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2020/21 Season

Owners: Ra Kanohi Amuri Ltd
Farm location: Culverden, Cantebury
Farm size: 240 ha
Herd size: 860
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P7524

Ra Kanohi Amuri Ltd is a M?ori adaptation of the old Irish prayer: “May the sun smile on your face and the wind be at your back”.

“We went to a school reunion where they used this Irish prayer and thought it so related to farming in the Amuri district of Canterbury,” operations manager Frank Ranford says.

“We were told that Amuri meant wind at your back, and we thought it was so apt for where you want the wind when you are outside on the farm.”

“My brother Steve took the Irish prayer to M?ori to get an abbreviated version of the first lines, and they came up with Ra Kanohi Amuri.”

“Ra Kanohi means sun and face, so we see it as having the sun on our face and the wind at our back.”

The Culverden farm is owned by Operations Managers Frank (Ranford) and Liz Teulon, and Frank’s brother Steve Ranford and wife Janet Dehn. Equity Managers Kevin and Alex Thompson manage the farm.

As a former agronomist, Frank works on the premise that they are harvesting sunshine, using the photosynthetic process in plants to convert plant material to milk.

And it’s a thought process that is bringing great success to the maize paddock, and the business as a whole.

“I like maize; it is a plant that is well-suited to, and enjoys, Culverden’s warm summers,” Frank says.

“High sunshine hours equals big growth: in the five months from November to March, our maize crop was growing 130-150 kg/ha/day – yielding 20-22 tDM/ha in total.”

The farm is divided into two properties: the Green Valley dairy unit, a 240 ha effective milking platform; and Blakiston 2, a 307 ha support block.

The dairy unit runs 860 cows and is on track to produce 380,000 kgMS – 442 kgMS/cow, or 1,583 kgMS/ha.

They also rear 450-500 calves on whole milk on the platform. The family started growing maize 12 years ago, when they bought a support block for the dairy unit.

“A lot of Canterbury farms winter livestock off-farm, which is partly why we bought the support block for the dairy unit,” Frank says.

“We investigated the best ways to increase feed supply for the dairy and beef herd, and maize silage was the best option.”

“We started with 30 ha of maize being grown on the support block, an area which has increased to 40 ha today.”

Maize silage is fed to the herd for nine months of the year.

Of the 40 ha of maize grown on Blakiston 2, the resulting silage is split between the support block and the dairy unit. Half the silage is kept at Blakiston 2 for winter use, with plenty of stock to feed: the block winters 700 mixed age dairy cows, 200 R2 dairy heifers, 210 R1 dairy heifers, and 50 high BW carryovers.

Blakiston 2 also winters sale stock, including 120 R1 dairy heifers, 120 R1 dairy beef bulls, and 50 R1 Jersey breeding bulls. The other half of the maize silage is taken to the dairy unit and fed in the spring and autumn.

“We’re still juggling how to get better condition on cows, but having maize silage on hand means we always have feed in the bank,” Frank says.

“It is a big store of good starch. The combination of maize and sunshine has proven the perfect recipe for crop success for Ra Kanohi Amuri.”