Richard Westlake, Northland, North Island, New Zealand – Mixed farmer with 800 dairy cows, beef enterprise and contracting work. He is not a typical New Zealand farmer in that he like to be self-sufficient and is always looking for ways to make some additional off-farm income.
Cows calve in 3 batches, with the biggest group calving in the spring. He milks 420 cows daily and the milk is sent to Fresh Valley Producers for liquid milk.
He worked in the UK in 17 years ago and at that time he saw Abbey machines on many farms. Five years ago he decided to step up from a forage wagon to feed his cows and invested in an Abbey VF1850. “I saw a dramatic change in performance, particularly with my under-performing cows. We feed the cows a buffer feed 365 days per year about an hour before their afternoon milking. We feed grass silage, hay, maize and a blend” remarks Richard Westlake. The blend is made up of palm kernel for energy, canola for protein to balance the maize, biscuits for energy and molasses for palatability. In addition they add in 1000kgs of water to assist the breakdown of palm kernel in the diet to enhance overall utilisation and 300kgs of molasses to optimise intakes.
Once the cows leave the buffer feed area it is washed down to minimise dirt and also any left-over TMR is passed to other stock, so the animals get fresh TMR daily. The animals hover up the mix quickly before entering their Waikato Rotary milking parlour which milks the 400 cows in 2.5 hours. He recently added in an automatic teat sprayer which has a variety of sensors to optimise the accuracy of spraying the teat surface to prevent mastitis. Cows are milked at 5am and 4pm each day. Having the Abbey feeder allows me to get predictable outcomes in terms of consistent daily yields, no matter what the weather. Plus it has helped me to focus on tailoring feeding to prevailing weather conditions, grass intakes and cost effective locally available feeds”, says Richard.
Richard runs two 2500 gallon recess tankers on 800 tyres with Vertical Trailing Shoes. His reasoning for purchasing these was to rapidly empty his lagoons, have 800 tyres so as to minimise soil damage, can go where he wants to and also damage on road-tracks to the fields. He finds the Vertical Trailing shoes excellent as he can go back into graze the packs within 5-7 days (with no effects on tastes or grass intakes), the slurry has percolated into the soil within 20 minutes of application, nutritionally the grass recovers quickly within days of application and he is maximising the fertiliser value of his slurry. In addition having the two tankers he is now getting off-farm income spreading for neighbours which is having positive effects on cash flow.
He has a new Poly-roof house to cater for rearing of his 3 calving blocks. Calves are fed on calf machines on milk 6 litres of milk replaces (600kg powder/day) and are reared at 72 days when they are consuming large volumes of hay and 1kg concentrates per head. The shed has open sides to maximise air flow and calves sleep on comfortable bedding of wood chippings. From the shed they have 24 hour per day access to pasture from the shed. This shed has reduced the work load of rearing calves and raised overall calf performance in hitting key target weights. Plus, Richard can now buy calves from other farmers and make additional income from the farm in a low labour system.