NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

68 | nzdairy Family steps up for Southland farmers Richard Loader DAIRY PEOPLE » Chris & Sam Wech The benefits of having a family farming operation have been made very apparent this year to Southland farmers Samara and Chris Wech. When the contract milker they had set up to take on a position this season fell through and borders still closed due to Covid-19 had put additional stress on demand for farm workers they found they were unable to fill the position. This saw the next generation step up and take an even more active role on the family farm. Cruze (15) and Maddison (17) both took on roles in the shed with Jesse (13) and Travis (12) also helping out on the farm. Sadie (19) who is studying off farm helped out when she could. The farm’s only full time worker Bradley Ray has also proved worth his weight in gold, says Chris. “The kids have been lifesavers this year,” he says. “They really stood up and helped out and helped us get through.” The Wech’s farm milks a herd of 405 friesian cross cows, down from 430 the previous season. The reason is that for the first time in October Chris and Samara have weighed their cows before mating. They plan to weigh the first and second calvers each year and the whole herd every second year. “Usually we base what we do on herd average data for the breed. But now we have hard data on these cows when I do a herd test so I know exactly how they are performing. This has enabled me to cull more effectively. Everything we do is about efficiency.” Getting back in the shed more this season has also enabled Chris to eyeball the cows and cull ones he is not happy with. This has led to an increase in production on the previous season with the farm on track to produce 220,000 kgs MS compared with 217,000 kgs the season before despite the drop in cow numbers. “This means we can feed the better performing cows more good feed which has increased efficiency and production,” explains Chris. “The aim is to work smarter, not harder.” They also keep a close eye on their pasture – ensuring it is optimal height for grazing, grazing to the right residuals and topping pasture as required. An in-shed feeding system provides a further boost to productivity and feed efficiency, feeding wheat, palm kernel and DDG, while reducing feed wastage and increasing utilisation. They feed through the system all year round but ramp it up at key times such as spring and mating. During inclement weather cows are moved to dryer areas and there is also an old undercover Jesse helping move bales (above). Maddison and Cruze milking (below). sheep yard on the farm, which has proved useful shelter. They also use this for calving under in wet weather. The Wech family take care of all their groundwork and cultivation and have re-grassed 13ha this year. Samara takes charge of the farm finances and also has her own business as a naturopath. The farm has a 36ha support block used for silage, rearing calves and wintering stock. “Now we have hard data on these cows when I do a herd test so I know exactly how they are performing. This has enabled me to cull more effectively.” ELEVATOR SCRAPER, BOBCAT & ATTACHMENTS, LANDSCAPING, TRENCHING AUGERS K J SUTHERLAND GRAVELLING & AGRICULTURAL CONTRACTOR 2475 OHAI-CLIFDEN H/WAY ORAWIA R.D2 OTAUTAU 9682 Ph 0274 367 934 GRADES OF CRUSHED & SCREENED GRAVELS, ALKATHENE LAYING, ROOTRAKING, FARM TRACKS, DAIRYLINES Mobile: 021 362 766 Rabco Ag Ltd Tel: 03 225 8488 E-mail: Web: Complete Silage, Baling, Cultivation, Effluent, Spraying & Excavator Contracting Service • Log Cartage • Stock / Bulk • Fertiliser • Gravel • Contracting • ransporting T 0800 22 5899 03 225 8356 Otautau 03 225 5899 Pukemaori 03 234 8120 Riverton PROUDLY SUPPORTING CHRIS AND SAM WECH