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Big wet rains on production figures at Egmont dairy unit

Tom O'Leary Dec 12
Big wet rains on production figures at Egmont dairy unit
Pamu’s Egmont Dairy Unit manager Mitch Furlani on the cups and with Anne Marie and son Ryder

When Mitch Furlani took up his new role as farm manager for Landcorp’s (Pamu) Egmont Dairy Unit at the start of the 2017/18 season the ground was already wet and it just kept getting wetter.

Springtime came with the same wet weather pattern and Mitch realized that the farm, which sits between Levin and Foxton didn’t cope well with a lot of water. “We do have tile drains and novaflow throughout the whole complex and the water is pumped out to the main drains,” says Mitch.

“But they weren’t working well at the time and we’re now in the process of cleaning them out.”

He says that with the land being wet and water logged during the spring calving, a fair bit of unavoidable damage was done to the farm over that time.

“There have been flow on effects of that damage throughout the season resulting in poor pasture growth, so we’ve done a heap of under sowing from March onwards along with lots of rolling and a bit of aerating – working to repair those soils.”

Mitch says the wet, followed by drought, significantly reduced production for the season, which he attributes largely to the cows not being able to peak at six weeks post calving as high as they could have in an average year.

“We didn’t start as high as we could have on the production curve, so we could only but fall from a lower level.” Mitch and his team peak milk 600 crossbred cows, targeting 425kgMS/per cow, though finishing at 340kgMS/per cow this season is more likely.

He says the decision to go once a day milking from the 16th of December will also have contributed to reduced production – the cost of which is off-set by a signifi cant increase in the 6-week in-calf rate.

“The body condition score wasn’t good after the wet spring and that was part of the decision to go once a day – to build up condition and nutrition within the cows, enabling them to cycle better. We started mating on the 25th of October and our results have been fantastic after making the decision to go once a day.”

Mitch says decisions on monitoring reproductive performance, cow condition, feed levels and the teams attention has resulted in a 7% empty rate and 91% 6-week in-calf rate, compared with 11% and 74% respectively for the previous season— something he is very proud of.

Egmont Dairy Unit is one of eight neighbouring farms in Landcorp’s Moutoa Complex.

With a milking platform of 194 hectares, the farm covers a total area of 214 hectares, with a stock bank running along one side bordering the Manawatu River.

A strip of land running between the stock bank and river, which has been fenced off, also forms part of the milking platform.

Mitch has been farming for the best part of 15 years, ever since leaving school. Not from a farming family, the draw of the outdoors led Mitch to apply for a farm assistant’s position and he’s never looked back.

“Apart from the obvious of being outside and the love for the animals, as well as the complex and diverse challenges we face as farmers, I also have a massive respect for the land that we’ve been entrusted with. A big part of why I do it is that I am proud to be a farmer.”

Going forward, Mitch is keen to keep developing his manager’s role, gradually taking on more responsibility as he develops his farm and business management skills.

“In the short term I’m keen to develop my capability on Farmax, enabling me to model different farm scenarios, as a decision making tool.”

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