Business Rural Spring 2021

88 | Winter-proofing a win for Glenkylie Rex Stevenson with Grandson Tom and the robot pusher named Jo behind them. Virginia Wright T wo seasons ago Audrey and Rex Stevenson, together with their son Craig who is their farm manager, made the decision to install a winter cow barn on Glenkylie Dairy Farm. Until then the seasonal movements of stock which were a normal part of dealing with their typical Southland climatic conditions were a neces- sary part of their farming system. The farm is 200 hectares, 195 effective, in Isla Bank about half way between Riverton and Winton. It features flat to gently rolling land with clay-based soil. “We get a lot of rain,” says Audrey with a laugh when she considers whether or not they’re summer safe, “it’s not a problem.” The wet soils have traditionally meant the Stevensons grazed their stock off-farm through the wet winter months at a dry run-off they owned in Te Anau. That was just one of things that changed with the arrival of the Comfort Cow Barn. “It’s got 602 bales,” explains Audrey, “and for the last two win- ters the cows have been in there full time through June and July, 50 percent during May and August and the rest depends on the weather.” According to Audrey the cows aren’t the only ones who are happy with the new regime. Although the staff’s workload hasn’t much changed as they’re still feeding out several times a day, at least the combination of straw, or crop and grass silage, with some distillers grain is now being delivered inside a warm dry shed and they’re not shifting breaks out in the rain. The Stevensons are happy too because none of the dry matter is being wasted as it would have been outside, and the cows need less feed overall because they’re warm, dry and contained so they’re using less energy. Before they installed the barn the whole Glenkylie herd would have been dried off like most of the oth- er herds in Southland some time around the 10th of June. Instead the Stevensons started drying off a line of cows each week through the winter starting on May 31st. They manage their numbers with an eye to the cows’ welfare and their winter milking regime involving an average of around 300 cows. “Because we’ve got the barn we can do that,” says Audrey. “We dry them off to give them 55 days rest before they calve and we start calving in the last week of July. We also carry over 40 of our empties to milk through the winter. They’re good cows and they’re still producing 20 to 25 litres of milk a day, so they help keep the income coming in.” DAIRY PEOPLE » Glenkylie Dairy Farm The Stevensons used a portion of the money they got from selling the dry-farm in Te Anau to put the $2.5 million barn on their Isla Bank farm. “To be honest it’ll take us a good ten years before we really start getting financial pay back but environmentally it’s already covering itself and it’s making life easier keeping our stock together on the dairy farm. We’re not getting any younger and it’s getting harder to get staff to manage the run-off so the decision made sense.” Given that Audrey has been a director of Ayrshire New Zealand for the last two years it’s not surpris- ing that the Stevensons’ herd is three quarters Ayrshires and a quarter Fresians. No surprise either “It’s got 602 bales and for the last two winters the cows have been in there full time through June and July.” AROS CONTRACTING LTD ~Silage Specialists~ For a friendly, quality service call Tony & Janette Carmichael 03 224 6357 or 027 457 2037 Proud to support Glenkylie Dairy farm Neil 0274 733 108 - Greg 027 270 3315 • DAIRY SHEDS • FARM BUILDINGS • RESIDENTIAL & LIGHT COMMERCIAL • CONCRETE LAYING Comfort Cow Barns Y O U R S E E D & F E E D S P E C I A L I S T S 0800 621 431 PHONE NOW Imported Feed Blends & Contracts Dairy Meal / Pellets • Calf Feeds PKE Blends & Contracts Bulk Molasses Personalised Mixes to Suit PROUD SUPPLIERS TO GLENKYLIE DAIRY FARM that they get their semen from the Semayr Breeding Services which is an arm of Ayrshire NZ. The Ste- vensons believe in making a profit and that’s what they expect from their largely Ayrshire herd. The 600 cows they milked last year produced around 563kg’s of milk solids apiece. “Our aim is to get to 600kgs of milk solids per cow,” says Audrey. “Our cows are about a 510 kilograms average weight, most farmers if you can get a kilogram of milk solids per kilogram of bodyweight you’d be very happy but we’re aiming a lot higher.” And they have every expectation that those lucky cows wintering in the comfort of their new shed will deliver accordingly.