NZ Dairy Winter 2022

66 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Kirbin Farming: Robin & Kirstie Hornblow Milking big herds The Hornblows rear 300 heifer replacements. Russell Fredric Milking in excess of 1000 cows twice a day is just another day at the of ce for Canterbury contract milkers Robin and Kirstie Hornblow. The couple have just completed their second season as contract milkers on Tim and Beth Lovett’s 290 hectare, 1160 cow farm east of Ashburton. The farm is almost fully irrigated with a combination of centre pivots, K-Line and Roto Rainers. Having had several years experience on farms with substantial herds, Robin and Kirstie are perfectly comfortable with the daily routine of 2320 cows strolling through the 70 bale rotary shed, Robin says. “We had already had large herd experience. I managed 1050 cows for the Camden Group and Kirstie was assistant manger on a 1500 cow farm in Kurow prior to working for FIL. We’ve always been large herd farmers.” However, they don’t do it all on their own, they employ three full time staff as well as some casual workers. Although they inherited a challenging situation which had created some signi cant animal health issues, they have worked hard to improve the herd with particular focus on the in-calf rate, age structure and longevity and are pleased with the progress. “We’ve culled really hard in the last two years. We’ve got a nice looking herd now, but now we need to start going into the internals of it.” Last season, down cows reduced to 20 from 80 the previous season, while other issues such as 03 365 0881 1 i r l . . . r l . . Your Focus: Your Business... Our Focus: Your Business... Proudly supporting Kirbin Farming Brown Glassford have a long history of providing specialist farm accounting and business advice to the rural community through a combination of experience, expertise, and a team of high quality staff. r l f r l i t r f r i i i li t f r ti i i t t r r l it t r i ti f ri , rti , t f i lit t ff. mastitis have been addressed, the empty rate has decreased from 19% to 14% and the six week incalf rate has increased from 58% to 61%. “Doing the basics and doing them well sets you up for good results. It is very satisfying because we know how much work we put in and it’s great to see the results.” Genetically, they want to create a cross-breed of a more even line, including reducing the size of the largest cows and having ones that can handle a long walk, if needed, of up to three kilometres to the shed. Robin and Kirstie each bring their own strengths to the farm operation; Robin’s is pasture and feed management while Kirstie’s skills are geared towards the cows, young stock/calf rearing, breeding, milk quality and the operation of the shed. Despite the improvements achieved, a wet winter, wet spring and generally cooler conditions over the past season created its own challenges, and although there was reasonable grass growth, it lacked in metabolisable energy. Consequently production was affected and was expected to top out at 505,000kgMS or around 450kg per cow, however Robin and Kirstie are quick to see a silver lining. “There’s lots of room to improve, which is a bonus, especially with improving in-calf rates and reducing empty rates, it gives you even more options to improve the herd.” With the farm’s owners looking towards retirement in the next few years, the couple are rmly focused on their goal of becoming sharemilkers on the same farm and the current farm gate payout is “de nitely a good help for us” on that journey. “Doing the basics and doing them well sets you up for good results. It is very satisfying because we know how much work we put in and it’s great to see the results.”