Rural Supplies
14 February 2020

The Livestock Report 13 February 2020

Peter Moore, GM of PGG Wrightson Livestock joins Jamie McKay on the country.

He says coronavirus and drought is combining to produce a perfect storm and a gridlock which is putting downward pressure on prices.

13 February 2020

Livestock Market Update 13 February 2020

National Dairy Sales Manager Jamie Cunninghame catches up with Mark Leishman on Country TV.
3 February 2020

Busy start to 2020 for wool market

Brought to you by PGG Wrightson Wool and The Country.

The Country's Rowena Duncum kick starts this year's wool report with PGG Wrightson's South Island wool procurement manager Rob Cochrane. It is the middle of crossbred wool season and things are looking busy.

The wool growers for 2020 are very active at this time of year with the summer shearing still going strong.

However, Cochrane notes "the wool quality is battling a little bit, and generally the wool market hasn't moved very much".

Colour contamination continues to be an issue of late. Cochrane says some of this can be attributed to the humidity. Cochrane adds that raddle marks are less frequent as growers are taking more care of their flocks.

Lamb's wool is not performing as well as it has been in previous weeks. Cochrane says this might be a glitch in the system or might be influenced by recent events in China.

Duncum queries if wool auctions will feature at any of the rural Field Days this year.

Cochrane says at this stage that the wool auctions will stay with Hawkes Bay and Canterbury A and P Shows.

Cochrane anticipates that the market will remain consistent for the next few weeks to come.

Rural Diary
1 February 2020 Matthew Crampton

Perennial grass weed control of twitch

Perennial grass weeds are a problem on South Island farms and can build up over time, replacing higher producing grasses in your pastures. The one I come across a lot on-farm is the grass weed called twitch (Elytrigia repens), also known as couch.

Twitch spreads by its wiry creeping rhizomes and is commonly found as a problem throughout New Zealand’s home gardens, pastures and roadsides. Twitch is a problem because it isn’t productive compared to other pasture species, so as it dominates an area of pasture, the overall productivity drops. Like all weeds, it is also using valuable nutrients and moisture which are better utilised by desirable pasture species. 

Once identified, this weed requires a concerted effort and good timing to control it. But, let’s start with identification. From above ground, twitch looks similar to most pasture grasses, but give the leaf a pull and it shows its real colours by exposing the plant’s root system. The plant produces extensive rhizomes horizontally underground so as you pull up the grass plant some of the rhizomes come with it (you may have to gently dig out the root so it doesn’t snap off). The plant can be easily identified by its rhizomes which are bright white and grow horizontally about 10 cm below the surface. These rhizomes are a key characteristic of twitch (Image 1).

These rhizomes, which help with identification, are also the reason this weed is so successful. They provide a large reserve for the plant to bounce back after attempts at control, and also have the ability to survive being cut into pieces during cultivation, therefore dividing and producing a new plant from each piece. These two characteristics contribute to making this grass weed a problem on-farm, but by taking a few things into consideration control, is possible by depleting the rhizome’s reserves and eliminating each plant.

The best time to control any weed is when it has leaf area to take up the herbicide when actively growing, which for twitch is in the spring or autumn. Make sure you avoid the winter when twitch is dormant. In the South Island most pasture and crops are sown in spring and if there is a lot of twitch you can struggle to get control with this timing. In problem paddocks, alter your rotation so an autumn application of glyphosate is applied to actively growing twitch; this gives a great result. During your cropping phase, there is also the option of using a selective grass killer in some crops to help in the battle against this weed.

Consult with your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative for advice around product selection and timing to ensure you get the result you are after and control twitch on your farm. Or for help identifying the weed, visit the PGG Wrightson YouTube channel and watch my ‘Grass Weeds: Twitch/Couch’ video.

Matthew Crampton

1 February 2020 Andrew Dowling

Setting the girls up for tupping

Good management of the ewe flock leading into tupping has significant impacts on next season’s weaning, with potentially an increased number of lambs weaned and heavier weights. The cost of feeding an ewe is fairly constant, but what is often overlooked is the lost production from those ewes with low body fat reserves.  

Ewes that have a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 3 or more (the scale is 1 to 5, so 3 is not too fat and not too thin) bring more lambs into the yards at weaning. The ewe’s survival is also improved (lowered death rates and more likely to be in-lamb) and heavier lambs are born with greater brown fat content to help them survive inclement weather at lambing.  

More is not always better. Even though there are always fatter ewes in the mob, ewes that are greater than BCS 4 do not necessarily have higher production. It can be worth managing this group separately as they have the tendency to get even fatter due to their dominance in the mob. In late pregnancy, these ewes are also at higher risk of metabolic disease trying to waddle into the yards for vaccinating or set stocking. 

We are still learning how to manage triplet ewes close to lambing, and feeding them too much high quality grass or sudden diet changes are a high risk.

The only way to determine which ewes are too light is putting your hand on them to assess their body condition. Drafting on eye alone misses those ewes that could benefit from gaining half a BCS (about 4 kg) and only identifies the ewes that are one or more BCS too low.  

These low BCS ewes need to gain weight before tupping. Preferential feeding is the most important factor here. The low BCS ewes are not necessarily the ones that are being more impacted by worms than the others. A faecal egg count and larval culture gives you a good indication of the severity of the worm burden and what species are present, as some have a greater impact than others. If the result is much higher than you expected, then test other mobs as well. Ewes that do not gain BCS may have other underlying diseases, such as facial eczema, damaged livers, pneumonia or missing teeth.  

Ewes that are able to maintain a BCS of 3 are easier to manage and do not require costly feeding, as the response of these ewes to pre-tup flushing is minimal. This requires constant management of the mob throughout late summer and early autumn, with the result being more kilograms of lamb weaned per ewe.  

For help getting your ewes to the right BCS, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative or visit the PGG Wrightson YouTube channel.

Andrew Dowling

Rural Diary
1 February 2020 Steve McGill

Water – the forgotten nutrient

Water is a crucial nutrient. It makes up approximately 87 to 88 percent of milk on a volume basis. But how often do we pay care to the quality and quantity of water available to livestock?
Water helps animals cool body temperature through saliva, sweat and breathing. Without the cooling effects of water, animal performance is the first to suffer. This can be in terms of either liveweight gain or milk production. As the majority of milk is made of water, then shortages in water lead to severe drops in production.

When cows are exposed to temperatures greater than 24 degrees Celsius, high humidity and high Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) forages, their water consumption may increase by greater than 40 percent. Up to 60 percent of a cow’s core body temperature is generated by the rumen each day. The more fibrous the feed, the more heat generated. Summer forages typically have a higher dry matter percentage than that of other seasons, further compounding the matter. The absence of shade increases water requirements by 17 percent.

Water should be clean and palatable, with no odour or taste. It should also be free from toxic compounds and bacteria or algae growth. A great rule is the taste test. If you wouldn’t expect to drink water out of the trough, why should you expect your cow to? Even thirsty cows can refuse to drink from water that is bitter or unpalatable. If in doubt of water quality, send a sample to Hills Laboratories who are able to test this for you. Summer is a good time to empty and clean water troughs, and check out fittings and connecting pipework for damage or wear. The water should be clean, clear and free from algae growth. Cows drink more water from a clean trough. 

Dairy cows need 70 L of water per day over a five hour period. That is 14 L of water per hour in terms of flow rate. Check flow rates at water troughs around the farm to make sure the water system is able to keep up. Troughs underneath fences allow access to only one third of the trough circumference on either side of the fence. Boss cows can bully heifers away from water more easily in this scenario. 

Trough capacity needs to be half the hourly demand. Larger herds (for example greater than 400 cows) may need two troughs in each paddock. Allow access to water troughs along the races to and from the dairy shed. This aids in keeping cows hydrated and comfortable. If trough access or capacity is insufficient, consider investing in more water troughs or the flow capacity of your water system. Your cows are going to thank you for it.

An example:
Water flow per hour required:  200 cows x 14 Litres water per hour = 2,800 Litres per hour
Water flow per minute required: 2,800 Litres / 60 minutes =  47 Litres per minute
Trough capacity:   2,800 Litres x 50 percent =  1,400 Litres capacity.

For more information on water requirements and trough capacity for your livestock, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative or visit your local store.

Steve McGill

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