Farmer Focus Livestock: Grass is a bonus for George Moss

Recent mild but wet weather has grass growing better than budgeted. This will be a bonus on the conventional farm and a possible “get out jail” on the organic farm.

The conventional farm had 18% of the herd calved by “official” start day of 1 August. I’m pleased to report production was over 2kg milk-solids a cow and quality excellent.

Calving starts on the organic farm on 10 August and it looks like most cows will run to time. Just as well as a new 9200 litre tank was installed on that farm by Fonterra to enable them to collect the milk every second day all season.

A larger concept is a great idea, but we really underestimated the implications of their decision. A larger vat requires more hot water to clean, which requires a larger cylinder, more plumbing, upgraded chillers, vat stand and possibly a milk pump. This is both big cost and time consuming, hence we are pressed with time to get that unit “battle ready”.

We had our organic audit and meeting all the requirements for the US market is becoming a real challenge. Products that last year we just needed to apply to use, now have to have full material safety data sheets, GMO statuses etc. Last year is was satisfactory to demonstrate all our activities and inputs were in accordance with our management plan and that we had the appropriate certificates and/or approvals.

The decision has been made this year not to rear any beef calves. About 50 are usually raised for the dry-stock unit, but the last two years it has been a real struggle to make any profit from the effort and the capital employed. The dry-stock unit will now be entirely dairy grazing and emergency support for the organic dairy farm.

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