Monday, May 27, 2024
7.3 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Farm finds the perfect ‘Ballance’

Kaiwaiwai Dairies in Featherston. PHOTOS/GRACE PRIOR

[email protected]

Featherston dairy farm Kaiwaiwai Dairies opened their gates to the public last Thursday to celebrate their win of the Ballance Farm Environment Award last year,

They had missed the opportunity to show off their farm due to covid-19.

Ballance said the award was about celebrating farming excellence, where farmers go above and beyond the industry standard.

The awards “recognise and celebrate good farm practices that promote sustainable land management,” Ballance said.

Kaiwaiwai Diaries co-owner Aidan Bichan said the “why” of their farm was “about leaving the place for our children and our grandchildren and leaving it in a better state than we found it”.

Kaiwaiwai Diaries farm 642 hectares of land, with a milking platform of 325ha.

Bichan said they had three good herds with peak milking at about 900-920 cows in October and May.

“We’re a winter milk farm, so we have very condensed calving periods,” he said.

Visitors at the open day.

We calve 300 cows over six weeks from mid-March. Another 600 cows are calving from the beginning of August over an eight-week period,” he told visitors.

The farm had been working to improve its environment for years, restoring wetland, maintaining waterways, and trying to reduce emissions as much as possible.

“Historically, we’re a 50/50 split, part autumn and part spring, but since irrigation, we grow more grass over summer.

“We’re pretty successful at matching supply and demand,” Bichan said.

Bichan said they irrigated 122ha on their milking platform along with 45ha on one of their neighbouring support blocks.

At Kaiwaiwai, everyday efforts and actions led to an outstandingly sustainable farm.

Bichan said that all the autumn calves born were either reared or on-sold for dairy.

“There are no bobby calves coming out in the system.

“In the spring, we’re down to about 140 calves going to bobby now, which are predominantly the Friesian-Jersey crosses,” he said.

Bichan said they worked quite hard to reduce animal wastage, and to instead get them into the human food chain in one way or another.

“Seventy-odd per cent of beef now has dairy origin,” he said.

Much effort was put into calves at Kaiwaiwai, with calves weaned and weighed on farm before being sent down the valley.

“They’re weighed regularly, and underweights are managed separately,” he said.

“In terms of the herd, from this time of year on and through winter, the herd is managed through condition score.

“We’re starting to look at cow condition in a month or so, making sure we’re drying cows off so that we can get them calving back here at condition score five,” he said.

Bichan said they had very few cows left in the business that weren’t calving between condition scores five and 5.3.

“That’s reflected in our milk production, and reducing our empty rates,” he said.

Bichan said from a conversation with his vet he found that empty rates in Wairarapa were “somewhere around 14 per cent”.

Cows were well fed, with a predominantly pasture diet.

“We do feed kale in the winter, they get about one-third of their diet in kale. They also get hay, silage, beeta beet, a little bit of palm kernel to cut the beeta beet up, and grass silage.

“Around half of their diet will be supplementary feed or crop,” he said.

In terms of the soil at the farm, Bichan said it was a “mixture of clay up on the top terrace, silt soils, and peat soils that are typically summer dry and winter wet.”

“We’ve got a pan under this farm under almost all of the flats.

“When we were putting irrigation in, we needed a 20-tonne digger with a rip tooth on it to break up the rock layers that a normal digger couldn’t touch,” he said.

Bichan said the layer of rock meant the farm didn’t “leach nitrogen out the bottom”.

In terms of moving forward, Bichan said they had “picked off most of the low-hanging fruits”, and were looking for new ways to innovate and improve the farm for the future.

“We’ve had a trial run looking at dropping potassium out of irrigation, we’ll see some of our stock tracks have been sloped away from waterways so our run-off goes into pasture, we’re planting the high side of those laneways,” he said.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
overcast clouds
7.3 ° C
7.3 °
7.3 °
94 %
99 %
7 °
12 °
13 °
11 °
14 °