Tuesday, 8 February 2011

"I Dream of Mountains..." & Amazing Pastures

Meet Charles & Jan Whitehead who farm below Mt Hutt, Methven in Canterbury NZ. They milk over 800 NZ XBred cows in two herds on a beautiful farm with stunning views of the Southern Alps & the ski field at Mt Hutt.The Whiteheads & some local Discussion Group members hosted the French Group from Brittany.
"I Dream of Mountains...." was part of Andre's thank you speech after we had completed our farm visit. In part it referred to the beautiful mountain background at Mt Hutt but it was also a "Martin Luther King" like speech that referred to the pinnacle of pasture management we had just seen on a very simple but effective grass based system. Our group was very impressed with Charles & Jan's farm & the simple grass based system that created the best pastures we saw thru out NZ. In NZ the nitrogen use has increased with milk price & one of the consequences is less visable clover on most pastures grazed by dairy cows. Its not the only reason for clovers demise as clover weevil has had a major impact in the North Island. At lincoln University dairy farm the clover has disappeared almost completely.

Charles is renovating pastures on a 10 yr cycle partly because of grass grub damage. He has used both a ryegrass/clover mix and a fescue/clover mix. Both looked to be very good with a strong presence of clover (Charles uses 200kg N/ha per year. Excellent quality pasture grazed hard with a relatively high stocking rate resulting in a very good pasture on the next round. A simple but effective use of the pasture wedge graph. The fescue was planted at 25kg/ha plus 6kgs clovers (both small leaf & medium leaf). He explained to the group that the fescue needed to be on a quicker rotation to maintain quality.
The photo below is of the Fescue/clover pasture.
His usual pre grazing target was 3100kg DM/ha with a target residual of 1500..
The pre grazing pasture quality was exceptional & Odille those boots are "Sweet as".

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