Managing in winter – Brian Frost

The new run off

BF run off June blogWell, Frostie finally got his dream run off for the farm. We have been looking for a support block since we moved back to the North Island in 1999 as Brian loves to be able to have control of all the stock. We have had some success with grazing stock out, but also some not so flash results, which has been very depressing, so we have been blessed to be able to purchase a 63ha block about 10km from the main farm. This obviously adds to the workload, but is very rewarding and Frostie is enjoying planning what we will do on the block and how we will develop it to suit our needs.

On the home farm

Current situation
This year the plan has been to milk the late calvers and empties through the winter so every two weeks we have dried off cows according to their calving date.

There are currently 212 cows on farm – all grazing 0.55 – 0.6 ha/day (120 – 130 day round).

  • 106 milkers are grazing 0.35 – 0.4 ha/day (35 – 40 m2/cow/day) + 7 kg/cow/day of meal + ½ – 1 kg/cow/day of molasses + 5 – 6 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage. 28 of these are in-milk empty cows and 78 late spring calvers (to be dried off next week).
  • 66 in-calf heifers are grazing 0.12 ha/day (20 m2/cow/day) + 2 – 3 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage.
  • 40 early dry cows are grazing 0.08 ha/day (20 m2/cow/day) + 2 – 3 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage + hay.

Our production to date is 3,967 kg MS compared with nothing at the same time last season. Our current production is 1.6 – 1.7 kg MS/ha/day and 1.15 – 1.2 kg MS/cow/day.

Cow condition is 4.5 – 4.6 for the milkers and 4.8 – 5 for the springers and the heifers. The cows at the run off are looking great with a condition score over 5.

The milkers are getting causmag, lime flour and salt on the maize. We will start dusting causmag for the dry cows at 100 g/cow/day when the maize stops.

Feed budget

Our average pasture cover is around 1,900 – 2,000 kg DM/ha.

  • The pasture cover targets for the next 6 weeks are 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late June and 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late July.
  • Winter grazing – 90 cows went to the run off on 3rd June, 80 cows on 10th June and 30 cows on 17th June – the last 78 will be dried off and sent to the run off next week.
    • 46 early calvers came home last week, another 45 are due to come back next week.
    • The rest of the cows will come back when they are 7 days from calving.

Fertiliser

  • Phased N – 6 tonne has been applied to the farm since the start of June. We will then follow the cows with an application over the farm once it gets up to 1,400 – 1,500 kg DM/ha again after grazing.
  • SOA – after we have done a full round of Phased N we will start a round of SOA at 200 kg/ha to apply 40 kg N/ha.
BF helicopter June blog

Devon got to ride in the helicopter with Frostie for a bird’s eye view of the farms before the spraying started.

Pasture weed spray

  • The whole farm got sprayed with the chopper this week – the weeds are already starting to show signs of sadness!

Grazing round

  • The grazing round has naturally extended as the cows have been dried off over the last month.
  • After calving, the Spring Rotation Planner takes over again.

Supplements

  • Molasses – 30 tonne was bought in late May, most of this for the new season. We used 135 tonne last season (100 t DM).
  • Meal – 690 tonne of meal was bought in last season (625 t DM).
    • Feed mix – the current meal mix is 85% PKE + 15% soya hull.
    • Feeding – the cows have stayed at around 7 kg/cow/day through the last 6 weeks which will continue for the milkers.
  • Hay –  the springers are getting 1 bale/75 – 100 cows.
  • Silage – 220 t DM has been used last season.
  • Maize silage – due to the wet ground conditions we will stop the maize silage and shut up the stack to feed next autumn.
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