Rural Supplies
14 September 2018

September Wool Report With Grant Edwards and Jamie Mackay

This month's reflection on the wool market has seen a strong growth in terms of sales and as Grant Edwards, PGG Wrightson's GM for wool, explains there is definitely an upwards trend for wool since June-July of this year.

The Country's Jamie Mackay spoke with Grant Edwards about the exceptional season the wool market has seen this year. Mackay acknowledges a slight recovery in the cost of wool, in particular cross-breed products, and that exchange rates have not directly influenced the market.

Mackay and Edwards touch on the reasonable New Zealand winter which has led to high quality, marketable wool, and as the country heads into pre-lamb season the wool continues to be exceptionally produced.

The droughts in Australia have continued to influence the market allowing New Zealand Wool, and in particular Merino, to become more prominent. Edwards explains that the 5.7% loss the Australian market has seen is equivalent to New Zealand losing twice its annual production.

13 September 2018

Benefits of hard feed post-weaning

Starch-based calf feed is recognised as beneficial to support rumen development pre-weaning, but is arguably equally important for the four to six weeks post-weaning off milk.

A good indicator that calves can be weaned off milk is when hard feed consumption is 1.0 to 1.5 kilograms per head per day (depending on the breed) for three consecutive days, provided weight targets have been achieved.If this hard feed intake is not maintained post-weaning, calves may suffer a double set-back. Fresh pasture is a bulky feed, so continuing and even lifting supplementary feeding after  weaning off milk can reducethe risk of growth rates melting away from full but not fully-fed youngsters. A 75 kilogram calf, growing at around 0.7 kilograms per day needs close to 25 mega joules of metabolisable energy per day, provided it is not cold and wet, and expending energy to keep warm.

If your calves are receiving, for example 600 grams of NRM Calf Milk Replacer as a liquid feed, they would be getting close to 50 percent of their daily energy requirements from readily digestible milk powder that is directed straight into the abomasum and has no effect on rumen function. Making up this energy deficit would necessitate harvesting and digesting about another kilogram of dry matter of high quality pasture (five to eight kilograms at fresh weight). This is quite difficult for a relatively immature rumen at a time  when forage intakes are typically modest. Managing pasture quality with calves alone can be hard, especially during November when pasture fibre levels can rise and protein falls. 

Although straights, such as PKE and barley, can help to fill a simple feed deficit for older calves, higher quality, nutritionally balanced feeds are more suitable for younger calves. Whilst energy is typically the first limiting factor for growth, protein is important for frame and muscle development; and may even determine the extent to which calves can express their genetic potential later in life.Extended demand for 20 percent protein calf feeds like GrowUp 20% rather than 16 percent options indicates that more farmers have decided that the extra investment in a higher protein feed is worthwhile.

Coccidia challenge is most likely to be highest in the eight weeks following weaning, so a hard feed that contains a coccidiostat makes sense. Calves take time to build up resistance to coccidiosis and may be at a greater risk of infection when grazing nursery paddocks in which the parasite load can increase over the years. A fully balanced hard feed also delivers major minerals, trace elements and vitamins that may be lacking in pasture. Whilst mature cows can benefit from the vitamin production of a fully functioning rumen, it is likely that the rumen of recently weaned calf is not capable of producing essential B vitamins, particularly if anything about the pasture diet is sub-optimal. 

To discuss your hard feed options post-weaning, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical  Field Representative.

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1 September 2018 Jessica Dunbar

Spring crop paddock selection

Soil testing is an important tool in your cropping calendar. It can be utilised to assist in selecting the correct paddocks to use for high value crops, like fodder beet, and for selecting which paddocks can be planted with a lower value crop in order to start the process of increasing soil fertility in areas lined up for pasture renewal.

Soil testing provides the ability to develop a tailored fertiliser programme and focus on the key nutrients required for your farms maintenance programme, or for a specific crop. Fertiliser spend makes up a significant portion of the farm budget, therefore it is always worth taking a measured approach and only applying the nutrients that are needed.

So what are nutrients? They are the 16 mineral elements that plants and animals require to grow and function, with plants getting their nutrients from the soil. Soil testing prior to planning for the season ahead gives a base foundation and understanding for the nutrient levels you are working with. In your farming system, growth or yield will be limited by the nutrient in shortest supply.

Soil testing is an essential component when it comes to nutrient interactions. Having an abundance of one nutrient can effectively antagonise another, or vice versa, where you have a synergy of increased availability of one nutrient due to the increase in level of another nutrient. For example, excess potassium leads to an imbalance of magnesium and calcium, which can have an effect of poor yield or quality, as well as the potential for metabolic disorders in stock to arise.

Another reason behind soil testing is for developing trends across your farm system against previously collected data. It is recommended that you get your PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, or Ballance Agri-Nutrients representative to soil test at the same time every year, to maintain consistency. Taking samples six to eight weeks out allows for tests to be sent away, analysed and sent back to develop effective fertiliser programmes.

Sampling depth for soil testing is directly related to the potential rooting depth of the crop. Pasture, or herb paddock samples should be taken at 75 mm, and arable or cropping paddocks sampled at 150 mm in depth.

Fertiliser inputs will be based on your soil test results and will determine if your fertiliser programme is maintenance, or capital. Maintenance nutrient requirements are the quantity of fertiliser nutrients required to maintain a particular soil test level over a one year period. Capital nutrient requirements are the quantity of fertiliser nutrients required to increase the soil test value to the optimum target value, for example increasing soil fertility levels to get an optimal Olsen P for the soil type and farm production level.

Taking a soil test to determine soil nutrient levels, prior to planting crops and applying maintenance fertiliser over the whole farm ensures rates of nutrients applied are in line with dry matter yield goals for your crops and overall farm production goals. Knowing what nutrients are already present in your soil also helps to avoid applying excess fertiliser, thus helping to farm in an environmentally sustainable manner.

For more information on soil testing, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Jessica Dunbar

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1 September 2018 External Supplier

Flystrike protection post-docking

As the wounds caused by docking act as an attractant to flies, it is important that any treatment applied to lambs provides protection until these wounds have completely healed.

has shown that even relatively small strikes cause a marked loss in appetite in the affected animal with a resulting rapid loss in weight. Recovering this lost weight can take significant time¹.

Treatment types
Ready to use, water based insect growth regulator formulations containing the potent active ingredient dicyclanil, such as CLiKZin Spray-On and CLiK Spray-On are applied by many farmers as docking flystrike preventative treatments.

The benefits of these products include:

  • The wide margin of safety to operators, which is a significant issue during docking where animals are handled closely and contact with the formulation used is unavoidable.
  • The wide margin of safety to livestock, particularly important when treating young animals at docking and when the product is applied near the tailing wound.
  • Water based formulations are non-flammable, an essential feature where a searing iron is used for tailing. It is important to remember that where the product is applied is the area protected against flystrike, if back or shoulder strike is anticipated, product should be applied to these areas also.

Length of protection
The label of each product indicates the expected duration of protection against flystrike in sheep and should give an indication of the duration of protection when used after docking. CLiKZiN Spray-On contains 12.5 g per L dicyclanil and provides flystrike protection for six to nine weeks. CLiKZiN Spray-On has a seven day meat withholding period.

CLiK Spray-On contains 50.0 g per L dicyclanil and provides flystrike protection for up to 18 weeks. CLiK Spray-On has a 35 day meat withholding period for coarse wool sheep and 56 day meat withholding period for fine wool sheep.

Choosing the right product for your stock is important, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative for more information.

Supplied by Elanco

1Heath et al., (1987) The effects of artificially-induced fly-strike on food intake and liveweight gain in sheep. N.Z vet J.35: 50-52 2.

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28 August 2018 External Supplier

Get the paddock right

Time spent now selecting and preparing your brassica crop paddock may pay off later.

Paddock history, location and soil fertility are just three of the considerations that should be kept in mind when deciding where to grow your next brassica crop.

“Be mindful of paddock history with brassicas,” says Murray Lane, Forage Specialist for Ballance Agri-Nutrients. “If previous crops have been infested with wild turnip, it is not recommended to plant swede, turnips or kale into the same paddock. If you have had dry rot or club root don’t plant brassicas, even varieties tolerant to these problems, in that spot for five years following.”

Consider access and suitability for machinery and stock. “Choose a paddock that is less prone to pugging or compaction, and one where you can easily provide grazing stock with drinking water while keeping them away from natural waterways and drainage channels,” advises Murray.

In relation to paddock rotation, think about whether you have pasture that could benefit from a break to address weed and pest issues, contouring, or other performance problems.

“Above all, select your paddocks early,” says Murray. “This gives you time to prepare them properly, which pays off with a better crop. Spray-out weeds this autumn, put in a winter ryegrass, graze that, then spray again before sowing in spring. This will minimise the amount of weeds in the crop.”

Early paddock selection also gives you time to adjust pH and fertility. “Brassicas like a pH between 5.8 and 6.2. Lime applications need up to a year to take full effect so the sooner you select your paddock, test pH and if necessary apply lime, the better.”

Test soil nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium and boron six months before sowing to inform your fertiliser strategy. “Brassicas can be expensive to grow. Hitting that sweet spot where you get the best yield gains from your inputs, in other words an economically optimal yield, is the aim. Also consider the value of the feed as this influences the size of the gap between the economic and maximum yields,” explains Murray.

Looking further ahead, regardless of base fertiliser needs, the value of placing a starter fertiliser at sowing cannot be underestimated. Cropzeal Boron Boost is a good option for brassicas providing phosphate close to the germinating seed to support early root development, and boron to guard against common problems such as brown heart.

To assist you in planning your next brassica crop, talk to your Ballance Nutrient Specialist or your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Article supplied by Ballance Agri-Nutrients

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28 August 2018 Gary Bosley

Getting it right from day one

You only get one chance to get a crop in the ground at the right time, and that is the first day you do it.

If you have to come back and re-sow, you have lost weeks of productivity and yield. Planning is critical for success. Crop type and time of planting are key, but ask yourself, why do you want to grow a brassica?

In most cases, a brassica crop serves two purposes:

  1. To fill a feed deficit that is left by existing pasture at a particular time of year.
  2. To use as a tool to take out and renew old pasture after the brassica crop has finished.

A brassica crop not only delivers quality feed for livestock, but also allows us to break a pasture rotation by using the opportunity to tidy up perennial weeds that do not need clover safe chemicals.

So a few questions need to be asked:

  • Are the paddocks earmarked for the crop suitable?
  • How did they come through the winter?
  • Are any last minute adjustments needed?

Once you have confirmed the paddock location and have taken a soil test, the next step is to decide what type of brassica you are going to grow: leafy turnip, bulb turnip, rape, raphanobrassica, kale or swede. Then work backwards from the planned grazing date using the number of days that it takes from planting to grazing as per the suppliers’ recommendation.

When you receive your soil test results, if your pH is out, come up with a fertiliser plan and apply lime at the earliest opportunity. Remember, lime can take around six months to correct pH. If possible, plan your spray-out date four weeks before your planting date. This allows plenty of time for old vegetation to die back especially in no-till situations.

There will be less unwanted plants to deal with and it will be easier to create a nice clean seed bed if you plan to cultivate. Whilst it is always tempting to try to get the last graze out of the previous pasture, this can be false economy as you need around 10 cm of actively growing plant leaf to take up the glyphosate effectively. Grazing to the dirt before you spray leads to disappointing results.

Cultivate a firm, flat and fine seedbed to drill into. Remember that brassica seeds are small and do not have much energy inside them. They should be sown with enough good seed soil contact, which supports rapid and even seedling emergence to optimise establishment and achieve canopy closure. Most small seeds should be sown between 10 to 15 mm depth, and always use a slug-bait at sowing in no-till situations.

Spray an appropriate post-plant pre-emergence herbicide, especially if you have difficult weeds or you are sowing a long-term crop such as rape, raphanobrassica, kale or swede. This takes away any seedling competition with weeds emerging at the same time as the crop. Monitor regularly for further weeds and pests and deal with accordingly.

For advice around sowing brassica this spring, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Gary Bosley

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