CASE STUDY: INTENSIVE, YET LAID BACK
Southern Waikato property Waerenga runs a mix of sheep, cattle and deer – some bred on the property and others bought in, depending on the season. Waerenga is owned by William and Karen Oliver and, for the past three seasons, has been managed by Mike Ferrier. We talk to Mike about the property’s management and why they have signed up to FarmIQ.
I’d describe Waerenga as intensive but laid back. Our 10,000 stock units are split evenly between sheep, cattle and deer and the property is well sub-divided, with an average paddock size of 3.5-4ha.
Lambing pushed back
Bulls through one winter
The bulls are bought in spring as 100kg calves, purchased from two rearers and a couple of agents. These are grazed as mobs of 20-35 head in 1ha blocks and taken through one winter, before being processed at about 600kg liveweight by autumn.
We buy in steers when they’re available at the right price and as the season allows.
Deer herd transitioning to Red base
The deer herd was 100% hybrid, but we are just changing to Red at the moment. The hybrids are a bit later maturing and have low yearling conception rates at an average of 80%. We started the change over two years ago and we should get there within the next five years, aiming for 1000 head in our hind mob. We’re keeping replacements and buying in good Red hinds when they come up at a reasonable price.
The hinds are wintered on swede and kale and put back on grass before fawning in early November. The young stock are finished on pasture, processed at 100 to 110kg liveweight from early September. We don’t carry any store deer through a second winter.
Experimenting with crops
We’ve been experimenting with the crops during recent seasons. Instead of coming straight out of the winter crop of swede and kale into grass, we’ve been playing with crops that could follow on for a year or two. We have tried triticale, chicory and are now trying plantain and a mix of rape and plantain.
The bulls, ewes and hinds tend to stick to their own areas, with lambs, fawns and calves given priority and ewes and hinds used to clean up as required. Lambs graze “underneath” the bulls and also go in front of the hinds on pasture.
With NAIT coming on stream, we thought “why not make full use of the information and kill data?”.
We’re monitoring growth rates throughout the year on different classes of land, breeds and sexes and crops – then using the information for planning our kill specs and filling contracts. It will be good to see what we learn and use that information well.