Our farm system – Brian Frost

Our Journey

We farm 74 effective hectares of consolidated peat at Tauhei, north of Hamilton, Waikato. We started with an all Friesian herd and have progressively moved to a crossbred herd since then.

Over the years we have tried many different farming practices, from TAD milking and achieving great results, then venturing into OAD milking with the aim of producing the same as a TAD system. We have since gone back to the TAD system for a variety of reasons – both farming and personal and achieved 181,000 MS in the 2012-13 season.

Our farm management aims to make full use of all pasture before supplements are used, and we use winter grazing-off to support this. The high stocking rate allows spring pasture to be fed direct to cows with no pasture silage conserved, little topping and we use nitrogen fertiliser at rates up to a maximum of 200 kg N/ha as feed budgets dictate.

Turnips are used to provide a high quality summer supplement and to assist re-grassing with tall fescue.

Because of the change in induction rules we have chosen to bring our calving forward to 4th July. We are also trialling a mating program of six weeks AB, 4 weeks bulls, and AB short gestation bulls for 10 days to help compress our calving spread.

Below is a short summary of what we have done so far:

Farm system

  • 1999: All grass, 87,000 kgMS
  • 2000: Fed vegetables
  • 2006: Once-a-day milking
  • 2009: Returned to twice a day milking, fed PKE
  • Renovation of old pasture – planted tall fescue
Soil  Consolidated peat
Rainfall  1500mm
Fertility  pH 6.1  P 35-50  K 16   S 5
Pasture  Advance and Eastern Tall Fescue (Max P endophyte)  Kotare and Weka White Clover  ChicoryFarm dairy
Farm dairy  24-aside herringbone  ACR, in-shed feed system  Protrack
 Cows  Production  KgMS/ha  KgMS/cow
2009/2010 334 149,000 2015 446
2010/2011 344 154,200 2083 448
2011/2012 320 161,000 2175 503
2012/2013 335 181,000 2446 540
2013/2014 330 176,000 2378 533

Farm Plan

Spring Condition score 5 cows  Summer 10.5ha of Barkant turnips
Follow spring rotation planner 30-day rotation when turnips start in January
Feed cows well – grass supplements Increase round when significant growth occurs
Minerals 40 days end of January-early February to conclusion of season, 30 May
98% to AB
Low empty rate
 Autumn Re-sow turnip paddocks with Eastern Tall Fescue, Kotare and Weka white clover, and chicory Winter Graze off

Improvements to farm ‘smarter not harder’

  • Removal of high endophyte grasses
  • Upgrade water line
  • Automatic cup removers
  • In-shed feeders
  • Protrack
  • Effluent pond: Whole farm under effluent irrigation
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