Methven farmers Bruce and Susan Turpie are hoping to benefit from Synlait’s contract with Foodstuffs, which will see Synlait provide all their fresh house milk products in the South Island.
The couple, whose company Kolmar Dairies has always had a small winter milk contract, has been increasingly moving their herd to split calving over the past five seasons to provide Synlait with more winter milk and has just reached a 50/50 split of their herd to autumn and spring calving.
The Synlait contract will also help them to maximise the free stall cow barn they built after a visit to the USA to investigate how cow barns could enable them to integrate dairying with their cropping operation.
They now operate a hybrid system with their four herds rotating between being in the cow barn for half of each 24-hour period and out in the pasture for the other half.
They have also invested in their effluent system with a vibrating screen by Rainer Irrigation to separate solids from liquids, which they say will create more efficiency as well as help them make better use of the nutrients.
It will allow them to spread smaller amounts more frequently which will help them to even further comply with Synlait’s Lead with Pride programme and assist them to increase their herd from 1400 to 1500. The whole dairy platform is under irrigation with three centre pivots.
Green water goes out through one of the pivots and effluent from the cow barn is dispersed via a slurry tanker or umbilical system on crop paddocks. The farm has three storage ponds totalling 12,000 cubic metres.
Bruce grew up on a sheep and cropping farm in Timaru that was originally started by his grandfather. In the mid 80s the family moved to Seaview, mid Canterbury, where they continued cropping and also started winter grazing dairy cows.
Bruce and Susan purchased the farm in 1988 and 20 years later moved to their present unit at Methven.
Carrying on the family tradition of cropping the couple also decided to convert 80ha of the 411ha farm to dairy in 2012. The Turpies now milk 1400 predominantly friesian cows on 200 hectares effective through an 80 bail rotary dairy.
The Turpies mainly favour genetics from the United States believing American cows are better suited to their high input system five farm.
They are moving towards a smaller cow, which Bruce says should convert feed to milk even more efficiently.
They are not afraid to experiment with new genetics to achieve their aim and count Norwegian Reds, Swedish Reds, Australian Reds, Montbaliarde, American and Canadian Jerseys amongst the breeds represented in their herd. The aim is for the cows to produce more than their bodyweight in kilograms of milk each year.
They have consistently achieved around 630 kilograms of milk solids per cow. Because they operate a specialised high input system they utilise the expertise of a nutritionist and a farm adviser.
They feed 22 kilograms of dry matter per day to each cow. One third of that is grass and the rest is total mixed rations made up of about 8 different things.
They try to grow around half of their feed and buy in the rest and grow 200ha of crops including maize, triticale and wheat.
The spring calves are grazed off farm on contract at Seaview and the autumn calvers on their own 130ha block at Geraldine.
Bruce says another big change in response to increasing their winter milk production has been the need for more staff and they currently employ a team of 12.
They plan to run a double shift next year as they will milk their high producing cows three times a day. They have trialled this already last year and found it worked well.
After recent tight dairy payouts the couple is looking forward to the increased profitability more winter milk production will bring to their system.
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