Case study series follows farm management decisions during feed deficits: Part 2

In response to feed shortages across much of the country, B+LNZ has been working alongside the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry-good organisations to provide resources and tools to support farmers in their decision making.
Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A series of regional case-studies is tracking sheep and beef farmers as they navigate their way through winter and spring. Working alongside farm consultants, the case studies outline the decisions made by the farmers every six weeks and the implications of those decisions on the farm system and the bottom line.

Conon Kynoch: Ashley Clinton, Hawkes Bay

Conon farms a 606ha hill country farm in the Ashley Clinton of Hawkes Bay. The steep topography means there is limited opportunity to supplementary feed stock, so traditionally, generating pasture covers before the onset of winter is critical to the farm system.

Severe drought meant pastures covers in April were as low as 1,000kg DM/ha. While stock numbers have been reduced, further reductions have been difficult due to a stagnant store market and reduced processing capacity.

Working with AgFirst farm consultant Lochie MacGillivray, Conon developed a plan that could allow him to carry his capital stock through into spring, although there will some flexibility to account for changing circumstances.
 

Read the detailed case study here (PDF, 15KB)

Changes to management

  • Apply nitrogen (N) 30kgs of N was applied to 150ha of warm hill country in May with a predicted response of 8kg/ha to 1kg/N. A further application may be applied in August.
  • Feed barley for six weeks to lift ewe condition prior to mating and to get grazing rotation going.
  • Delay lambing by a fortnight. So mid-point of lambing is now 1st October.

May update

  • Pasture covers at the end of May were 1308kg DM/ha, ahead of the predicted 1280kg DM/ha and well ahead of the 1118kg DM/ha which would have been the case if no mitigations had taken place.
  • However, the average liveweight of the mixed-age ewes has been recalibrated up and with it an increase in feed requirements.
  • Ewes were fed maize with rates up to 350gm/head/day until the end of May. While this has been difficult, it has slowed the grazing rotation and allowed the start of a feed wedge.
  • Cows that had been off-farm grazing have returned home were being fed hay where possible.
  • R2 bulls which were grazing in a neighbouring block have returned home in good condition, weighing around 430kg LW/head. These could be sold if necessary.
  • Hoggets off-farm grazing until the end of June-possibly beyond.

Getting through winter and into spring

  • The model is slightly infeasible for limited periods in August but there are factors that would make the model feasible. These are a lift in August pasture growth rates.
  • Extending the period the hoggets are off-farm grazing.
  • Strategic feeding of mobs of ewes after scanning.
  • Further purchases of hay if weather conditions allow cows to be fed hay.
  • The possible sale of trading cattle.

Read the updated case study here (PDF, 15KB)

Find out more

For more information about feed and stock management during feed deficits, go to https://beeflambnz.com/news-views/feed-management-resources