George Moss asks why anyone would want to invest in anything but dairy?

Wow – what a spring!

In just off 40 years of dairy farming I cannot remember a spring for grass growth like this one.

We have made double silage so far and have still more to come. Regrettably, because of the weather it did not come off at anything like near the optimal time. Consequently, we have had some (read a lot of) overly mature and in some cases very wet silage, with some paddocks looking like the rats chewed them.

We are not overly concerned, feed is feed, and feed on hand does not need to be purchased, and leaves us in a strong position should “Hughy” throw us another “curve ball” like last autumn. There will still be the opportunity to make “milking quality silage” as the clover comes.

We make baled silage as opposed to pit or stack, we have found that bales make feed allocation to “smaller” herds a lot easier for staff with rarely more than two bales having to be fed out to any given mob: one on the front of the tractor and one on the feeder.

The downside is masses of plastic wrap. The local Achievement Centre used to take it for recycling but has since stopped for health and safety reasons because of potential “bugs” on the plastic.

Buying large plastic bags to put plastic in at great cost seems counterintuitive as well as being a time-consuming and frustrating job when bags split etc.

We have bought an old wool press, secondhand wool packs cost $7 each and we can get about 80 wraps into a bale with no problems. We still need to find who will take them but it does allow us to “store” plastic in an organised fashion.

We have been fortunate enough to have been given an old hydraulic press which we will have on the front of the tractor and either run directly off the tractor’s hydraulics or a generator, this will eliminate the need to climb on the press bin and pack the plastic.

Cows have milked very well up to 10 days ago, but have since “fallen apart”. With the grass growth above 80kg drymatter (DM)/day for about the last 30 days and a lot of cloud and damp means we have been swamped in low-quality feed. Addressing this is our priority right now with topping and silage.

Mating performance, while still early days, also looks to be going exceedingly well with very few returns and some days nil, which is all leading to a strong start for next season.

Both farms have brought their calving dates forward by over a week in recognition of the increasingly mild winters, but dry autumns seem to be the new pattern. We have increased the use of both sexed semen and Wagyu straws and this strategy along with mating yearlings hopefully will fast track genetic gains.

New staff have settled in well and appear to be enjoying the challenges of managing a low-stocked farm and achieving very good animal performance. Unfortunately, one of existing staff members is off on ACC with a previous but serious back injury that has flared up. We also have a “Covid-19” returnee who has had no previous dairy experience filling in and she has been very quick to learn and loves the animals.

With all that – with the milk price looking increasingly strong, a great start to the season and with potential further interest rate falls why would you want to invest in anything other than dairy?

Have a restful festive season.