Finishing off a busy calving season in the Waikato region of New Zealand

Liam Brophy – who is in his second year of the Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management – is coming to the end of a busy calving season on a 670-cow dairy farm in the Waikato region of New Zealand.

Filling us in on what has been happening on the farm – since we were last talking to him four weeks ago – he said: “We are nearly finished calving. There are just 40 cows left to calve, with more than 90% calved in six weeks.

“Today, only three cows calved; but during the busiest weeks we usually had up to 25 cows calving in a day. Some days more.

“The calving season went very well. Out of the 620 cows that have calved, we handled about 10 and of those, six or seven just had bad presentation.

“The biggest issue was milk fever. During the height of calving we could have had two incidences a day,” he added.

There are two parlours on the farm which are located in two different yards about a kilometre from each other – a 20-unit and 36-unit herringbone.

The last time we were talking to Liam the farm was operating through just one of the parlours. However, Liam explained that the two ‘sheds’ are now both up and running – with 180 cows going through one and 410 cows going through the other.

“The plan is to have 11 rows going through each. Only third lactation cows, or greater, are going through the smaller parlour because it is being operated by one man – Paddy,” explained Liam.

Touching on the current production of the herd, he said: “The herd is milking well. At the moment, they are producing between 1.9kg of MS/cow/day and 2kg of MS/cow/day – with no meal being fed.”

Commenting on the grassland management on the farm, he said: “The average farm cover was too high this week, so we took 11ha out for silage bringing it down to 500kg DM/ha.

“We also finished the first round today and are following the cows with urea; which we are spreading ourselves.

“There has been a lot of rain this month; but grazing conditions are still very good. The cows are being grazed in 12-hour blocks.”

There are now 130 replacement heifer calves on the farm. 115 are being fed once-a-day (OAD) and have been let out to grass. Along with grass and milk, they are getting 1kg of nuts.

Outlining a typical days work, he said: “I milk in the bigger parlour with another worker. Cups are on in the morning at 5:15am. One worker goes for the cows while the other starts milking. Once they have the cows in they come in to help with the milking.

“In the evening cups are on at 2:45pm. If you’re getting the cows in you go for your lunch at 1:00pm and if not, you go at 1:30pm. We fill the middle of the day with any jobs that need to be done.

“At the moment, the roster is six days on and one day off, but soon this is going to change to 12 days on and two days off.”

Stay tuned to AgriLand for further updates on Liam’s trip to New Zealand.