Taking the low-tech route

Any improvement on safety or a saving in time and effort at this time of the year is gold, writes Richard Reynolds.

Like most people I have been looking at labour savings more this year, partly because of cost and availability but also because of job satisfaction and the fact that I am getting older every day.

Some of my friends have gone down the line of cow collars and are now slightly obsessed with their high cost investments.

Although I am a big fan of the technology I have not managed to make the investment stack up financially for my operation.

But fear not. I have invested in technology and some of it has worked and some has not for me.

Most of this you are quite safe to read without ringing your bank manager, some will question why it has taken so long and hopefully at least one sparks an idea for your farm.

Over calving we made some small changes, any improvement on safety or a saving in time and effort at this time of the year is gold.

We changed our calf milk storage to a new 5000-litre tank at the shed with a second hand electric trash pump off Trademe for milk storage.

A hell of a lot better than the 1000-litre pods we had on trailers. We still need to make a better mixing system but we’re on our way to not lifting any milk.

We have gone to using a drive-through calfeteria system for feeding the calves. This has eliminated milk transfers and stopped the check on calves when they went from over-the-gate feeders to the calfeteria.

The set-up this year involved a bit too much structural binder twine. Will put a bit more planning into it next year. Overall a winner.

When the rules came in that truck drivers were not allowed to lift bobby calves I decided I was not going to make their problem mine so I made a crate that went on the front-end loader: we walk them on, lift them up and put them on two straw bales in the fertiliser bin. No lifting or pushing bobby calves around, so, a winner.

With ongoing development and getting tired of having to refined all my fencing tools to start a new job I converted an old cafeteria into a dedicated fencing trailer with an attached spinning Jennie.

This has worked really well I would make a few adjustments mainly to keep the mud out, but this has kept all tools and fencing gear in one easy to pick up and go place.

The saving in frustration of having to find tools has well and truly paid for the trailer conversion.

I will carry on looking at what I do on a day-to-day basis and see what small changes I can make to make farming faster, safer and cheaper.