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Wobben family farming goal: No more imported feed

Wobben family farming goal: No more imported feed

2017/18 Season

Owners: Roel & Diana Wobben
Farm location: Rangiora
Farm size: 600 ha
Herd size: 1800 Friesian
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: P8805

Together they have built up the farm to a stage where they employ nine staff and are milking their herd in two sheds each day. Carlo is currently taking a break while Rick and Dylan still work on the farm.

Their farm is situated in the Rangiora district near the Waimakariri River which provides year-round irrigation. To accommodate their large herd, they also use another 100 ha lease block in the area.

Each year they grow about 40 ha of maize for silage on the farm which, in the past, has been topped up with an extra 15 ha bought in from a local supplier. The maize silage is used primarily to extend lactation in autumn, maintain cow condition while milking through winter and to increase fertility. To make the winter feeding easier, they invested in a feed pad about three years ago which helps with pasture management. Maize silage is also used to boost cow condition score prior to calving.

The Wobbens have found Pioneer® brand P8805 suits their needs best because it has a high grain content and produces maize silage with a high nutritional value. They always use Pioneer® brand 1174 inoculant to improve feed value and reduce drymatter losses.

“We also use P8805 because it gives a consistent yield of 20 - 22 tDM/ha and it has a shorter maturity so we can get the land back into pasture or a winter crop much faster.”

Their local Pioneer Area Manager, Duncan Gillanders, describes the family as being very well regarded in the local community for running a tight farm and they are considered to be one of the farms in the area “getting it right.” He also adds that animal welfare is a big focus for the Wobbens, “they really look after their livestock.”

Further expansion is on hold for a bit as they have put a lot of effort into improving the efficiency of the farm by creating an outstanding layout. “Further development might be up to the boys in the future if they decide to stay with dairying.”

Having said that, Roel can still see room for improvement, including making the farm more sustainable. To that end, they are moving towards growing 100% of the cows’ feed themselves. Together with Duncan, they are trying to maximise maize yield and are also planting a lot of Pioneer® brand lucerne.

At this stage they are adopting a steady-as-she-goes approach while still keeping an eye out for ways to tweak the milk output even higher. Improving the irrigation system along with trying new Pioneer hybrids and other crops are possible ways of achieving this. “Who knows, we might even be able to get an average of 600 kg of milksolids per cow.”