Pastures and feed quality are a main focus of the business, due to rising costs of purchased feed and the impact that nutrition has on the cows genetic potential. Mark spends a significant amount of time and effort making sure that our feed bank matches or exceeds the cow’s needs.
Nutrition is the one area of the business that is most affected by environmental conditions outside our control. However, by keeping a close eye on the pastures and ensuring that our feed plans are prepared 6 – 8 months in advance, we have been able to minimise the impact of droughts and extended dry spells on both the productivity and profitability of the business.
The home farm (245ha) is the area we milk off. This is divided in roughly 40 paddocks that are grazed under rotation. A combination of annual, Italian and perennial regresses are used across the farm. A combination of turnips, sown with annual pasture, provides early, good quality feed for fresh cows. Drylands lucerne was planted in 2008 to maximise summer rainfall.
Crushed wheat and barley form the basis of the supplementary feed that is delivered to the cows in the dairy. This is fed in a pelleted form and has additives such as rumen modifiers, minerals and salts to maintain herd health and production.
Pelleted feed is given to cows based on production. This means that cows that are producing higher than average or that have had twins are able to be fed at a higher rate that the rest of the herd.
Vetch and cereal hay is predominantly purchased off farm to assist in filling feed gaps that occur over summer. Silage is made on farm and we aim to produce 9000 cubic meters/year. Silage is made in order to utilise the spring flush of grass. Due tot he fact that we have a large feed pad, silage, hay or other by-products can be fed on here if the paddocks become too wet.
See “Calves” for nutrition of the babies.