Demand for zero grazing equipment is spiralling in 2019 as UK dairy farmers seek an edge to compete in a challenging milk market.

Forage machinery specialist, James Seaton of JVS Machinery, says: “Farmers choosing to maximise yield through zero grazing have benefitted from excellent growing conditions in 2019, a sharp contrast to the drought of 2018. We supply Belair zero grazers and this year we have seen a sharp rise in enquiries from farmers looking to change the way their herds are fed.”

French manufacturer Belair partnered with JVS Machinery in 2018 to distribute its range of cutting and feeding equipment in the UK. “The machines are favoured by farmers for build quality and longevity. I chose to become a Belair dealer because I use the machines for contracting and I know they last. I can’t afford for machines to let me down and Belair machines are a dependable option made of quality components,” says Mr Seaton.

Market pressures have forced many dairy farms to expand in order to remain competitive. However, growth without additional grazing land has proved a difficult proposition, leading many farmers to choose zero grazing as a solution. Mr Seaton adds, “Zero grazing offers farmers greater flexibility, especially those with limited grazing capacity close to the milking parlour. However, it is more labour intensive and requires an investment in specialist equipment.”

Jim O’Neil, a Shropshire dairy farmer, invested in Belair machinery to switch to zero grazing in 2018. He says: “l use a Belair Gabare Premium XL to cut grass and bring it to my herd of 480 Holstein-Friesian cows. I bring three and half loads every day to the cows, which takes about two hours. We have 220 acres and zero grazing is the best way to make the most of the land.”

Mr O’Neil has seen a rise in milk yield and believes this can be attributed to the quality of the grass he feeds his cows. “We test our grass regularly and at last count it was 27% protein. It is the cheapest form of protein we can create and the best food for the cows.”

Conditions this year have helped Mr O’Neil to cut plenty of grass for his herd and he reports a positive experience of Belair machines. “We have the zero grazer and a straw bedder. Both have performed well and when we’ve had the machines serviced JVS has sent a technician or supplied a replacement, so we never miss a day in the field.”