Animal Nutritionist's Statement

The dairy herd at Town Head Farm is split into different groups according to their stage of lactation. Each group is then managed according to their nutritional requirements.


A dairy cow ideally gives birth to a calf every year. The period six to eight weeks before calving is known as the dry period.

The aim during this period is to maintain the body condition that the cow was dried off in. It is also important to maintain the capacity of the rumen, which is likely to shrink as milk production ceases. This is done by feeding low energy, high fibre feeds such as straw and big bale silage. Minerals are also fed which have high levels of Vitamin E, selenium and magnesium.

As the cow approaches calving, her appetite falls and a dry cow ration is introduced to provide the required amount of energy, protein and minerals.

When the cow calves she then enters…


This is the group of cows that is giving the highest amount of milk production and must be fed accordingly.

During the winter months and at night the cows are housed in a building with a cubicle for each animal. This is similar to a bed and each even has a mattress. This is where the cow rests and chews her cud.

Down one side of the building is a feeding passage. At Town Head Farm, feed ingredients are placed into a feeder wagon (like a giant food mixer). This mixture of food is then put out along the length of the feed passage so that each cow has access to feed at all times.

The ingredients for the mix are high quality grass silage, straw, molasses, wheat, distiller's grains, soya and minerals. The aim is to give them enough feed to look after themselves and produce 34 litres of milk. Cows producing more than this are fed Phoenix Feeds Early Lactation Nuts in the parlour when they are milked twice a day.

As milk production naturally reduces over time, the cows are eventually transferred to the…


Here, the objective is to monitor the cows' condition to make sure they are at their optimum before they once again enter the dry cow group

Silage, wheat, distiller's grains, soya and minerals are fed in sufficient quantities to look after the cow and growing calf and produce 11 litres of milk.

The amount of milk the cow is giving and its body condition determine then how much feed is fed in the milking parlour.


When the calves are born the cow licks the birth fluids from the calf. Within a few hours the calf is able to stand and drink colostrum from its mother. Colostrum is a special mix produced within the first 24 hours of calving and protects the new born calf from disease.

The calves then go into the nursery. Here they are fed milk and eventually dried food is introduced in the form of a calf pellet.

After about six to eight weeks, when the calf is eating about a kilogram of dry food, the calf is weaned.


Heifer calves are then reared for milk production. Male calves are sold on and then reared to produce beef.

The heifers are fed heifer rearing feed and grass or silage with the aim to mate them when they are over 18 months old. Heifers must have a calf before they can produce milk. Artificial insemination is the usual method, although natural service can be used. Once the heifer has calved she can then enter the milking herd.