A 3-year trial is being conducted at No1 Dairy Farm, Massey University, to compare the effect of calving season on the whole system of production, and the results of the first year are presented here. Three different systems were implemented by stocking each farmlet (40 ha) with Friesian cows which calved either in Autumn (A), in Spring (S) or 50% in A and 50% in S (A/S). Average stocking rate (SR) was 2, 2.25 and 1.95 cows per ha, respectively. A larger area was conserved as silage in A than in A/S and S, which also affected pasture growth rate in Spring. More supplements (t DM/cow) were fed in A (1.2) than in A/S (0.8) or in S (0.4). The higher yield of milk solids (MS) per cow for cows which calved in Autumn compensated the lower stocking rates of those herds and resulted in similar levels of production per ha (705-725 kg MS) for all three systems. These first year results suggest that similar levels of production per ha can be achieved with different calving systems and they emphasise the importance of farm systems studies as a research tool.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 58, , 61-63, 1998
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