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Simple and profitable system relies on maize silage

Simple and profitable system relies on maize silage

2012/13 Season

Owners: Leon & Pauline Smets
Farm location: Waikato
Farm size: 63 ha

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Making a little go a long way is the key to success for Taupiri farmers Leon and Pauline Smets. The couple, who came to New Zealand from Holland in 1984, farm near Taupiri in the heart of the Waikato.

Since purchasing their 63 ha farm in 1999, they have increased farm production from 50,000 kgMS to 114,000 kgMS (518 kgMS/ cow or 1,809 kgMS/ha) while keeping the herd size static at 220 cows.

“We’ve always farmed for profit, not capital gain, and have focused on getting the most out of what we have rather than buying more land or milking more cows”, says Leon.

This focus on profitability allowed the Smets to pay off the farm’s mortgage after five years and currently their Economic Farm Surplus (EFS) is double the Waikato average.

Leon is very focused on maximising pasture yield and quality. Each season he plants around 5 ha of Pioneer® brand maize silage as part of an on-going pasture renewal programme and an additional 100 tDM maize silage and 150 tonne of palm kernel is bought-in.

Supplements are fed on a feed pad whenever pasture supply does not meet cow demand.

“It’s better to have $20,000 invested in a maize silage stack than to have it in the bank.”

“It’s an easy and efficient farm system to manage”, says Leon. “If the cows are grazing the paddocks too low, we feed more maize silage, and if they are leaving grass in the paddock, the next day we reduce the amount of maize we feed. We don’t waste supplements and the cows eat all the grass the farm can grow.”

In the last 14 seasons the farm’s production has increased every year except once when severe drought conditions resulted in the Smets making the decision to dry off the herd rather than purchase additional supplements at “ridiculous prices."

It is better to have $20,000 invested in a maize silage stack than to have it in the bank”, says Leon. “Maize silage has always generated a return for us. Over time we’ve discovered the more we use, the better it is.”