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New conversion produces 550kgMS/cow

New conversion produces 550kgMS/cow

2011/12 Season

Owners: Bruce & Susan Turpie
Farm location: Lyndhurst
Farm size: 410 ha

A large-scale dairy conversion is creating a new income stream, as well as a steep learning curve for Canterbury farmers Bruce and Susan Turpie. The couple and their children Sarah (21), Georgina (17) and Richard (12) own 410 ha at Lyndhurst, 10 km east of Methven.

The farm has traditionally grown a range of crops including grass seed, wheat, barley and potatoes. In March 2012, the first milk tanker left the farm destined for Synlait’s processing plant near Dunsandel.

“We have always had an interest in cows”, says Bruce. “Dairying has provided us the opportunity to diversify our farm and reduce risk.”

Peter and Jo Smith, who are equity partners in the cows, manage the 80 ha dairy unit which is currently milking 900 Holstein- Friesians through an 80-bale rotary shed.

"It’s a high-quality, locally-grown feed which is great for producing plenty of milk.”

In the first season, the herd will produce an average of 550 kgMS/cow with the top cow delivering just over 800 kgMS in 310-day lactation.

The farm is set up to milk year-round. Cows graze pasture during the day when weather conditions are good, but are housed in a wintering barn and fed a maize silage based total mixed ration (TMR) every night, as well as on days when the weather is unfavourable.

“Maize silage forms the backbone of the TMR with cows receiving 4-5 kgDM per day throughout the lactation”, says Bruce. “It’s a high-quality, locally-grown feed which is great for producing plenty of milk.” In the 2011-12 season, the Turpies grew 40 ha of Pioneer® brand 39G12 on-farm. Despite the farm’s high altitude (200-250m) and a cool growing season, the crop yielded 17 tDM/ha. This year they are buying in 100 ha from local growers.

“We are aiming to build up a stockpile of maize silage so that we always have a years feed ahead of us in the stack”, says Bruce. “We simply can’t afford to run out of feed for our cows.”