Our season so far – Brian Frost

It’s been a long time between blogs for the Frosties – one daughter has been to the US to be a camp counselor with camp America and is now back, working hard to save for uni next year. One son has finished his degree this week! The other son has been studying with YWAM in Queenstown, been to Samoa and PNG on mission trips and is now back in Queenstown studying some more with YWAM. Our youngest is studying hard for her exams and last year at school. Mrs. Frostie’s dad got married after 4½ years of being a widower – very exciting and very happy. Mrs. Frostie has spent a few months working at 3 different companies while also trying (not overly successfully) to keep up with things on the farm, while Frostie has kept everything ticking over on the farm and on the home front – he is amazing!!

On the farm we are very grateful to have the same amazing staff stay on for another season. So nice to have stability, and people who know the farm well and are great with the animals.

The project for the moment is the feedpad. We had a feedpad made of rotten rock which has been unused for at least the last 10 years and so have decided to concrete this and get it usable again.

Things on farm have been going well with no significant flooding over the winter and so far this spring, which has made things a lot less stressful.

We are in a critical part of the season as we have many paddocks out with turnips and chicory, and we are in the middle of getting cows in calf and keeping them fed and producing well.

On the farm

There are currently 370 cows grazing 2.25 ha/day (28 – 30 day round), plus each cow is getting 6 kg meal and 3½ kg P8. Sixty calves are also on farm (28 have already gone to the runoff).

Production to date is 68,058 kg MS (compared with 59,195 kg MS at the same time last year). Current production is 9.5 – 9.7 kg MS/ha/day and 2 – 2.1 kg MS/cow/day. The cow condition is 4.4 – 4.5.

Feed

The average pasture cover is 2,355 kg DM/ha, with the pasture cover targets for the next two months of 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha in late November and 2,600 – 2,700 kg DM/ha in late December. We will aim to hold to a consistent grazing area through the next two months, while the cows are trying to hit their peak production and get back into calf again. Then we will look to lengthen the round from early December onwards when the chicory will be ready to add to the ‘normal’ grazing round.

Fertiliser

SustaiN (urea) has been applied as follows: 1.3 tonne in August, 3.6 tonne in September and 2.7 tonne in October (so far) at 85 kg urea/ha. The next lot of nitrogen will be due from late November/early December onwards at 85 – 90 kg/ha to push some good pasture growth and quality into the summer.

The Runoff

All the young stock and in-calf heifers are at the runoff (mating went from 3rd to 10th October with all the heifers mated in this time – the bulls went in on 10th and will come out in late December).

Urea has been applied behind the stock at 85 kg/ha over the last six weeks.

70 – 80 t DM of grass silage that has been made and stacked on the runoff and 24 ha has been sprayed and ready to sow for maize cropping ASAP (14 ha of P1636 and 10 ha of Corson F71F1).

Mr and Mrs Frostie are off to Queenstown next week to see Stafford and catch up with other friends so we are very much looking forward to some time away (although only for four days).

Drought is Broken – Brian Frost

It’s been a long time coming but finally the rain has arrived, hopefully not too late as we are very short of grass. With a bit of luck we can still see a pretty good finish to this season – we do need some good growing conditions over the next two months to set up well for the winter, so here’s hoping things go to plan.

It’s been a couple of months since the last blog, so there is a bit to catch up on. Frostie has been working hard on the runoff and the main farm with fencing, drainage, maize silage, and many other things. Mrs. Frostie has been working close to full time in various jobs. Stafford (18) has been working and saving hard. Now he has headed off to Queenstown to DTS (Discipleship Training School) run by YWAM (Youth with a Mission). He will be studying for three months (and enjoying all Queenstown has to offer, like bungy jumping and snow, while he’s there) and then spending three months on a mission somewhere in the Asia/Pacific region (not sure where yet). Siobhan (20) is in the process of deciding on a placement for Camp America. Devon (16) is working hard and fundraising for a school mission trip to Fiji in July. Ella (daughter-in-law) graduated as a registered nurse and has started her new job at the hospital. Mrs. Frostie’s dad is getting married again (very exciting). Frostie, Mrs. Frostie, and Devon are off to Oz on Monday for a visit with family and to visit the farms we have interests in. And that’s just a few of the things happening and changes going on!

On the Farm

There are currently 376 cows on the farm and runoff – all grazing 1 – 1.2 ha/day (55-65 day round). 320 milkers are grazing ⅓ paddock at night and ⅓ paddock during the day (1 ha/day), plus each cow is getting 6 kg meal, ½ kg molasses, and 5 kg DM maize silage. 44 dry cows are also on farm getting maize. A zinc mineral mix is going through the water.

Production to date is 156,312 kg MS compared with 139,626 kg MS at the same time last year. Current production is 6.3 – 6.5 kg MS/ha/day and 1.45 – 1.55 kg MS/cow/day. The cow condition is 4.6 – 4.7 for the milkers and 5.5+ for the dry cows.

71 autumn cows have calved so far – with not many issues – just a little milk fever last week. There are just 44 cows left to calve over the next five weeks.

The continued dry weather means we are planning on dropping out some cows. In early May we will cull 15 – 20 and all the low producing cows will be dried off and sent to the run off.

Feed

The grazing round extended a little as soon as the turnips finished and the maize was increased. The plan is to be around 60 days going through May and a 74 day round when all the new grass paddocks are back in the grazing round. We are starting the grass silage to help get the residuals lifting ASAP.

The average pasture cover is around 1,600 kg DM/ha – on the ‘normal’ winter equation. The pasture cover targets for the next six weeks are 1,600 – 1,700 kg DM/ha in late April and 2,000 – 2,100 kg DM/ha in late May.

Supplements

  • P8: 765,000 litres in total so far this season. We have had the last delivery for the season so have changed to molasses now.
  • Molasses: 15 tonnes arrived on 16th April and will be fed at ½ kg/cow/day through the next 2 – 3 months – until the P8 becomes available again.
  • Meal: 624 tonnes so far this season. The mix is still 90% PKE and 10% tapioca. The feeding rate got up to 7 kg/cow/day while the P8 was being fed, but at the moment, with the change to molasses, the cows are eating a bit less.
  • The maize started on 27th March at 3 kg DM/cow/day and built up to 5 kg DM/cow/day when the turnips finished.

Cropping / new grass

The turnips finished on 2nd April and all of the turnip paddocks were sown into new grass on 12th April. Some of these paddocks also had drainage work done. The chicory paddocks have been undersown, with just two paddocks left to get done, and there is one more paddock for cropping next spring that needs to be undersown.

Fertiliser

Two tonnes of SustaiN (urea) was applied in March and 0.6 tonne in April. The aim is to finish the whole farm with urea before starting a round of PhaSedN (120 – 150 kg/ha) through May and June.

On the run off

Currently on the run off 102 spring 2017 heifers, 1 dry cow, 3 beefies and 4 older extras are getting maize plus pasture (70 of these have been sold and leave in early May). 4 empty spring 2017 heifers, 16 autumn calves, and 111 spring calves are also getting maize and pasture.

No fertiliser has been applied since December. PhaSedN will get applied over this block through May at 120 – 150 kg/ha.

All of the new grass has been sown – with the permanent paddocks getting a top-up as the continued dry weather caused a huge loss of pasture. 2 ha of annual is left to be done in next spring paddocks and 3 more paddocks will be undersown with cheap seed. There is still heaps of maize on hand so this will be used to balance out the pasture – hopefully holding the round to get the pasture building as quickly as possible.

2019 begins – Brian Frost

It’s been a long time between blogs and lots has been happening. The rain has been wonderful and is keeping the grass growing at exponential rates, which is a wonderful change for this time of the year.

The end of 2018 was busy with normal farming life but also Mrs. Frostie took on a few other jobs like: receptionist, part-time chairside assistant for an orthodontist, and project manager for a build and shift of an engineering company, all while continuing with DairyNZ, being busy on various committees, and doing some farm work where needed. The younger two Frosties had their study leave and exams, so needless to say, we were all ready for a break so all ended up taking turns milking the cows over Christmas and New Year. We are all back at our other jobs now so no time for the beach this year! Frostie has had the opportunity to go fishing a few times (yum!!) and there have been trips to the lake for skiing.

bf water skiing jan19

On the farm

On the farm front there are 361 cows on the milking platform and the run off and production to date is 91,401 kg MS, compared with 82,116 kg MS at the same time last year. Current production is 8.5 – 8.9 kg MS/ha/day and 1.75 – 1.85 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is lifting at 4.2 – 4.3.

Magnesium, sodium and calcium are still being added with the meal and the trace mineral mix is also going through the water.

Feed

We have been trying the SPACE pasture cover readings but for the last few months these have been reading very low compared to the reality of what is on farm, so we haven’t been relying on these reports. The pasture cover targets are 2,600 – 2,700 kg DM/ha in late January.

Crops

The 24 ha of maize at the run off looks great.

Also, 7 – 8 paddocks were put into grass silage at the run off on 22nd November and we have another four paddocks currently shut up and ready to harvest.

The first grazing of chicory started on 5th December and when the turnips start (about now), the chicory will be added as a replacement for the pasture area to feed with the turnips. At this feeding rate we expect the cows to get around 5 kg DM/cow/day of turnips and the crops to last through to late March.

bf calves jan19

Spring mating

The bulls came out of the heifers on 11th December. AB started for the cows on 23rd October and finished on 4th December. 259 cows (94%) were mated in 21 days and 100% by the end of mating. 108 cows returned to AB meaning 61% didn’t return. Pregnancy testing is booked in for 22nd January.

Looking forward – Brian Frost

Last season was a good one to get behind us.

Things were tough for a lot of the season, with too many floods and water sitting on the farm for too long leading to regrassing some areas six times.  This meant we have taken a big production and financial hit.

Also, council have come back with their decision, after five years of negotiation. They have decided to do nothing regarding the drainage issues in our area – this unfortunately does not help us at all, so we are now looking at building a feed pad/herd home and a stop bank to mitigate the effects the council drain has on our farm.

BF drainage3 Jul18.jpg

Life on farm has been busy; calving and then AB, shifting stock from the milking platform to the run off, and now sending soon to calve cows back to the farm.

Grant and Leigh are with us for another season, which is great, and they were able to have a bit of time off at the beginning of June, so it was all hands on deck for us.

The target cow numbers to peak milk is 350 and there are now 366, either on farm or the run off, so we still have 16 cows to drop out over the next 6 – 8 weeks.

On the farm

On farm we currently have 158 cows milking – all grazing 0.5 ha/day (150 day round), plus 6 kg/cow/day of meal, 1 kg/cow/day of molasses, 5 – 6 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage.

The cows are getting causmag, lime flour and salt on the maize at full rates and nothing in the water at the moment.

Production to date is 6,953 kg MS. Current production is 3.3 – 3.4 kg MS/ha/day and 1.3 – 1.35 kg MS/cow/day. BCS is 4.2 – 4.3.

Feed

The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,200 – 2,300 kg DM/ha in late July and 2,300 – 2,400 kg DM/ha in late August.

Fertiliser

1.3 tonne of PhaSedN was applied in June at 150 kg urea/ha, there is 40 – 45 ha left to get this fertiliser over July.  Once the full round of PhaSedN has been applied, we’ll follow with urea, at 80 – 90 kg/ha for the next full grazing round.

Run off

Mitch has been helping Frostie with developing the run off during his uni break, heaps faster fencing with two people.

Currently at the run off there are 235 – 240 cows grazing the annual pasture and also getting 5 kg DM/cow/day of maize. The first lot of early calvers are going back to the dairy farm before starting to calve around 20th July. 128 calves are still on the run off.

BF Stafford Jul18.jpg

In other family news, Stafford, our 17 year old, is in Thailand on a mission trip with his school. He is getting to see a different culture as they help on local farms and work in villages with the community on self-sustaining projects, like fish tanks, pig pens and chicken coops. They will also work alongside youth in local schools and hospital/medical centres.

New grass and silage stacks – Brian Frost

BF silage stack Mar18The summer rain has kept coming to grow the feed; however, with this has come the weeds, and the heat has certainly been making it difficult for the cows to reach the production levels we would have liked.

We have had major weed problems, especially in the new grass paddocks that have been flooded many times over the last year.

The maize silage has been harvested in the last two days and covered by the wonderful high school children who are raising funds for a missions trip to Thailand – they are becoming pros at throwing tyres.

On the farm

Currently we have 340 cows on farm – all grazing 1 ha/day (60 – 70 day round). 313 milkers are grazing 1 ha/day, plus 7 kg/cow/day of meal, 6 litres/cow/day of P8 and 6 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage. There are 18 sick/colostrum cows, 7 dry springers, 2 dry spring calvers and 13 new autumn calves. All the autumn calvers are now back on farm.

Production to date is 126,672 kg MS compared with 135,734 kg MS at the same time last year. Current production is 5.4 – 5.6 kg MS/ha/day and 1.3 – 1.35 kg MS/cow/day.

Cow condition is 4.5 – 4.6.

The cows are getting causmag, lime flour and salt on the maize, minerals in the meal and zinc is going through the water.

Feed

The average pasture cover is now over 2,575 kg DM/ha (on the winter plate meter equation). The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late March and 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late April. The cows went to a longer grazing round last week to try and eat out the summer grasses and weeds while also giving the new grasses more time to establish before grazing again. As the cows start to be dried off in late May/June, we plan to extend the round again for the winter.

Our battle has been the new grass paddocks. The chicory paddocks look great – but the Bealey is hard to find! Two of these will be undersown in Tama after this next grazing and two will be sown into Tabu+ to see how this goes. Hogan ryegrass has also been ordered to drill after the maize has been harvested.

Fertiliser

3.6 t of urea/SustaiN has been applied at 75 kg urea/ha (2.6 t in February and 1 t in March so far) we will keep following behind the cows now for the next two months at least.

Run off

126 R2 heifers (planning to sell 60 surplus) and 133 calves are at the run off. Two of the chicory paddocks will be sown into Tama and two into Tabu+. A full round of nitrogen has also been applied to all of the run off paddocks. The 17 ha of maize came off yesterday. Unfortunately there is no spot market for it so it has been stacked on the dairy farm, with about 150 t DM at the runoff.

BF silage stack combined Mar18

A new year – Brian Frost

2018 started with us flying from Israel to Hong Kong, so we were in the air for the New Year’s celebrations. On 16th December we flew to Israel with our extended family to enjoy a wonderful trip touring Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and then stopping in Hong Kong on the way back to NZ. This is a trip we had been planning for a long time and it definitely did not disappoint – so much to take in, learn and enjoy in these amazing countries. We had 18 in our group and feel very privileged to have enjoyed such a fabulous life experience together.

BF Middle East Feb18 resized.jpg

On the farm

Wow, 2018 has certainly been interesting so far, with droughts, floods and storms! Early January was incredibly dry, dust was everywhere and in everything, and then the rain came – nice, but it didn’t stop – again, so in came the flood – again! Thankfully not bad, as it brought great grass growth over the farm. Here’s hoping this is a sign that this year will be a better balance of all these things, compared to last year when it seemed we had 10 months of rain, then 2 months of dry.

Currently we have 311 cows on farm – all grazing 1.5 ha/day (38 – 40 day round), plus 5.5 kg/cow/day of meal, plus 5 – 10 litres/cow/day of P8. Nineteen autumn calvers have been dried off and taken to the run off.

A zinc mineral mix is going in the water and causmag plus salt are being added as well.

Production to date is 106,347 kg MS compared with 113,353 kg MS at the same time last year. Current production is 5.4 – 5.5 kg MS/ha/day and 1.6 – 1.65 kg MS/cow/day.

Cow condition is 4.2 – 4.3 – after the fatter autumn calvers have been dried off.

Feed

The average pasture cover is now over 4,000 kg DM/ha. It was 2,128 kg DM/ha in early January and 3,085 kg DM/ha around 20th January; this just shows the amazing response to the rain. The pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks are 3,100 – 3,200 kg DM/ha in late February and 2,300 – 2,400 kg DM/ha in late March.

We started the turnips at 5 m2/cow/day on 9th January. At this rate the crop will last through until mid- March.

Unfortunately, a lot of the paddocks are very weedy with summer grass so it seems the grass spray was done too early to get the kill that we would have liked.

The grazing round held at 18 – 20ish days through December and into the start of January. After the rain and the turnips started, the round was extended to 40 days where it will hold now through the next 2 – 3 months.

Mating

Mating finished for the heifers on 1st December and the cows on 15th December. A pregnancy test has shown just four heifers are empty (including two of the biggest) and there was a 21% empty rate in the herd (68 cows), this compares to 21% (71) last year, so there are less empty cows this year – just!

New grass

Our aim is to get the new permanent pasture sown as soon as possible after the turnips have finished. We are also targeting the paddocks that have had annual undersown into them. We are going to try a mix of Trojan (20 – 22 kg/ha), Kotare and Weka white clover (2 kg/ha each), plus 3 kg/ha of Puna 2 chicory this year. Finding the right pastures that will last is still a major problem and we are taking the advice of our farm advisor. Again we are undersowing any paddocks we will put into turnips.

Run off

At the run off we have 40 dry cows and 126 R2 heifers grazing together, and 133 calves. The grazing round is extended as the pasture keeps building in front of them.

The 17 ha of maize is looking amazing and should be ready for harvest in late March.

Some more photos of our trip

BF Middle East combined Feb18

Our children being the statues. Frostie on a camel at Petra.

BF Middle East combined2 Feb18

Slightly different style of farming to New Zealand.

 

Roll on Christmas and holidays – Brian Frost

 

Well summer has arrived with a bang. It felt like yesterday we were saying “Please stop the rain” and now we are crying for it to return (just not in the volumes it has come during the rest of the year – farmers are never satisfied).

On the farm

Currently we have 330 cows on farm – all grazing 3 ha/day (18 – 19 day round), plus 7.5 kg/cow/day of meal, 10 – 15 litres/c/day of P8. Production to date is 85,248 kg MS, compared with 88,693 kg MS at the same time last year. Current production is 7.4 – 7.5 kg MS/ha/day and 1.7 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is still 4.2 – 4.3.

Feed

The average pasture cover is 2,505 kg DM/ha. Our pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks are 2,200 – 2,300 kg DM/ha in late December and 2,700 – 2,800 kg DM/ha in late January.

Fertiliser

4.5 tonne of urea (SustaiN) has been applied at 80 – 90 kg urea/ha. We will have a break for a full round when this round is finished.

Cropping

Unfortunately with the last lot of flooding we have had to re-sow a couple of the paddocks, that were originally sown in turnips, into Bealey.

Mating

The bulls came out of the heifer mob on 4th December.

AB started for the cows on 22nd October and finished on 4th December, before the bulls went in.

280 cows (88%) were mated in 3 weeks, 304 cows (95%) in 4 weeks and 99% in total to 6 weeks of AB. The bulls have just come out to give 8 weeks of mating.

Run off

At the run off we have 22 dry cows and 126 R2 yr heifers grazing 2 – 3 days per paddock. 133 calves are getting 6 days/paddock, putting the stock on the run off on a 30(ish) day round.

Cropping

17 ha of maize was sown on 15th November and has had nitrogen applied. The crop is looking amazing considering the late planting – the warm weather has certainly helped and the run off did get a small amount of rain a couple of weeks back.

The chicory/annual paddocks were sown into a Bealey (22 – 25 kg/ha), chicory (3 kg/ha) and clover (4 kg/ha) mix on 13th October and are being grazed for the second time.

Silage

We were able to make 30 bales of silage off 4.5 paddocks on 23 – 25th November, nothing like what we were able to get done last year, but better than nothing.

This is a much shorter blog, with no pictures (sorry) as we are off for 3 weeks – Israel, Jordan, and Hong Kong on the way home. This has been a long time in the planning, and even with Trump’s comments trying to stir things up we are still going – 18 of the family members are going so it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime.