Case Studies

Below are summaries of case studies we have performed. If you require full copies of these please contact us via info@herdhomes.co.nz.

Case Study 1 – Northland

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From no stand off or feed pad, and off farm wintering, to HerdHomes® shelters and wintering on farm.

Total Milksolids has increased 22,000kgMS, or 32% since incorporating HerdHomes® Shelters into their farming system – over a 3 year period

Milksolids per ha has increased from 640kgMS/ha to 840kgMS/ha taking the farm from around the district average production to the top 15% in the region.

Pasture production has responded well to reduced winter and spring pasture damage with an estimated 12.8 t DM/ha being grown, an increase of 2.0 t DM/ha or 19% over the 10.8 t DM/ha estimated to be grown pre HerdHomes® Shelters.

This additional pasture production is being turned into additional milk production. After accounting for the increase in supplement usage approximately 60% of the extra 22,000kgMS is estimated to be attributable to the increase in pasture production on the farm.

100% of the herd is now grazed on the farm for the entire winter period. Around 50% of the herd used to be grazed off over winter for 60 days.

Supplement use has increased since HerdHomes® Shelters were incorporated into the farming system. A proportion of this extra supplement is used during the winter with all the cows at home and approximately 420-450kgDM/cow/year of Palm Kernel is now used throughout the season. At average feed conversion efficiency responses it is estimated that approximately 30% of the farms extra milksolids production can be linked to the increase in supplement usage.

The farm’s cash surplus has increased by an estimated $44,750 per year.

The owners are convinced that HerdHomes® Shelters have played a significant part in helping lift their farms productivity as well as making “farming more enjoyable” and “less stressful”

The owner believes the farms full potential has not yet been reached. Cow numbers have been lifted for the 2008/09 season to 300 cows which is equivalent to a stocking rate of 2.75 cows/ha. This seasons milk production target is 105,000kgMS which equates to 350kgMS/cow and 960kgMS/ha.



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Case Study 2 – Northland

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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.



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Case Study 3 – North Waikato

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From a feed pad and spring calving to HerdHomes® shelters and split calving.

These dairy farmers incorporated HerdHomes® Shelters into their farming system to help them implement their strategy of intensifying their dairy farm. This involved lifting stocking rates from 2.9 cows/ha to 3.15 cows/ha, moving from spring to split calving and increasing the amount of supplements used in the system

Total milksolids production has lifted significantly from 108,000kgMS prior to HerdHomes® Shelters to 145,000kgMS targeted in the current season, 2008/09. This equates to a lift of 34% and 1208kgMS/ha and 381 kgMS/cow

Total supplement use in the 2008/09 season is expected to be around 1750kg DM/cow with approximately 1400kg DM/cow of this being brought into the system and 350kgDM/cow being made on the 120 ha dairy platform. Around 80% of this supplement is Maize Silage and Palm Kernel.

The increase in milksolids production of 37,000kgMS is considerably higher than what would normally be expected based on how much additional feed in being brought into the system. At standard response rates of 70 grams of MS per kgDM the extra feed now being used in the system (355,000kg DM) should be generating around 25,000kgMS – compared to the 37,000kgMS actually achieved

The farming system prior to HerdHomes® Shelters was around the NZ average in terms of overall efficiency at converting feed eaten into milksolids. The two year average prior to HerdHomes® Shelters was around 13.2 kgDM eaten/kgMS. This has improved by around 10% to 12.0kg DM eaten/kgMS under the HerdHomes® farming system in 2008/09. This is quite a significant improvement and means the farm is now able to produce its 145,000kgMS expected in 2008/09 with around 175,000kg DM less feed than what would have been required in the old system.

The farmers believe the farm is now growing more grass, especially during the spring period than prior to HerdHomes® Shelters. They believe this is a result of being able to look after the pastures better during the winter and spring by keeping cows off the pastures when damage is likely to occur. An example is during the spring of 2008 they made 60 ha of grass silage on the 120 ha dairy platform and this compares to around 20 ha made each year consistently prior to HerdHomes® Shelters.



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Case Study 4 – Bay of Plenty

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From a wood chip based stand off pad to HerdHomes® shelters Once a day milking (OAD) spring calving.

Summary

Milk Production has increased 16,000kgMS, or 12.5% since HerdHomes® Shelters have been incorporated into the farming system. This has been achieved with minimal changes within the farming system with calving date and total cow numbers remaining the same.

65 extra calves are now reared on milk. This equates to approximately 1700 kgMS. If this figure is included, production has in effect increased by 17,700kgMS or 13.8%

Extra feed, in the form of Kiwifruit and palm kernel, is now being used in the system and accounts for around 7500kgMS, or 46% of the total increase in milk production. This has been necessitated to extend lactation by the extremely dry summers in the last 2 years

Pasture production and utilization during the spring and early summer has improved considerably. Summer growth has reduced dramatically because of the droughts. Pre HerdHomes® Shelters the farm was estimated to be growing 13.8 t DM/ha and this has decreased to 10.9 t DM/ha post HerdHomes® Shelters. Due to poor summer growth, the total feed grown is 1744 tonnes or 9.5% less than pre HerdHomes® shelters. Despite this, production from the reduced feed available has increased by 8500 kgMS or 8%.

The farms feed conversion efficiency has improved from 11.7 KgDM eaten/KgMS pre herd homes to 11.0 KgDM eaten/kgMS, an improvement of 6%. Basically this means the farm now produces its 128049kgMS per annum from around 90,000KgDM less feed than it required prior to HerdHomes® Shelters, or, is now able to produce approximately an extra 8000-8500kgMS from the same amount of feed eaten. At a price of 30 c/kgDM this equates to a potential saving of around $27,000 per year for the farm.

Total pasture grown on the farm has decreased by around 18% to 10.9 t DM/ha. (almost entirely due to the poor growth in the extended dry summers) Around 75% less Nitrogen fertiliser is being used on the farm now and at Urea prices of $700 per Ton equates to an annual saving of $13,440 which is 70% of the interest costs on the capital costs of the first HerdHomes® Shelter (2nd shelter just commissioned for 09/10 season).

Farmer comments. ‘The introduction of a HerdHomes® Shelter into our farming system has proved to us that a planned rotation can be stuck to instead of being influenced by the weather conditions. The paddocks can be grazed to optimum levels which lets us harvest as much grass as possible without damaging the soils. On a property with a variety of soil types and contours this is a huge positive to our bottom line and on the environment’.



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