In the 2014/15 season Clareview was completely reformatted to improve the farms efficiency and management ease. The milking platform includes leased land adjoining the Ashburton River which has been redeveloped and integrated into the platform in consultation with its owner Environment Canterbury.
The 2018-19 budget is based on milk production of 494,320 kg MS and operating expenses of $3.91 per kg MS, (FWE of $3.68 per kg MS). Imported supplements of about 650 kg DM per cow are fed during the season. The majority of cows are wintered off the farm for about 70 days.
2018/19 Numbers at a glance
|Total KgMS||Cows Milked||Hectares (effective)||
Net Dairy Cash Income
Total Farm Working Expenses
|Total Operating Expenses ($/kgMS)||Dairy Operating Profit
2018-19 half-yearly update: December 2018
Six months into the season this farm has provided an update on how they are tracking, what, if any major challenges to their budgets they are facing and plans for managing any variances for the rest of the season.
Season to date 7-12-2018
The first half of the season has seen some extreme variations in rainfall. A very dry June with 6.6 mm of rain, compared with a very wet November 184 mm. July and August were warmer than average.
Pasture grown to date, based on growth rates, is 7.7 t DM/ha which is on target for 18.5 t DM/ha for the season. (Note this is grown not harvested). This is marginally up on the annual average for the farm of 18 t DM.
Production is up 9,000 kg MS which is 4% on last year and on target for 503,000 for the season, (budget is for 494,320 kg MS). This equates to 741 per ha and 201 per cow to 7/12/2018.
In addition to being ahead of budgeted milksolids production, silage has been made on the milking platform for the first time in at least 5 years. There have been over 50% less irrigation days to date and less supplement has been fed in the latter part of spring.
The farm cash surplus to date is ahead of budget, largely due to the increase in milk production, but also due to farm working expenses being slightly below budget. The farm is still well on target to achieve the forecast $4000-4500 operating profit per ha.
Daily milk production is on budget, pasture cover is 2,270 kg DM/ha, which is a little above target for this time of year, and cow condition is on target. (Cows were condition scored on 16-12-18 at 4.3 average). It can turn dry quickly on this farm, so we are comfortable taking a little more cover into the summer.
The main focus for the rest of the year is maintaining pasture quality and continuing to do the basics well with regard to feeding the herd.
Plans to manage risks
The current market payout adjustment is still the biggest risk for this farm. It is also of concern that some key inputs like fertiliser and barley have seen significant price rises this year.
Since little can be done to influence the milk price, attention continues to be on ensuring all inputs are used as efficiently as possible to produce milk, and that wastage is kept to a minimum.
Maintaining the 4% advantage in milk production will help offset any milk price decrease, but this will need to be done while holding input costs.
We are now budgeting on $5.80 for the whole season which will have more impact on the cash flow later this season.
Feed and Pasture
- Irrigators ran daily for nearly 3 weeks in October but with a wetter November no irrigation was needed at all. Usage to date is 19 days compared with 50 days normally.
- Cut 60 ha of silage on milking. Equates to about 65 kg DM per cow, (72 t DM in total), with half made in October and the balance in early December.
- Purchased silage is down 60 t DM, with only 40 t DM imported instead of the budgeted 100 t DM, so the impact on the budget from making silage on the milking platform is minimal.
- The original budget was to purchase 590 t barley at $380 per t. 351 t of barley have been purchased so far. The current market price is now $420-430. The plan is to work within the budgeted amount for supplement, so, if the price remains high the quantity may well reduce.
- Purchased 13 t DM straw, (budget was 15 t DM).
- 15 ha of fodder beet were planted 1st October, (33% more than budget). With the amount of feed that was on hand in the spring and a lower stocking rate, the decision was made to push more feed into the winter to save winter feed costs. Less re-grassing has been done, ($3,700), so this offset some of the increased fodder beet costs.
- N use to date is 144 kg N/ha. It is a little up on budget as some applications were brought forward so it could be applied with the spring fertiliser. The farm is still on track to use the 250 kg N/ha that has been budgeted for the year.
Calving and reproduction
- Planned start of calving, (PSC) was 26th July and the mid-point was 9th Target each year is 10th August, so this was 1 day earlier than planned.
- Cow condition score, (CS), at PSC was 4.9 and first calving heifers was 5.5.
- CS at 9th October was 4.3. Management at mating is aimed at maintaining or increasing CS over mating. The 6 week in calf rate for 17-18 was 72%. Analysis of that years data showed that for cows that increased CS in calf rate was 87%, those that were no change was 76% and those that lost CS it 63%.
- Three week submission rate, (SR), is 88% with no intervention this year. The plan for the 2019-20 season is to decrease stock numbers, which means there will be plenty of scope for culling this season.
- The SR of first calvers is 93%, which is much better than last year’s first calvers and a direct result of the good live weight and condition they were in at calving. They are currently producing 0.3 kg MS per cow per day more than the same age group last year.
- Pre mating, 340 non cycling cows were run with Hereford bulls. They were then treated with prostaglandin on day 1 of AB. Of 340 cows, 76% (221), were mated to AB within first 3 days.
- This was instead of using synchrony to bring week 3 into week 2, therefore the impact on the budget was nil. The in calf rate is accepted to be lower from the non-cyclers but overall there were still more cows mated to AB in first 3 weeks.
- Pregnancy testing will be done late January.
Other points of interest
- Peak cows are 1090 (10 less than budget). Note this is 40 less than last year.
- Stock sales area on track. Stock losses are down slightly for the farm at 2.9%. Last year finished with 3.3%.
- Revenue to date is up $69,000 due to the 9,000 extra milksolids and slightly more deferred payments. Milk price budgeted was realistic and advance price received to date is similar to that budgeted.
- Irrigation costs are down about $11,000 for November with no irrigation running costs (only line charges were paid that month). With fewer irrigation days R & M costs for the irrigators is also lower.
- Calf rearing costs are down about $3,000 due to the better spring weather. Calves leave the farm for grazing at 100 kg. This year 173 reached this weight 17 days earlier.
- Fertiliser costs for the year will be $27,000 up on the original budget. Partly due to putting on more fertiliser but also the prices are 12% up on last year.
- Animal health is up $7,000 on budget to date. There is no single cost that is up, just lots of little increases. Spending to reduce stock deaths has been a priority this spring and has paid off.
- Rates and insurances are up $10,000 but that is a timing issue as there will be 5 payments in one calendar year instead of 4.
Bio-security & Environment
- Boundary fences already meet M Bovis recommendations so there is no nose to nose contact along fences.
- Scrubbing stations are in place at the dairy shed.
- Stock are now trucked to grazing instead of walking. (An added cost that was already in the original budget).
- Care is taken when trucking to ensure loads are isolated and that the appropriate bio-security measures have been taken by carriers.
- Discussions were had with the bull supplier re bio-security measures in place for those stock.
- Used virgin R 1 Hereford bulls this year instead of R 2 bulls that may have been with other cows.
- The farm’s first ECAN environmental audit took place on the wettest day of the year and was given an A pass.
- Baseline environmental KPI’s are well under the levels set by ECAN.
- Social and environmental responsibilities are at the forefront of all the company’s activities. There are continual programmes of work in the pipeline relating to riparian plantings and improving the environmental footprint of the farm.
- Shared support block provides young stock grazing, winter grazing, silage and straw. All transactions with the support block are at market rates. The main advantage with having access to the group owned support block is security of supply, and now with M Bovis in the Canterbury region it means the farms remain self-contained across the whole group and so reduces the risk of exposure to the disease.
- The farm is staffed by 5 full time staff including the farm manager, plus extra help for calf rearing.
- At the start of calving one staff member is responsible for all animal health issues and they are present at every milking for the first 4 weeks. This ensures continuity of care at this busy time and results in much improved animal health outcomes.
- Planned start of calving is July 29th (R 2 heifers are July 25th). 50% of the herd will be calved by August 10th.
- Cows are calved on autumn saved pasture (from early March) and this has led to a reduction in metabolic issues at calving.
- Pasture cover monitoring and feed budgeting are an important part of day to day management and for ensuring that pasture utilisation remains high under the system 4 production system.
- Feed purchased is 550 kg per cow of Barley to be fed in shed. 80% of this will be fed before Christmas which equates to about 3 kg per cow per day. Also, 100 kg DM per cow of silage to be fed in late lactation and 15 kg DM per cow of straw to be fed to the springers is purchased from the company support block and are at market rates for feed.
- 10 ha of fodder beet are grown on the milking platform for use in late lactation. By early April, intakes are up to about 5 kg DM per cow per day. The crop lasts from late March until drying off in May.
- Re-grassing policy is to renew about 10% of the farm each year (including the crop area). For the grass to grass area the paddocks are sprayed out twice then direct drilled with white clover, ryegrass and plantain. This is not only cheaper than conventional methods but is better for the soil structure.
- Nitrogen use is about 250 kg N per ha per year. It is mostly applied at 30 kg urea per ha following the herd grazing rotation. Higher application rates will be used depending on pasture cover, growth rates and soil conditions.
- The baseline limit for N leaching for this property is 82 kg N loss and with the stocking rate and N application rates used for the farm, the farm N leaching is well under this limit.
- Fertiliser applied is based on soil tests. The aim is to have all the farm at Olsen P levels of 30, currently the range is 15-30 so some paddocks are still getting higher than maintenance phosphate applications. Lime is applied to 25% of the farm each year at 1 t lime per ha
- Focus is given to ensuring good reproductive performance. Cows are tail painted at calving, with the colour changing every 10 days. This makes it quick and easy to know how long a cow has been calved and can assist in assessing other animal health issues too.
- Based on pre-mating heats about 2/3 of the herd (750 cows) are treated with prostaglandin to concentrate the first 3 weeks of mating into 10 days. 30 bulls are purchased to run with the herd post AB. About 120-150 cows are naturally mated and run with 5 Hereford bulls. 16 Jersey bulls are purchased to run with 250 R 2 heifers.
- Focus on efficient water use. The farm has 3 ground water wells, one deep and 2 shallow – the average depth of the water take is 52 m. Soil types are a mix of light and heavy soil types, so soil moisture is monitored frequently and irrigation decisions are based on this. Effort is made to ensure irrigators are well maintained and operating to optimum efficiency.
- The herd is conditioned scored 4 times a year by an independent assessor. This allows for more efficient use of feed, and better decisions around drying off.
- Young stock leave the farm early December at 3-4 months and are grazed away until May as 22 month old R 2’s.
- All cows are wintered off from June 1st for 10 weeks, and R 2’s from May 1st till calving, (14 weeks). Cows are wintered in condition score mobs for first month then drafting into calving dates.
Key success factors
- At Align we put our social and environmental responsibilities at the forefront of all our commercial activities.
- We aim to be leaders in our industry in training and retaining our fantastic team. The majority of staff on Clareview have been with the farm since purchase in 2013.
- Have a focus on reducing our environmental footprint to allow our future generations to have the love of farming that we do.
- Have a proactive approach to animal health, which is science based and focuses on doing the basics well. Attention to detail ensures good animal health outcomes and a high standard of animal welfare.
- Operate a simple farm system that is easy to implement and focuses on optimising pasture and crop grown and efficiently uses all feed offered.
- Network and engage with like-minded farmers and industry leaders to stay up to date with latest research, and best practice farming methods.