Character building……. a tale of 2 different seasons – Lisa Groen

Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge and give my thoughts to the people affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, especially those in the Hawke’s Bay. Seeing videos and photos just blows my mind with all the devastation the water and slash has caused.

Excitement levels are getting higher as my parents and I are LESS than 90 days away from the 1st June and taking a step back.

Still lots to get done before the changeover, and farm maintenance to be completed to have everything set up for the new incoming sharemilkers. YES, we have our first sharemilkers signed up. We are looking forward to giving them an opportunity to step up in the industry as they are currently contract milking and will be buying the herd off us. We are keeping the contract as SIMPLE and EASY as possible and giving them 100% of the Co-Op Difference for their work and effort. Currently we are waiting for a brand-new 3-bedroom transportable house to be put near the cowshed for them to live in. In the meantime, I’ll be moving out of my house and back in with my parents, so they have a place to live come 1st June.

After struggling in November to grow grass and make silage we have ended up making a total of 76 ha (65 eff ha) of silage. Both concrete pads are full and we have made 36 round bales. N use to date is at 138 kg N/ha.

Rain totals for us:

September: 121 mm

October: 117 mm

November: 104 mm

December: 94 mm

January: 255 mm

February: 287 mm

(2 months of 200 mm+ …….. S#%*!)

We will be following the cows from now on with a little bit of N / Ammo 30N to help continue grass growth throughout autumn, help the pastures recover from having wet roots for the past two months, and make sure there is enough cover come 1st June.

We brought back our 15 in calf carryovers from grazing on 31st January to clean up pastures and silage behind the milking herd (saves paying grazing for them). 42 calves are still on farm being shifted every day and receiving 2 kg meal from the silo.

Our meal usage to date is: 580 tonnes (I’ve avoided asking our feed rep this question all season until now), but we believe the cows have definitely needed it and will continue to till the end of the season. The meal cost this season has averaged out at       $710/t delivered. With having 25 cows less than last season we are on track to still produce 120,000 kg MS from 210 cows.

TRYING to manage the wet weather

Thankfully, the power stayed on during both cyclone Hale and Gabrielle. We only had a few branches down. The intense thunderstorms have just been annoying! Just when you think the sun’s out and it’s drying… within 30 minutes you hear a thunderclap and 30-40 mm of rain falls. Whereas last summer it was just DRY and HOT. With so much moisture around the flies have been worse this season. This causes bunching in the paddocks by the cows creating a muddy mess. Currently each paddock has multiple puddles. So not even the driest part of the farm has been spared by this rain. We have continued topping paddocks when the weather has allowed us to. The silage stack was opened on the 14th February, as there was so much surface flooding in paddocks we needed to make sure the cows continued to get enough DM intake to avoid crashing in production too much. Even with all the rain / weather events the cows have stayed content and have been holding onto production well the past 3 months.

December: 2.06 kg MS/cow

January: 1.93 kg MS/cow

February: 1.84 kg MS/cow

Unfortunately, lame cows have become an issue but with early intervention, help from the vet with trimming/treatments, resting them in a paddock close to the cowshed and drier weather forecasted we can get through this wee period. Thankfully we haven’t had many mastitis cases with all the mud around. SCC this season is UP compared to last season, by 34%, throwing the 3-cent bonus for milk quality excellence out the window. The SCC is hovering around 198,000. But we are still grade free! We are currently still feeding 12 kg meal, 6 kg silage and whatever clean, dry pasture the cows can utilise.

You start to wonder…. What season would I actually prefer to farm in?

Last season’s drought or this season’s wet?

Personally, for me…… give me the drought! (last season I was probably 100 silage bales short of being comfortable and stress free.)

A drought is easier to manage. It’s nice seeing everything green at this time of year but there has been a lot of water damage in the paddocks. Pasture utilisation is piss poor, also for feeding supplements / crops. At least in a drought the cows eat everything. Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing wastage of any sort. To me that’s $$$ wasted on the ground.

This season’s wet has also meant the weeds have flourished. Dock has been raging in our pastures so we have dealt to two-thirds of the farm by using a contractor to spray them dead with Conquest @ 2 litres per 100 litres water. Yes, the clover took a hit but no more dock and we have clean pastures for next season.

Repro results

We went with a longer mating, as in-calf cows brings more money than an empty cow and give us more options.

95-day mating (13.5 weeks)

Gave us a 10% MT rate.

6-week in calf rate of 76%

Only 6 cows due to calve in October (really happy with these results)


I think in all my blog posts I mention the importance of time off. Unfortunately, this summer has meant not enough time on the jet ski, but I recently took a 5-day trip down to Takaka (Golden Bay, South Island) to spend time with my partner who is down there. I have noticed even in my farming friends’ group that there is a lot of movement within the dairy industry with people moving farming jobs next season. I wish everyone a good end to this season and hope the weather cooperates from now on. We MIGHT have a nice, beautiful, calm autumn to enjoy! I look forward to finishing up the last season with my parents. Next season I have decided to just do Mon – Fri work and keep my weekends free, or if I don’t have anything on I can always relief milk for friends if they want a weekend off and gain extra $$$ for myself.

Last season’s DairyBase

It helps that the payout was good and on farm inflation was not hitting hard until this season. Even with the drought, we did a top job with our profit per ha ($5,160), still achieving 2,000 kg MS/ha + and 565 kg MS/cow. Will be interesting to see how this season’s DairyBase will look after a recent payout drop and what the new breakeven milk price figure will look like.


I just want to congratulate my friend, Aleisha Broomfield, on winning the DIA Waikato Share Farmer of the Year! Legend mate!

1 Comment

  • Nice update Lisa ?

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