We farm 74 effective hectares of consolidated peat at Tauhei, north of Hamilton, Waikato. We started with an all Friesian herd and have progressively moved to a crossbred herd since then.
Over the years we have tried many different farming practices, from TAD milking and achieving great results, then venturing into OAD milking with the aim of producing the same as a TAD system. We have since gone back to the TAD system for a variety of reasons – both farming and personal and achieved 181,000 MS in the 2012-13 season.
Our farm management aims to make full use of all pasture before supplements are used, and we use winter grazing-off to support this. The high stocking rate allows spring pasture to be fed direct to cows with no pasture silage conserved, little topping and we use nitrogen fertiliser at rates up to a maximum of 200 kg N/ha as feed budgets dictate.
Turnips are used to provide a high quality summer supplement and to assist re-grassing with tall fescue.
Because of the change in induction rules we have chosen to bring our calving forward to 4th July. We are also trialling a mating program of six weeks AB, 4 weeks bulls, and AB short gestation bulls for 10 days to help compress our calving spread.
Below is a short summary of what we have done so far:
- 1999: All grass, 87,000 kgMS
- 2000: Fed vegetables
- 2006: Once-a-day milking
- 2009: Returned to twice a day milking, fed PKE
- Renovation of old pasture – planted tall fescue
|Fertility||pH 6.1||P 35-50||K 16||S 5|
|Pasture||Advance and Eastern Tall Fescue (Max P endophyte)||Kotare and Weka White Clover||ChicoryFarm dairy|
|Farm dairy||24-aside herringbone||ACR, in-shed feed system||Protrack|
|Spring||Condition score 5 cows||Summer||10.5ha of Barkant turnips|
|Follow spring rotation planner||30-day rotation when turnips start in January|
|Feed cows well – grass supplements||Increase round when significant growth occurs|
|Minerals||40 days end of January-early February to conclusion of season, 30 May|
|98% to AB|
|Low empty rate|
|Autumn||Re-sow turnip paddocks with Eastern Tall Fescue, Kotare and Weka white clover, and chicory||Winter||Graze off|
Improvements to farm ‘smarter not harder’
- Removal of high endophyte grasses
- Upgrade water line
- Automatic cup removers
- In-shed feeders
- Effluent pond: Whole farm under effluent irrigation