Another two rains were all that were needed to allow the season to finish on a positive note and allow us to claw back the lost ground of a poor spring, but it was not to be.
The “dry spell” is now a drought as least as severe as 2007-08.
Hot days and drying winds have turned what was a marginal season into a very poor season. The milk price continues to be the only positive, but we are not paid for milk we don’t produce.
We dried off the conventional herd last week and will dry off the organic herd this week. This is about a month earlier than planned. The conventional herd will be 10,000kg or 11% behind target and the organic farm will 8000 kgs or 13% behind. In dollar terms this equates $57,000 and $49,000 respectively straight off the profit line. Bummer.
Milk production was a credible 416 and 371kg milk solids a cow on the conventional and organic farms, respectively.
The imperative now is to get cows dry and conserve what little grass is left, and start building cow condition for the next season. Cows on the home farm are on a 90-day rotation and lengthening while the organic herd is on a 50-day rotation which may prove to be fast.
Earlier on I felt comfortable about our feed supply position, but this is no longer the case and supplementary feed sources are “drying up,” as well as getting more expensive.
Good news is that next season’s milk price is looking good.• For more columns from other Livestock Farmer Focus writers