Wednesday, 20 March 2013 14:40

Pasture renewal promises profit

Written by 

AN AGGRESSIVE regrassing programme could raise EBIT/ha from venison finishing nearly $1000/ha, judging by figures presented to a Deer Industry New Zealand focus farm field day last week.

Even at a conservative 50g lwt/day better weaner growth through spring, summer and autumn, the South Canterbury/North Otago farmers heard how the resulting earlier finishing and consequently better prices promised a 96.9% return on capital deployed in regrassing (see table).

“If these guys can shift that average growth rate up by 50g/day they will bring forward average kill date by a month and a half,” explained Macfarlane Rural Business consultant and field day facilitator, Nicky Hyslop.

Electronic Identification of weaners and consequent closer monitoring of weight gain has shown the field day property, Downlands Deer near Geraldine, that weaners on new pasture last month gained over 250g/day, while those on old did 120g/day.

“That’s the sort of thing you need to see to give you the confidence to go out and spend on new grass.”

But Hyslop also stressed: “it’s not just about chucking new grass at the system”; soil fertility, fencing, and water supply need to be in place to ensure extra growth potential is realised and harvested.

“You need to make those investments ahead of your regrassing programme… there’s no point growing a truckload more feed if you’re going to let it get away on you.”

Downlands is using a one year annual grass break to clean out old browntop and rush infested paddocks before going back into a mix of perennial ryegrass, clovers, chicory and plantain.

Once established, pasture management should follow the dairy developed principle of the feed wedge, keeping a range of covers on paddocks from 1500kgDM/ha on those just grazed – “the residual” – to 2,800kgDM/ha at point of grazing.

“That will a) maximise grazing quality and b) maximise regrowth.”

Analysing Downlands’ operation – 260ha of 80% heavy, rolling paddocks in a reliable 1000mm/year rainfall area – Hyslop acknowledged the relative risk of the venison schedule in finishing 1800 weaners/year, and rhetorically asked why not simply run more dairy heifers, given the farm already has 320 in the system.

“You couldn’t take on more than 500: they just don’t have the same seasonal fit that venison does.”

And if deer farmers focus on productivity, ensuring paddocks and livestock grow drymatter and liveweight to their potential, they would “be up there and out compete other options,” she maintained.

DINZ venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat wrapped up the field day with a presentation on “surviving post crash Europe”, but for farmers, as Hyslop pointed out early in the day, productivity has to the focus.

“Why do I keep going on about productivity? Because it’s the one thing you can really control.”

More like this

Getting smarter at growing grass

In his third season, sharemilker and Ravensdown shareholder James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

Taking the p*ss out of leaching

Having seen Spikey from Pastoral Robotics at the 2017 National Fieldays, we recently caught up with a unit that had completed two seasons on a dairy farm a short distance from Rotorua.



Fonterra’s big break

Former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden believes the co-operative will come out a stronger global player post-COVID-19.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Dirty water

The Hound understands that Federated Farmers has been cut out of the information loop, for the past year, on the…

Who’s paying?

Your canine crusader noticed a full-page ad recently run in a farming paper calling on meat companies SFF and Alliance…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Popular Reads

Drop in payout looms

Dairy farmers are being told to brace for a big drop in milk payout next season.