The final push, footrot and farm improvements – Lisa Groen

With 31 days left till June, we are still milking TAD. With all the supplements we have fed over the summer, the little bits of rain, and sticking to our round length of 45 days since the calves left the farm, we have increased pasture cover to 2,400+ kg DM/ha. If this warm weather continues, we will be able to keep milking into June. We will just keep monitoring grass growth and weather every week from now on.

Rainfalls have been hit and miss over the whole Waikato this summer and autumn. February: 16 mm, March: 107 mm, April: 42 mm

Current situation

242 milkers holding steady at 1.6 kg MS/day

9 carryovers were swapped over when the calves left. They are cleaning up behind the milkers.

1 cull/empty cow to the works 14th April.

1 fat cow dried off 20th April and is with the carryover cows.

45-day round.

Spore counts have continued to be below 5,000 spores/g.

Culls / empties are still on farm.

627 t meal used to date.

We increased meal to 12 kg/day through March and April. Grass growth was poor because we were still waiting on more rain. Grass grows grass, so not decking the pastures below 1,500 was KEY. With the diet of grass being so little we haven’t been hit with eczema. Making the silage last as long as possible too. Maintaining body condition score and having grass towards the back end of the season, so when I do eventually dry off, they can live off 10 kg DM grass and I don’t have to feed out during the dry period (saves me and Dad a job).

The diet/cost of feed budget in March and April was:

6 kg meal in am and 6 kg in pm milking, 5.4 kg grass silage, 2 kg grass

Total = 19.4 kg DM/cow/day

Yes, we used 2.88 t of meal/day @ $547/t (includes all minerals)

Quick maths works this out at:

2.88 t meal costs $1,575.36 per day/244 cows = $6.45/cow/day.

Silage at 4 kg = $1.20/cow/day (30 c home grown silage cost).

2 bales of silage is $200, this gets mixed in with the stack silage at 81c/cow = $2.01 silage

So, $6.45 meal + $3.21 silage = $9.66 cost of supplements per cow per day

Milk payout $7.60 + the average milk solids/cow/day in March and April was 1.68 = $12.76 minus $9.66 in cost of feed = $3.10 income per cow per day.

We dried off 5 early calving lighter cows on the 28th April. Which will leave us 237 to milk into the first week of June. On the 27th April our vet walked through the herd in the paddock and body condition scored 88 of them at an average of 5.

We will dry off over 4 days (last 2 rows everyday) while remaining on TAD till the end. We are using Dryclox and Teatseal to dry them off with. I will book in the culls and empties (no more than 40) for the 7th June.

I have arranged the 37 heifers to come home around the 25th May. This will keep the pressure off the milking platform.

In May we will change the diet to:

8 kg meal, keep the silage intake the same at 5.4 kg and offer more grass 5-6 kg

Total = 18-19 kg DM/cow/day offered.

It was pleasing to have passed last season’s production a few days ago and looking at finishing up around 138,000 – 140,000 kg MS.

Annoying footrot

During the summer we held the cows up on the race at the late afternoon milkings. We believe the extra effluent has created 14 footrot issues (to date). Something we haven’t had before. More cows, more feed = more poo. A lot of traffic goes through the same area twice a day. Plus the times they have camped around the trees for shade, waiting at gateways and water troughs hasn’t helped either. Easily treatable, but annoying, as we use Intracillin 300 injectable (25-30 ml) and are out of the vat for a few days, costing time and money.

Trying to keep the races as clean as possible to avoid foot rot.

Footrot begins with a break in the skin between the claws. If this skin crack gets infected, footrot develops (see photo).

Farm upgrades have included

We have installed a bigger meal feeding silo, up from 16 t to 34 t. This is because we use high rates of meal and with public holidays etc we always ran out of meal. This prevents that, giving us more storage and no more running out of meal.

Instead of pulling the cord we are using an air compressing ram system installed by Corohawk. Just a matter of flicking a switch now. This is because of the high-level of feeding rates used throughout lactation.

The shed has also been fitted with a new pulsating system.

Rubberwear replaced. Cups and hoses cleaned last week.

Family effort changing rubberwear and cleaning cups and hoses.

That’s a wrap up for now. Hopefully drying off goes well and to plan. Let’s hope we get some more warm rain! The CHIEFS better beat the Crusaders in the final (from a proud Hurricanes supporter).

Remember…. listen to your body; it’s been a long season. Don’t be afraid to reach out and tap out, have a few days off farm or even a milking or 2 off!

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