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Let's Talk Dairy
4257018AAVariable weather pushes dairy unit
Fluctuating conditions create challenges on university farm
By GERALD PIDDOCK
SEASON REVIEW: DairyNZ's Steve Lee, left, and Lincoln University dairy farm manager Peter Hancox discuss the
2012-13 season at a recent field day at the farm.
conditions caused by fickle
weather was the biggest challenge
this season for the Lincoln
University dairy farm.
It caused the amount of dry
matter produced on the 186
hectare farm to swing around
violently throughout the season.
It's been more variable than
most years and I would say that's
a result of those really variable
growing conditions. We have seen
hot and cold temperatures that
have driven more variation in
pasture,'' DairyNZ's Steve Lee
Lee and farm manager Peter
Hancox reviewed the past season
at a recent focus day on the farm.
The farm's soil temperatures
flip-flopped throughout the
season, Lee said.
Warm August temperatures
meant they had to make silage
that month to get on top of grass
A month later it turned cold and
remained so through to October,
which caused pasture covers and
round lengths to dip.
That really impacted on our
early season and we had to feed a
lot of silage through that period
which was something we didn't
want to do.''
When summer came it turned
into one of the hottest on record in
Canterbury. Soil temperatures
rose, which affected the growth of
the farm's ryegrass pastures.
It really played havoc with our
quality and our ability to grow
grass,'' Lee said.
The farm will produce about
300,000 kilograms of milk solids
for the season.
They had budgeted on
315,000kg milk solids and were on
track in the mid part of the
season, but had fallen away
towards the end, Hancox said.
The production season started
similar to last year's and is
currently sitting at 462kg milk
solids per cow and 1825kg of milk
solids per hectare.
They used more silage than
they had in previous seasons in
late spring. This ate into the
amount they could use in the
latter part of the season.
In early April they removed all
their cull and empty cows, which
saw them lose production during
Hancox said they hoped to keep
milk up until late last week, but
that would largely depend on the
weather. The farm ran two herds
with the first calvers and lowest
condition-scored cows in the
smaller 200-cow herd and the
remaining 400 cows in the larger
This winter they will keep 75 to
80 of their highest condition-
scored cows on the farm to look
after any extra pasture growth
About 300 of the cows will be
wintered at the Ashley Dene farm
and will take part in winter feed
trials taking place on that block.
About 130 of their early calving
cows will be wintered on grass
and silage. The farm will also
undergo extensive maintenance
over the winter, including
resurfacing the lanes in an effort
to reduce cow lameness.
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