Introducing Milking Shorthorns to the mix

Anieka Templer introduces herself and family to Milking Platform.

MY HUSBAND NICK, daughter Maycie (9) and I are in our tenth season milking 680 cows in Balfour Northern Southland.

We started here in 2012 as contract milkers and by 2019 had built enough equity to buy the herd and go 50/50 sharemilking. The dairy platform is 228 hectares and we also lease 245ha over two properties within 8km of the dairy platform, making us fully self-contained. We run a system 3-4 doing about 520kg milksolids (MS)/cow.

My biggest passions are genetics, breeding and photography. We have 80 pedigree milking Shorthorns and Ayrshires in the herd along with almost every single other milking cow breed you can think of in a predominantly Friesian/Kiwi cross herd. I have recently joined the Southland Otago Milking Shorthorn Association and done my first onfarm competition which was outside my comfort zone but I absolutely loved learning more about the breed from the judge.

This season was our first where we have trialed grass and balage as part of the wintering system which has traditionally been kale and balage.

We found it worked well for many reasons. Less mud, cows were more content and the biggest was the no transition back to grass pre-calving. The balage we used was low-quality and this is the only thing we have changed going into this winter as we didn’t see a great BCS increase. With just over a month left in the season Nick and our 2IC have been busy putting out 3500 bales of balage for this coming winter, while I have been busy getting all our winter grazing plans ready.

This season has been fantastic weather-wise with only a short and sharp dry spell over late February and March. We’ve managed to keep the cows on twice-a-day all season and will finish with a new farm production record. Covers are looking great going into dry off and at this stage we will possibly be drying off with a bit more than our 1900kg DM/ha average paddock cover target. Three years ago we went away from any crops grown on the farm – this included summer turnips and kale for the cows to come home to at calving time. We were and still are re-grassing about 12% each season. The extra grass is proving to be very valuable in milk production.

We have a fantastic team onfarm that has always consisted of me, Nick, 2IC and farm assistant. Earlier on in the season we decided to add another team member as we were wanting to give a better roster and be a bit more efficient at getting things done. This has worked so well and we are looking forward to calving with an extra person.

With our new team member and our 2IC of six years leaving at the end of the season we’ve had to do our first recruiting in five years which has added a bit of variety and learning.

Our biggest ongoing issue is getting culls away. This season we planned ahead and put a paddock at one of the runoffs into kale for our empties still onfarm come dry-off time.

This is looking like it was well worth it with the truck to the works already being pushed back three weeks so far with most of our cull cows.