66 | nzdairy Benefits flow from ‘primo’ new cow barn Karen Phelps With more extreme weather conditions accelerated by climate change, Pahiatua farmers Dennis and Linda Morgan decided it was either get a cow barn or quit farming. They chose the first option and now four years later haven’t looked back. Roaches Concrete Products built the cow barn, the Morgans commissioned DeLaval products and local agents McDougalls Rural Service & Supplies installed these. “We looked at a lot of cow barns before we built ours and many didn’t work so well. Our barn though is primo. The cows just love it.” The barn has 350 sleeping beds and the herd of Jersey Cross cows are in there all night and out in the paddocks all day from May, except if the weather is bad in which case they spend more time inside. In March and April the hot weather sees the cows prefer to be in the barn during the day and outside at night. “The cows love it. Leave the gate open and they head straight there when it’s cold or hot.” Dennis says the barn has saved a lot of labour as previously they had covered a feed pad to use for shelter for the herd which meant calvers, springers and milking cows were all in one group inside and someone had to get up extremely early to shift them in there each day. Benefits have also been seen in production. They used to calve 340 cows and produce 150,000 kgs/MS. Now they produce 180,000 kgs/MS from 330 cows and are on track to reach a production target of 200,000 kgs/MS. They milk year round, putting the herd on once a day in December. They dry the herd off in the middle of January and milk 80-90 empties through the summer before starting autumn calving. Effluent can now be captured from both the 36-aside herringbone shed and cow barn and utilised on the farm reducing the farm fertiliser bill to virtually nothing. It’s helped increase pasture quality and quantity. They also grow around 40ha of maize and 15ha of Triticale or Italian Ryegrass. “We’re lucky to get eight tonnes per hectare off our pastures but we can get 16 tonnes with Triticale or 18-20 tonnes with maize. “We grow 700-800 tonnes of maize each year plus silage and the Triticale or Italian Ryegrass. We’ve increased milk production a lot by just changing what feed we grow.” Dennis and Linda’s daughter Brenda and husband Alistair McGregor are lower order sharemilkers on the farm. Dennis and Linda take charge of the young stock, which includes 85 R1s and 85 heifers. They also assist Brenda to rear the calves. “Whatever needs doing we do,” says Dennis. “That might mean filling in milking or when Brenda DAIRY PEOPLE » Dennis Morgan “We’re lucky to get eight tonnes per hectare off our pastures but we can get 16 tonnes with Triticale or 18-20 tonnes with maize.” and Alistair are on holiday.” Dennis came from a family that milked a small herd of ten cows, which is what started his interest in farming. Linda comes from a dairy farming family. They married young and worked their way up the system to eventually purchase their current 145ha farm around 15 years ago. It’s been hard work that’s got them to where they are and the long-term goal is to keep the farm in the family for the benefit of their six daughters, son and grandchildren. Dennis and Linda Morgan’s new cow barn has 350 sleeping beds and has helped in increasing pasture quality and quantity.