Tough growing season throws up challenges

Tough growing season throws up challenges
Tikorangi sharemilker and pedigree holstein-friesian breeder Wayne Taylor casts a critical eye over his heifers.

Dealing with change and living with change are the hallmarks of farming and Tikorangi sharemilkers and holstein-friesian pedigree breeders Wayne and Leeanne Taylor have experienced plenty of both over the past year.
Concerns about mycoplasma bovis combined with an extremely challenging season weather wise have seen the couple draw on their many years of farming experience.
“Spring was not the easiest for grass growth and this was followed by the driest summer we’ve ever seen in nearly 40 years of farming,” says Wayne.
The Taylors are 50:50 sharemilkers on a 68ha effective unit at Tikorangi and this meant the couple had to put their herd on once a day in mid February when they would normally be doing this at the end of May.
Production has only taken a 3% hit at they focused on feeding their herd by buying in more supplement feeding 4-5 kilograms per day compared with the usual 1-2 kilograms.
They also used up their grass silage stores, made from the farm and run off block, earlier than normal. The result has been good cow condition.
Combined with drying off a few weeks earlier than normal they are setting themselves up for a successful season to follow.
The couple has set up strict protocols on the farm to protect it against mycoplasma bovis.
As Wayne and Leeanne both take an active role on the farm and employ no staff this has been easy to control.
Mentally it’s also been a challenging year as the couple are usually active participants in local shows and enjoy showing their best cows from their stud Muritai Holsteins.
“It’s the camaraderie you get by mixing with like-minded people so that’s been missed this year. It’s been disappointing not to be able to show but necessary as the risk was too great,” he says.

Tough growing season throws up challenges
This year’s crop of Muritai R1 heifers.

 
The pair developed their stud in 1985 after a life-long interest in breeding originating from Wayne’s childhood visits to the Awatuna farm of his aunt and uncle, Cathryn and Allan Phillips, who owned the Koramo Friesian Stud.
Learning from other breeders helped him develop his good eye for a great cow.
Their stud was named Muritai meaning sea breeze in Maori.
They now calve around 200 and supply bulls to LIC and CRV Ambreed most years.
Wayne is a director of Holstein Friesian NZ.
A challenging season hasn’t stopped them focusing on improving their herd though and through the Holstein Friesian Association they have done genomic sampling so they can identify the best of their heifer calves.
They also sold five rising yearlings and two in calf heifers at the recent Taranaki Holstein Friesian sale.
Muritai Impressive Willow, who did well at the Stratford and Hawera A & P Shows in 2018 taking out junior calf in all classes at Hawera and Holstein Friesian junior calf and all breeds junior calf at Stratford, is also in calf and Wayne says they are looking forward to seeing how she and her calf perform.
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