Southern Dairy Hub hoping for fine weather

DairyNZ Senior Scientist Dawn Dalley. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
DairyNZ Senior Scientist Dawn Dalley. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley is hoping the Southern Dairy Hub’s field day on October 8 will ideally include a farm tour but she is not optimistic the weather will be dry enough.

"We are hoping for a fine day so we can get people out and about.

"If that happens, it will be the first time in about two years it has not rained for our field days and we have had to stay in the calf sheds."

Topics will include what the new environmental regulations mean for the 350ha commercial and research dairy farm, reports from the hub’s operational staff and research updates from AgResearch scientists,

Dr Dalley will present updates on the current system comparison of herds wintering on kale versus those on fodder beet and discuss a recently completed study looking at the impact of soil conditions on animal behaviour during winter grazing of crops.

"The team is already identifying opportunities that could be researched in the next phase.

"One area identified by farmers in 2017 that was not included in the current comparison is the integration of off-paddock infrastructure into pasture-based systems to manage the environmental and animal care challenges associated with wintering on crop.

"A project proposal has been developed."

If successful, the study would look at what type of wintering infrastructure would meet both the needs of the cows and environmental standards without being a huge investment per cow.

"We want to try to keep it as low-cost as possible while addressing the challenges the industry is facing around wintering.

"In the meantime, we are also looking at what additional research we can do within our current systems comparison to help farmers improve wintering on crop."

That includes outcomes from an oat catch crop on the hub’s support block, as well as looking at crop establishment and management options that improve soil structure and animal comfort.

"It is important we also continue looking at other options around crop-based wintering."


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