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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Rain, rain go away. Come again mid-summer! Brian Frost

BF biscuiting Nov blogIt feels like all we talk about each month is the rain, but the reality is it has been extremely detrimental to our farm this year. We so need the sunshine, the wet weather has continued to keep coming back to hurt our farm, and has been compounded by the extreme lack of R&M done by the council for many, many years – we are over it. Trying to keep our chin up has not been easy for anyone and the rain is wearing thin! Our manager has done an amazing job to get through the wet so well and has pulled himself up when the weather has been so depressing.

It also feels like the end of the year is rushing towards us with Christmas decorations in the shops, the bbq and patio heater coming out (not that we have had the chance to use them) and children on study leave with exams starting this week! Our children are also so desperate for the weather to get better that the first day we had weather that was better than continual rain they got the boat out and went for a ski (Frostie dragged them around, Mrs Frostie sat in the van watching, and the dog thought it was Christmas already – running in and out of the water!).

BF water skiing Nov17

On the farm

There are currently 339 cows on farm – all grazing 3 ha/day (20 – 21 day round). Production to date is 61,586 kg MS, compared with 62,974 kg MS at the same time last year, current production is 7.9 – 8 kg MS/ha/day and 1.75 – 1.85 kg MS/cow/day. The cows’ BCS is 4.2 – 4.3. The calves are going to the runoff as soon as they have been weaned. At the runoff 22 dry cows + 126 R 2 yr heifers are grazing 2 – 3 days per paddock.


The average pasture cover is 2,359 kg DM/ha. Our pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks are 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha in late November and 2,600 – 2,700 kg DM/ha in late December.

Because of the terrible wet weather we have been feeding more in the shed at times. The mix is still 85% PKE, 12% soya hull and 3% minerals, and the aim is to hold this at around 7 kg/cow/day through the next two months.


We will apply urea following behind the stock on the runoff over the next full grazing round before skipping the following round. Two tonne has been applied on the milking platform at 90 kg urea/ha. We will keep applying urea at 75 – 90 kg/ha through the rest of the grazing round and then miss the following grazing round.

Cropping/new pasture

With the flooding we have had to shuffle our cropping plans around a little. Some paddocks were sown in turnips but with the flooding there are very few turnips coming through. These paddocks will be power harrowed again and drilled into 30 kg/ha of Bealey, with different paddocks now to be put into turnips instead.

17 ha at the runoff is to go into maize – hopefully it will be planted soon!

The chicory/annual paddocks have been sprayed out and sown into a Bealey (22 – 25 kg/ha), chicory (3 kg/ha) and clover (4 kg/ha) mix on 13th October.

4.5 paddocks are shut for silage and should be ready to cut in the next two weeks.


The heifers were pregnancy tested on 1st November; 120 of them were in calf. The cows started AB on 22nd October and will go for 8 weeks – finishing before Christmas.

We keep telling ourselves that the sunshine will turn up soon, but now with the snow arriving in the South Island again yesterday the sunshine might still be a way off.

Through calving – onto AB – Brian Frost

BF helicopter fertCan you believe that some places are selling for Christmas already – some days I’m sure it still feels like winter!! It is great to see some sunshine, but alas this is amongst some very heavy downpours of rain and so the wet continues to be a real challenge. Our manager has done really well to get through such a lot of rubbish weather in good shape with both the farm and cows doing well – bring on the better weather!

Because it has been soooooooo wet we did decide to put ammo on with a chopper, as there was no way we could get onto the paddocks and since then we have been able to get some paddocks sprayed out for maize so things are looking up.

On the farm

There are currently 353 cows on farm – all grazing 3 ha/day (24 – 25 day round). Our production to date is 37,910 kg MS, compared with 39,690 kg MS at the same time last year. Our current production is 8.7 – 8.8 kg MS/ha/day and 1.8 – 1.9 kg MS/cow/day. The cows’ body condition score is 4.3 and the average pasture cover is 2,545 kg DM/ha.


We have decided to replace the molasses with P8 (whey) to go with the feed mix being fed in the shed, will keep you posted as to how this goes ☺.


AB is due to start on 23 – 25th October and will go for 8 weeks – finishing by 20th December.

The first prostaglandin (PG) shot for the heifers was done on 16th August and the second on 30th August, with AB from 30th August – 5th September, 103 heifers were mated. Then AB was done again from 19 – 25th September and 40(ish) were mated. After this 4 Hereford bulls went in with the heifers from 5th – 18th September and again after 25th September.

Crops and new pasture

There has been much discussion about the crops and pasture to be sown this season. After the disappointment of the calves’ poor progress on the straight chicory paddocks (this could also be attributed to the terrible weather conditions etc), the decision has been to mix the chicory into the paddock grass mix this time – as we have in the past.

With many of our paddocks damaged because of all the flooding, we have a fair few to put into annuals, another 7 paddocks for turnips (the aim will be to get the turnips sown by 10 – 20th October) and then the rest of the paddocks will go into permanent pasture over the next month, probably Trojan or One50 at 20 kg/ha, 2 kg/ha each of two clovers, and 3 kg/ha of Puna II chicory.

BF crop fert

Run off

Frostie has also been using every bit of fine (and not so fine) weather to get out and continue developing the runoff block. Getting rid of more trees that are past their use-by date and re-fencing paddocks. This is now taking a back seat for a couple of weeks while we are back in the shed to give our wonderful managers time off.BF run off tree removal

Rain, rain go away!! – Brian Frost

We have had a few nice days, where the paddocks tried to dry out and the grass to grow. Unfortunately, more rain has come and we have flooded again, but hopefully there will be a few more sunshine days coming to keep our spirits up and the world looking good.

We are now reaching the end of winter sports too, so only a few more games of standing in the rain (or sunshine) watching soccer or lacrosse – until next year :).

Frostie is still hobbling around with a sore knee, and at times a sore hip, but is coping well now that he has a brace for the knee.

Things have been busy, with cows coming and going from the runoff, and now that all the cows are back on the milking platform things are starting to ramp up again with the heifers’ insemination program. Bridget’s Dad has been a great help, being the extra person to help sorting the cows to go back to the farm and now with the heifers.

BR bobby loadingGrant, our manager, was also able to host a school through the DairyNZ ‘find a farmer’ program a few months ago. It was rather nerve-wracking before the school arrived, but he did an amazing job and the children had a wonderful time. He even said he would do it again, so it must have been ok.

With the new regulations for bobby calf pens coming in we had many a discussion about how to attack this, and where it should go, or how we might adapt what we already use. We decided that we would dig out next to the calf shed to be at the right height for the truck instead of building something new – works like a dream and the trucking company loves it!

On the farm

Our production to date is 18,516 kg MS, compared with 17,930 kg MS at the same time last year, with current production 4.8 – 5.2 kg MS/ha/day and 1.4 kg MS/cow/day. Some of the winter milkers were really dropping off their milk, so the empty, low producers have been culled and the in-calf ones will be kept milking for the next 6 – 8 weeks, then dried off and taken to the runoff if they haven’t improved. Cow condition is 5+ for the dry cows and 4.4 – 4.5 for the milkers.


There are currently 346 cows on farm – all grazing 1.3 ha/day (50 – 55 day round). 265 milkers are grazing 1 ha/day, plus 5 – 6 kg meal, ½ – 1 kg molasses, 5 – 5.5 kg DM maize silage and 2 kg PKE per cow. 19 colostrum cows are grazing 0.1 ha/day plus meal and molasses. 62 springing cows are grazing 0.2 ha/day, plus ¼ bale of silage and some maize.

The average pasture cover is 2,000 – 2,100 kg DM/ha,with pasture cover targets of 2,200 – 2,300 kg DM/ha in late September and 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha in late October. Holding to the rotation plan over the last six weeks has not been easy as the weather has continued to throw up some real challenges, but sticking to this as much as possible has set us up for a decent spring – as long as we get some sun!!!

The regrassing after the flooding is up and looking good – hopefully this will bounce back after this latest dumping.


Winter mating

Started on 25th May and finished on 6th July and the pregnancy test showed 72% in calf after 6 weeks of mating.

Spring mating

The heifers’ early calving has worked well and so we have done this again with mating started around 25th August. The first PG was done on 16th August and the second on 30th August. AB was for 7 days from 30th August – 5th September and will be done again from 18 – 23rd September.

The cows’ mating will start around 25th October with the aim to calve on 1st August next year.


Thirty-three dry heifers (27 in-calf ones) plus 117 calves are grazing 1 paddock/day.


The aim is to put 16 ha into maize this year, with the aim to sell 2 – 5 ha at harvest time.

New grass

Two of the worst chicory / annual paddocks will be sprayed out and sown into a Shogun or Bealey (22 – 25 kg/ha), chicory (3 kg/ha) and clover (4 kg/ha) mix.

BR heifers

A reason to smile – Brian Frost

Frost wedding Jul17Frost wedding2 Jul17Ella and Mitch got hitched! The last few months have been leading up to our eldest son, Mitchel, getting married to his beautiful wife. We had a wonderful day celebrating with friends and family, heaps of talking and laughter – great speeches and amazing food, and to top it off the rain held off for most of the day! This day was a fabulous reminder of the wonderful blessings in our life. Mr. and Mrs. Frostie scrubbed up ok as well – some wanted to take a photo of Frostie just to prove he could get dressed up and wear something other than shorts and jandals!

On the farm

Unfortunately, the water lying around our area shows how vulnerable we will be to the wet weather over the next few months with the water table still very high. Managing the wet conditions is going to play a major role in the success of this season.

Currently we have 227 milkers on farm on a 100 – 110 day round. 194 milkers are grazing 0.6 ha pasture, 7 – 8 kg/cow meal, ½ – 1 kg/cow molasses, 6.5 kg DM/cow of maize silage and 0.7 kg DM/cow of grass silage per day. 33 springing heifers are grazing 0.06 ha pasture, ¼ bale of silage and some maize per day. The production to date is 9,130 kg MS, compared with 5,498 kg MS at the same time last year, with current production 2.7 – 2.8 kg MS/ha/day and 1.1 – 1.2 kg MS/cow/day. The BCS is 5+.

The average pasture cover is 2,162 kg DM/ha. The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,000 – 2,100 kg DM/ha in late July and 1,900 – 2,000 kg DM/ha in late August.


5.2 tonne of PhaSedN was applied in May at 120 – 130 kg/ha. 0.9 t on 26th May, 0.9 t on 3rd June and 2.3 t on 30th June. Now that the last round of PhaSedN has finished, we will keep following behind the cows with SustaiN at 85 – 90 kg/ha through July and August.


Winter mating started on 25th May and finished on 6th July. 53 cows have been mated once and there were 20 returns (including 5 short returns).

The early calving for the heifers worked well and will continue again next year – so spring mating will start around 25th August.

Season review

Below is our season review table. We have compared the last three seasons along with the 2011 / 2012 season, which is often regarded as the Waikato’s best growing season over the last 10 years or so.

Season review 2011/12 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017
Total MS (kg) 162,300 168,606 169,813 167,426
MS/cow (kg) 519 505 492 488
MS/ha (kg) 2,193 2,278 2,295 2,263
Pasture eaten/ha 15.1 13 12.8 13.8
Feed conversion efficiency 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.6
6 week in-calf rate (%) 81 67 73 63
MS to 31st Dec (kg) 88,820 93,457 98,539 98,926

These results show a rarity for this season – a nice lift in pasture and crop eaten – which considering the flooding and difficulty over the last 4 months is an excellent result. This also probably reflects what we suspected, that the previous two years were very disappointing, with the pasture persistence and growth that was discovered in time to make things right before last season.

A deluge – Brian Frost

It’s been a while since we have posted a blog – time to catch up.

On the home front, we have lived in 5 different homes in 4 months. The house we were meant to be using just didn’t work for our family but luckily we have found another house that suits us much better. We are still unpacking boxes but feeling more settled and can enjoy the countdown to Mitch’s wedding. Frostie (in fact, all of us) is missing his father-in-law, who he calls on regularly to help where needed on the farm, as he is biking in Italy – he will be back in 10 days – so counting down to this also.

On the farm

BF flooding May17

The wonderful rain that we had in February, which didn’t flood the farm, unfortunately didn’t stop and we ended up flooding twice over the last couple of months – the first time 70 acres went under and a lot of damage was done. After getting this ground sown with new grass it went under again, so not fun times. Thankfully, the new grass seems to be doing ok and was not badly damaged by the second flood but the ground is still incredibly wet (as is the case for many others) and we could do with some fine weather for more than a couple of days.

BF flooding damage May17

We were able to get the maize off the week before the first floods came, so we have things to be grateful for as many had great problems getting their maize off. We are thankful for any sort of supplement as the quality has also been compromised by the season we have had.

BF maize harvest May17

Here’s hoping we get a bit more nice weather over the next 6 – 8 weeks to dry the soil out a bit before the cold weather turns up!

There are currently 289 milkers on farm – all grazing 1 ha/day (70 day round), 6.5 kg/cow/day of meal, ½ – 1 kg/cow/day of molasses, 3.5 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage and 3.5 kg DM/cow/day of grass silage. Production to date is 163,103 kg MS, current production is 5.3 – 5.4 kg MS/ha/day and 1.35 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 5.1 – 5.2.


Average pasture cover is 1,988 kg DM/ha over everything, excluding the 6 new grass paddocks. The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,200 – 2,300 kg DM/ha in late June and 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late July.

As the cows are dried off over the coming weeks, the round will naturally extend for the winter. The residuals have been hard to keep but we want to keep trying to keep the milkers to at least 1,500 – 1,600 kg DM/ha through the winter. The dry cows will follow behind the milkers initially (especially during the drying off process) with the target to leave behind around 1,200 kg DM/ha through the winter with these cows. The dry off plan is to dry off every couple of weeks according to calving date.

Winter mating

Winter mating started on the 25th May and will go for 6 weeks.


5.2 tonne of PhaSedN has been applied in May, at 120 – 130 kg/ha. This will continue over the whole farm and then we will switch to SustaiN.


The runoff also took a bit of a hit with flooding, but nowhere near as bad as the milking platform so it recovered quicker although it is still very wet underfoot.

Unfortunately, the calves have not done as well as we would have liked either. They have been on full chicory, we have since decided not to do this again. We will plant the chicory with another grass as there has not been enough fibre in the chicory alone – a hard lesson to learn as it’s depressing not having your animals thrive the way they should. All the wet weather has possibly had an effect too.

BF calves May17

At the moment there are 130 R2 heifers and 40 dry cows getting 1/3 paddock/day plus maize silage. 120 calves are getting 2 bales/day of grass silage plus maize silage.

There are about 8 paddocks left to finish with PhaSedN before changing back to SustaiN for the following round.