On-farm benefits flow from destocking Soil management a focus

On-farm benefits flow from destocking Soil management a focus
Ngakouka Hereford Stud hold a two-year-old bull sale each year selling between 20-25 bulls.

Dannevirke farmers Bruce and Chrissina Donald have done the opposite of what many farmers have been doing for years – in 2016 they chose to destock by 1000 stock units.
They say this has made their farming operation more profitable, productive and believe it is the way of the future with regards to managing environmental issues caused by intensive farming.
“Everyone thinks it’s not possible to farm less stock but increase profitability. We know it is possible,” says Bruce.
Key improvements from destocking have been better stock health, better scanning and docking percentages and increased cattle weights.
Their farm also has fewer pests, diseases and pugging and improved cash flow has given them more freedom.
There is less work to do and more time off, which Bruce says is a major consideration.
“I’ve been to a very dark place myself and am testament to the fact that intensive farming equals intensive pressure. I had to trust my gut instinct that there was a better way of farming and go against what industry was telling us re intensifying. We’ve been indoctrinated as farmers that production drives profits but that’s wrong.”
The extra cash flow has also helped them to release more funds from their land as they have just built 11 kilometres of roading to harvest 48ha of forestry blocks spread in pockets over their land.
It’s been a learning curve, as they have chosen to do it all themselves with John Turkington marketing the logs for them.
Bruce says key lessons for farmers attempting something similar are to ensure the right grade of road for the purpose and to build the road at least 12 months in advance of when you want to harvest to give the road time to harden up.
On-farm benefits flow from destocking Karen Phelps

On-farm benefits flow from destocking Soil management a focus
They plan to hold their fi rst yearling sale next September/October. Bruce and Chrissina Donald have just built 11 kilometres of roading to harvest 48ha of forestry blocks on their land.

The Donalds have ensured the roads also aid their farming operation long term – not only giving access to harvest areas but used to improve farm and stock management.
They are being strategic about how the blocks are re-planted taking into account environmental factors such as protection of waterways, land stabilisation and how the trees can also be utilised for stock shelter.
An Horizonz Regional Council Sustain-able Land Use Initiative plan has been a valuable tool in identifying planting areas.
The Donalds are also planting around 200 poplar and willow poles each year for land stabilisation and shade for stock.
The couple’s 567ha farm is mainly medium hill country including 110ha of steep and only 20ha of flat land.
Their stock units comprise 100 stud Hereford cows, 35 two year old heifers, plus calves, 20 R2 bulls, 1300 Romney ewes, 350 two tooths and trade stock when required.
Ngakouka Hereford Stud was established in 2000 and they hold a two year old bull sale each year selling between 20-25 bulls.
They plan to hold their first yearling sale next September/October.
Taking care of their soil is a major focus for their farming operation and they use Qlabs for soil testing and pasture renewal programmes and have stopped hot wire break feeding in favour of block grazing to prevent pugging and nutrient overload.
They are shifting from rye and native species to prairie grass and red clover.
“These species have better utilisation and growth patterns and deliver great production on the shoulders of the season. Plus they are very nutritious,” says Bruce.
“The species also suit our 30 day rotation farm management style and we will have 60ha planted in the new species by this spring.”
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