops, farmer Andrew Griffiths and his team are now seeking higher efficiency and more yield from the herd. And a key part of that process is producing higher quality forage.

“We’ve previously taken three cuts of grass at seven week intervals, using a Vicon 632 rear mower conditioner, and while cutting quality is great, we’ve lacked output,” explains Andrew Griffiths. “We’ve always had to get a second mower in to help out – which meant using another tractor and operator, pushing up costs.”

Adding a Vicon Extra 632FT front mower has boosted output at Bullsgreen Farm.

Greater output at lower cost arrived last season, in the guise of a front-mounted Vicon 623FT mower conditioner.

“Our aim is to mow at six-weekly intervals, which could result in four cuts through the season.”

Forage includes grass, maize and whole crop, with the herd being run as two groups. Mr Griffiths is moving the high yielders towards robotic milking this year, to free-up management time and encourage the herd average up towards 11,000 litres from the current 9,500 litres produced.

He says that greater output and efficiency is all about attention to detail and making full use of the labour and machinery resources available.

Making full use of the T6080’s tractor power.

“It has to start with higher quality silage, and it all kicks off with mowing at the right time, and with the right approach.”

“I like the cleanly cut stubbles and impressive conditioning quality we get from the rear-mounted 632, so it seemed logical to buy a front-mounted Vicon mower conditioner to double our cutting width and keep the same high quality of cut,” he says.

“We spread as wide as we can, and aim for a 24-36 hour wilt to get 28-30% dry matter, so it stands to reason that we needed more mowing output to get the grass down as quickly as possible,” he says.

“Our plan is to cut all our grass in one hit, take advantage of a good wilt, then get it all in the clamp using a contractor. I don’t like to cut odd fields here and there – it’s all or nothing, which is why we’ve boosted our mowing capacity this season.”

Andrew Griffiths wants the best forage quality for his 360-cow Bargreen Herd.

“When we’ve had another mower in to help out, the difference in cutting quality between our own mower and theirs, really shows up,” he says.

“The three-bladed discs do leave a fantastic finish and now that we have two mowers producing the same cutting quality, we should get a much more even regrowth for the next cut.”

5th March 2014

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