Dry con­di­tions af­fect Waikato farms

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - JAMES THOMAS

Many farms in the Waikato, es­pe­cially in the Mor­rinsville and north­ern ar­eas, are strug­gling with dry con­di­tions.

Rain­fall fig­ures on my own farm are less than 50 per cent the nor­mal av­er­age for both De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, with very lit­tle for Fe­bru­ary to date – although the rain over this last week was a wel­come re­lief!

Com­bine this with the windy weather, and the up­shot is very lit­tle pas­ture growth.

Av­er­age pas­ture cov­ers are now be­tween 1500 and 2000kg DM/ha

Pro­duc­tion has also come un­der pres­sure, and in terms of to­tal milk solids most farms are still be­low last sea­son.

Con­tribut­ing to this sit­u­a­tion is that many farms in the Waikato made less than nor­mal amounts of sup­ple­men­tary feed in the spring, and some crops were planted later than usual, which has re­duced yield.

In prac­ti­cal terms this means many farms have a lim­ited sup­ply of sup­ple­ment, which is likely to im­pact the price of feed pur­chased in the au­tumn.

Even if there is sig­nif­i­cant rain­fall, there will be a lag of two to three weeks be­fore pas­ture cover starts to re­cover.

There­fore, it is im­por­tant to make sure ev­ery farm has its preg­nancy tests done, with empty and cull an­i­mals iden­ti­fied and sold.

This will re­duce feed de­mand and take some pres­sure off the re­main­ing an­i­mals.

It is also im­por­tant that not too much cow con­di­tion is lost over this time, and reg­u­lar ob­ser­va­tion needs to be part of farm man­age­ment into the au­tumn.

Once a day milk­ing or three milk­ings in two days can help main­tain cow con­di­tion, but may put some pres­sure on so­matic cell counts.

Ide­ally, this de­ci­sion should have been made while there were still good lev­els of feed on farm, and will form part of any sea­son re­view.

So in sum­mary, you should make sure there is enough feed on hand to ad­e­quately feed cows on the farm.

Culls (in most cases) should be gone.

And in some ar­eas some cows (mainly younger) may start be­ing dried off.

There is still an op­por­tu­nity to pro­duce milk in to the au­tumn, but not at the ex­pense of next sea­son’s pro­duc­tion.

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