Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : February 2011 Contents 14 The Dairyman FEBRUARY 2011
IMPROVED clover growth,
increased palatability and better ani-
mal health are just some of the flow-
on effects from improving their soil,
say Peter and Mandy.
"And our protein to fat ratio is now
way higher," Peter said. "Fonterra's
average was 0.76. This season just
gone and the season before we were
0.84, so we got $6.19 for our payout.
"People ask us if we get bloat
because of the amount of clover we
have, but it's not a problem," Mandy
"We rarely get lameness problems
and ryegrass staggers is not an issue."
Around 7ha is put into turnips every
year and they buy in maize silage.
"We put meal feeders in the shed
when it was just us doing the milking
and we wanted things simple," Mandy
"It was just grass and meal we were
feeding but with the droughts we start-
ed buying feed in."
Peter believed the recent decision to build
a herd home would see a return to more con-
"I think if we sat down and worked out the
savings on using less diesel, wear and tear
on the feed-out wagon and less labour costs,
as well as knowing the feed is being fully
utilised, it will pay for itself eventually."
At a cost of around $350,000, it was a big
decision. Peter said he was initially
keen to put irrigation in but "even if
you have irrigation and grow all that
grass, which we don't have a problem
growing anyway, they aren't going to
eat it all if they're heat stressed".
"I've seen my cows go out on to
beautiful grass when it's hot and
humid and they don't eat the grass."
The Patersons also provide free
choice minerals for their stock. "We'll
put out kelp, humate, salt, copper sul-
phate and they generally have access
for 12 hours a day. In late
October/November, we did blood tests
on the cows and their mineral levels
and trace elements are perfect."
Molasses is sprayed on the pad-
docks rather than fed straight to the
cows, a method that Mandy believes is
financially sounder and healthier for
"We could put 400 litres of
molasses out there per day but with
20 litres we can spray five or six pad-
docks and get the same results. If you've got
10 fat, greedy cows that hog the trough,
some will miss out."
--- Kathy Graham
ABRON agronomist Jacqui Tink
explains how the Patersons have
changed their fertiliser programme.
"Their fertiliser practices changed from a
fairly typical super phosphate and urea based
programme to prescription Abron Blends
that contain calcium, magnesium, phosphate
and trace minerals, Bioplex Calcium and
biological inputs such as microbes and
Peter and Mandy had never been big urea
users but under the advice of Abron, moved
to a nitrogen management programme based
on liquid urea and humic acid, sulphate of
ammonia and humic acid granules and nitro-
gen sourced from chicken and cow manures.
The farm's pastures perform extremely
well, growing quality pasture through the
season with exceptional growth through dry
periods (which they've seen a lot of over the
past three years in Patetonga).
The results that Peter and Mandy have
experienced since working with Abron
- Excellent animal health with no bloat,
minimal eczema (with no zinc supplementa-
tion) and hardly any metabolic problems
seen over the past four seasons.
- High production pasture base with an
excellent balance of large clover (30 per
cent) and ryegrass (70 per cent) and other
- Ability of pastures to hold on through
dry periods and respond quickly to rain due
to the deep root system that the pastures have
developed and excellent water infiltration
due to the friable soil structure.
- Excellent average protein to fat ratio of
84 per cent which results in a higher milk
- Fast crop establishment with minimal
pest and weed pressure under a low cost
Regular soil testing and soil visual assess-
ments indicate the improvements Peter and
Mandy have made from a soil fertility and
structure perspective. Root depth beyond
500mm helps their pastures secure moisture
and minerals from a huge reservoir of soil.
The large pink nodules found on their
clover roots explain visually how the plants
fix a large amount of nitrogen from the
atmosphere for free, resulting in less artifi-
cial nitrogen being required."
--- Kathy Graham
The benefits flow on
Free choice minerals allow the cows to select their
The Patersons' herd home
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