Kevin Clark, Waimana, Eastern Bay of Planty.
|Owners:||Kevin and Felicity Clark|
|Farm size:||71 hectares|
|Herd size:||290 cows|
Building a feed pad has not only reduced maize silage losses, but also provided increased feeding flexibility and "insurance" for Waimana farmers Kevin and Felicity Clark.
The Clarks farm 71 hectares of fertile flats bordering the Waimana River in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Their Friesian stud herd supplies high genetic merit bulls to Premier Sires and produced 424 kilograms of milksolids per cow or 1,732 kilograms of milksolids per hectare in the 2003-04 season, generating an EFS of more than $3,000 per hectare.
Maize silage is purchased in and fed all year round at a rate of 1.2 tonnes of drymatter per cow. "By feeding high rates of maize silage we can carry more cows and maximise pasture production," says Kevin. "We grow more grass because we don't overgraze through periods of pasture shortage and we have reduced pasture pugging." The feed pad also acts as an "insurance policy" allowing the Clarks to continue fully feeding their herd even when the river floods and up to 55% of the farm goes under water.
Built in 2002, the concrete feed pad can hold up to 300 cows at any one time. The bins were made on-farm from poured concrete slabs. Five troughs provide water for the herd and 4 metre wide gates allow easy feed-out wagon access.
Maize silage is stored in two concrete bunkers located within 600 metres of the feed bins and there is also a smaller dry bunker with a roll back roof which is used to store hominy or palm kernel meal. Effluent is collected in a central sump and sprayed out over 14 hectares of pasture.
"We used to feed our maize silage in bins in the middle of the race," says Kevin, "but the feed pad allows us more flexibility to feed different mobs at different rates and we have reduced foot problems to less than five lame cows for the whole of the season."
It takes around 20 minutes to fill the feed bins before each milking but the cows don't dawdle back to the shed anymore. Kevin reckons that "the time saved in bringing the herd in almost compensates for the time it takes to fill the feed bins."
The combination of maize silage and a feed pad have allowed the Clarks to change their cow wintering policy. "We used to winter off-farm, but good winter grazing at a reasonable price is as scarce as hen's teeth," says Kevin. "We now winter on-farm and use maize silage to achieve better condition score gains."
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