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Better cow condition

Malcolm and Elizabeth Macpherson with farm assistant Denis Anderson (left).

Better cow condition

2008/09 Season

Owners: Malcolm and Elizabeth Macpherson
Farm location: Te Kawa
Farm size: 85 hectares
Herd size: 300 cows

Maize silage plays a critical role in ensuring Malcolm and Elizabeth Macpherson achieve their targets of an average pasture cover of 2,400 kilograms of drymatter per hectare by the 1st June and a cow condition score of close to 5.0 at calving.

The Macphersons milk 300 Friesian and Friesian cross cows on 85 hectares just south of Te Awamutu. In the 2003/04 season the herd produced 373 kilograms of milksolids per cow. A total of 8 hectares of Pioneer® brand 34K77 maize silage is grown on a nearby run-off. The crop is harvested in March, inoculated with Pioneer® brand 1132 and stored in a bunker on the home farm. Feeding out commences in late March and continues until early June. Around 30 tonnes of maize silage drymatter is carried over to fill spring feed deficits.

"We feed about 6 kilograms of drymatter per cow per day directly onto the pasture on the fresh break before we let the cows in. If we make sure that the row is not too thick, the cows line up well and we get little wastage or pasture damage," says Malcolm.

"We feed maize silage in the autumn because it is the cheapest form of supplementary feed available and the cows gain condition extremely well on it, even when they are milking."

Getting the herd into good condition before calving makes good economic sense. New Zealand research shows that an extra condition score at calving results in an extra 15 kilograms of milksolids per cow during the lactation and eight to ten days earlier cycling.