NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

46 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Pat & Shelley Schnuriger Change in genetics drives change in milking regime Pat and Shelley farm 73 effective hectares in Waikite Valley. Richard Loader Bay of Plenty dairy farmers Pat and Shelley Schnuriger haven’t sent a calf on the bobby truck for about four years. The couple currently milk 112 cows, all registered Holsteins, bar two pedigree Ayrshires and two pedigree Shorthorns. Most of the Holstein herd is pedigree. “We breed from the top 60% of the herd and do a round of AI mating on heifers before they go with the bull,” says Pat. “So we end up with plenty of replacements from there with some surplus. The bottom 40% of the herd goes to AB Hereford, tailing off the last three weeks with short gestation Belgium Blue. The progeny go to the feeder calf market along with the Friesian bulls.” Pat and Shelley farm 73 effective hectares in Waikite Valley, about 30 minutes south of Rotorua. The farm’s milking platform is 60 hectares, with all young stock kept on farm. Raised on a dairy farm till he was 13 when his parents went into horticulture, upon leaving school Pat spent some time in horticulture and five years behind the wheel of a truck, before finding his way back to dairy, eventually buying his Waikite Valley oasis 21 years ago. Eighteen months ago five and a half hectares of steep country was retired and put into plantation forestry. “I love farming here. I really love the area. The soil type has to be really wet to pug, and while it can dry out a little we don’t get the severe droughts like some other regions do, and the region is a little bit under-rated. “This farm was actually one of seven in the area that were originally settled as ballot farms in 1951. So this farm was one of the first farming ventures in this area and I’m the fourth owner.” Producing about 520kgMS/cow/year, Pat operates a System 2 operation, which he says had been creeping closer to System 3 for a while. • to page 47 “This season in particular I’ve tried to remove some of the costs and milk a few less cows. Predominantly we’re grass fed. We make most of our silage on farm here, but I might buy in one or two unit loads and the only other input is in-shed feeding.” Shelley joined Pat on the farm about twelve years ago and plays a key role in regard to calf rearing. Shelley’s involvement in the farm also brought about change in animal genetics. “We’ve been milking twice-a-day for four years now, but prior to that we were once-a-day for 10 years. The driver to change was that we changed our genetics hugely. “When I went to once a day I predominantly had an LIC herd. When Shelley joined me on the farm we got more involved in the breeding and quickly Brosnahan Agricultural Spraying Ltd Gene Brosnahan Cell: 027-410 1035 PROUDLY SUPPORTING Raetea Holsteins Pat & Shelley