Field day fodder

A cow from the fodder beet herd at Southern Dairy Hub joins about 50 people at a field day in...
A cow from the fodder beet herd at Southern Dairy Hub joins about 50 people at a field day in Wallacetown last week. Photos: Shawn McAvinue
The cows at Southern Dairy Hub are producing more milk despite a smaller winter crop footprint this season. Shawn McAvinue visits a field day at the hub for an update.

Dairy hub starting to hit its straps

Milk production is booming at the Southern Dairy Hub as its cows start to realise their potential.

About 50 people attended a field day at the hub farm, about 15km north of Invercargill, last week.

Hub general manager Louise Cook said production on the hub farm was currently up 20% on the same time last season, which she believes was sitting above the "district average".

"It’s quite nice looking at the milk curve and every day we hit a new benchmark."

The benchmarks includes "cracking out 18,000 litres a day and 1500 milksolids a day".

"Stuff that’s never happened before on this farm — so for me that’s really exciting."

The reasons for the increase in production includes an improved calving spread, a "delightful spring" and her team getting pasture in the right condition for cows.

The amount of milksolids each cow was producing per day was a "quantum leap" on past seasons.

Southern Dairy Hub general manager Louise Cook speaks about the production of the farm at a field...
Southern Dairy Hub general manager Louise Cook speaks about the production of the farm at a field day last week.
"It’s really nice to see we are able to start getting the performance out of the cows they are capable of."

Since she started working at the hub in 2019, they had stopped planting winter crops on the terrace closest to the Makarewa River.

When the terrace was used to winter cows, bales of feed had floated down the river.

Another reason for no longer wintering on the terrace was to stop the river washing away topsoil, she said.

The farm now used a smaller area for wintering cows after a kale crop was replaced with a higher-yielding brassica species.

Hard work from her team had ensured cows were coming off crop at the right time, resulting in fewer cows calving on it.

The winter grazing plan was "people intensive" and relied on staff knowing what to do and getting the work done.

As part of the new wintering system, all cows would be off fodder beet a month prior to calving.

This year, only artificial breeding would be used to get cows in-calf.

"No bulls."

A cow sniffs AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan at a field day at Southern Dairy...
A cow sniffs AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan at a field day at Southern Dairy Hub in Wallacetown last week.
Ms Cook said the aim was to ensure calving was at a time when the cows had plenty of feed available and the weather was favourable.

"For now we are taking a cautious, conservative approach to make sure we get our ducks lined up."

Southern Dairy Hub

Established: 2016.

Milking platform: 299ha.

Support block: 39ha.

Milking shed: 60 bale rotary with automatic cup removers.

Average annual rainfall: 785.5mm.

Average annual soil temperature: 11degC.

shawn.mcavinue@alliedpress.co.nz

 

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