A Pembrokeshire dairy farm is exploring the value of using a seaweed extract to both improve herd production and reduce ammonia emissions.

South Astridge Farm at St Florence is working with a company that has developed a seaweed extract product from naturally occurring and sustainably sourced seaweed, adding that supplement to the dairy herd ration.

The latest findings will be shared with farmers at a Farming Connect open day at the farm on Tuesday, 25 June, at 11am.

Farmers will hear how a unique biological extraction process preserves two vital components of seaweed cells – oligosaccharides which offer a food substrate for microbes and polyuronic acids which facilitate increased ion exchange capacity.

Adding the extract to the cows’ rumen is said to chemically buffer toxins and promote greater microbial diversity while gaseous ammonia is converted into its crystalline form of ammonium.

Farming Connect Dairy Technical Officer Simon Pitt says that ammonia in its gaseous form has been shown to be damaging to human and animal health, as well as to the environment.

“It has become a growing concern to governing bodies such as Natural Resources Wales,’’ he says.

It is estimated that 93% of ammonia emissions in Wales originate from agriculture.

Mr Pitt says project at South Astridge Farm aims to evaluate whether the feeding of the seaweed extract contained in the feed concentrate pellet can result in improved feed efficiency, promote better animal health status and reduce harmful ammonia levels.

To book a place at the event, visit the Farming Connect website or contact Mr Pitt on 07939 177935 or simon.pitt@menterabusnes.co.uk

Further research will be shared with farmers on another Pembrokeshire dairy farm next month when feeding young calves transition milk will come under the spotlight at Escalwen, Letterson.

The study on this farm is looking at the role of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies as a biomarker to standardise the transition milk feed.

Mr Pitt says it is well known that calves lose their ability to absorb antibodies in the first few hours of life, and after 10 hours the calf’s ability to absorb enough IgG is dramatically reduced.

By 20 hours after birth, this ability is thought to be nearly gone.

“The latest research has shown however that there is benefit in feeding enriched pasteurised transition milk to calves for the first 10 days, as opposed to milk which has not been enriched,’’ says Mr Pitt, who can again be contacted to secure a place at the event, which is taking place on 30 July at 11am.