Gundowring dairy farmers Pat, Kerrie, Brendan and Sarah Glass held a meeting in December as December 7 the 458 cows were producing 26.6 litres of milk with a test of 3.7 per cent fat and 3.2 per cent protein.
They were fed 6.2kg of wheat, 1.4kg of canola, 4.5kg of home-grown silage, 10kg of pasture with 200ha (out of 280ha) included in the 30-day rotation.
The herd was getting a full feed of pasture at night and a pick during the day supplemented by silage, but with no rain the pick would dry up and silage would be fed twice a day.
A total of 14ha of sorghum has been sown for summer grazing.
The Glass family already had a compact calving pattern as evidenced by an analysis of the 2014 joining results — the six-week in-calf rate was 60 per cent (10 per cent above average), not in-calf rate 25 per cent and the conception rate 46 per cent.
Looking to the future, the business would like to have 85 per cent of cows calved in 15 weeks and 95 per cent of the heifers in 10 weeks.
They are looking for more AI calves and are happy to use PG or joining programs, but they want to avoid an over-dependence on drugs.
Calving has been moved forward by two weeks so the operation can maximise milk price and feed growth and this has resulted in 22 per cent of the herd not in-calf, a figure the family was expecting.
The business will need to work on strategies to improve submission rates during the AI period which could include a synchro program (with clear exclusion lists) and early treatment of non-cycling cows.
Heat detection, especially return heat, is another area the business needs to pick up on to achieve its desired target. Making sure the bull team is fit and ready to work and taking a closer look at cows for culling will also help achieve the desired target.
The in-depth analysis of the calving has shown that the Glass family is going through a challenging time with the herd but past reproduction history has been excellent and, keeping this in mind, they should be able to implement strategies to get themselves back to where they want to be.
Soil tests indicated there was a fair bit of seasonal variation between 2014 and 2015; nitrogen requirements for 2015 were double that of 2014.
Traditionally phosphorus was applied up front prior to the autumn break but in 2015 they applied phosphorous with nitrogen after the autumn break and prior to grazing. Most of the milking area received 50kg/ha N and 12kg/Ha P prior to grazing.
The mix of pasture is about 60ha perennial rye-grass, 200ha Italian rye-grass and 30ha annual rye-grass. Oats are used throughout autumn to speed up access to grazing and are sown alone or with rye-grass.