Richard Galbraith, with the support of his family, runs a 110-cow dairy herd in Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

In this discussion, Richard delves into their dairy enterprise, the management of dry cows and how GAIN Pre-Calver Gold ensures a healthy herd.

"My son Ian, my wife Doreen and I jointly manage the farm. We milk 110 British Friesian cows that calve in spring. Additionally, during peak periods and weekends, we receive assistance from our son Lee and our neighbour Amy," he explains.

The Galbraith farm is a mix of dry and heavy soil, requiring careful management during the autumn grazing period, especially in a year like 2023.

"Due to adverse weather conditions, we housed the cows on 1 November, two weeks earlier than expected, as the constant rainfall rapidly deteriorated ground conditions. We usually try to let cows back out to grass once they have calved, which means cows start back at grass the first week in February."

The Galbraiths use stock bulls in their herd.

Richard says: "We breed our cows with a high-EBI Friesian bull throughout most of the breeding season and, as the season concludes, we introduce a Hereford bull. Our focus on the farm is on raising top-quality replacement heifers and we usually rear around 25 each year."

Winter preparation on the Galbraith farm

As they transition into the drying-off and winter-feeding phase, Richard and Ian are implementing strategies supported by technology to make informed and sustainable decisions.

Richard details: "The cows are in excellent condition nearing the drying-off stage. Currently, they are on a grass silage diet complemented by 1.5kg of the GAIN Autumn Extender nut in the parlour per day.

"Our plan is to conduct the fifth and final milk recording of the year next week and use this data to decide on selective dry cow therapy. Typically, cows with a somatic cell count (SCC) under 80,000 would only receive a sealer on our farm."

The Galbraiths have been supplementing their herd with GAIN Pre-Calver Gold for the past four years.

Dry cows on the Galbraith farm are provided with a grass silage diet, enriched with 120g/head of GAIN Pre-Calver Gold mineral mix. This premium powder mineral, designed for pre-calving cows in the crucial six- to eight-week period before calving, contains a high magnesium content of 31g per day at the recommended rate, playing a crucial role in preventing milk fever on the farm.

"I've been using GAIN Pre–Calver Gold for the past four years and it's proven to be an excellent tool in maintaining the health of both cow and calf.

"It's crucial for cows to receive the correct minerals and vitamins to support the growing calf, while maintaining the cow during the winter period," Richard emphasises.

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GAIN Pre-Calver Gold includes optimal levels of vitamins A, D, and E, ensuring superior immune function and colostrum quality, while preventing health issues. It also boasts high organic trace elements, stimulating the immune response of both cow and unborn calf, reducing the likelihood of retained placenta, and preventing milk fever post-calving.

"Since introducing GAIN Pre-Calver Gold, we've observed significant benefits to cow and calf health. The standout aspect has been the reduction in milk fever cases and related calving issues like retained placentas. We've also seen positive effects on calf health, with calves being up and active within minutes of birth," Richard says.

In the below video, Tirlán technical adviser Elaine Brady discusses the benefits of Pre-Calver Gold.

GAIN Pre-Calver Gold is formulated to provide best-in-class solutions. It incorporates Sel-Plex (selenium yeast) and Bioplex minerals (zinc, copper and manganese) from Alltech, which are organic forms of protected micro-minerals that offer higher bioavailability and support mineral retention and tissue reserves resulting in additional benefits to the calf in utero during the dry period. This contributes to improved calf health and growth rates post-birth, enhancing production and reproduction as the calves mature within the herd.

Technical assistance from GAIN

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In terms of technical support, Ross Kelly serves as Richard's GAIN business manager. Richard and Ian have been collaborating with Ross for several years, with Richard expressing his appreciation for the valuable support provided by the GAIN team.

"Having a reliable backup is crucial and whenever we encounter issues or seek information, Ross is a great help," Richard concludes.

On-farm decisions driven by data

The Galbraith family's dedication to their dairy enterprise, coupled with the strategic use of technologies such as GAIN Pre-Calver Gold, exemplifies a blend of tradition and innovation in agriculture. Richard and Ian's approach to herd management, from navigating challenging weather conditions to implementing data-driven decisions, reflects their commitment to the well-being of both cows and calves.

The positive outcomes, including a notable reduction in milk fever cases and enhanced calf vigour, highlight the significance of quality nutrition and informed practices in fostering a thriving and sustainable dairy operation.

Coupled with the support of professionals like Ross Kelly and the GAIN team, the Galbraiths stand as a testament to the success that can be achieved through a combination of family values, expertise and cutting-edge solutions in the dynamic landscape of dairy farming.

For more information on GAIN Pre-Calver Gold, contact your business manager, local branch or visit www.tirlanfarmlife.com.