Springtime – Brian Frost

bf-fireIt’s been great to see some nice spring weather; and the lift in the GDT and Fonterra’s forecast payout have given us a boost for the season ahead – long may this last.

Yet again we are trying new things in our farming régime. This year a change in grasses and crops, and a new calving date for next season.

On the Farm

Currently there are 357 cows on farm – all grazing 3 ha/day (24 – 25 day round). 323 milkers are grazing 3.2 ha/day + 4.5 – 5 kg/cow/day of meal + ½ kg/cow/day of molasses. One springer, 33 colostrum / sick cows (including 14 culls going tomorrow) and 123 calves are also on farm.

Production to date is 36,494 kg MS, compared with 33,000 kg MS at the same time last season, a boost at the beginning of the season for us. Our current production is 8.6 – 8.8 kg MS/ha/day and 2 kg MS/cow/day. The average cow condition is 4.2 – 4.3.

The average pasture cover was 2,847 kg DM/ha on 20th September. The pasture cover targets for the next 10 weeks are 3,000 – 3,100 kg DM/ha in late October and 2,700 – 2,800 kg DM/ha in late November. We would like to see the residuals hold at 1,500 – 1,700 kg DM/ha through the spring.

Our manager has done a great job over the last six weeks speeding up the rotation while also controlling pasture quality behind the cows. The plan is for the current two paddocks/day allocation to continue through the spring. The rotation will actually drop as and when crop paddocks are taken out of the round.


Ten tonne of PhaSed N has been applied at 140 kg/ha, 6.5 tonne in August and 3.5 tonne in September so far. For the next full grazing round 100 kg/ha of Ammo will be applied over the whole farm, after that we will miss a round and then do a round of SustaiN at 60 kg/ha.


We are changing a few things this season. AB for the herd is due to start on 25th October and will go for 6 weeks. Of the 87 yearlings, 67 were mated to AB on 1 – 8th September and the last 20 were PG’d and mated over the following 10 days. AB is continuing on these as they come up over the next 3 – 4 weeks. We have also purchased a further 43 heifers. These will be synchronized and mated to calve around 22nd July, before the bulls are put out. Because we have changed to OCD we want to optimise winter milk without having two herds, so next year the heifers will calve in June (the same as this year) with the cows calving from 1st August.


As Winter Star was sown into 11 paddocks there are now paddocks that need some attention or there will be significant growth lost over the next six months. While spraying out and putting straight back into pasture is an option, putting a crop in makes the most sense as it will give a lot more growth over the next six months, with not too much extra cost. Therefore the plan is:

  • Turnips. We plan on planting 10.5 ha (7 paddocks) this year. The aim will be to get the first four paddocks sown by 20th October and the last three paddocks by early November.
  • Chicory. Another 7.5 ha (5 paddocks) will go into chicory – Puna 2 at 10 kg/ha. This process can be started anytime now, so we will get onto this and see how soon they can be sown. A pre-emergence insecticide is recommended (DairyNZ http://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/chicory/)
  • Maize. At the runoff we plan on planting 14 ha in mid-October. Last year’s maize area will go into chicory in late October / early November.

Run off

Frostie has been very busy on the run off, re-fencing paddocks ready for the calves to come from the milking platform, and clearing other areas for the maize to go into. It was previously a bull farm so the fences are all one wire and need to be two wires for the calves so this has been a big job, but lots of fun when you get to light the fires.

At the run off the 130 R2 heifers are grazing in 2 lots on all pasture. 16 ha of silage was harvested in August and another cut is due to be harvested in late September / early October. The following (and last) cut of silage will come off this area in late October / early November.


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