The system is grass-based, with 400t feed imported annually (grain and grass silage mainly). Paul’s aim is to grow and utilize as much pasture as possible because grass is the cheapest and highest quality feed on his farm.
Paul and Doris joined Agriseeds Grass into Gold Programme, a predecessor to DairyNZ’s Tiller Talk, in June 2014. The Awaikeras joined the programme because they believed farming should be grass-based.
“I have always been a grass person. I would like to feed as little concentrates as possible,” says Paul. “We joined Grass into Gold because we wanted to increase our farm management skills.”
On the West Coast they faced challenging, wet conditions; managing pugging in winter was difficult – despite this they managed to lift production.
Paul and Doris, who employ a full time staff member, want to continue to build on the gains made on the West Coast.
Paul puts real emphasis on pasture management during spring. He uses the DairyNZ spring rotation planner religiously, and he makes good use of the 2.5 – 3 leaf theory when it comes to grazing.
To Paul, the biggest opportunities on this farm are maintaining pasture quality year-round and being on top of pasture renewal programme.
Due to the recent move onto the new property, historic grass growth data is lacking. This has made feed budgeting difficult for this season. Paul has been monitoring pasture growth, walking the 13 paddocks of the farm every Friday. This has enabled Paul to plot dry matter production per paddock throughout the season and make a pasture renewal plan.
“It’s all about adjusting cow number to match feed supply and demand,” says Paul.
In his opinion, the farm is slightly over stocked. He is looking forward to talking to other farmers through Tiller Talk and discussing options around feed demand and supply on the Ashburton property – Paul will have more to share after one full season on the farm.
“Successful pasture management for me means you are achieving your goals, making money moving forward through high pasture utilisation, as opposed to chasing per cow production.”