Changes are in the wind – Brian Frost

The new year is in full swing. We were able to have a few days away at the end of January, which was great when the summer weather finally arrived. The household is getting back into the routine of school, uni, and working, but to mix things up we are also on the move. We need to shift from the house we are in and we are having fun finding that perfect place to host all of us – including the pets ☺.

On the farm

Summer so far is throwing up some pretty mixed weather. Not really enough moisture to keep things ticking along as we would like but temperatures not too hot most of the time so the cows and pastures are hanging in there for this time of year.

Currently we have 316 cows on farm – all grazing 1.5 ha/day (the grazing round extended out nicely when we started the summer crop to 40 – 45 day round), plus 6.5 – 7 kg/cow/day of meal (the current meal mix is 85% PKE + 15% soya hull), ½ kg/cow/day of molasses, 3.5 – 4.5 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage (started again on 13th January). The turnips started on 15th January and at current feeding rates should get us through to early April. Ten cows have been culled and another four will be culled next week. Production to date is 114,326 kg MS, compared with 115,000ish kg MS at the same time last year. Twenty cows have been running in a sick/mastitis herd over the last 4 – 6 weeks, partly causing the drop in production, most will be back in the herd this week so we should see a lift in production. Current production is 6.6 – 6.8 kg MS/ha/day and 1.65 – 1.7 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 4.3 – 4.4.

Average pasture cover is 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha (summer equation) with the pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha in late February and 1,800 – 1,900 kg DM/ha in late March (winter equation).

Pregnancy testing

A pregnancy test was done on 24th January and showed 71 (21%) empty cows with the 6 week in-calf rate 64% compared with 73% last year. Dave, our vet, suggested FE could be part of the reason why the empty rates this year are higher than we expected. Although this is not what most people would like to see, we want cows to put in the winter herd so overall this result is pretty good.

Fertilizer

4.5 tonne of urea (SustaiN) has been applied since late December, at 90 kg urea/ha, and we will keep following behind the cows with SustaiN at 85 – 90 kg/ha (with moisture) through February and March.

Lactation length and culling

The plan from here is to try and keep as many cows milking through into the autumn as possible. Any cows not expected to be in the herd next year, doing less than 1 kg MS/cow/day, might drop out in the next month. These cows will include any empties, once they are identified, as well as any other old culls.

Run off

At the run off we have 130 R2 heifers, 13 dry cows and 120 calves. Twenty big bales of hay came back to the dairy farm in late December. The 14.9 ha of maize looks really good and will hopefully be ready in good time. We started grazing the 8 – 10 ha of chicory in early January; the paddocks seem to need a full month to get to full length again before grazing.

To keep some sort of sanity and happiness in the family it’s always good to get to the water. Frostie is feeling rather tired and sore from the amount of times he has been pulling the skis etc lately but the offspring and all their mates are very happy!!

bf-water-skiing2

bf-water-skiing