Home' Otago Southland Farmer : October 5th 2012 Contents 5.10.12 Farmer
GRASS VARIETY IS THE BEST?
That's a question I regularly get from farmers who
say they are confused by performance claims made
by seed companies for their pasture varieties.
A valid question, and important, as there can be
2 tonnes/ hectare or more yield difference between
varieties per year.
There are now two independent sources to
The seed industry runs a series of forage trials
termed the National Forage Variety Trials (NFVT ).
These trials are mainly run by member companies,
and the results vetted by those members. Trial results
can be viewed at www.nzpbra.org.nz/forage-trial-
Another excellent source for performance
comparison of varieties is the DairyNZ Forage Value
Index. This ranks perennial ryegrass varieties on their
economic merit, based on their seasonal dry matter
production, using the NFVT trial results. Visit
www.dairynzfvi.co.nz for information and results.
One grass stands out in each set of data.
In the latest NFVT NZ Summary, Ultra was
unbeaten not only for total yield, but also in every
In the DairyNZ Forage Value Index, Ultra had the
highest ranking for economic merit, and the highest
ranking for each season, in every region throughout
Call me for more information on Ultra.
For expert advice and friendly service call in and talk to Alan & Alana
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Feeder brings enjoyment to lamb rearing
FROM THE FRONT PAGE
Feeding 200 orphan lambs is no problem for Dacre farmer
By DIANE BISHOP
Orphans: Dacre farmer Ross Cronin rears more than 200 lambs on his Lely Calm lamb feeder.
Feeding: The lambs have ad-lib access to the
On tap: The Lely Calm lamb feeder dispenses
warm milk powder to lambs around the clock.
Leaping: The lambs have access to fresh grass and are thriving.
Ross Cronin is not the sort of farmer to
drive past an orphaned hungry lamb.
He scoops them up and takes them home,
where they are quickly taught how to
drink from his automatic lamb feeder.
The Dacre farmer is currently feeding
about 200 lambs and his hungry hordes
are going through three 20-kilogram bags
of Anlamb milk powder each day.
Ross has always reared a few orphan
lambs, but last season he decided to get
serious about it and bought a Lely Calm
for $11,000. The feeder mixes and
dispenses milk powder to his lambs
around the clock.
''I thought, there's got to be an easier way
than using buckets and a drum,'' Ross
Ross then set up an old hay cattle feeder
at the base of the lamb feeder, which is
used to hold the 12 teats.
With his high-performance tefrom ewes
scanning about 200 per cent, he made the
decision to take one lamb off most of the
triplet-bearing ewes to give the other
lambs a better chance of survival.
''If I take one of the triplets off, then the
other two lamb must do better,'' he said.
Ross, who could expect up to 300 sets of
triplets from his 2600 ewes, prefers to
remove the biggest lamb or a ram lamb
off the ewe and leave the replacement
ewe lambs on.
However, he leaves them on the ewe for
at least a day so they get adequate
While most of the orphan lambs are
tefroms, they are also a few suffolk-texels
from his terminal sires.
It only took a bit of gentle coaxing to get
the lambs used to the feeder, which
mixes and dispenses warm milk as
Ross said feeding lambs was enjoyable
and no longer a chore, since the lambs
would help themselves to the milk
whenever they were hungry.
He expects to go through about two tonne
of milk powder.
The lambs were also supplemented with
meal, and had access to fresh grass and
Lamb deaths had been minimal, since
Ross had vaccinated them against pulpy
kidney and scabby mouth after the
disease spread through the shed last
He has also refined the lamb feeding area
with warehouse bowls positioned around
''Last year I went through about 500 teats
because they kept knocking each other
''The bowls protect the teats and I've only
used about 30 so far this year,'' Ross said.
The lambs will be fed milk till about eight
weeks of age, with the early lambs
weaned in late October or early
November, at which time the meal
component will increase.
''They really love the meal - they hear
you coming with the bucket.''
Once weaned they will be grazed with his
other lambs, although they will be tagged
separately and Ross will keep a close eye
on them. He estimates it will cost about
$75 to rear each lamb and he expects to
make at least $20 per head, based on a
19kg to 20kg carcass weight lamb
fetching about $95.
''Another year and the machine [the Lely
Calm] will have paid for itself.''
Ross no longer mothers on as many
lambs as he used to.
''A ewe is not silly - they know when a
lamb's not theirs,'' he said.
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