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2020/21 Season

Owners: Keith and Jeanette Trotter
Farm location: Matakana, Auckland
Farm size: 140 effective ha
Herd size: 400
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P1613

Keith and Jeanette have farmed their 140 ha effective farm for 26 years, Keith first started growing maize 14 years ago as part of his pasture renewal programme.

“I bought a block that was all kikuyu which I wanted to spray and regrass, and maize fitted the bill for that purpose,” Keith says.

“It soon became apparent that the maize block was growing a lot of additional feed. Maize is still part of the regrassing programme, but it’s far more than that now; it’s an integral part of my farm system.”

Keith currently grows 14 ha of maize on farm, and an additional 6 ha of maize on a lease block. Average yields are an impressive 24 tDM/ha.

“We feed maize almost all year round, but particularly in the spring and autumn to extend lactation,” Keith says. “The only time the herd of 400 cows isn’t fed maize silage is when they’re dry.”

Going forward the herd, which produces around 180,000 kgMS, will be fed maize silage in the winter too as the farm transitions to winter milking.

“The move to winter milking was a result of wanting a change, and a challenge,” Keith says. “We’ve got all the infrastructure set up – the feedpad, the bunker – and I like the idea of calving in autumn and feeding them clean grass.”

The herd milked until the end of December 2019, before drying off over January and February.

“It’s wonderful to have a new approach and see all the various aspects of dairy farming in a quite different way,” Keith says. “It’s not a hard transition – it just gets you thinking and planning differently. And so far, so good.”

Keith has witnessed many benefits to the herd since maize silage became part of the farm feed regime.

“Cow condition has improved markedly, and so has milk production and fertility. The cows are generally healthier. Having happy, well-fed cows makes a huge difference.”

The majority of the maize crop is planted on the farm’s rolling country with just 4 ha planted on the flat, which goes in the ground a week later than the rest.

Keith has been working with Pioneer Area Manager Corey Thorn for several years and is happy to follow his recommendations and advice.

“We soil test the maize paddocks in autumn to ensure we get the right amount of lime on, so the ground is ready for planting in spring.

“Maize is a very rewarding crop to grow; it grows so quickly. It’s also easy to grow, when you have the right advice.”