Dairy Exporter’s ‘50 years ago’ feature has John Milne reminiscing about the way things were done.

This industry is definitely evolving year on year.

We have our first year of N reporting completed for our N Cap for the regional council, our GHG (greenhouse gas) number has been calculated through Overseer.

Where this information takes our farming operation is yet to be decided and determined.

’50 Years Ago’ on the back page of the NZ Dairy Exporter, it is one part of the magazine I am always interested in. One of the articles back in the July issue was regarding the ‘Induction Trials’. It just shows how things come and things go.

Obviously we weren’t farming when they started things 50 years ago, but I can remember using ‘The jab’. It started in 1989 for me, while going through one of the toughest springs in ’88, many had seen and probably not seen since then.

I can’t remember how much rain we had on the family farm that season, but clearly remember it just never seemed to stop. Calving came around in August ‘89 and we had an extremely stretched-out calving like we had never seen before.

So ‘The jab’ began for a genuine reason. From then on it became common practice. Year on year, a similar percentage each year, only small numbers but we thought it was beneficial. In the background we had unwittingly started a problem.

It wasn’t until the numbers and the herd records started showing that we had been fooling ourselves. So we stopped ‘The jab’. A couple of seasons before we stopped, we had to increase the percentage of replacements we kept.

Culling began and in the first couple of years it was amazing to see how many had been kept in the herd that probably shouldn’t have been.

Three years later and the culling had settled down for that reason, our next target was non-cyclers. It was a tougher decision than stopping ‘The jab’, it was a good five years till that decision settled down. Sticking to our guns on the direction we had taken, it was and is tough to watch some good cows go off to greener pastures, but as I said: you have to stick to your plan.

‘Genermate’ was another system we stuck with for a number of seasons as well, ‘Syncro’ the heifers for the readers who haven’t heard of this before.

The idea was to get the high BW calves from the highest genetic animals in your herd, in a condensed calving spread. We had quite good success with this and achieved what it was set out to do. The downside was with a slightly longer calving spread for the animals that did not hold to the ‘Syncro’. That has all been stopped now as we have gone to a less-intensive system and only pick yearlings for AI if required.

So this season is well and truly underway. Our calving spread is pretty much the same year on year. First calvers, calving in a timely fashion, mixed age cows heading down the same constant track as usual. It matches our growth and early start to calving every year.

Whether this evolves into changes will probably depend on who’s in charge further down the track.