Once a day to sustain a lifestyle

Paeroa farmers David and Lee-Ann Sharp have been called competitive, determined and driven by the people who know them and that's probably because they excel in everything they do reports LIC. Sport is absolutely integral to the Sharp family life which was one of the main reasons, David and Lee-Ann, co-owners with David's parents of a 120ha dairy farm (which calved 500 this season), decided three years ago to move their predominantly cross bred herd onto once-a-day milking (OAD). The Sharps say there was a lot to consider before making the switch to OAD admitting that the figures had to balance out. "The year we went OAD we took on an additional 100 acres (39 hectares) and increased cow numbers, if we hadn't gone OAD we would have had to employ full time staff and possibly even build a new shed because pushing 500 cows through a 20 aside herringbone, twice a day, with three young children would have just been too much for us. "The additional hectares and cow numbers made it hard to tell if production dropped but the real test was in the bottom-line because our costs were also down, so it balanced out. "Milking OAD has meant we haven't had to increase our staffing or build a new shed and we've noticed a huge difference in the health of the herd. "Two of the three years we've been on OAD we've had droughts, before that in the 2006/2007 season we produced 113,000 kg/ms on 120ha (off all grass). The droughts prompted us to introduce Palm Kernal for the first time, which with OAD, meant the cows came forward to 2008 calving in good condition. "With another dry spell this year if we hadn't been on OAD, fed supplement and continued with herd testing our cows would have lost condition and production would have been lost. 'The results from our last herd test saw us dry off our 50 lowest performing cows and we were also able to take out or treat individual cows with high SCC (Somatic cell Counts)."

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