It’s been a great winter for finishing lambs at Te Kainga Farms in the North Waikato, farm owner Jamie Lyons says. Great winter growing conditions got their lambs up to 21kg, from an average of 19kg in previous years.
“This year it’s jumped up, we’ve had a good growing winter and through good fertiliser we’re growing more grass than our neighbours who say they’re jealous,” Jaime says.
Jamie took over the fourth generation Lyons drystock farm in 2005 and converted 100ha to dairy in 2007. Located on Lyons Road, named after Jamie’s great grandfather Robert Lyons, the drystock block includes 45ha easy medium and 125ha of steeper hill country.
Jaime runs 500 Romney breeding ewes, 55 dairy replacement yearlings, 25 autumn and 25 spring Friesian cross white face bull calves, and 70 Angus dairy cross calves they carry through to 12 or 18 months. The Romney flock average 130% lambing and they keep about 200 replacement ewe lambs put out to ram and lamb at 50%, selling about 600 lambs each year. Dry ewe lambs sold fat??
The business plan is to fatten or trade animals depending on the season and markets, and Jamie buys in another 600 lambs each year to winter on the property. They buy the beef calves in at four days old and trade along with their own dairy Angus calves. They trade their white head calves as 100kg weaners and their Angus as yearlings at 300kg or finish them through to 18 months.
The farm was certified as organic up until six years ago, when the summer dry was making the organic operation too difficult to buy in extra feed. Jamie started using Fertco fertiliser products while they were organic and has carried on with the company because he likes the efficient products.
Last year with Fertco, Jamie soil tested the whole farm in 2ha – 6ha blocks on the steep hills. “The steeper hills haven’t got a great fertiliser history. This has given us a real snapshot of the whole farm.”
Fertiliser can be a costly part of the farm business and Jamie wants to be more targeted with his fertiliser use in the future to ensure efficiency. “We can target where and what we want to work on. We want to target the money in the right place.”
Using more sustainable fertiliser is also part of the business plan, to make sure the farm is meeting its environmental goals. Through soil testing the main issues were low pH and low levels of Olsen P, Sulphur and Magnesium. “The main thing we need to put on is lime, we have low pH on the hills.”
Jamie has since put on AgLime at a maximum rate of 3000kg/ha and he is already seeing the grass growth. They used to have an airstrip on the farm but power lines have since been put through the farm. Now they only use trucks for fertiliser spreading, which gets about 90% of the farm.
“I feel we are getting it right, and we are happy to have a plan going forward.” The soil mapping that Eurofins performs can give farmers a more accurate picture of their farm, Fertco national sales manager Arthur Payze says. “It’s helpful on a block like Jamie’s where there is two different topographies and two different soil types.”
Fertco can then work through the soil map results with farmers to create a targeted fertiliser programme and continue to test paddocks to monitor progress. “Jamie will be able to pick some paddocks to monitor on an ongoing basis.”
Jamie finishes the winter lambs on Winter Star, an annual tetraploid ryegrass. He then follows with a crop before regressing into a perennial ryegrass. The dairy herd is wintered on the dry stock block for about a month to give the milking platform a break.
The dairy platform harvests 11kg drymatter/ha and the drystock 40ha mowable block would average the same amount. “We have found the winter ryegrass is as good as any winter crop.”
Jamie has grown chicory and rocket in the past for a summer crop, but has grown Raphno for the past two years, which has persisted in the dry better. “We grew 2ha last year and the Raphno did better than the chicory, and miles above the rocket.”
They grow 8ha of crops each summer and will continue with the Raphno this year, and feed it on a 30-day round. The summer is difficult to get good weights on the lambs and get them off by January, he says.
“We have struggled to get 17kg and it’s hard to bring them through and finish and get a good percentage off by January. We are not meeting our targets at the moment.” Jamie would like to trial some Lucerne going forward, which may or may succeed in the drier conditions.
“It’s up for discussion at the moment. “We are looking for the best crop to finish lambs before it gets dry here.”
Fertco has a unique range of products ideal for use on Sheep & Beef farms, to reduce both your application rates and cart and spread costs. Soil chemistry is only one aspect of soil environment. Our comprehensive testing programme analyses soil biology and physicality and pasture quality. We also take into consideration pH and liming.
Fertco’s field consultant will take the time to understand your farming systems and your goals to design a fertiliser nutrient plan that will bring you the results you’re’ looking for.
Phone Fertco today on 0800 337 826.