Smooth spring sailing – John van der Goes

Once again time has roared around and it’s time to update what’s been happening here.

Well, what has happened? On the whole things have gone really well. Calving seemed to start and just power away, with us reaching the halfway mark three or four days ahead of last year. Talking to people it seems that most of them had the same thing happen. The downside for us was that when we sent our first load of milk we didn’t have as many first calvers in as usual and that, coupled with early calving high cell count cows, meant demerit points for the first two pickups. There is always something that catches you out each year.

JVG spring cows

We have had a good run with replacements this year. In fact, I think our heifer to bull ratio was outside the normal range. Not only did the cows have lots of heifers, but the first-calvers did too. All in all, we have had a really good run with not many animal health issues. Only a couple of milk fevers, mastitis cases and calvings.

It seemed like that there was no time for anything but the essentials right from the start this year. Usually I manage to get some extra jobs done before things get going but not this year. In fact, it was a big surprise to look back at the end of the day and think I actually got something done.

Not long before we got busy I was talking to a regional council officer and asked about what we could do with the stream banks where the corners are being eroded away. He said he would contact the right person for me. They came to see me and now we have a lot of willow and poplar poles planted on the corners of our stream. The best thing is that I didn’t have to do any of it, and they are coming back to replace the ones that the cows snapped off. Also, I’ve got someone else from council coming to talk about planting more of the banks, and he said that they will probably help with the funding and supply of plants.

JVG poplar poles4

After three attempts we have managed to get our first paddock of fodder beet planted. This was the last paddock grazed, which we didn’t finish till the end of July, so it has just been sitting there waiting. Nice to think that something is growing in it now instead of just weeds. This year our contractor has a new planter with all sorts of fancy gizmos, including a sprayer, so no need for a separate pre-emergence spray.

JVG fodder beet cultivated paddock

JVG fodder beet planter

With feeding out just about finished, and grass getting going, it looks like I may be able to think about the odd fishing trip and breaking out the lycra and hopping on my bike.

Spring is on its way! – Brian Frost

The sunshine has been a welcome relief from the wet weather and mud! This being said calving has gone pretty well so far with not many losses of calves or cows. Thankfully, the grass has kept growing giving us a new (but nice) headache making sure we don’t lose any pasture quality over the next six weeks as we speed up the grazing round.

BF calves

On the Farm

We currently have 371 cows on farm (and runoff) – all grazing 1.1 ha/day (65 day round).

  • 221 milkers are grazing 1 ha/day + 6 – 7 kg/cow/day of meal + ½ kg/cow/day of molasses,
  • 50 springers are grazing 0.1 ha/day + hay,
  • 49 late dry cows are still grazing at the runoff + 6 empty cows about to be culled,
  • 45 colostrums/sick cows and 110 calves are also on farm.

Production to date is 12,441 kg MS, compared with 10,000 kg MS at the same time last season. Current production is 5 kg MS/ha/day and 1.7 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 4.3 – 4.4 for the milkers and the dry cows are 4.9 – 5.

BF cows Aug16

The mineral mix is going through the meal at 3%. The minerals will also start going through the water in the next couple of weeks. Causmag is being dusted on the pasture for the dry cows. The colostrums are getting 300 g lime flower/cow/day dusted on their pasture.

The average pasture cover is 3,040 kg DM/ha (dropped from 3,100 kg DM/ha 3 weeks ago). This fantastic cover is attributed to the undersowing (which shows how poorly the fescue was doing), the use of the runoff over the winter and some excellent management over the last six weeks. The pasture cover targets for the next eight weeks are 2,700 – 2,800 kg DM/ha in late August and 2,500 – 2,600 kg DM/ha in late September.

Run off

We have been bringing 20 – 30 cows home each week from the run off, with the last 49 cows coming home this week. The heifers are also doing well and are going onto all grass.

All of the new grass is shut up to cut for silage later this month, with a second cut planned in late September / early October including some other paddocks.

The main key to getting through has been sticking to the plan – even when it’s not been easy.

The plan for the next four weeks (slightly earlier/quicker than what we originally planned due to the very good pasture cover) is:

  • 13 – 25th August ½ paddock/feed (1 paddock/day);
  • 25th August – 1st September 1½ paddocks/day.

We then plan to hold this round through until we are confident we are not going to run out of pasture – and when the residuals can be kept under control. The milkers should leave behind around 1,300 – 1,400 kg DM/ha of residual through until late August with the aim to see this lift to 1,500 – 1,700 kg DM/ha through the spring, also using the option to follow the milkers with dry cows if this helps to keep the residuals down to the lower target levels over the next 4 – 6 weeks.

We have also been discussing our mating plan with our farm consultant as we have changed our dairy company and so are looking to change a few things to make the most of everything on offer. With the aim to start calving on 1st August next year, mating will look to start around 25th October. CIDR’ing will therefore be targeted to be done around 15th October. We are still planning to calve the heifers in early June – so their mating will start around 1st September.

BF heifers

Wet, wet, wet – Noldy Rust

August is here, the Olympic Games in Rio open today and the Chiefs bowed out of the race for top honours in the Super rugby competition last weekend. No more Super rugby to watch for a while, but the action coming out of Rio will certainly keep us entertained over the next couple of weeks. Now that calving is winding down hopefully there will be a bit more time available to take in some of the highlights of the games and enjoy some possible golden glory for the Kiwi team.

I had it in my mind to refrain from speaking too much about the absolutely appalling weather we have all been coping with during the last month or so. However, I do have to state that the rainfall we have received in July, right up to today, has certainly been a challenge to man and beast (and wife also, although to a lesser extent!!). Winters of late have been reasonably kind, but this year has seen conditions as challenging as I can remember. It wasn’t just the amount of rain we received, but the sheer frequency of it. Relentless daily downpours seemed never ending. Blow me down, as I write, down it comes again!! And that’s after I sent several texts to fellow farmers this morning gleefully sharing that the sunny weather had arrived for a while!!

In spite of the big wet, calving has gone well to date. Care has been taken to minimise pugging, and with that comes a lot of work. Getting springers moved before daylight, bringing milkers onto the pad early in the afternoon, moving lates to a standoff area and then standing springers on the pad overnight. The big challenge, as always, is to do the best for the soils and pastures whilst being as kind as we can to our cows so as to minimise lameness and tiredness. I don’t know that I could farm without a feedpad anymore. Being able to stand cows off and feed them supplements to avoid weight loss is just so good. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a covered herd home or something similar?? The benefits of some sort of cow housing in seasons like this are huge. I jealously think of all the farmers I know with herd homes etc and I go green with envy…… however this changes pretty quick once the sun shines again and I think of all the money I have saved in not building one!!

NR cows feedpad

We have our yard temporarily covered once again in the finest wool carpet from Axminster and Bremworth in order to provide a more comfortable surface for the cows when they are standing off. This works a treat. We can hose it and keep it clean and the cows certainly prefer to stand on it rather than on concrete. We feed the springers on the pad and leave the gate open onto the yard for them to go and ‘camp’ on overnight. I had them on there again last night and as many as possible were sitting down quite happily. I had to give a few of them a boot in the backside to get them up; similar to what I have to do in the house when I get in for breakfast!!!

NR yard carpet2

Going forward, we need to try and stick to our spring rotation planner. This will be easier when things dry out a bit, starting in about half an hour (I hope!!). I am keen to get calves outside asap as the sheds are pretty full. Using sexed semen has worked well once again and the regular heifer calf pick-ups for the Chinese market helps the cashflow. I am thrilled with the rate that the 2 year heifers calved at. I think after 3 weeks we only have 5 to go out of 43. I see this as a result of having well-grown heifers that are hitting their liveweight targets at key times. Our grazier has done a great job with them and I know that other lines of heifers from this same block have calved equally as well.

Days are getting longer, spring kicks in in around 25 days and the latest GDT auction went up. We have lots to look forward to! Plus our eldest daughter is expecting her first baby shortly and Ali Baba, the stage show, begins on 1st September in Te Awamutu. Not to mention the youngest daughter finishes Uni shortly and will hopefully start earning some money and repaying some of the financial contributions I have gifted her with during these past few years…. Exciting times ahead!!

NR preg+ali baba+grad

Till next time, soldier on, keep smiling and looking forward positively to what exciting things lie ahead!!

NR spring lamb

Feeding lessons learned – John van der Goes

I have just finished watching the end of the first stage of this year’s Tour de France. It looks like another three weeks of getting up each morning and watching the computer while the Tour unfolds. I thought that since I was up and it’s too frosty to go out I might as well write this blog which I have done in my head for the last few months.

We ended up milking till the 22nd of May. This is the longest we have milked ever. Production finished just behind our best, so not a bad result considering we didn’t start the season that well. Most months were just below the previous season. We managed to reach our SCC target, and stay below 100,000 on average, which is quite pleasing. Most of the cows were in really good nick and the cows we dried off early were gaining weight nicely. By the time we dried off we had only just started the last fodder beet paddock. Also, we had a reasonable amount of pit silage left. So we were well off for feed.

I decided that it would be better to feed out the pit silage first, as we seemed to be juggling all the different feeds we had, plus good grass growth, which was making things complicated. I thought that it might be a bit drier at the start so the pit silage should go first. Also I didn’t want to shut down the pit again. Of course it was wet while we fed silage and dried out when we finished the stack. This was around the time we finished milking.

We started the fodder beet again and had to transition cows back on to it. So now we are a little over halfway through the paddock, putting two mobs of cows on one after the other. They get about two hours on beet each which means around 4 kg DM. Good feeding, but extra time and a big tie. I think that we probably should have just kept one mob on full time. This would have reduced the work load and cows walking every day. At the time I thought to put cows on and take them off would reduce the pugging. It didn’t really work. I’m looking forward to the changes we will make this season, after all the things we learnt last season.

JVG cows on fodder beet

Just as we finished milking I was talking to a friend who was working off farm in town. He said that the firm he was working for were really busy and could do with more staff. I said I could help out if they needed. So soon after we dried the cows off (three days) I started work there as well. It was a great arrangement for me as I only worked the hours that I could, meaning that all the basics still got done and I could do 25 hours a week of paid work. Hopefully, it would be enough to pay the supermarket for the food bill.

Of course this meant that all those jobs that I was going to do in the summer and didn’t, plus all the jobs I had planned to do with the cows dry, never got done. It will be a very busy year in catch-up mode.

After I finished work I had three days to get organized for my relief staff, then we were off to the South Island for seven days. The main reason was a wedding in Queenstown, but we added a visit to friends in Southland and a trip through the Mackenzie Basin as well. This was to check out the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, which I’m now really keen to do.

Back home things had got a little damp – 134 mm of rain in a week. Starting with 75 mm overnight on the day we left. Wet weather in winter is the part that I hate in farming, but I did feel really guilty leaving my staff to deal with it while I was away. We came back just as the rain finished to very tired cows, after having to be on the yard overnight nearly every night. But the farm was in really good shape. All credit to Craig who looked after the place.

Now we are concentrating on calving. I managed to set up the calf shed before it started (first time without calves on the ground for ages). We have just over a dozen cows calved, so we will be sending milk soon. At least it will mean some income.

JVG milk plant3

I have also put new dropper tubes in the cowshed (changed from 16 mm to 19 mm) with the aim of reducing foaming in the plant while the cows are at peak volume. The good news is that it has meant less foaming in the plant while the acid wash is going through. Hopefully this will also mean less milk foaming. Fingers crossed.

I hope all goes well for everyone as we crank up into a new season.

The start of a new season – Brian Frost

BF Canada

Mr. and Mrs. Frostie have returned from their wBF halibutanderings around Hawaii, Alaska and Canada and the children are all still alive and the house is standing, so we are on a win:win!!! We had a wonderful time with great friends, amazing sights and fabulous weather, and came back to use our thermals here! We once again have to say New Zealand is the best place on earth though.

The first day back Frostie went straight out to the farm to catch up with what was happening there while Mrs. Frostie stood in the freezing cold and rain to watch soccer and netball then that night left the houseful of people watching the rugby to pick up the youngest child and get her broken leg attended to – welcome home!

Well, as we start a new season we can only hope the financial challenges of the past season get better. As our farm consultant has said ‘the next 6 months are probably going to be some of the most financially challenging that we have ever experienced! Keeping good focus and a mind for the longer term is such a key at times like this.’

On the farm

We currently have 197 cows on farm – all grazing 0.6 ha/day (120 – 130 day round).

  • 138 milkers are grazing 0.43 ha/day + 7 kg/cow/day of meal + ½ kg/cow/day of molasses + 2 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage.
  • 15 colostrum cows are grazing 0.05 ha/day + meal + maize.
  • 44 springers are grazing 0.1 ha/day + 2-3 kg DM/cow/day of maize silage.

Production to date is 5,429 kg MS compared with 3,967 kg MS at the same time last season. Cow condition is 4.5 – 4.6 for the milkers and 4.7 – 4.8 for the dry cows at the runoff. Causmag is going on the maize for the dry cows and the triple mix for the milkers. Causmag is also being dusted for the dry cows.

The average pasture cover is 2,555 kg DM/ha, an amazing turnaround from the 1,500 – 1,600 kg DM/ha that was around in early/mid May with the undersowing work coming through very strongly now. The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 2,300 – 2,400 kg DM/ha in late July and around 2,100 kg DM/ha in late August.

The grazing round has extended with the spring cows starting to be dried off. The spring rotation planner is the key to grazing management from the start of calving so we hold to the target grazing areas over the next 3 months.

With all the stock on the farm, grazing no more than:

  • 1/70th of the farm/day on 1st August = 1.06 ha/day in total for all stock.
  • 1/60th of the farm/day on 10th August = 1.23 ha/day.
  • 1/50th of the farm/day on 20th August = 1.48 ha/day.
  • 1/40th of the farm/day on 1st September = 1.85 ha/day.
  • 1/30th of the farm/day on 10th September = 2.47 ha/day.

To reach these goals, we try to keep to the following grazing areas:

  • Springers –hold at 20 m2/cow/day + hay.
  • Milkers – aim at 40 – 45 m2/cow/day until 20th On 20th August, these can lift to 50 m2/cow/day and up again to 55m2/cow/day on 1st September. On 10th September lift up to the 30ish day round.

A load of hay is coming to use for the springers when the maize stops.

The maize silage feeding level dropped from 4 kg DM/cow/day down to 2 kg DM/cow/day last week. With the pasture cover being so good, this will drop out over the next 1 – 2 weeks. This will leave around 100 t DM to have on hand for the milkers from February.

Run off

The run off continues to improve very quickly and is set up very well to grow a lot of spring pasture that will provide some really good silage for the dairy farm. 90 weaned 2015 calves are now getting 7 days/paddock + grass silage. 146 dry cows are getting 3 days/paddock + 3 – 4 kg DM/day of maize silage.

The plan is to graze the new grass and then shut this for silage. Over the next 3 – 4 weeks we will start thinking about other paddocks that can be left to cut for silage also. We will keep following with PhasedN over the whole block in the next 6 weeks.

In general

Over all, the farm is looking a picture with lots of grass and at the moment the sun is shining. We have had large amounts of rain over the last few weeks and the work that the council have done on the drains have so far keep the flood waters off the farm – so long may this last. Most of the heifers have calved and the cows have started calving so the fun of the new season has begun! The holiday is becoming a distant memory.

BF Canada2

Looking back on calving – John van der Goes

Seems like just yesterday that I wrote my last blog, I guess that comes with age as I remember my parents saying the same thing.

What’s been happening here?

We had our first herd test last Thursday and got the results on Friday. I was very pleased that there were no cows in the millionaires’ club. In fact, the highest cow had a count of 680 and only five were above 150. It seems the effort we put in reducing the count last year was worth it, especially since we have only had three clinical mastitis cases so far. I’m not celebrating too much yet though, as last year we had most of our clinical cases after November. So I will wait till the New Year to see how we get on. It looks like we will carry on with using a combination dry treatment (dry cow plus teat seal).

The first of our fodder beet paddocks is planted and the next two have been sprayed out. Had the usual rush to get the first paddock ready as I was trying to work in with the neighbour to have the planter here at the same time. I want to get the next two planted before the end of next week. Quite looking forward to seeing how it turns out as I have talked to a few people now who planted beet last year and are planting again this year because it went so well. I decided to plant an extra paddock as I usually plant three in chicory and the long range forecast is for a dry summer. This should give over a hundred days of feeding fodder beet.

JVG fodder beet

My last cow calved on Friday so I have been reflecting on how things went. Overall I’m quite pleased. The heifers were the best I’ve ever had, both in calving rate and ease of breaking in. The cows calved a bit slower than last year which reflects the poorer submission rate. Hence production is down a bit, but we are now catching up. Some of the production drop is also due to holding the cows a lot harder during the early part of calving because covers were down and I didn’t want to feed too much supplement.

JVG cows2

We are now just about embarrassed with grass because I have held the rotation out and also kept putting nitrogen on. So now we have silage ready to cut both at home and at the runoff. I hope to get the first paddocks done this week and then will see if the other paddocks that are earmarked will be cut or not.

I’m still trying to wiggle in a fishing trip or two, Maybe even a sleep in as well, but with mating coming around quickly the sleep ins don’t look like they will eventuate. I will settle for a few afternoons on the water while someone else (my wife) milks. I have managed the odd bike ride (some on the trainer, which I dislike) and now plan to get out regularly to build up fitness for a fun ride in November. Had to brush cobwebs and dust off the bike to go for a ride yesterday.

Trying out fodder beet – John van der Goes

It’s past time I updated you on what’s happening here.

JVG calves4Calving has been probably the easiest one we have done for a long time. Not many metabolic issues, very few mastitis cows, and the heifers were the best to break in ever. Hardly any kicked, and if they did it was half-hearted and only for a milking or two. I’m not sure why it was like that, but I would like to know so we can repeat it next year. If you couple that with the weather on the whole being dry, calving seemed to be stress free and go by without too much trouble.

JVG pumpWe are still dealing with water issues however. The new filter is in and working well producing lovely clear and clean water. But the water coming out of the taps is not so nice. So one of my next jobs is to drain and clean out the tank so it won’t taint our water. Not really looking forward to it as there is a lot of messing around to do so that the cows, cowshed plus houses can still have water.

I have just decided (yesterday) that we will plant fodder beet this year instead of chicory, the reason being that we will get a greater yield from fodder beet – 24t/ha instead of 8t/ha with chicory. This means I can plant two paddocks instead of three, giving an extra paddock of grass. Another deciding factor was being able to use the fodder beet paddock as a stand-off area to prevent over grazing. If we can do the job properly, and get the results others have, fodder beet looks like a really good prospect for the dry summers that seem to be coming regularly at present.

My off farm activities have been somewhat curtailed over calving – limited to SMASH and Dairy Push meetings. With just the tail-enders left I am starting to dream about things like getting back on my bike and fishing with the kayak, so hopefully these things will happen soon and those pesky jobs that have to be done will disappear.

The end of calving is near – Brian Frost

Since our last blog the grass has at last started growing. We are still behind what we would like, but at least we are moving in the right direction.

All of the cows are back from the run-off and we have 93% of the herd calved. Mostly this has gone without too many problems; we have enjoyed having the run-off, being able to monitor the cows ourselves and bring them back to the home farm closer to calving, so as to lessen the pressure on the milking platform.

We have had many sleepless nights thinking about how we handle mating for this coming season – what timing shall we do for the heifers? Shall we just stick with bulls or go the AB route? How much will everything cost and how much will we lose if we go for the cheaper options? How will our plan impact on the workers and the length of calving? Many, many questions, with the decision being made to PG synchronize the heifers starting on the 16th September and start AB on 5th October for the cows.

The last weather bomb that went through was a real test for the maintenance that has recently been done on the surrounding drains. Up until this last lot of rain we had only been flooded once, when we first re-grassed the paddocks which had been in turnips. The maintenance seemed to be making a difference, but not for this last lot. Unfortunately the water came in again with force and made farming very stressful as this is where the cows were due to go. Thankfully, the water went out after a couple of days and has not done too much damage, and the pasture has stood the test.

On Monday we had our first case of Theileria :(. We are not sure where this has come from – perhaps the run-off – but nonetheless we are not the first, nor will we be the last, so we are putting things in place to prevent any more cows getting it.

On the home front

Mrs. Frostie finished her full time stint at DairyNZ and survived :).

All the winter sport is coming to an end – summer sports have started – ALREADY!!!

Dance and music exams have been achieved – the violin player got 96%!!!

Unfortunately we did not miss the flu going around members of the household! – YUK!BF ball Sept blog

For a break from the calving and farming stuff Mrs. Frostie encouraged family and friends to attend the ‘Grand Affair Ball’ at the Horsham Downs Church (and they had to go as she was on the organizing committee). It was lovely to dress up and attend something classy – a change from green overalls and smelling like cows 🙂

Decisions, decisions – Noldy Rust

I don’t know about all you others out there, it may just be me, but I sense that this has been a reasonably kind calving season?? Please rebuff me if need be, I am always open to criticism and ridicule, what with having 3 daughters ….and a wife!!! At our place at least, things have gone as smoothly as I could have hoped for. Growth has been all over the place as we have had some quite severe cold snaps, as all of you have no doubt, and to top it all off I think it’s been a wetter than usual August. Thankfully most of the rain has been in short bursts, excepting for this first week in September.

As I have been travelling around the countryside I’ve heard feed has been very tight, but most cows seem to be in good condition and there seem to have been fewer cases of metabolic issues and mastitis to deal with this year. This is extremely fortunate as with the cash flow being non-existent this season I shudder to think of what would happen if we needed to keep on spending money we don’t have on animal health and feed.

This environment certainly adds a different dimension to how we look at things. I was certain that milk from the vat for calves was the cheapest option by far with the low payout. However whey based milk replacers are still worth buying, even at $3.85/kg MS. I am only using this for the older calves, but the nutritional info seems to indicate that this feed is all calves need to hit their growth targets. It always hurts when you have to take milk out of the vat whatever the payout, I’m sure you all agree?? The only downside of the whey replacer compared to straight milk powder is that it doesn’t taste anywhere near as nice when I lick my finger and plunge it into the bag to do a taste test……doesn’t seem to bother the calves though!!

NR calf feeding

Calves feeding on whey based milk replacer

Mating is coming up, crikey, doesn’t take long does it? Now, what to do as far as bulls go??

Last year I got onto this scheme through Farmer’s Livestock where you order the bulls you want and then only pay $50 on arrival. Their value is assessed when you get them, and then when they are hooked (once they have served their requirements), you pay the difference. With the schedule being what it is, will it go up by around Christmas time or will it crash. If it does crash, how low will it go?? That is one option, the other is to do a straight lease again, and the third is to carry on with AI for the whole duration of mating. Gotta be onto it with detection in that case though. If I went down that track I think I would use the CRV scratchies all the way through. They work really well and Sam isn’t colour blind as far as I know…The teaser bull will be in the herd anyway so that should help. Hmmmm, decisions, decisions!!

Looking ahead to the rest of the month, tailpainting has been done and we will repeat it when we get to the start of AI, we will run anything that has no paint rubbed off with a couple of recorded bulls. This always works well as it takes care of those “non-cyclers” in the cheapest possible way.

I also need to work out the best way of bringing my grass silage home from a couple of maize blocks. Usually I bale it, but although that’s really convenient it is quite expensive. I am trying to work out the cost advantage in chopping it and either making a stack, or putting it in our bunker which still has about 80 tonnes of maize in it. All this thinking is doing my head in!!

NR silage pit

Will it fit?

It was good to be able to get a one-on-one visit from DairyNZ a few weeks back to chat about maximising grass growth, spring rotation planner etc etc. This was helpful, especially for Sam, as it’s good to hear advice from a different source for a change. Sarah Dirks came out, and making time to look at a few paddocks and have a chat was invaluable. I wonder if many of you have had a visit also? If so, how did it go?

NR spring rotation planner

Spring rotation planner

Calf feeding time now, a couple of new Herefords to teach to drink so I had better go. Is it just me, but why are Herefords so thick?????? Once they are trained they are fine, but sometimes they just don’t get it!! I tried once to get Sam to demonstrate how to suck on the teat but he suddenly had urgent effluent issues to address!

See you next month.

Tweaking the system – Brian Frost

Well the grass is not growing as much as Frostie would like and the payout is adding stress to everything. Some things we can control, and others we can’t, so we are trying to manage as best we can and tweak what we can in the system to make the impact of the low payout as minimal as possible. While the Fonterra drop in forecast payout was expected, the extent of it was certainly a bit of a shock. However, we can’t lose our focus on farming well to ensure productivity isn’t lost as well during this low payout season.

Calving is well over half way through. It started with a hiss and a roar and then, of course, slowed down. Frostie is kept busy looking after the babies and then heads to the runoff to look after the dries and the heifers. Mrs. Frostie is temporarily working at DairyNZ to earn back our levies :).

On the farm

Current situation

There are 306 cows on farm – all grazing 1.15 ha/day (60 – 65 day round).

Daily intake:

  • 216 milkers are grazing 1 ha (45 m2/cow). Per cow intake: 6 kg meal, ½ kg molasses and 2 kg DM grass silage.
  • 20 heifer springers are grazing 0.05 ha.
  • 48 springing cows are grazing 0.1 ha plus 2 kg DM/cow of hay.
  • 22 colostrum/sick cows and 85 replacement calves are also on farm.

Our production to date is 10,314 kg MS, compared with 3,483 kg MS at the same time last season, with current production 3.9 – 4.2 kg MS/ha/day and 1.4 – 1.5 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 4.5 for the milkers and 4.7 – 4.8 for the dry cows.

Feed budget

The average pasture cover is around 1,700 – 1,800 kg DM/ha. The pasture cover targets for the next 8 weeks are 1,600 – 1,700 kg DM/ha in late August and 1,900 – 2,000 kg DM/ha in late September.

Residuals:

  • Dry cows are leaving residuals of around 1,200 kg DM/ha through the winter.
  • Milkers are leaving residuals of 1,300 – 1,400 kg DM/ha through the next month with this lifting to 1,500 – 1,600 kg DM/ha through September.

Short term management

Grazing round
With the current growth and average cover conditions we will continue with the rotation plan that we have put together.

In shed feeding

The cows have stayed at around 6 kg/cow/day through the last 6 weeks. This will continue for the milkers. Other supplements – trying to make last as long as possible.

Mating

  • Heifers. We are looking at mating the heifers to calve a month before the cows. This would mean calving around mid June – mating starts in early September. The plan is to do AB for 3-4 weeks and then tail off with some bulls.
  • Cows. With the heifers calving earlier, the cows won’t need to start until around 10th July, therefore mating should start around 1st – 5th October. We are planning to take the empty cows through the winter again, so there will be no need to do pre-mating heats or a CIDR’ing programme. This will save costs this year, which has to be a real bonus!! We are planning to do 6 – 8 weeks AB, then bring a couple of bulls from the heifers to tail off, to give a 10 week mating programme all up.