What a joy to sit down to write and share a few thoughts about what is happening on the farm. Last month as I wrote we were preparing for mating, keeping an eye on the spring flush that was about to happen, and preparing for some really early starts as the Rugby World Cup neared its climax; all of us hoping and praying that our mighty All Blacks would do the deed once again and win back-to-back titles.
As we all know, the World Cup is ours once again, mating is well through for most of us and spring may have finally sprung in the last few days after a lovely 20 ml of rain fell on the 4th of November. I made a huge error in my forward planning and arranged for Sam to have the weekend off on World Cup final weekend. The big dilemma was whether I milk at 3.00; milk at 7.00, in a state of euphoria or sorrow; or milk at the normal time, rely on My Sky to record the test, and watch it at 8.00. As we had the AI technician coming at 7.40, I decided to stick with the status quo; ensuring that I left my phone at home, didn’t have the radio on during milking and made our friendly AI technician swear on the Bible to not even make eye contact with me in case she gave anything away.
Fortunately, all went according to plan and I watched the game at the later time, none the wiser about the score. This was actually a more opportune time to watch as by then Bev had arisen from her slumber and kept a steady supply of coffee and croissants coming my way as the game unfolded. I had suspected that we may have won, as had we lost I imagine the newly risen sun may have beaten a hasty retreat and darkness may have once again enveloped our land, to add to the anguish of a nation in mourning after losing to the Aussies. But this wasn’t the case, so we all now strut around with the pride of a nation of winners, wearing our All Black gear and flying our flags to celebrate this mighty victory.
Now that I have shared the important stuff, it’s time for a wee reflection on mating, grass growth, maize planting and the like. Our bulls did the job with our 38 non cyclers (I call them non cyclers as they haven’t shown any evidence of a visible heat) and served 32 of them in the first 23 days of mating. I think we missed about another 6 in the main mob, so we were comfortable with a 94% submission rate. Returns seem about normal, we will know more in a week or two. We will carry on with AI till 6 weeks is up, then put the bulls out for 3 weeks. Sam won the argument about bulls versus more AI. I guess it’s safer that way as he can relax a bit and let the bulls detect any more cyclers after then.
Cover has lifted, but we still need to feed between 3 and 6 kg/DM/day of a PKE/maize mix to fully feed the cows. The maize ground is now out of circulation so we are stocked at around 4.1 cows/ha. Growth has only been in the 50s and 60s on average, but this may lift now that we have some warmth.
We are experimenting with our maize on farm this year. We planted it in 12” rows, at high and low populations, with the aim of mowing and grazing it if the dry summer does happen, or alternatively putting it into the stack if we let it go to full maturity. This is very much an experiment to see what pans out. We still planted a true maize silage hybrid and not the greenfeed Forage King mix. I will keep you posted on the outcome.
The calves are all gone, grazing happily on the grazier’s farm and growing rapidly. Even at this lower payout we believe that with the results we are getting and the price we pay, grazing calves off is the way to go. Plus it’s one job less!!
Going forward, it’s all about pasture quality. We are easing the round out shortly to around 30 days and trying to feed the cows as well and as cheaply as we can. Production is on track still, ahead for the month and for the season. We will see how summer plays out as to where this will go. Speaking of summer, I need to sign off now as a few young people have turned up for a swim. They will be getting into my beer fridge as well, so I need to go and join them – I mean oversee the situation so that it doesn’t get out of hand!!
Catch you all before Christmas.