August has been wet and warm with only 22 days of rain and only five days of sunshine. Already 80% and 73% of the cows are calved on the conventional and organic farm respectively. We have had more metabolic disorders and mastitis this year, particularly on the conventional farm. For a while, I was treating a cow a day, but thankfully none were lost.
The organic farm has particularly good pasture cover as a result of a heavy dressing of composted chicken manure. The conventional farm is getting urea at 50kg/ha behind the cows. Both farms are slightly behind for production compared to previous bests.
Many farmers in the area are reporting reduced numbers of replacement heifer calves due to the predominance of bull calves. Out of 80 cows calved on the organic dairy we had only 18 heifer replacements, which is frustrating. I am sure it is something to do with the poor grass growth we had last mating period.
We were successful in getting organic status for the organic farm again and look forward to the extra 60c/kg milk solid premium for the full USDA NOP status.
The announcement that Fonterra is holding the milk price is pleasing and I have increased confidence our co-op will achieve that figure or better given the Russian embargo on grain exports. However, the consequence of that has been the rise in supplementary feed prices particularly palm kernel. A decision has been made to apply sulphate of ammonia across the whole of the conventional farm to drive a large feed surplus for early silage to create a feed buffer. The outcome of the meeting in July with the consultant and his “smart” software was that we could get slightly more profit if we drop 20 cows provided we maintain pasture use.