Thursday, 29 April 2021 09:55

Dairy sheep farms set to boost stock numbers

Written by  Staff Reporters
Paul White, at Green Park Sheep, the farm is expanding its milking ewe flock, from 850 to 1200, for its second season. Paul White, at Green Park Sheep, the farm is expanding its milking ewe flock, from 850 to 1200, for its second season.

Stock expansion and management tweaks are on the cards for a couple of Waikato dairy sheep farmers coming to the end of their milking season.

Allan Browne and Paul White were among the frst farmers to enter the dairy sheep industry under the Maui Sheep Milk banner in 2020.

Allan and Toni Browne set up their family's Browne Pastoral operating near Cambridge, where they started milking 1,000 ewes using a prototype 70-stall Ultimo Internal Sheep Rotary designed by Waikato Milking Systems.

Paul and Dianne White set up Green Park Sheep near Te Awamutu for their sons Brad and Kieran and they also started their dairy sheep venture last year, milking 850 sheep through a 40-a-side Agili Rapid Exit plant, also by Waikato Milking Systems.

Browne Pastoral's final day of milking for the first season was on April 16 and Allan Browne said overall milk production had been better than expected.

"We've produced more than twice the forecast amount of milk we were meant to have made. So we've had to change to a larger vat, which I guess is a good problem to have."

Allan said there will be a few tweaks to the farm's management plan before the start of the new season.

"We were reactive rather than proactive to feeding. Pasture went off in quality and we were slow to react to that.

"This coming season we'll introduce a higher protein feed as the quality of the grass begins to lower."

Allan said the internal rotary milking system performed well. It had good flow once the animals were trained.

"We had little in the way of udder health problems so we can say we are pleased in that respect.

Allan thinks the farm may move up to 1,600 milking eyes for the new season, and possibly 2,000 the following year.

"We're not limited by land but really it's about how far the sheep can walk to the shed."

He said the family came from a sheep meat and wool farming background and had only moved into dairy cows seven years ago, so dairy sheep was still a new experience.

"We've used what we would normally do to fatten lambs as the basis to make milk and that's served us better than any dairy cow type of approach.

"They say what makes fat on a lamb's back makes milk in the vat, and that seems to be the case for us."

Green Park Sheep dried off its ewes in early April and Paul White said the new venture had met its milk production target for the first season.

"It's been a huge learning curve but Brad and Kieran are still enjoying it and that's the main thing."

The Agili inline milking system was converted from an old herringbone shed and it had performed well for the family during its first season.

"Brad and Kieran were milking about 680 sheep in an hour towards the end of the season, so it was really flying."

Outside of the shed, the family was looking to make changes to its lamb rearing programme in particular.

"Lamb rearing was a little bit more challenging than we thought.

"We are putting in a new rearing shed because we believe we can manage the animals better that way."

Paul said the rearing shed would allow the farm to move the lambs off the ewes earlier than last season, and that would give them an extra month of milk production.

There were also some tweaks to be made to the farm's fences which were put to the test by the lambs last year.

Green Park Sheep was also looking at expanding the flock to 1,200 milking ewes for next season.

Paul said they planned to start lambing in late July 20 and begin milking for the new season in August.

More like this

Better late, than never!

Noted animal geneticist Dr Jock Allison is full of praise for the initiative to build a larger sheep milking industry.

High society for sheep milking

Plans to expand the sheep milk industry have advanced to the formation of a society to develop and promote the industry, confirmed at the close of a recent two day conference at Massey University. 

NZ sheep milking could storm the world

New Zealand could lead the world in sheep milk production, says Nuffield scholar Lucy Griffiths. She told the recent Ewe Milk Products and Sheep Dairying Conference at Massey University the industry is well set up to lead internationally.

Sheep milking untapped opportunity for farmers

Lincoln University farm management and agribusiness lecturer Guy Trafford is so convinced about the opportunities sheep milk presents he plans to manufacture his own ice cream from it.

National

Genetics focus boosts herd

A strong focus on genetics and DNA has paid dividends for Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw with four of her…

Machinery & Products

A baler like no other

While baler-wrapper combinations have become the backbone of baled silage production, one machine stands out from the rest in the…

Small bales in demand

While round or large square bales have the dominant shares in the rural landscape, small square bales still play an…

Amazone's one-pass operation

Ag machinery maker Amazone has paired up its Precea precision air seeder and Combi-Disc 3000 compact disc harrow to deliver…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

$1m remains unpaid

OPINION: A group of New Zealand farmers who collectively sold $1 million worth of cattle to a live export company…

Too close for comfort

OPINION: One vet believes the threat of foot-and-mouth entering New Zealand is much higher than what authorities tell the public.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter