NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 53 nz dairy more water daily than an elephant DAIRY PEOPLE » Mary-Ann Mathis Pasture switch Mary-Ann says they also changed their pasture species to support the cows. Mating isn’t completed until the end of November, and she is mindful that summer can also have a negative impact on early pregnancy rates. “We oversowed the farm a year ago with Plan- tain, and we’ve always grown a lot of cocksfoot and prairie grass species, because they grow through when it’s dry. It’s also not affected by grass grubs quite as much. “We grew turnips for several years, but I decided the cows were walking to stand in the dust. Turnips take a lot of management, so the last three years we’ve gone with Chicory and given them a break of that in the hot afternoons. “It’s more palatable, it has good feed value, and it’s green so they aren’t eating something dry and dusty. We irrigate most of the time direct to pasture as our effluent pond is full of water, and that keeps the Chicory breaks fresher.” Their herds are a mix of Friesians and crossbreds and Mary-Ann says Facial Eczema (FE) is a summer challenge, particularly on one farm. FE is caused by a toxin (sporidesmin), which is produced by the spores of the fungus, Pithomyceschartarum, grow- ing on pasture. The fungus grows in the dead litter at the base of pasture in warm moist conditions. It damages the liver and bile ducts.They have been working to breed eczema-resistance into their herd. “We choose the bulls that have resistance to it,” Mary-Ann said. “And, we steer away from white stock.” They breed stud Hereford cattle and she says deliberately breeding them to have brown pigment around their eyes to protect them against skin cancer and FE has been a great decision. Source for more detail on water demands for dairy cattle: drinking_water_for_dairy_cattle_part_1 Mary-Ann Mathis and her son, Colin (top), milk 1100 cows on three farms in south Waikato. They also breed Hereford cattle. AlanWilson Building Contractors are proud to support Mary-AnnMathis Milking & Water Systems Ltd - 11 Te Tahi Street, Whakatane 07 307 0704 Innes Richardson - 027 312 5082