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No. 13 (December 1955)
– 55 –

SEASONAL WORK ON THE FARM

DECEMBER TO MARCH

As an introduction to the farming notes for this particular period it would be well to mention that our butter market is likely to slip to some extent, resulting in a lower price per lb. of butterfat to the farmer. It should be appreciated that farmers whose gradings are not of the highest, or super fine, will find their incomes considerably reduced through the new penalty rates for the lower grades of cream. With a drop in butterfat prices it is most important that the best available payout be obtained. If second grade milk or cream is being continually sent to the factory try to find the reason—it will not be hard.

Production

The herd will be past the flush and with the drier weather and poorer feed, production will start to fall. Careful attention to the milking of the herd is essential. Cows tend to be slower and will not let milk down so readily. If the cow is not milked out properly she will start to fatten and dry off rapidly. Care should be taken to stimulate the udder by washing and massaging both udder and teats, to ensure a rapid let down. Do not delay too long before applying the cups. Inflations should be checked frequently. Make sure each quarter is properly milked out.

Calves

Rotational grazing of calves should be in full swing. Drenching may be necessary if calves are not thriving, and symptoms such as coughing, general unthriftiness, and harsh coats indicate worms. Phenothiagene drench is most commonly used.

Supplementary Feeding

In areas where dry autumns are experienced, with rapid falling off of milk production, feeding of chou moellier or a similar crop is of considerable assistance. This can be worked in conjunction with pasture renewal, the paddock being ploughed in September the crop sown, fed in January and February, and then sown down. Crops should be fed in daily breaks by using electric fence.

Preparation of Grass Seed

New grass is usually sown in the autumn or spring after supplementary feed crops of chou moellier or swedes or turnips. The ground is easily worked and can be disced or ploughed, both methods being satisfactory. A firm, fine, well-worked seed bed should be the aim, and a roller is necessary for consolidation. The seed can be broadcast or drilled, the mixture depending on personal preference. Use certified seed. Care should be taken to use only reverted superphosphate with seed.

Oversowing Poor Pastures

Oversowing has given good results in paddocks where the pastures have been cut up by winter feeding and are opening up. Experience has proved that unless the seed preparation, the weather conditions, and subsequent grazing management are favourable, little improvement can be expected.

When surface sowing is carried out in the autumn, the pasture should be as bare as possible and tine harrowed or given a light discing to make a seed bed. The paddock should be top-dressed, and closed till the young plants are properly established. 10 lb. H.1., 10 lb. Per Rye, 2 lb. White Clover and 2 lb. Mont. Red Clover is a suggested mixture.