Mark Bernard is the kind of farmer who likes certainty in his life. When he engages in his favourite hobby of fishing he sets off from his farm near Puketatua and goes straight to the mussel farms off the coast of the Bay of Plenty. There he does what he calls “gathering in the snapper”, pretty much always coming home with a good feed. It is this same desire for a top result that drives him to use farming systems with proven outcomes.
On-farm maize growing allows Taranaki couple Karl and Rachel Picard to produce a high quality, low cost supplement while at the same time reducing the build-up of excessive soil nutrients.
A combination of irrigation, maize silage and split calving have helped south Taranaki farmer Alastair Geary increase production on his summer-dry south Taranaki farm. The 180 ha property located at Manutahi, midway between Hawera and Patea is managed by Alistair with assistance from variable order sharemilkers Nick and Anna Tretheway. In the 2012-13 season the 460 cow Friesian and Friesian-cross herd produced 218,000 kgMS (473 kgMS/cow and 1,211 kgMS/ha).
A desire to always feed their cows well has led Taranaki farmers Steve and Maria Poole to develop a highly profitable pasture-based dairy system which is underpinned by 800 kgDM/ cow of Pioneer® brand maize silage.
Maize silage is an integral part of a very productive farming system for Wairarapa farmer Graeme Stuart.Graeme and children Joanne (23) and Jamie (14) milk 600 cows on 137 ha (eff.) at Rangitumau, 6 km north of Masterton.
The maize silage was inoculated with Pioneer® brand 1174 and fed in the paddock along fence lines using an 11 m3 side-delivery feed-out wagon.
An excellent farming partnership has allowed Manawatu sharemilkers Mark and Tania Stratford to increase their herd size from 200 to 600 cows in the past eight seasons.
Richard Brewer believes that the key to a good maize crop is optimum fertiliser, a good seedbed, timely planting together with the right maize hybrid.
Ross and Linda Gordon and their children Callum (16), Oliver (13) and Elsa (11) milk 230 cows on a 65 hectare (eff.) joint-venture farm inside the Palmerston North city boundary. Last year their Friesian, Jersey and crossbred herd produced 99,400 kgMS (1,529 kgMS/ha and 370 kgMS/cow).
Maize silage is part of a successful management package for Taranaki farmers Ross and Jan Dunlop. The Dunlops, with help from sharemilkers Norm and Rachel Burgoyne, farm a 150 hectare milking platform that extends over hilly contour to the sea at Ohawe Beach near Hawera. In the 05/06 season their 500 cow split calving herd (320 spring: 180 autumn) produced 1,168 kgMS/ha (350 kgMS/cow). They are on target to achieve the same production this year, despite a very slow and cold spring.
Grant and Bridget Gibson along with twin sons Alex and Taylor (9), and daughter Grace (7) run Oakdale Holstein Stud on 26 hectares on the outskirts of Napier.
"The challenge for the Massey University farms is to provide teaching and research extension opportunities while at the same time generating a profit," says Gareth Evans, Deputy Director of Agriculture for Massey University. The university owns and manages three separate dairy units. No 1 Dairy consists of a total of 117 hectares and runs a 280 cow split autumn and spring calving herd. No 4 Dairy runs 500 Friesian and Friesian cross spring calving cows on 187 hectares. The Dairy Cattle Research Unit milks 96 cows as part of an Organic-Conventional Dairy Systems Comparison Trial.
Feeding maize silage and growing it on-farm have proven to be sound decisions for Hawera farmers John and Peter Malcolm. The Malcolms farm Jerseys on a 65 hectare milking platform north of Hawera. The main farm is supported by a 20 hectare run-off which is used for young stock and as a grass silage block.
Empty cows were costing Manawatu dairy farmer and ex-All Black Gary Knight lost sleep, profitability and replacements. Poorer cow condition pre-calving meant lost production over spring and poor conception rates at mating. It was a persistent problem. With an empty rate of over 10% Gary needed to look at better supplements.
Pushing up the productivity of high cost dairy land has not only improved production, but produced a healthy bottom line for Taranaki sharemilkers Martin and Christine Powell. Maize silage is central to achieving their target of 460 kilograms of milksolids per cow this season. A long lactation from calving in early July to drying off in early June is now the norm for them.
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