Tararua Monitor Farm, Dannevirke - Garth and Wesley Coleman

April 2005
Sheep and beef hill country farm, 518ha, 484ha effective, consisting of 163ha freehold and adjoining lease blocks of 190ha and 142ha.

Sheep: 2300 Finn-cross ewes, 800 two-tooth ewes, 800 ewe hoggets, 500 finishing lambs. Lambing 155% over MA ewes ands two-tooths.

This season 5464 lambs in total, less 1050 ewe replacements.

Cattle: 150 R2yr bulls and steers, 350 R1yr bulls.

Total stock units 6610, 13.7 su/ha, sheep: cattle 63:37

Production: 370kg/ha of meat and fibre

Gross farm income $900/ha


Lambing 160% MA ewes, 100% ewe hoggets

Lamb weaning weight average 30kg

Ewe mating weight 65kg at 3.5/4 body condition score.

Production 540kg/ha meat and fibre by the end of 2005-06 season

More finishing lambs?

Farm management:

Summer cropping:

Area under pasja and rape for summer feed crop in 2004-05.

55ha, established 60% direct drilling and 40% cultivation. Used mostly for lamb finishing and some for weaner bulls. Goes back to permanent pasture in autumn.

Regrassing programme with AR1 Quartet ryegrass and clover, with some AR6 Extreme ryegrass to be laid down this autumn.

Bulls are predominantly purchased in October as 100kg weaners and graze on sheep pastures through to the autumn. In this way worm burden in the bulls is limited, reducing animal health expenditure and ensuring the bulls realise their targeted growth pattern.

In late autumn/early winter the weaner bulls are put onto the bull block of 150ha (this year) at 3-4 per hectare, on starting covers of 2100kg DM/ha and intensively grazed on daily shifts through winter. As pasture growth rates accelerate in the spring the rotation length is shortened to 15 days. This normally occurs in September.

Two year old cattle generally do some pasture maintenance work over the winter period. In early spring they start to be moved onto the bull block at 2.5/ha and high quality feed so that they can be finished by December.

Two years ago when the Colemans took on the leased Swanney block they doubled the fencing and put water in every paddock, with laneways.

They intend to take on another 200ha of leased land this year, which will need some subdivision and water reticulation.

Drenching frequency for ewes, lambs and cattle was normal for the district until two years ago when new sustainability programme was introduced on recommendations of veterinarian Trevor Cook. There was no evidence of drench resistance or poor animal health performance prior to Cook involvement. However animal health bill was high, using preventative drenching and Garth was keen to try something more sustainable, being aware that integrated grazing was possible.

Animal health expenditure is now $2.37/su ($15,660), which is considerably less than average for that class of farm. Previous years $2.92, $3.70 and $4.17.

The most obvious result is that drenching frequency has halved and stock havent been under the same parasite pressure.

Growth rate of lambs on ewes is around 210g/day with a late weaning. After weaning 210g/day achieved on crop and 180g/day on pasture.

This year have 20% more lambs than previous year so too early to talk about LWG increases or CW (drafting) increases.

Trevor Cook, Manawatu Vet Services, Feilding:

My approach is to focus on identifying the challenges and then setting up ways to manage those. I always have production as my objective, so the management approach has a big element of cost/effectiveness in it. And sustainability is high on the list if priorities as well. I take a very broad interpretation of the term "animal health".

Most animal health challenges are predicable and preventable - Clostridial diseases, Toxoplasmosis, Campylobacteriosis, ram soundness, trace element deficency. Managing these adequately requires a plan that schedules the actions, which includes monitoring.

Worm control is one aspect of animal health that stands apart from the others. It has the biggest sustainability label, has the biggest impact on production, and offers so much by a planned approach. I have applied the "tool box" approach, using feeding, reducing the challenge, monitoring and drench as the main tools. I would like to see the genetic tool be in there as well sometime soon.

The Coleman farming system presents an ideal opportunity to put in place an integrated worm control programme to reduce the challenge. Such an approach requires that the contaminators are first identified. Steps are then identified that can break the contaminating/exposure cycle that occurs on most farms and ends up with a heavy dependence on drench, and usually at the same time a reduction in production. This has necessitated setting up a grazing plan to create the breaks in the cycle. Monitoring is an essential tool to accompany this approach.

The outcome is a reduction in drench useage without any drop in production. The marked reduction in dependence on drench (as evidenced by long drench intervals) is a huge step towards reducing the pressure on the selection for drench resistance.

Also under the Animal Health banner I include all aspects of the drivers of production - conception rate, lamb survival, lamb growth rates, cattle growth rates. The production objectives for the farm are very achievable and achieving these will be the result of a planned team approach.

Notes from presentation by Trevor Cook:

The manipulation of lamb grazing areas can be used to very effectively reduce the overall level of worm challenge in sheep systems, both breeding and finishing systems. Nine months or more of the year lamb grazing on permanent pasture is not sustainable. The use of integrating other stock species, crops/new grasses, and to some extent ewes, with lambs is the way to create lowered levels of worm challenge in sheep systems. The timing of lamb grazing on pastures is very important to the subsequent Threat that grazing brings. For example, summer/autumn grazing presents much more of a threat than autumn/winter grazing. Faecal egg count monitoring provides the reassurance that any reduced drenching is not excessively costing production. From time to time integrated grazing techniques do not work and FEC monitoring is necessary to identify when this is the case.

You must build a tool box of tools to manage worms and planning a vital tool.