From no wintering facilities to HerdHomes® Shelters for 100% of the Herd.
Total Milksolids has increased 25,000kgMS, or 33% since incorporating HerdHomes® Shelters into their farming system
This has been achieved by a combination of:
- Earlier calving date (now 10th July vs. 25th July),
- Extra Grass being grown
- Change in heifer grazing policy – all heifers go off farm at weaning now compared to being grazed on farm until mating
- Increasing stocking rate from 2.5 cows/ha to 2.8 cows/ha
- Increase in per cow production from 344kgMS/cow to 373kgMS/cow
- Milksolids per hectare has increased from 850kgMS/ha to just over 1050kgMS/ha which puts the farm in the top 10% of farms in the district.
Pasture production has also increased as a result of minimizing pasture damage during the winter and spring. It is estimated the farm is now growing 13.3 t DM/ha annually compared to 11.9 t DM/ha before HerdHomes® Shelters were used, an increase of 12%.
This additional pasture production is being turned into additional milk production with an estimated 10,000kgMS, out of the total increase of 25,000kgMS being generated by extra grass grown on the farm.
The additional milk production, over and above this 10,000kgMS is likely to be coming from the extra feed being brought into the farming system now and the additional land now being milked on because the heifer replacements are now grazed off from weaning instead of from mating.
The majority of the extra supplementary feed in the farming system now is in the form of Palm Kernel which is used at around 300kgDM/cow/year through the winter and spring period along with 30-50kgDM/cow/yr of brought in grass silage.
Fewer cows are grazed off farm on the run off in the winter. Around 10% of the herd is now grazed off farm for 50-60 days compared to around 30% before HerdHomes® Shelters were built
The overall feed conversion efficiency of the farming system has improved since HerdHomes® Shelters were built. It has improved from 11.8 kg DM eaten/Kg MS to 11.4, an improvement of 3.3%. This means the farm is able to produce its 98,000kgMS each year with around 39,200kgDM less feed. This is equivalent to around 220 large bales of silage, 8.5 T Urea, or 43 T Palm Kernel. Improving feed conversion efficiency has been proven to be one of the key drivers to improving overall farm profitability on dairy farms in NZ and it appears, in this situation as though HerdHomes® Shelters have helped contribute to this improving.
The farmers have been surprised at what they have been able to achieve since incorporating HerdHomes® Shelters into their system. They have been very impressed at the milk production gains they have achieved but also believe the non financial benefits such as making farming less stressful and more enjoyable are also very important factors and would be the key reasons behind making them decide to invest in HerdHomes® Shelters again if given the choice.