SAFE and media hype – Trent Guy

Animal cruelty

Well, the Sunday TVNZ show was disgusting: the way the media/SAFE have portrayed all of us in our industry as animal abusers. I have a few points to make about this:

  1. WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE THIS!! What was shown is 1% of the industry, and as far as I’m concerned they need to piss off out of our industry (that also goes for the livestock transport and meat processing industry)!
  2. I think the industry body, along with MPI, needs to be more vigilant in stomping out this sort of behaviour in the industries. We already all pay enough levies for this to happen without additional cost to the industry.
  3. The media have breached broadcasting standards and should take responsibility and be held accountable.
  4. And, most importantly, our industry needs to stand united regardless of the company we supply. I also think that the other dairy companies need to make a stand rather than letting Fonterra front it all.

Farm update

Mating

Mating has gone well. We had a 93% submission rate and the bulls are now out doing their part, they will be out till the 18th December, giving us a 9.5 week mating. This year we have run nine bulls in groups of three and we rotate them every second day (bull power is a key factor to getting late cows in calf).

Cropping

This year we have planted 10 ha of maize and 7 ha of brassicas (4ha HT rape and 3ha HT turnips). These crops are all doing well and have just had their nitrogen application. I let our Farmsource and PGGWrightson reps check these regularly and try to follow best practice in terms of their management.

TG maize DecTG turnip

Irrigation

We had been irrigating between rain events till about mid-November, but now that things have turned windy and dry it’s a full time job, at least until the next big rain event, or river flows cut us off.

The cows

The cows are still on OAD and we have decided to do that till the end of the season. Currently we are on track to get to our production target of 100,000 kgMS, at this stage because of the low payout and the cost of shares we will be limiting our production to this.

My new hobby

I have always wanted to have a go at beekeeping, so recently I decided to purchase my first hive. So far I have only been stung once but I think there will be plenty more to come.

I’m finding it very interesting, fascinating and exciting. I am wondering if I should diversify and go into a small scale commercial beekeeping operation within my 65 ha bush block. I would like to hear your thoughts on this one!!

TG beehives and suit

Field day

We are having a SMASH field day here on March 9th so put it in your calendars.

More details about this will be in my next blog, so stay tuned!

The chihuahuameter (patent pending) – Noldy Rust

The sound of rain falling on the dairy shed roof as I milked this morning was a welcome tonic and one which gave me a much needed boost as mid-summer slowly but steadily approaches along with the prospect of El Nino conditions. To be fair, the weather during the last month or so has been extremely favourable in our neck of the woods as we try to grow grass in order to fully feed cows, harvest some surplus or extend the rotation. Sporadic rainfall events of varying quantity have certainly made our district look a picture, with cows standing in abundant grass and contractors finally getting in big demand to get silage harvested. We are in the process of extending our round to 30 days or so, maize and PKE is still going in but only in very light quantities, and not every day, depending on paddock size and pre-grazing covers.

The year has flown by and the busyness of the season is upon us. Farming is certainly a favourable occupation as far as timing goes, with mating as good as over and enough grass to fully feed the cows meaning that this time of the year is probably about the pick of the year as far as ease of management goes. No zinc supplementation yet, no flies to speak of, very little or no feeding out and things like overgrazing and heat stress still out in the future somewhere.

On our place, the last round of urea applied had a stunning result, meaning that pasture quality has been the focus over the past few weeks. Sam has enjoyed doing a bit of mowing in front of the cows, which may have contributed to a small drop in daily production, but will hopefully lead to a lift once again as we get back into the lusher pastures next round. I never did like mowing after the cows as getting covered in the proverbial isn’t much fun, especially when you don’t own a cab tractor! Sam is away for a few days so the buck stops with me at the moment. No time for a farm walk to determine pre-grazing covers, so I have to rely on the chihuahuameter to indicate whether there is a need for pre-grazing mowing. If most of the dog is “submerged”, it’s getting close. If the whole dog is invisible then it’s time to get the mower out, although it’s a good idea to find the dog before the mower is started!

NR chihuahua

Discussion groups are all focusing on setting up for summer and making sure we have a plan in place to deal with what may occur. I am of the opinion that the last three summers have been a huge learning curve, and have given us a bit of practice on how to deal with old El if he does throw his weight around as is suggested. Things like OAD milking, a long summer round, early PD testing to get rid of surplus cows, summer crops and contracted feed are all tools we have to help combat this potential threat. Our strategies are very similar; we have around 800 kg of feed per cow on hand in the shape of maize and grass silage and contracted PKE. The maize on farm is the greenfeed backup if needed, or will end up in the stack with the autumn harvest of around 250 tonnes. I have been challenged by the DairyNZ figures in the recent technical series as to whether to milk known cull cows on in a dry summer or cull them, thus spreading their valuable feed among the rest of the herd. Things like the value of supplements fed including wastage, the anticipated final payout, plus the time of the cull and the production of the cow to be culled are all major factors that need to be considered. In our case, we rarely cull many cows early, as our supplementary feed is contracted or home grown and wastage is minimal as we feed out on a pad. The major factor for us to consider is the daily production of the cow and the amount of supplement we can afford to feed to avoid a deficit in the future. As long as we are getting a positive return from milking these culls on, we will endeavour to do so as maximising production is our goal, providing it is profitable.

So, looking ahead in the short term, it’s all about managing the grass, feeding the cows, controlling the weeds and catching up on those chores that we had no time for during spring. The pool is clean, the gas bottle is full, the calendar between now and Christmas is even fuller and I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet. However, I have attended several end of year functions and booked a week away in January, even though that had to be changed as I realised that Sam was going to be away at the same time! Note to self, it pays to write things down! As far as the beach holiday goes, I have sorted out a win/win situation. You may, or may not, know that Bev works in a shoe shop. The good news is that her boss is opening a pop-up shop at a popular beach resort and Bev is able to work in the shop for a week or two over summer! You may see my cunning plan! We all go to the beach, she works to pay for the holiday and I have a break! Perfect!!

NR Bev shoes Noldy holiday

Merry Christmas to you all.

 

Giving the spiders a fright – John van der Goes

Time has roared around again and I need to write about what has been happening here. In truth it feels like not much. Just the usual things that seem to keep us busy and leave no time for the things we want to get done.

Mating is over and the bulls are out. It looks like we have done quite well this year. We are very close to hitting all the required targets (just one cow short for both 3 and 4 weeks). And now, with the bulls out, not too many returns are coming back in. I am enjoying using the phone app to enter natural mattings, as I can do cows as I see them and don’t have to remember to enter them later (which I usually forget).

JVG cows Dec

The first silage has been brought home from the runoff, so now we just need to wait till next week for the rest to be ready, then we can bring that home and it will be all over. The big plan for runoff silage all turned to custard this year with paddocks not falling into line to be mowed together. So we needed to change plans at least once. This, of course, is par for the course as you all know.

Having got hold of a mower last year I have been able to reset my residuals (top) this year. With the weather being the way it was I did get a little conservative and chickened out on doing paddocks that I should have cut earlier. I have caught up now, pretty much, but lost a bit of production during the dry spell when our grass went all stalky.

JVG topping

The fodder beet has had all its sprays and a side dressing, so now all we have to do is wait for it to grow and then start to feed it at the beginning of February. It’s been quite an exercise getting everything organised and done in time. I’m glad I’m not a spray contractor, especially this year.

JVG fodder beet Dec4

Unfortunately, we have had a few cases of mastitis lately, which has been annoying since we did so well early on. Hopefully this is just a blip and we will not have too many more for the rest of the season. The target is still less than 10% clinical cases and less than 100,000 cell count.

Now is the time for me to do some of those off farm things I have been threatening to do since the end of calving. I managed to get all the cobwebs off my bike on the trainer finally last night and give the remaining spiders a Ferris wheel ride; at least I may not feel so bad when I venture out onto the road in the weekend. Unfortunately, my kayak is still collecting dust in the ceiling of the workshop. The plan was to go out fishing this week but our car decided to have a sicky right when the garage is at its busiest. So that plan has gone out the window, like so many before it.

On reflection I think we fared quite well over spring and I am quite pleased with how things went. We still have a few targets to try and achieve – these will be targets for next year.