Farm Profiles View Latest Profiles

Back to farm profiles

Intensive system generates high return for high value land

Tim Montgomerie with some of his 400 cows on the outskirts of Hamilton.

Intensive system generates high return for high value land

2005/06 Season

Owners: Montgomerie Family Trust
Farm location: Hamilton
Farm size: 84 hectares
Herd size: 400 cows

"Unless you are farming for capital gain, it’s all about getting as much from the land as you can, while at the same time building a farm system that is both environmentally acceptable and sustainable" says Waikato farmer Tim Montgomerie.

Tim, his wife Jo and children Matthew (7), Thomas (5) and Kate (2) 50:50 sharemilk on an 84 hectare family trust farm situated on the outskirts of Hamilton city. The farm runs a 40% autumn: 60% spring split calving herd of 400 Friesian cows and supplies winter milk to Fonterra. Last season’s production was 420 kgMS/cow and 2,000 kgMS/ha generating an impressive EFS of $4,300 per hectare (based on a $4.60/kgMS payout).

Each year a combination of supplements are fed totaling almost two tonnes of drymatter per cow. The base supplement is maize silage which is fed at 875 kgDM/cow. Pasture silage, corn steep liquor and palm kernel extract are also fed. "With supplements the aim is to put in as much of the cheapest feed as you can first and then work up the feed chain to the more expensive ones" comments Tim.

Most of the farm’s maize silage is grown on the farm's 30 hectare run-off. Pioneer® brand 34K77 is the hybrid of choice because it produces a high grain content silage, is very reliable and can be harvested early enough to allow autumn establishment of annual ryegrass. Typically the crop yields around 22 tDM/ha and costs about 14 cents per kgDM in the bunker. "We use maize silage because we can control the cost by growing it on our run-off or securing lease land. We’ve used other byproducts in the past but they have been priced out of range due to farmer demand. Maize silage is consistent in quality and a reliable product."

While pasture is still the main feed input, Tim would argue strongly that it is not the cheapest. "Not many businesses will conduct a financial analysis without including the cost of capital. If you add in the cost of the land, pasture is the most expensive feed on this farm."

While Tim attends to other business interests, two full-time staff attend to much of the day-to-day running of the farm. "We keep good staff by providing high quality housing and ensuring that all of the gear is replaced regularly so that there are no breakdowns" says Tim.

Tim has a simple yet effective pasture utilisation strategy. Staff are trained to manage residuals ensuring that pasture is neither wasted nor overgrazed. "The key aim is to fully feed the herd and to identify and eliminate substitution on a daily basis. If the residual is too high, we knock the amount of feed back the next day and if they are standing at the gate by lunchtime, we give them more feed. Our management system doesn’t get more clinical or complex than that."