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Maize allows Taranaki farmers to make the most of run-off

John (middle) and Linda Le Fleming with Pioneer Area Manager David McDonald.

Maize allows Taranaki farmers to make the most of run-off

2008/09 Season

Owners: John and Linda Le Fleming
Farm location: Manaia

Maize silage grown on a leased run-off has allowed Taranaki farmers John and Linda Le Fleming to increase production without purchasing more high value dairy land.

John, Linda and their five children milk 270 crossbred cows on a 73 ha (eff.) milking platform near Manaia in Taranaki. At the start of the 2007/08 season, they leased a 16 ha (eff.) run-off located 2 km down the road from the farm and planted their first maize silage crop – 5 ha of Pioneer® brand 39F58.

"Maize silage followed by a winter Italian ryegrass crop was the best way for us to extract the maximum amount of benefit from the run-off," says John. "It effectively allowed us to increase the production of our milking platform from 85,000 kgMS to 100,000 kgMS."

The run-off was also used to graze young stock and a few steers and cut pasture silage and hay.

Last year’s maize crop was harvested at the end of March and fed at up to 8 kgDM/cow until 10 June.

"Last season was as dry as I can remember it ever being," says John. "We were really lucky because the grass silage we had made from the run-off lasted until the maize silage came in."

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.

In the 07/08 season, the herd produced a total of 99,500 kgMS (1,363 kgMS/ha). This was achieved despite a very dry summer resulting in a decrease in herd size to 220 with the sale of some cows and others being sent out to grazing in mid February.

Calving starts on 24 July with a mean calving date of 8 August. John places a lot of emphasis on good reproductive performance. Last year, the herd had an empty rate of just 6%.

Each year the farm feeds around 160,000 litres of Proliq in stainless steel cheese vats. A pasture plate is used to monitor cover levels and ensure pasture harvest is maximised.

"Adding maize silage to the system has made the pasture management on the home farm easier," says John. "We don’t want to make supplement at home. We’d rather convert all of that grass straight into milk."

This year, John has planted the same 5 ha in Pioneer® brand 39F58. Once the crop is harvested, the land will be planted in Italian ryegrass which will be used for wintering. A third and final maize crop will be planted in spring 2010. When it is harvested, the land will be re-grassed into permanent pasture and a new area will be used for maize.

"I’m looking for lifestyle as well as profit," says John. "This is a simple system that allows us to make as much money as we can with minimum effort."