Where’s the sun?

t satisfied with a dull, wet spring, the weather gods delivered more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, Anieka Templer writes.

WE ENDED THE SEASON ON A high, smashing our farm production record by 10,000kg milksolids.

The cows dried off well and the daily frosts and sunny days made shifting cows a breeze.

It was at the end of June when Nick clearly had way too much time to think and decided it would be quite nice to look into putting collars on the cows to make life easier onfarm at mating. Being fully self-contained over three farms with more than 400 hectares to run he felt his time could be better spent elsewhere. After checking out the market we decided to go with Allflex as it fitted best with our system and the in-shed technology we already had. At the end of July the collars arrived along with our first calves and the rain. To say August and September have been challenging is an understatement. From the last week of July to the last two days of August it rained every single day. Our planned start of calving being August 4 meant we did most of the calving in rain and mud.

We are on our eleventh season on this farm and have never seen it as wet as it was this calving. We have plans for these kind of events (sacrifice paddocks and small calving pad). Although these did work for a short period, with no sun in sight we had to move on to other things like rolling straw and hay out heavily in sacrifice paddocks for the cows to have somewhere dry to calve.

We were picking calves up several times a day with a tractor and carry tray as we couldn’t get a motorbike and trailer into the paddocks without getting stuck. But we survived and so did the cows and calves.

At the start of September the sun came out briefly for 10 days which helped get grass growth going, but then the weather reverted to cold, rain and wind and on September 22 the weather gods thought we still hadn’t had our share of the rain and gave us 104.5mm in 24 hours which caused flooding over most of our farm.

Luckily no major damage was done and a week later the Northern Southland winds arrived at 170km/h taking out the power and several trees on the farm. Our staff compared our weather to monsoon season in the Philippines but colder.

On a positive note we got 206 replacement heifer calves, well above our needed number, somehow we are on par for production compared to last season, our SCC is the lowest it’s ever been, the farm is looking great with minimal damage to good pastures, the cows are in good condition, our whole team is still smiling and the collars have helped so much with rumination and transition over calving and now pre mating heats.

We are all looking forward to seeing how they will go over mating which is now only three weeks away and already is looking positive with good numbers of cows on daily.

It’s been a testing calving, but I can’t wait to do it all over again next season – hopefully with a bit more sun!