Anna is convinced a pasture-based system is the most profitable on her farm. Anna utilises pasture first and minimises the amount of imported supplements.
- Utilising pasture first and focusing on residual management makes the most of grass on farm and minimises the amount of imported supplements.
- By focusing on profit not production and keeping an eye on the details, Anna aims to maintain a low cost structure.
- Having regular informal meetings with farm staff keeps Anna up to date with what is happening on farm.
- By staying connected to local farmers and industry, Anna can stay up to date with what is happening in the industry.
Anna comes from a dairy farming family who emigrated from the Netherlands to New Zealand in the late 1950s.
Her two brothers farm in the area and provide support and some competition. Anna has owned the Matamata farm for five years.
Anna has a Master of Agribusiness degree, she has worked overseas in the banking sector gaining insight into the benefits of good financial management and budgeting, ensuring she retains profitability. Anna’s banking background contributed to her being a finalist in the 2015 and 2016 Dairy Business of the Year awards.
Anna runs a system-2 farm and imports eight percent of total feed. The farm peak milks 240 FxJ cows and employs a farm manager.
The focus is profit not production, this means maintaining low cost structures. Anna aims to utilise the pasture first with a strong emphasis on residual management. The target this year is to further reduce farm working expenses and maintain production at around 104,000kg MS.
A three year drought meant PKE has been imported to fill a feed gap.
Anna holds regular informal meetings with the farm manager to stay up to date with what’s happening on farm and maintains good relationships with staff, neighbours and external stakeholders. She aims to be supportive of upskilling staff and uses a bonus system to achieve great results.
Feed demand and supply in a low input system
Anna is convinced a pasture-based system is the most profitable on her farm. To achieve a low cost system she brings in as little imported supplement as possible.
As pasture is important, Anna uses the spring rotation planner and controls residuals to achieve a 20 day rotation by 15 September after which time, regular farm walks are undertaken.
5.5ha of maize has replaced chicory on farm as the chicory was not establishing well in the droughts. The maize is harvested for silage saving approximately 10c/kg DM compared to bought in maize silage. After harvest, the crop area is sown with permanent pasture.
In a summer feed deficit (summer dry), PKE is bought in to feed alongside the maize silage in late to early lactation or spring and help increase cows’ body condition score gain.
As the area is prone to facial eczema, zinc is administered to the cows through a Dosatron.
To maintain pasture growth, approximately 130kg N fertiliser is applied when grass is growing (mainly spring and autumn). The 130kg of fertiliser includes chicken manure and applied four to five times a year at 50-60 tonnes per dressing (2-3% N) = 14-25kg N/ha/application.
For the 2014/15 year 15.8 tonnes DM/ha of pasture and crop was eaten.
Over winter during bad weather, cows are grazed on the farm and stood off pasture on the dairy shed yards to limit pasture damage.
How the system is evolving
Anna aims to reduce FWE from the current $3.11/kg MS to $2.60/kg MS. As a comparison, average FWE for the last three years has been $3.41/kg MS compared with $4.28/kg MS for the local benchmark herds.
Anna is building a HerdHome Shelter in an attempt to protect pasture and improve feed utilisation and effluent use. The farm is free draining but with the potential for pasture to pug in the winter and be overgrazed in the summer low-growth periods.
The expected benefits from building the HerdHome Shelter:
- Better utilisation of pasture and less damage and pugging
- Reduction of feed wastage estimated to be around 30 percent or approximately $15,000 per year based on the current system of feeding out maize in paddock
- A saving in labour time and better cow health
- Depreciation on the HerdHome Shelter is 10 percent which equates to $44,000 a year in tax offset
- By spreading solid effluent on non-effluent irrigated farm areas, there will be a reduction in fertiliser costs.