NZ Dairy Winter 2022

68 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Aoraki Dairy Organic conversion on track despite rain Kim Newth After a wet winter and early spring, dairying couple Reece and Letitia Bonnor were hoping for a settled summer season in the Horowhenua. Instead, the heavens opened again in December, with 220mm of rainfall over six days. “It has been a pretty bad season, weather-wise, with most of our yearly rainfall coming down in just four months,” says Reece, who is leading the organic conversion of Pamu’s Aoraki Dairy, near Foxton, part of Pamu’s Moutoa Diary Complex. Letitia also works for Moutoa as a dairy business analyst. The poor season – coupled with delays at the works associated with Covid – has not been ideal but Reece and his team have adapted to meet the challenges, making timely decisions on switching to once-a-day and 10-in-7 milking to save on feed. “Our Pamu business manager Tony Dowman, who oversees Moutoa’s seven farms, has been hugely supportive and hasn’t been shy of throwing on the gumboots when needed so he can take a look at the farm and help us nd solutions.” Reece and Letitia enjoy their dairy lifestyle and sharing the rural environment with their two children, Lillee, 6 and Carter, 4. “Lillee turned six at the end of April and we realised that also marked my tenth anniversary of working for Pamu. It has been an awesome 10 years!” Reece started his organic dairy journey in 2016 on Moutoa’s Tasman Dairy. After three seasons at Aoraki Dairy – a 196ha effective farm that spring calves some 440 cows – he and his team are now nearing organic certi cation, with the target date for completion being 10 October 2022. “I’m really looking forward to seeing this conversion through to the nish line.” Leading into dry-off on the farm, there is a big focus on mastitis. Antibiotics can be used as a last resort in an organic dairy system but treated cows must then leave the farm. It’s an outcome Reece is trying hard to avoid. Rather than setting a date for dry-off, Reece will be looking for a ne weather window of at least seven days to go to dry-off. Fortunately, settled autumn conditions are looking “pretty good” for that. “Hygiene is really our number one priority. For dry off, we’ve got a few homeopathic products set up ready to go. Along with a bit of maize, there will be a lot of hay fed; we bought in 120 bales of fully certi ed organic hay to help us through dry-off and winter. “There’s not much grass but plenty of paddock space for the cows; we’re on track to shut down nicely. We have a new 50-bail rotary shed with new Waikato plant and have installed a walk-over teat spray system as well that we’re hoping to use through the winter to help stay on top of mastitis bugs.” Reece observes that the cows’ average somatic cell count from February through to May has been consistently under 200,000. “In fact, we’ve been able to get under 150,000 for quite a long period of time – that’s a really big achievement for us.” Once complete, Aoraki Dairy’s organic certi - cation will meet various international standards, including USDA National Organic Program standards through AssureQuality and similar standards for Canada, China, Taiwan, and the EU. Waterlogged paddocks at Pamu’s Aoraki Dairy complex near Foxton. The farm is nearing organic certi cation despite an unusually wet spring and early summer. TALK TO THE EXPERTS FOR FARMING SUPPORT Agricultural Contractors - Levin Contact Garry 027 232 2380 Rowan 027 452 2562 Serving the Horowhenua since 1924 • Fertiliser spreading • Cultivation • All bulk silage requirements • Round baling & wrapping • Bulk cartage • Square baling & wrapping • Hay - large rounds / large squares • Stockists of Hatuma Lime • Ravensdown consignment store with certified weigh bridge SERVICES OFFERED: Phone (06) 324 8426 F: (06) 324 8427 • E: • W: IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH INNOVATIVE DESIGN & ANYTIME SERVICE RONGOTEA • All Brands of Pumps for All Purposes • Irrigation Systems • Bore Pumps • Water Purification • Tasman Tanks • Farm Effluent Systems • All Brands of Dairy Equipment • Reporoa Backing Gates • Water Meters • Cold Milk Chiller Systems Milka-Ware Total Dairy Systems IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY THROUGH INNOVATIVE DESIGN & ANYTIME SERVICE Phone: (06) 324 8426 Fax: (06) 324 8427 • E: • Pumps for All Purposes • Irrigation Systems • Bore Pumps • Water Purification • Water Meters Farm Effluent Systems • Dairy Equipment • Reporoa Backing Gates • Tasman Tanks RONGOTEA GEA FarmTechnologies TEAT SPRAYINGTECHNOLOGY AN COMPANY EXCELLENCE INDAIRYING EFFLUENT PUMPS & SYSTEMS TEAT SPRAYINGTECHNOLOGY AN COMPANY EXCELLENCE IN DAI RYING