Monday, 07 March 2011 14:29

British Friesians, feed wheat lift production

Written by 
Andy Lostroh Andy Lostroh

Riverina dairy farmer Andy Lostroh has increased production by introducing British Friesians to his herd and feed wheat to his cropping rotation.

The Blighty, NSW, farmer switched from pasture to feed wheat to combat falling water allocations and has also built a feed pad for ease of management in dry seasons.

Andy has successfully grown wheat fodder crops to 14 tonne/ha for the last few years, purchasing temporary water to beat the very poor seasonal conditions experienced in the district in that time.

When Andy, his wife Cathy and his mother Helen decided to expand their herd in 2009 they purchased British-blood Friesians for their ability to produce a higher percentage of fat and protein compared to the Holstein.

Their herd of 280 cows comprises 200 registered Holsteins, including 50 pureblood British Friesians purchased from Alan, Francis and Edward Jeffard of Solney Friesians.

“The British Friesians provide longevity and fertility,” Andy says. “When we purchased the cows from Solney they had 25 cows over 15 years old.”

They now have 80 purebred British Friesians and say the in-calf percentage has risen, with the last preg test results being 72% in calf after the first six weeks and more than 90% in calf in the season. The herd produces an average of 8000 litres.

Of the 174ha property, 100ha is sown to annual rye grass and 50ha sown to EGA Wedgetail wheat. Maize or corn is also grown depending on water availability.

“I added the wheat fodder crops three seasons ago as they don’t need as much water to establish,” Andy says.

“You give wheat one watering to sow, and one in spring, whereas pasture takes four waterings.”

Andy says the comparative return of dry matter to water is 1 ½ meg/ha for watering the wheat with a return over the season of 14t/DM, compared to 4mg/ha for pasture with a similar return.

“People were sceptical at first but now it’s very common in the area,” Andy says.

Andy says the comparison is not quite as good in a wetter season and if they received a higher water allocation they would plant more rye grass. This decision can be made at the start of the year.

The wheat is first grazed as pasture – with up to three good grazings taken from it - before the paddocks are locked up at the end of August until it is ready to be turned into silage. It can also be baled as hay or stripped for grain.

It can also be grazed after it has been cut.

“They do just as well on wheat, depending on when you cut it. In 2008 it was cut late and although the quality wasn’t as good there was more of it.

“Last year (2009) we produced better quality and nutritionally it was the equivalent of rye grass.”

Andy uses a contractor to sow it and others to chop the silage. Fertiliser is applied when it is sown and urea is applied later on.

The worst paddocks to irrigate are planted to wheat, as it only needs watering once, and some pasture paddocks are resown to wheat each year.

A decision when to cut the wheat also depends on the season. If hay is dear, the wheat crop will be cut later to ensure more bulk over quality. Andy says it is easier to add protein to the diet. They buy in high quality vetch for protein and this has helped performance of the fresher cows.

The homemade feed pad was built four years ago and the entire herd is placed there anywhere from November 1 to January 1, depending on the season. They have returned to the paddocks in early April but this could be brought forward depending on the season.

The pad was built on a paddock of 4ha and comprises 20 cement troughs on a mound covered with crushed white rock.

They will be placed there in a wet winter as well to stop the paddocks from pugging.

“The biggest expense was the cement troughs. We had access to a laser bucket so we did the ground work ourselves.”

Andy is involved in the local benchmarking program comprising other Finley district farmers and the farm is a pilot for new ideas.

One of these is the introduction of ADF dip cups in the dairy, which has stopped the spread of mastitis. Cups are sanitised between cows. It was a costly exercise for their 17 swing over dairy at $2000 for a set of cups.

He is also trialling moisture monitoring gear.

In the 425mm rainfall area, moisture monitoring will increase productivity and save time and money.

“The theory is it’s always too late when it looks dry. With the equipment, we can see when the soil needs water and how much. It also stops under or over watering.”

More like this

Feedlot vision for Riverina dairy

TRAVIS Thompson has a clear vision for the sheep and cropping country surrounding the dairy farm he manages in the New South Wales Riverina. He sees an opportunity to develop a sizable dairy industry based on the type of large-scale feedlot system more common to parts of the northern hemisphere. By CAMERON WILSON.

Certainty features in Fonterra's NSW price deal

Farmers supplying Fonterra’s Wagga Wagga factory in the New South Wales Riverina have been offered a new pricing agreement aimed at taking the volatility out of milk income. By Cameron Wilson.

Cow comfort critical to expansion

SINCE SOUTHERN Riverina dairy farmers Rob and Gai Singleton moved to the area in 1994 they have developed a strong appreciation for the value of cow comfort in their dairying operation.

More from this category

Increased Euro dairy production no threat

 

THE MOVE to a more liberal market regime in European dairy will not pose a significant threat to the Australian industry, according to an international dairy specialist.

Northern NSW grass factory

UP ON the Northern Rivers of NSW – the top, eastern corner that abuts Queensland and the Gold Coast – they reckon Cory Crosthwaite is far and away the best grass grower around.

The Tweedside dairy’s 94ha, all sandy loam river flats apart from 8ha of red volcanic ‘hill’, produces more than 20,000kg of dry matter/ha a year, while pastures on your average dairy farm in the region do around 3500kgDM/ha/year. 

Effluent on pasture returns nutrients

THE RE-USE of second pond effluent back onto pasture will help return valuable nutrients to the soil, a six-year study has found.

The study at the DemoDAIRY research and demonstration farm at Terang tested a range of application rates of second pond effluent to pasture to determine how much can be safely applied.

It recommended that correct use of second pond effluent should be encouraged on dairy farms but found applying too much on the same land could have negative environmental impacts.

Fighting kikuyu invasion

A WEST Australia farmer is planning high sugar grass trials with the aim of holding back the kikuyu invasion of his dairy farm south of Perth.

Victor Rodwell, who milks 840 Holstein Friesians and crossbreds on a dairy platform of 250ha at Boyanup, 200km south of Perth, plans to sow more AberMagic high sugar ryegrass this autumn for its persistent and dense tiller and root growth, as well as its high nutritional value.

Change your rhythm to make lasting changes

I WAS recently informed that over 90% of what we do and how we do it is out of habit or routine and very little is spontaneous or based on the information on hand at the time.

Initially I wanted to challenge this suggestion but found that it is true in my life.

Summer rain can herald problems for livestock

THE VICTORIAN Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising livestock producers that while the recent rain could provide valuable green feed, they need to keep close watch on their stock to avoid possible health problems.

MANY FARM tracks are in need of serious maintenance after the wet conditions prevalent across most of Australia last year. Following are some practical tips that will hopefully help save time and money when the season permits some repair work.

 

The Stony Rises, near Colac, are aptly named.  While the soil is rich with nutrients and the rainfall consistently good, the land is disrupted by a vast number of basalt rocks caused by volcanic activity from thousands of years ago.

During the past month, I have received many calls regarding employment – the majority seeking clarification from people on whether they are employing or being employed correctly.

A new scanning device fitted to a four-wheel motorbike could revolutionise the way landholders   plan their attacks on red-headed cockchafers.

 

As we head out of the wettest summer on record how do we capitalise on the good conditions and turn it into ongoing benefit for our business?

WITH LAND prices of $19,000/hectare throughout Western Victoria, dairy farmers Mark and Kim Bayne were forced to think outside the square to get their own farm.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required