Milk volumes 6pc ahead

Good grass growth on Taranaki dairy farms is contributing to high milk flows.

Milk volumes in the lower North Island were still exceeding last year's peak and were 6 per cent ahead of last year, Taranaki Farmwise consultant Phil Fleming said.

There had not yet been a significant decline in milk flow, but from now on it was expected to fall about 0.25 per cent daily until the end of the season.

Milk production on the Taranaki focus farm at Tariki peaked between October 10 and October 20 and is 23 per cent ahead of last season.

Last month it was 16 per cent ahead and it is 13 per cent ahead this month, with average daily production per cow of 1.9kg milksolids. "I'm happy with that and I'd like to sustain it for another month," focus farm host Chris Prankerd said.

Balance date - when feed demand met feed supply - was reached on September 25. Growth rates were maintained at that level until two weeks ago and since then there had been a flush of grass.

However, the grass was now starting to lose its quality so he was endeavouring to catch the excess as silage. In the last few days, he'd cut seven hectares and would cut another 6ha in a week or so.

Although the season had been wet, there had also been good spells of fine weather. However, 40mm of rain on Saturday was "a bit too much".

Temperatures since then had been cooler and it had been windy, so he hoped it would warm up soon. "It's never going to be perfect, but it's been a lot more enjoyable than last season," he said.

DairyNZ Taranaki regional leader Katrina Knowles said the current season was showing a lot of variation around Taranaki, with a large flush of grass in some areas and less grass in others.

Grass growth slowed after surging early in September and some farmers who adopted fast grazing rounds were caught out by falling soil temperatures.

She said farmers should now focus on maintaining pasture quality.

Farmers should also monitor silage harvesting to ensure it was cut at the right height. Comments were being made that some silage was being mowed too high, compromising the quality of residuals.

Compact calving patterns had put production ahead on many farms and submission rates for artificial breeding were good. Plans should be in place to manage and rotate bulls, she said.

Taranaki Daily News