Using a couple of top bulls and some very selective mating, genetic artist Vince Steiner of Brookview Genetics has managed to get his 390 cow herd even further out the back door with a BW of –134.
The ayrshire, holstein, jersey, and brown swiss herd still averaged 505kgs milksolids per cow last season, and the holstein portion of the herd is ranked in the top 50 holstein herds in New Zealand.
Vince’s first love and passion is for ayrshires, which he has been registering for 40 years this year.
“As a nipper I grew up around pedigree ayrshires and jerseys, my parents had ayrshires and mum’s father had pedigree jerseys,” he says.
“At different times through my career I’ve tried to breed pedigree jerseys but with hard farms it never quite worked out. I’ve now bought 25 jerseys and with better feeding and better climatic conditions in Tokoroa they’re holding their own.”
Vince and his wife Sheridan are 50/50 sharemilking on the steep hills of Kinleith, south of Tokoroa.
They have been with their farm owner for 15 years, starting out at a smaller 70,000kgs milk solids farm before the owner sold up and bought this, at the time, 140,000kgs milk solids farm 12 years ago.
In recent years, the Steiners have been looking at their environmental footprint and reducing the cost of feed by growing more feed at home, using less brought in feed, and reducing cow numbers over the past seven years from 430 to 390.
Next season, the Steiners will drop numbers again and peak milk 370 cows.
With 390 cows, Vince and Sheri set a new production record for the farm last season, producing 177,000kgs milk solids at the factory, as well as rearing 120 calves on whole milk until 12 weeks of age.
Three seasons ago they started calving 50 cows in autumn and winter milking, shifting from Fonterra to Miraka, which was looking for winter milk suppliers.
One off-shoot benefit from this decision has been less young cow wastage on the ‘not easy’ contoured farm.
“We’ve got 20ha of flat, the rest is rolling to steep,” Vince says.
“The cow shed is about 410m above sea level, the top of the farm in 480m, and the back of the farm is about 450m.
“The cows go up, down, and back up, and because they do so much walking up and down hills, we weren’t getting our young cows back in calf. Now we can hold on to them and milk them through the winter instead.”
For the past four seasons the Steiners have been growing their own maize silage on farm.
“They used to tell us you couldn’t grow maize silage south of Tokoroa,” Vince says.
“The first year we grew two paddocks and got a reasonable crop, the following year we did three paddocks and one of the neighbours grew two paddocks, the next year we grew five paddocks and another neighbour grew two paddocks, this year we’ve grown five paddocks and four of our neighbours have grown maize as well.”
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