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Capitalising genetic potential to achieve higher milk production

Ross Gordon and children Elsa and Oliver on their family farm in Palmerston North with Pioneer Area Manager Mark Burke.

Capitalising genetic potential to achieve higher milk production

2006/07 Season

Owners: Ross and Linda Gordon
Farm location: Palmerston North
Farm size: 65 hectares (eff.)
Herd size: 230 cows

Farm location2: Te Puke,Bay of Plenty
Farm size: 170 hectares (eff.)
Herd size: 580 cows

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).

Each season the Gordons feed around 200-220 tDM of maize silage. Crops are usually grown off farm, but this season the Gordons have planted 8.5 hectares of Pioneer® brand 38G43 on farm. "Our maize silage crops consistently yield 19-21 tDM/ha. It would not be possible for us to grow the same amount of high quality feed in such a short period of time with any other crop," says Ross who adds "We tried cereal silage a few years ago, but had issues with quality."

On June 1, 2006, the Gordons partnered with a Taihape drystock farmer to purchase a 170 hectare (eff.) dairy unit near Colyton, just north of Palmerston North. With all stock wintered on, the farm calved 580 cows and reared 380 calves in the spring. "We have had a tough first season with limited supplements on the farm to compensate for the impact of a very wet spring and dry summer on heavy clay soils," says Ross.

The Gordons have planted 10 hectares of Pioneer® brand 39K38 on the Colyton farm and will buy in a further 9.5 hectares. "Maize silage provides us with an insurance policy. Even when poor weather conditions decrease pasture growth, we will be able to continue properly feeding our cows."

Feeding the cows to their full potential is an ongoing goal on both farms. "Our cows have the genetics to produce a lot more milk, but are limited by the amount we have available to feed them," says Ross. "By feeding maize silage, we can better capitalise on the respective herds’ genetic potential for higher milk production."