NZ Dairy Spring 2021

54 | nz dairy When it comes to things down on the farm, Dianna Malcolm M urray Holdaway will always tell you what he thinks, not what he thinks you want to hear when it comes to farming and managing spring challenges. The straight shooter and his wife, Lynda, own a 150-hectare (effective) dairy platform in the Tararua farming community near Ballance in the Manawatu- Whanganui region. They are joined there in a 50/50 sharemilking role by Troy and Victoria Hughes. This operation winters 450 cows and milks 435 at peak through a 50-bale rotary. They also run 50ha of support land in an area bounded by as many sheep and beef properties as dairy. The farm has some rolling to steeper hill country, which changes the rules when it comes to trying to sum- marise its numbers for the greater industry. “I do like to challenge conventional thinking as well as my own thoughts,” Murray said. “It’s part of what I regard as an important principle for continual improvement. One of my mantras is, ‘Don’t just aim to do a good job, look to do it better than the last time’.” Outside of the terrain, this area also gets higher than average rainfall with 1200-1300 mm. Along with the heavy soils on part of the farm, it’s some- thing this fifth generation landowner knows they have to manage carefully in early spring. Their production on this high Breeding Worth Jersey herd is 160,000kg Milk Solids (368kg MS per cow). “Given some of our soils are not that well- drained, a wet and late spring is something we have to deal with in our district,” Murray said. “We have three distinct soil types. We have a long river boundary along the Mangahao River, and there is a lot of flats on that part of the farm. Over the road it has some flat and some rolling country, but there is also a little bit of quite steep hill country that we don’t milk off. “It’s the farm we’ve got – it’s got the hill country parts to it – and we just use it the best that we can.” That being said, Murray and Troy use a number of strategies. Central among those is a forward feed budget, which is done in April. They also have a covered feed pad, and this season they installed in-shed feeding in the dairy (but not for the reasons some may assume…read on). “A lot of our focus is around managing feed supplies – both grass and supplements – to get through to the point in the spring where there is sufficient growth to meet the herd’s demand,” Murray said. “The feed budget is simple, but it allows us to plan and base our decisions on good informa- tion. It’s all about monitoring, measuring, and then managing.” Covered feedpad central to spring conversations The fresh cows in the spring were getting 14- 15kg DM a day. In late August 12kg of that was grass. One of the Murray Holdaway has put several pivotal tools in place to handle the high rainfall and steep country on his dairy farm at Tararua in the Manawatu-Whanganui region. DAIRY PEOPLE » Murray & Lynda Holdaway critical decisions they made through the winter and into the spring was when to dry off the herd. The feed budget allows them to work backwards to that date. This season, the last of the herd was dry by May 10. Lighter cows were dried off earlier. The mean calving date was August 20. “Generally when you’ve got rain, you will get growth. The problem is then how to use it. Especially when you’ve got quite wet soils.” The feed pad has been pivotal to that conversa- tion. It is in use most days through the winter and spring. “What we’re doing at that time of the year is slowing the rotation down to manage the cows 0800333379 "Replacement parts and after sales on call service" 0800 feedsystems IN SHED FEED SYSTEMS FEEDMILLING SOLUTIONS GRAIN STORAGE SYSTEMS PIG & POULTRY EQUIPMENT t 06 357 0640 www . We are proud to be a part of the Generation Farms Team. We focus on providing business advice and accounting solutions, so they can focus on what they do best - running a successful farming operation. intake as opposed to letting them eat whatever they want. So, you restrict the area and that means they are on the paddocks at a higher stocking volume and they immediately trample a whole lot of the feed into the ground. “That is a significant issue for us. We are reliant on that growth, and we don’t do any winter crop- ping.” Their supplementary feed includes making grass silage or balage on the milking platform if there is a genuine surplus. They buy in 100-120 tonne of maize silage, and they also use Palm Kernel. “Ironically, one of the funny things about having this feed pad is that we end up trying to use it as little as possible. The reason for that is because if we use it too much and the cows are on concrete they end up with feet problems and that can extend into the summer. “However, we do use it in a lot of ways.