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Reliable production and a good bottom line

Reliable production and a good bottom line

2011/12 Season

Owners: Mike & Heather Burmeister
Farm location: Tararua
Farm size: 480 ha

Maize silage is helping Mike and Heather Burmeister, along with teenagers Ian (15) and Grace (13), achieve their goals of reliable production, a low cost structure and a good bottom line.

The 480 ha family farm sits alongside the famous Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka in Northern Wairarapa. The milking platform is 231 ha and the balance of the land is used as dairy support and for beef finishing. In the 2011-12 season, the 660 mostly Friesian herd produced just over 250,000 kgMS on 200 ha (1,250 kgMS/ha and 379 kgMS/cow).

The farm has 8 km of river boundaries and, in a typical season, 30-40 ha of the milking platform floods. Up to 80 ha can “go under” in a very wet year.

This creates early lactation feed shortages which have been overcome by feeding home-grown maize silage.

Typically 5 ha of maize is grown on the dairy support land. However, this season Mike has planted 10 ha of Pioneer® brand 39G12 and also purchased in 100 tDM which will be used to keep the cows milking through an abnormally dry autumn.

The silage is usually fed on a 700-cow feed pad from two weeks prior to calving until it runs out in early November.

“Feeding maize silage to the springers makes management a lot easier”, says Mike. “It’s great for carrying minerals and we draft off the newly-calved cows as they come onto the feed pad.”

Maize silage has also helped the herd’s reproductive performance. “We were finding it difficult to get cows cycling and a nutritionist suggested we should feed maize silage”, says Mike. “It keeps more weight on the cows between calving and mating, and more than 85% of the herd calve in the first six weeks of calving.”

“Maize silage is an economic way of getting extra energy into the cows”, says Mike.“

"It is an easy crop to grow and we get a large volume of feed off a small area for a very cost-effective price.”