NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

| 41 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Paul & Kyllee Henton Early adopters of technology Virginia Wright Comfy Cow Rubber Matting is a designed to keep cows comfortable for extended periods of time. Kyllee and Paul Henton milk around 580 cows on their farm in West Otago. Their 184 hectares (171 effective) in Kelso is on flood prone land with Mataura silt loam and Jacobstown soil that holds water without being overly heavy, so while they’re prone to pugging in winter they don’t dry out too much in summer. Kyllee and Paul are not only early adopters of technology, as shown by their fitting of All-flex collars on their cows about a year ago, but they’re also innovators not afraid of backing themselves. Five years ago when they couldn’t find what they needed to get their cows comfortably through weather events, or to give them the flexibility to manage pasture damage in the shoulder seasons, they invented their own. Called Comfy Cow Rubber Matting it’s a rubber matting designed to keep cows comfortable for extended periods of time, to give them secure footing for easy standing up and lying down, durable enough to withstand being driven over by vehicles or tractors without moving, and strong enough to last in New Zealand conditions for a long time. After five years of wear and tear in their barn and two outside, where they combine it with woodchip to cover their two wintering pads, Comfy Cow is proving worthy of its name and living up to their expectations. Robust enough to be kept clean by scraping with a tractor blade outside, and easily greenwashed inside, the cows appear to be equally comfortable whether they’re on rubber or woodchip. Comfy Cow’s reputation is gradually spreading as people also recognise it as a good option for creating a stand-off area for cows to come off wintercrops onto somewhere dry. “We’ve had increased demand over winter with people wanting to keep the cows off the mud,” says Kyllee. “We’re busy this autumn with orders for barns, wintering pads and stables all over the country. Woodchips are good but it’s getting more expensive as it’s being put to more uses. This is a good alternative product which you don’t have to renew each year, it’s all UV stabilized so it won’t break down with the sunlight, and it’ll last about 20 years,” says Kyllee. “The feedback is extremely good.” Having taken care of their cows’ comfort the Hentons find that having now installed the All-flex collars on them makes keeping an eye on their cows’ health and happiness a lot easier. The collars keep track of the cows’ activity levels as well as their rumination: their chewing and swallowing. “It’s all benchmarked against various parameters, some of those from your own herd and some against national standards across all the data from all the collars,” says Kyllee. Alterations in the data trigger an alert so, for example, a change in heat activity and cycle markers can be used to work out the best time for breeding. The rumination markers can be used to keep track of how the cows are responding to their diet, especially if there’s a change in their diet that they’re adjusting to. “Fodder beet’s very high in sugar and while we design the diet for the group and balance it with fibre, you’ll always get the odd cow that’s a bit like a kid that runs straight for the desert table and doesn’t eat their greens, or roughage in this case,” says Kyllee. While a really sick cow is easily spotted, having the collars monitoring rumination means they pick up the cows with sub-acute ruminacidosis (SARA) early, and they can pull them out and treat them in good time. On a larger scale the Hentons see the collars as a way of checking their performance. “We’re really pleased with them,” says Kyllee. “It’s confirmed that a lot of what we’re doing with the herd is right. It’s a bit early to back up with data but our gut feeling is that it was a good investment.” “This is a good alternative product which you don’t have to renew each year, it’s all UV stabilized so it won’t break down with the sunlight, and it’ll last about 20 years.” 22 Roxburgh Street, Heriot, 2 RD Tapanui Ph/Fax: (03) 204 2029 HARLIWICH CONTRACTING LTD HERIOT SERVICE CENTRE For all your Trucking needs, call: 027 227 2324 or Proud to be associated with Paul & Kyllee Henton Paul 027 244 3354 | Kyllee 027 688 8677 Paul & Kyllee Henton • DAIRY • DEER • EQUINE • PIGS • BEEF • SHEEP • ANTI-FATIGUE • WINTERING @AgriTechImportsNZ