Monday, April 22, 2024

A job well done

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Profitable winter feed management and a chance to visit one of Nelson’s revered properties drew 50 farmers to Gary and Liz Basher’s property in the Howard Valley, near Nelson. The day opened with a brief overview of the 1050ha property, which is broken into three blocks – 480ha effective, 100ha in scrub and forestry, and 400ha in bush. Gary says it is best described as a summer moist breeding and finishing property and has an average rainfall of around 2m annually.
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At an altitude of 600m, with the Mount Robert range in clear view, snow falls about four times a year and can settle for up to two weeks.

The Bashers are well set up to cater for these seasonal events with plenty of supplementary feed. To get through the winter, and maintain stock in good condition, 800 medium round bales of hay are made. Hay sheds are well-positioned throughout the farm with access made possible by laneways and tracks.

Each year about 25ha of swedes and kale are sown. Once spring arrives new ryegrass and white clover pastures will be sown.

Dave Stevens discusses condition scoring with farmers.

A 65kg ewe at mating should weigh 85kg at lambing if she is to successfully raise twins. Farmers should keep in mind that it takes 30kg/DM to increase ewe weight by 5kg. A BCS of 3 and above will give the ewe a greater opportunity to produce extra colostrum and increase her milking ability.

Pasture monitoring is also critical to increasing production. Adjust the feed budget according to requirements, especially when getting closer to lambing.

Pasture quality should also be assessed in line with availability. Farmers finding themselves in a feed deficit situation can consider strategic applications of nitrogen-based fertiliser. Applying nitrogen early before the soil warms up gives the N time to fix into the plant. This will be released as the soil temperature rises.

Putting ewes on to a four-day rotation also has significant benefits. Trials have shown that, apart from easing the farmer’s workload, ewes were more contented and pastures recovered more quickly.

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