First, I hope you have found some of the things I have talked about in this column interesting, because after four years, this is my final one.
Over this time, we have gone from running a 220-cow dairy unit through a 1994-built 12:24 herringbone parlour, milking 80 cows an hour for each labour unit, to a greenfield site with a 400-cow herd through a 54-point rotary parlour, milking at 230 cows an hour with each labour unit.
It has been a big learning curve for me, stepping up to manage more people as well as taking on more responsibility for the business as a whole. It’s a challenge I have thoroughly enjoyed, and our team are doing an awesome job.
One of the targets I set just before we decided on the greenfield site was to hit a pregnancy rate of 30% in the milking herd. It has taken time, but a couple of months ago we smashed through that target.
I always want better, but now it’s time to focus on other small performance gains we can make. Milk solids a cow a year is my next target. We have already passed 900kg a cow, but I want to get to 1,000kg.
With the sheep side, we have gone from a fell flock of pedigree Swaledales and a lowland flock based around Aberfields to just a fell flock, but we have expanded to double the number.
The sheep now are a New Zealand Highlander base, and this has allowed us to cut out concentrate feeding completely, with the ewes holding their body condition so much better.
Now we will be focusing hard on survivability. I think it is already pretty good, but I want to improve on this. We will keep experimenting with other genetics to add what pieces of the jigsaw we want in our flock. Some will work, and some will not, but we will only know by trying.
I look forward to reading the next person who steps up and shares what they are doing.