The Wishnowsky Monitor Farm - 2011

A challenging season continues with the farm producing 7.3T DM/ha this season. The stocking rate has dropped nearly 2su/ha, driven mainly by a reduction in finishing stock to protect the breeding stock as much as possible.

New to the property this season are 360 home-bred hoggets that will be mated on May 1st to rams of similar genetics, minimising the hybrid vigour effect on birthweight. Only those more than 40kg will be bred. Teaser rams were introduced exactly 17 days before 1st May, at 1:100.

The ewes have an average body-condition score (BCS) of 2.6 which is great for the season and they have gained at least 1 BCS since weaning. Ideally all ewes would be >BCS 3 at mating and lambing - a rare achievement!

The MA cows were pregnancy-tested with variable results (discussed at next meeting) in late March in time to identify late calvers to send away grazing. They were weaned in mid-April with the majority of calves sold. Replacement Limousin heifers and some lighter calves will be carried through the winter.

The Wishnowsky Monitor Farm continues to provide an opportunity for farmers to pick up handy hints they can use on their farm.

Pasture Cover Assessment - John Brier, Farmax

Farmax has designed a pasture sward stick that has been calibrated to sheep and beef pasture. Farmax has shown that measuring the average cover in 40-50% of the paddocks on the farm, with six measures per paddock, consistently gives an average cover within 100kgDM/ha of the ‘true' average cover.  Come to the next day at Wishnowsky's to learn how to put this information into a simple feed budget that you can do on the back of an envelope!

Sheep Reproductive Vaccines - Roger Marchant, Intervet Schering Plough

Over 40% of farms have had a toxoplasmosis abortion outbreak with 100% of farms and 80% of mixed-aged ewes exposed to this disease. However, at mating most hoggets are still naïve but they require only one vaccine dose for life, best given well before mating.

Eighty percent of farms have been exposed to Campylobacter . Data clearly show farms where hoggets are vaccinated for both toxoplasmosis and Campylobacter have better scanning percentages than unvaccinated flocks.

Managing soil fertility in tough economic times - Alec MacKay, AgResearch

AgResearch is running a long-term farmlet study with differing fertiliser inputs. One farmlet received 625kg superphosphate per year from 1975 to 1980, then 375kg/year until 2010 (plus lime as necessary). Olsen P is now 55. The other farmlet received125kg superphosphate each year, with a current Olsen P of 11.

While an Olsen P of 55 is unnecessary, 20-30 on hill country is ideal because it will prolong autumn growth, encourage earlier spring growth, improve pasture species and therefore quality and palatability, encourage even grazing and allow higher stocking rates.