By Noelle Fox, FarmWise consultant.
Efficient, integrated and mutually-beneficial farming systems must
be a partnership on farm between sustainable use of environmental resources, profitable
business performance, improved animal longevity, and attractive working
Although you could argue about which
are the top physical key performance indicators (KPIs) that will deliver these
farm systems, few could argue the importance of the following;
eaten in tonnes of dry matter per hectare (tonDM/ha)
production to December 31/decline from peak
in-calf rate and not in calf rate
of first-calvers retained after their first lactation
To achieve a win-win outcome it is important that; use of imported supplement is reviewed and potentially reduced, ensuring maximum fertiliser efficiency and improved
animal, lactation and lifetime performance through days in milk and retention in the herd, enabling replacement rate to be reviewed.
The next two months on farm will
determine the success of many of these factors in terms of pasture management,
financial discipline, milk production and herd reproductive performance.
Grazing and milk
Ensuring profitable milk potential
is maximised will be determined on farm now.
What does that mean on your farm? For
an average sized farm in Canterbury growing 15 tonnes of DM/ha/year, there is
1.5 million kgs of DM per 100 ha to manage on your farm. That is a huge volume of feed. Remember you
can only manage what you measure, so regularly measure pasture to enable you to
have your finger on the pulse of your business over the next few months. Knowledge of your farm's average pasture cover and growth rates to
support high quality decision making and execution.
Your decisions regarding grazing today
will drive feed quality and quantity for the balance of the season, so
attention to detail is key. The outcomes of today’s grazing will be reflected
in milk production going forward long after you close the gate of the paddocks
you grazed today.
With mating on the horizon, ensure
your animals are ready for success and know your current herd performance
compared with the industry targets:
- 75% of cows have cycled 10
days prior to mating start date
- 85% of cows have cycled at
mating start date
submission in the first 3 weeks of mating
Identify potential health issues and
treat affected animals early. Ensure accurate pre-mating heats are recorded and
a strategy for dealing with non-cyclers is made so that next season’s calving
pattern is as compact as possible.
Review your current herd BW position
and ensure you are on track to breed the highest BW replacements possible and
achieve your desired herd position in 5 years’ time.
So as the potential for calving
fatigue creeps in, take a break to recharge and ensure your staff also have the
opportunity to recharge. This will allow you to refocus on the most important
factors determining the success of your season; people, cows and feed.
By doing the day job well with an
eye on the horizon in these key areas you will give your team, your cows, your
farm and your industry the best opportunity for the times ahead.