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‘Nightclub mating’ does trick with empty rate’

Waterford Press

When Taranaki dairy farmer Damien Hancock gave the bulls a hand with his version of ‘nightclub mating’ this season, the resulting empty rate, just under six per cent and the third-lowest in the local area, had his discussion group asking for him to do a trial next season.

After three weeks of mating, he reused the CIDRs on 35 of his 200 cows that had not got in calf.

For their second go with the two bulls, Damien was in there as well, doing his DIY AI.

“When they stick the bulls out, most people don’t carry on with AI as well,” he says. “I was giving the bulls a hand.”

He says he has seen situations where when he has had four or five cows bulling in the yard at the same time, two bulls are chasing two cows and taking no notice of the rest.

“I’ve got the bank there, I’ll do my own,” he says.

Damien’s empty rate,which had been averaging 11% to 12%. went down to 9% last season, and then to 6% this season with his interaction.

His discussion group liked the sound of what he was doing, and has asked him to do the same next season, using a different breed to AI the cows so that he can see how much impact his interaction has had.

He will also be working on his somatic cell count, since it averages about 250.

A good in-calf rate gave him the opportunity to cull a few this year, and he says he will be doing more teat spray next year.

There are also some capital developments going on with a new effluent system currently under development.

“Sometimes the sump can’t keep up with the amount of rain we get,” Damien says.

“We’ve currently got one day holding and we’re putting in a three day concrete pond to hold 40,000 litres. We should be able to take three days of 100 millilitres of rain, and we’ll be compliant after that system goes in.”

Damien and his wife, Sandra, have owned their farm near Stratford for 10 years, having worked their way through management and sharemilking on various farms.

At 1250 feet above sea level, it is colder and a lot wetter than most parts of Taranaki, but has good, free draining volcanic loam soil.

Initially the farm was 54 hectares and milked 140 cows.

Then, four years ago, the couple bought a neighbouring 26ha and their upped cow numbers to 200.

“We’ve probably got a bit higher stocking rate up here than most,” Damien says.

“I have very minimal gear, and my theory is if you have to top, you haven’t got enough cows on. I only have to top half a dozen paddocks a year, and that works for us.”

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