How will changing health and safety legislation affect your farm? Are empty rates higher than normal this season on dairy farms? And what alternatives are there to chicory for summer cropping? These key dairy industry topics and more will be discussed on Wednesday 2 March at Owl Farm’s first farm focus day for 2016.
Owl Farm, the St Peter’s School and Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm, will host guest speakers from Fegan & Co, LIC and PGG Wrightson Seeds. Owl Farm Manager Tom Buckley will give an update on the season so far and give examples from Owl Farm to illustrate the issues at hand.
With the new Health and Safety Act becoming operative on 2 April, Owl Farm is busy reviewing their health and safety systems. With assistance from consultant Steve Sharpe from Fegan & Co the team have been identifying hazards around the farm and ensuring the correct measures are in place to reduce the any potential injury. Owl Farm is formalising a training programme complete with standard operating procedures for various activities which occur on farm.
At the farm focus day, Steve will be talking about what changing legalisation means for farms and what is needed to ensure best practice is achieved and, of course, ensuring that our people return home happy and healthy after work. Steve will also be available after lunch if any farmers or rural professionals would like to discuss the implications of the health and safety legislation changes for their business.
In-calf and empty rates are another big talking point at the moment. “Early evidence within the Cambridge area has seen the average empty rate up around 12-14 percent,” says Doug. “Fortunately at Owl Farm we achieved an empty rate of six percent which, considering the various on-farm challenges we faced in spring, we are incredibly happy with. LIC will be on-hand to discuss what the issues were, what we did, and to analyse the outcome.
“Importantly we will be looking forward to see what learning we can take for next season to design a system that allows us to achieve the same outcome while maintaining a higher production and having a lower use of intervention.”
PGG Wrightson Seeds will lead two sessions out in the paddock, one around cropping and the other around future planning around pasture regeneration. PGGW Seeds carried out a project over the summer at Owl Farm, cutting and drying chicory to establish the kgDM per hectare being grown and consumed by the cows compared with what was budgeted for. Trials have also been undertaken around the Waikato for other crops and these alternatives will be discussed as options to grow next season because chicory isn’t the only crop worth considering.
The second session in the paddock will focus on Owl Farm’s short, mid and long term strategies for pasture generation. “Much of Owl Farm’s focus has been around pasture harvested to increase to production,” says Doug. “This has been the focus of our latest pasture condition scoring exercise where we have identified our worst paddocks, which may receive either a spray, undersow or annual as they go into crop in summer.”
The goal of Owl Farm is to apply proven research, utilising good on-farm practice and scientific monitoring for the farm to become an exemplar in dairy production, financial, environmental and people performance, while maintaining the highest standards of health and safety. Doug says, “Owl Farm gives the farming community access to world class resources, information and on-farm practices. The farm focus days are an opportunity for farm owners, farm workers and rural professionals to meet, network and share ideas.”
So come along on 2 March and make the most of this valuable resource.