We converted our King Country sheep and beef farm to dairy in 1989. We milked 360 cows to begin with then brought the number up to 520 after purchasing a neighbouring property. Replacement animals were grazed on the steeper hill country.
By 1999, after successfully running a basic all grass system, we started to recognise that what we were doing was not going to be sustainable. Our system was relying on the increasing use of urea - up to 150 kg urea/Ha/Year from 50 kg urea/Ha/Year, but production wasn't increasing and were facing major animal health issues, downer cows, Rotovirus, large numbers of lame cows, an increased reliance on CIDRs to get cows in calf, induction to try and maintain an acceptable calving spread and more. This "breakdown" in our system also led to a lack of net cash profit. It was also plain to see that our pastures were failing to persist and our soil had gone hard and compacted - we were going backwards.
4 Victoria Street, Waipawa, Waipawa 4210, New Zealand