Switching to winter milking has been a good move for Darrell and Jasmine Trumper who farm 350ha total/190ha effective in the Waikite Valley near Rotorua in an equity partnership with Darrell’s parents Steve and Shirley.
They have just completed the first season of winter milking and have signed a contract for the coming season with Fonterra for 165 kilograms of milk solids per day.
Darrell says it was not difficult for them to make the shift and made sense as they normally keep stock on the farm over winter.
They had a 17% empty rate so they just carried on milking them on the 230ha run-off. In the past they would have had to sell these empties but instead they just put the bull onto them in June, so winter milking has given them more flexibility and enabled them to make better use of the stock.
This means they have been able to stock the run-off up with beef stock so all the autumn calvers go to beef bulls enabling them to rear more beef stock, which they will start selling the next autumn/ spring.
They currently have around 200 beef steers, comprising 70 rising one year olds, 100 rising two year olds, 30 rising one year old beef heifers and 20 rising two year old beef heifers
. As they already grow a lot of grass silage on the run off, making around 600 tonnes this year, they didn’t need to buy in extra feed to go winter milking.
They also grew 7ha of barley, which they will start feeding out in June.
This will cost them around 15 cents per kilogram of dry matter compared with 37 cents per kilogram when they bought in maize last season. They are also growing 3ha of kale.
By being self-contained this enables them to control costs. Darrell says that going winter milking has enabled them to go once a day all season and they have just finished their first season of this.
The main benefits of these changes have been better cow condition and mating. The empty rate has almost halved this season to 10%. The submission rate has risen from 70% to 90% at three weeks.
Cases of lame cows has halved to just 15 to 20 cases this season. The other huge benefit has been the amount of time created in the business to get more jobs done.
With the farm only employing one worker this has been a significant benefit. Darrell also cites receiving a pay cheque all year as having given their business more consistent cash flow.
The farm peak will peak milk 560 cows this coming season and winter milk 200. They are in the process of building a concrete feed pad capable of holding 160 cows.
Next autumn they will plant a wetland area to beautify the farm and encourage wildlife. Darrell is a third generation farmer after the original 56ha block of the farm was purchased by his grandfather in 1963.
Steve and Shirley still live on this block, used as a run off for silage and to winter cows.
They also look after the 42ha run off used for heifer beef. Farm ownership is the ultimate goal for Darrell and Jasmine to carry on the family tradition.
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