Tuesday, 18 August 2020 07:25

Good weather helps calving season on West Coast

Written by  Peter Burke
West Coast farmer Katie Milne. West Coast farmer Katie Milne.

The calving season on the West Coast is progressing well with the help of good weather, says retired Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

She and her partner Ian Whitmore farm a Jersey herd at Rotomana near Hokitika and she says although they are waiting for spring to kick in there are  already a lot of farms on the coast that are well into calving.

Milne says they had a reasonable amount of growth in autumn and it’s been a kind winter by West Coast standards.

“Utilisation was really good for June and July and although there was the odd wet patch, it was nothing we couldn’t deal with easily, so that was great,” she told Dairy News.

“There are a few lights cows around – not very many compared to some areas – and we are hoping that we will end up with a good season. 

“In the next few months it’s predicted to be a La Nina season and, of course, for the West Coast that means a little bit drier than normal,” she says.

Milne says this is great as long as it doesn’t go too far the other way and they end up with a drought.

Supplies of supplement have been pretty good, according to Milne. 

A lot of silage was made because of last season’s wet spring and summer.

She says it rained right up until Christmas and the situation was pretty awful.

“That meant that all supplement and the bulk of the silage that could get made was very late. Crops were a bit lighter as they were all around the country. 

“But we were very lucky to have a kind winter, which certainly helped, and fertiliser is now going and there seems to be good amounts of grass growing in the valleys,” she says.

Milne says she’s been down to Franz Josef and Haast and says there appears to be good amounts of tucker there for the cows. 

While she hasn’t been up north to Karamea, she’s heard nothing that would suggest that there is a problem up there either.

The Milnes farm Jersey cows and Katie says the lighter cows are easier on the heavy soils they farm. She says as a general rule there are more kiwi-cross cows on the coast now because of this.

Look forward to this season, Milne says they are hoping that their milksolids will be up on last year. She says the spring has been mild and if this continues, the outlook is good – but quickly adds “you never can tell”.

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