Nutrition the key to on-farm efficiency at Woodford Holsteins.
Ethan Foster and Jaime Abbott have been involved in the agriculture industry from a young age; with Jaime growing up on her parent’s lease bull farm and Ethan relief milking at high-school they both knew from a young age that their future was bright in the New Zealand dairy industry. While neither originates from a dairy farm, a passion for the dairy industry has been driven by their love of genetics and nutrition. This passion has seen them transition over the previous 13 years from workers to 50/50 share milkers. Following paying off the herd Jaime began seeking a new challenge, when a nearby Karapiro farm with 180 hectares of grazable land came onto the market they knew this opportunity may not come up again for many years. Now with a place they are proud to call their own, they started Woodford Holsteins and went about setting up a system 5 farm.
Ethan and Jaime note that increasing their on-farm efficiency every year has become an exciting journey. Currently achieving 620+ Avg MS, each season Ethan and Jaime evaluate what did and didn’t work in the previous season, planning to improve has become a bug and the fundamental driver of profitability on-farm. With nutrition being a key focus feeding every single day of the year to each cow, Ethan and Jaime decided to work with DPS and completed their nutrition course. After years of feeding, Ethan and Jaime enjoy the farming system they have created. “We have had staff come to work on our farm and say wow, this is the easiest calving season we have ever experienced” provided we get nutrition right we don’t have down cows, lame cows or, sick cows. People note that when they come to our farm there is a sense of calmness and we put that down to our effective feed management. The benefits of high input Ethan explains are noted when utilised long term, with pasture being so unreliable the ability to feed my stock correctly from a young age means they are given everything they need to succeed and this is where you begin to reap the rewards of high input systems. Some of their yearlings are already 450kg at just 13 months old. Ethan has a passion for genetics and not just to achieve high production but to also have a tidy well-presented herd and farm.
With on-farm efficiency the key to success at Woodford Holsteins, Ethan and Jaime began researching cow monitoring systems as a means to bring data-based decision making into their farming operation. Ethan then went to various discussion groups before making his mind up and explains that CowManager’s ear sensor system was the pick of the lot and has the senors on his milking herd as well as his young stock. The ear tag is discreet and supplies accurate data 24/7. As Ethan and Jaime artificially inseminate all the way through CowManager has reduced stress over mating periods and allowed them to confidently utilize more expensive genetics in their herd due to the accuracy of the fertility module, this season Ethan was extremely excited to announce that this season they achieved an mt rate of 6.9% across all of their stock on the farm including yealings for their 10 weeks of AB (6 weeks Holstein Friesian and 4 weeks Short Gestation Belgian Blue). Before installing CowManager we used tail-paint, scratchies, and eye work. Now we simply turn up to the shed and all of the cows in heat are right there for us ready to be mated. While the fertility module has been without a doubt the biggest benefit of the system we are excited to begin bringing CowManager’s nutrition capabilities into our feed systems as we can accurately monitor how the cows are performing as we feed out.
Each year Ethan and Jaime are striving to farm more efficiently than the previous, with their eyes locked on the future of dairy farming, Ethan and Jaime are ready to tackle what comes next, push boundaries and ultimately create a farming system that best serves their animals, their team members, the industry and their family.