Last month I touched on how sustainable farming practices are becoming a priority in modern farming. The big question was HOW do we develop these practices? Why don’t we ask the cows? The Animal Centred Approach essentially takes the most important aspect of farming, the animal, and brings its needs to the forefront of decision making. The aim of the game is to make the animal’s body more efficient in how it functions, be that growth for meat, milk production or reproduction.
“I don’t believe in minerals”, said the farm owner with barely concealed impatience. “My rule”, he added, “If anyone comes up the drive talking minerals is to keep one hand on my wallet and my other hand pointing to the gate”. Oh dear. Normally I would have been happy to walk away. But, I was there on the behest of the sharemilker. A 20% down cow rate, a very high death rate of newborn calves and real problems with weight management in the herd was causing a lot of grief for
I had coffee with a bloke the other day who was a former dairy company director and a director of several corporate dairy farms. I tugged on his coat about the acceptance of production diseases. He called it “balance sheet farming”. Rampant pay outs and easy credit meant that in the board room you didn’t really have to worry about the cows themselves. But things have changed. Historically, corporates never survived the down turns. Whereas, the family farm just pulled the bel
Last month Fonterra announced a 65% jump in its organic milk price for the 2016/17 season in response to worldwide rising demand for the “pure” white stuff. The forecast organic payout at $9.20/kgMS makes converting to organics seem like an attractive option. But organic farming is not without its challenges and to profit from this payout, production and performance need to be the best they can be. In a system where inputs are limited, sustaining optimal production in the lo
Two weeks ago the local Liquorland billboard said “It’s a great winter we’re having this spring”. Thankfully now in the second week of October the grass is growing and spring is finally here. NIWA climate maps (see below) confirm that temperatures for September were lower than average across most of NZ, varying by up to 2 degrees below the monthly mean. One dairy client in the Ashburton region reported the lowest soil temperature ever recorded for this time of the year! Rainf
Here’s one simple step to reduce straining, collapse or death at calving or lambing. Don’t graze springing cows or spread out ewes on too high potassium pastures. Heard it before? But how do you know and what level is high anyway? Grazing any pasture with potassium levels over 3.0% dramatically increases your risk of metabolic disease. This is not just downer cows or dead sheep but extends to difficult births, slow suckling (low colostrum intake), reduced milk production and
A 2.5% empty rate is a welcome result for Phillip Barrett after dealing with huge reproductive loss in a system that just wasn’t working for him. Phillip’s coastal Taranaki farm is BioGro certified and has been farmed organically for 10 years. Prior to conversion to organics Phillip was experiencing significant reproductive loss. Inductions and CIDRs were standard practice, with up to 40% of the herd needing intervention to cycle. High urea use underpinned a higher stocking r