Making more out of cereals is one way to reduce costs of production and it is certainly working a treat at Guillelands, Annan, in Dumfriesshire, where Scott Murchie, milks 310 dairy cows and finishes 100 black and white bulls.
Scott, a third-generation dairy farmer and former chairman of Annandale Young Farmers Club, also grows 100 acres of barley, all of which is used to feed the cows. 
Traditionally, bought in caustic wheat was used to feed the herd, but Scott was looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency. However, when Maxammon was introduced to the market, Scott started to treat his own grain to make the most of the cereals he was producing, and last year, for the first time, cut the entire area as wholecrop, and then processed it with the Maxammon. 
“We started making savings on bought-in feed, and the buffering capacity of the Maxammon grain was also attractive in an acid-rich diet. There’s no doubt, even by eye, the bulls looked and were performing better, and we could reduce the other additives we were buying in as Maxammon covered what the cows needed,” said Scott.
Scott’s nutritionist is a great advocate of treated wholecrop and encouraged him to cut the barley as wholecrop. Cut at maturity, the wholecrop is then treated with the Maxammon to create a complete balanced diet. 
“How I describe it, is that Maxammon wholecrop has the dry matter of straw, with the energy and protein of a good silage combined with the starch levels of maize. It’s an ideal combination. It’s obviously not cheap to treat but the greater return per kilo of dry matter more than balances it out,” he added.
It took a bit of convincing initially for Scott to cut as wholecrop, but this year he is dedicating even more acreage to wholecrop as he says he quickly saw the benefits.
“It almost goes against the grain to take a crop to combine stage and then put it through the chopper but we have definitely seen the advantages. It’s not just the cost cutting; the cow health has definitely improved, overall performance is better and we have found it simplifies systems on the farm.”
Crops can be cut in less time than it would take to combine too. There is no baling to be done, and as the Murchies are following it with grass, it’s straight into sowing. There is also no need for bruising. 
“It is all very handy – adding Maxammon in with the wholecrop, letting it ensile for two weeks and then it’s stable, and as long as you keep it dry, it keeps indefinitely,” said Scott.
“We only have one pit, but because it is so quick to ensile it is easily managed. When the spring barley came in we took what we needed for two weeks from the winter barley pile, put it in the shed and then piled the new crop in front. It’s been especially great in a wet year like this as we are not worrying about getting the crop in.” 
Scott has worked with the help of Harbro dairy specialist Arol Hyslop, who added: “Ultimately farmers need to get the best return from their inputs, and treating the wholecrop with Maxammon allows them to maximise on homegrown forage and cereals, reducing the need for additional protein inputs. 
“It also helps the overall wellbeing of the cattle helping to reduce acidosis risk and promote rumen health, which in turn leads to better quality milk production and butterfat content. It’s an easy process, and ensiles quickly, which all contribute to a more efficient and productive farming system all around,” concluded Mr Hyslop.