Just before last Christmas the Kelvin Cave sales team were invited by Salinity, the manufacturers of Safesil Pro and Safesil Challenge, to visit their new factory at Falkenberg, on the south west coast of Sweden.
The team also had the opportunity to visit several farms in the area and discuss aspects of the Swedish dairy industry, and the importance of quality forage, with the farmers.
As well as producing the Safesil range of forage preservatives, which is now sold in 10 countries, Salinity is a major producer of salt products, from road de-icing salt to animal salt licks and speciality table salt.
The main production and storage facility for road salt, Safesil and the blocks was previously located around 40km further south in the port of Halmstad, but the site was destroyed by fire in 2012 and, after six years working from several different sites, the new facilities we visited were opened in 2018.
The Safesil production line consists of powder mixing equipment and mixing tanks which ensure that the three active ingredients (sodium nitrite, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate) are mixed accurately, and remain in a stable solution, at a higher concentration than other preservative-based products on the market. It is a time-consuming process with a maximum output of 35,000 litres per eight-hour shift.
Of the farms the team visited, the most interesting and impressive was Bjäragården, located in the Bastad area, near the sea in south west Sweden. The farm is owned and run by Anders Svensson in partnership with his brother Jonas.
They run a well-respected pedigree Holstein herd of 155 cows, yielding 11,394 litres at 4.3% butterfat and 3.6% protein (11,996kg energy corrected milk), which are milked through two robots.
The current milk price equates to around 3.48 SEK (~27p) per litre. A bull bred on the farm has recently been sold for AI, demonstrating the quality of the herd’s breeding.
The cows are fed a TMR consisting of:
27.4% Maize silage
43.3% First cut
7.5% Second cut
19.9% Ensiled sugar beet pulp
1.2% Wheat straw
Automation and robotics are key factors in the efficient management at Bjäragården.
All forages are treated with Safesil preservatives and the impressive attention to detail at filling and feed-out resulted in no visible waste at the clamp and no rejected feed at the feed trough.
The big difference in the grass silage, compared to the UK, is the absence of ryegrass in the sward. Ryegrass does not survive well in what has, until recently, been a typical Swedish winter.
Current seed mixture consists of: 45% Timothy, 35% Tall fescue, 15% Red clover, and 5% White clover.
The TMR is mixed in a static mixer and distributed hourly using a rail wagon. This system, rarely seen in the UK, is common in Scandinavia. Anders explained that it reduced the tendency for cows to crowd the feed fence as they soon learnt that fresh feed would be available all the time. Due to the very high quality and stability of the silage there was never a need to clean wasted TMR from the feed fence. Concentrates are fed to yield through the robots.
Heifers’ age at first calving is around 25 months and
cows remain in the herd for an average of three lactations. Because of the high yields and flat lactation curves, the average lactation length is planned to be 14 months.
Calves are fed milk through an automatic feeder along with Timothy/meadow fescue hay and concentrate.
Some wheat is grown and straw retained for home use. The wheat is not fed but sold at harvest as only a small quantity is produced which would be insufficient to be included in the diet.
The climate and soil type at Bjäragården contribute to the brothers’ secondary enterprise – the production of early potatoes. These command a premium price and fit well into the farm’s general cropping rotation.