What a difference a plan makes.
In early May, the situation on Conon Kynoch’s Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farm was dire.
Three months later, having implemented a management plan drawn up with the help of AgFirst consultant Lochie MacGillivray, Conon is now in a position to buy 100 yearling bulls at a relatively low price. Most importantly, he has been able to retain all of his capital and 25% of his normal beef trading stock.
Conon says having farmed the property for 30 years, he has relied on intuition to determine feed growth and supply.
“However, when faced with climatic conditions like none experienced ever before, the formal feed budgeting process removed a lot of the guess work and apprehension of decision making.”
The farm, Ashley Clinton, sits under the Ruahine ranges with an altitude of 350-800m. The majority of the farm is steep or very steep.
Back in May, pasture covers on the 794ha (606ha effective) hill country farm averaged an estimated 1275kg DM/ha, with a predicted end of May cover of 1308 kg DM/ha.
Modeling showed that without management changes, pasture covers were predicted to decline to 1150 kg DM/ha at the end of July.
In May, 30kgs of nitrogen was applied to 150ha of warm hill country in May with a response of 8kg/ha to 1kg/N. A further application may go onto 60ha of front country later this month with an expected response of 12kg/ha to 1kg/N.
Barley was fed to ewes six weeks before mating (which was delayed by a fortnight) to lift body condition and to get a grazing rotation going. The older ewes have scanned 184% and Conon is expecting the mixed-age ewes to scan 175% and two-tooths 150%.
The start of lambing is now 1st October.
In May, ewes were fed maize at a rate of up to 350gm/head/day. While this was practically difficult, it slowed the grazing rotation and allowed the start of a feed wedge.
Pasture covers were 1308kg DM/ha at the end of May, 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.
R2 bulls which had been off-farm grazing were returned home in May, hoggets, which were not mated, returned from off-farm grazing in June and cows returned from grazing in July,
At the end of July, pasture covers were around 1174 kg DM/ha but pasture growth rates of 7.3 kg DM/ha/day were around 12% ahead of what was predicted without the interventions.
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