Noldy Rust inspecting his crop of Pioneer® brand 36M28.
|Owners:||Noldy and Bev Rust|
|Farm location:||Te Pahu|
Since moving to maize silage, Waikato farmer Noldy Rust has increased production from an all-grass average of 1,100 – 1,200 kgMS/ha to a peak of 1,462 kgMS/ha in the 2006/07 season. Last season, despite the 100 year drought in the Waikato, the farm had its second best season on record producing 68,000 kgMS (1,308 kgMS/ha).
Noldy (who featured in last season’s Pioneer® brand maize promotional campaign) and his wife Bev, along with daughters Jamie (18), Hayley (16), Carmen (14) and foster son Hayze (4), are milking 210 Friesian and Friesian-cross cows on 52 ha (eff.) at Te Pahu in the western Waikato.
"Last autumn we purchased 194 tDM of Pioneer® brand maize silage and started feeding it at 8 kgDM/cow/day until drying off in early May. Pasture cover never got over 1,800 kgDM/ha throughout the winter and so we fed the dry cows 4-5 kgDM maize silage per day," says Noldy. "Thank goodness we had the maize silage – if I had been on an all-grass system I would have been in trouble."
The herd started calving on 15 July with 75% calved after three weeks, 90% after six weeks and 100% after nine weeks.
"We were thrilled with the way calving went," says Noldy. "We had a lot of cows calved quickly with no intervention at mating and no inductions."
As a result of the drought the previous season, the farm’s pastures never really took off in the spring. To ensure the herd was still well fed, Noldy continued to feed maize silage until the bunker was empty just prior to Christmas.
"The pastures still don’t look great," says Noldy. "There are big gaps with a lot of weeds and not much clover."
The purchase of a 24 ha run-off, located about 10 km from the farm at Ngahinapouri, in June has been the major change to the Rusts’ farming system this year. "A chance conversation with a friend led to us jointly purchase the run-off," says Noldy.
"It’s a win-win situation for us both - we have the asset of land in a good location that will grow in value over the long-term and, in the meantime, we can grow our own maize silage relatively cheaply ensuring we have a guaranteed feed supply."
The run-off has been planted in 20 ha of Pioneer® brand maize silage. The first 15 ha of 33M54 was planted on 14 October and the remaining 5 ha was planted in 36M28 five weeks later after drainage work had been completed.
At this stage, Noldy plans to use 10 ha of maize silage himself. The property co-owner will use a smaller amount and the balance will be sold in the autumn.
After the maize silage is harvested, the land will be planted in Italian ryegrass which will be used to winter a proportion of the herd.
So what are the Rusts’ goals for the 08/09 season?
"When we started feeding maize silage three years ago we had clear goals – to move to 4 cows/ha and produce 80,000 kgMS, while still maintaining our low cost structure," says Noldy. "The drought put paid to us achieving that in the 2007/08 season, so that’s our goal for 2008/09."
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