Apparently earthquake damage can be clearly seen around the yard at Lincoln University Dairy Farm, in South Island, New Zealand. The September 2010 earthquake happened during morning milking – knocking the power out. Several cows in the yard fell over but none was seriously hurt.
This farm was the highlight of my visit to New Zealand in 2007. It showcases profitable milk from essentially grazed grass and little else.
The team operates a classic NZ rotational grazing system, measuring paddock heights once a week. They reckon the 20 minutes spent in the farm office after the walk is the most ‘profitable’ time of the week. This is when they draw up a weekly grass budget graph – they call it the most powerful tool on the farm.
You can follow what happens after each farm walk at www.siddc.org.nz and the decisions made on the back of it.
Despite the cows already consuming 16tDM/ha of grazed grass a year, the aim is to increase this significantly – without increasing the environmental footprint.
They say they will do this by, amongst other things:
- Reducing stocking rates (but producing more milk per cow)
- Using a gibberellic acid growth promoter to grow more grass
- More reseeding with higher yielding grass varieties – particularly tetraploids
- Soil testing individual paddocks for more targeted fertiliser applications