Summer’s over, autumn’s here – Brian Frost

It’s been a long time between blogs for a number of reasons – the beginning of the year is a marvellous time of getting back into routines and starting up all the clubs and meetings again, which can be hard after all those lazy days at the beach – always lots of fun! To add to the frenzied beginning of the year we sold our beach house and so at present are living with two house lots of furniture in the one house; but slowly Mrs. Frostie is dealing with it. Then to top it all off, the computer died -grrr! We are finally partly back up and running with a new (to us) computer. Frostie has been busy on the farm trying to sort out problems with the new grass paddocks. The children are all back at uni and school, and Mrs. Frostie is keeping herself busy at DairyNZ too.

BF beach combo

On the farm more February rain bought good pasture growth but unfortunately the payout brings some very serious farming pressure, it is a real bonus we haven’t had to fight a summer drought like many were predicting. The key is to keep doing what you can control well.

Currently we have 335 cows on farm – all grazing 1 paddock/day (1.5 ha/day = 40 day round). The cows are getting 6 kg/cow/day of meal + ¼ – ½ kg/cow/day of molasses. Our production to date is 126,429 kg MS compared with 121,173 kg MS at the same time last season. Our current production is 7 – 7.1 kg MS/ha/day and 1.5 – 1.6 kg MS/cow/day. Cow condition is 4.3 – 4.4.

Our average pasture cover is 2,000 kg DM/ha with targets for 2,100 – 2,200 kg DM/ha in late March. We will look to get out to a 50 – 60 day round in April – May.

We started feeding turnips on 12th January and the crop will last through to the end of March, which will be perfect to run into when the new maize silage will be ready for the cows.

We have had extreme problems with our new grass. We have had many attempts at trying to find out why it’s failing over the last few years – thinking it was a poa problem amongst other things. Brian was able to get two pasture companies come and look at it, samples were sent for testing and the result has been a problem of poor endophyte, we are now working on a solution to fix the problem. Because of the issues we have decided to plant Ceres One50, clover and chicory this year and this was sown last week. We are under-sowing the previous problem pastures with Asset and next year’s turnip paddocks into Winter Star II.

BF new grass resized

No fertilizer has been applied since late December, but we will start following the cows again at 85 – 90 kg/ha of urea or SustaiN and keep going with this behind the cows through the autumn.

The final pregnancy test was done in late January, which showed 59 (17%) empty cows with the 6- week in-calf rate 73%. Although this empty rate is way above what our normal empty rate has been we are pleased with this result, as we used no intervention as our whole farming system is changing with milking though the winter. At this stage we plan to keep as many cows milking through into the autumn as possible, although the cows we are not planning to have in the herd next year and that are doing less than 1 kg MS/cow/day will possibly be dropped out in the month.

There are 90 weaned 2015 calves and 113 yearlings at the run-off looking great and they will love the maize coming into their diet next week to go with the fresh pasture.

The 16 ha of maize looks great and is ready to harvest this week. We also grew a crop of sweet corn alongside the maize as a fundraiser for our school who are sending 30 teenagers to Fiji on a mission trip to clean up and build new structures. After many trailer loads of corn sold we are now over corn for the next wee while!!

The boat did get a run over the summer but more for the kids’ activities rather than any fishing – Frostie is hoping to get out in the next couple of weeks and do the hunter gather thing!

BF boat combo

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