Paul Ruddenklau
Te Anau Basin

“The lambs do superbly on it, especially the cocksfoot and lucerne as there’s no transition, no down time. They just fly. We can achieve 350grams a day when they’re on those mixes.”

A significant lucerne rotation system plays a vital part of Te Anau Basin farmer Paul Ruddenklau’s operation, helping finish his organic lambs to high weights.

Paul’s 350 hectare organic-certified sheep and beef operation is a breeding and finishing block. There are 2450 breeding ewes and 620 hoggets, which are mated, and all lambs are fattened. They also have 75 trade cattle, which are brought in and finished.

They have been certified organic for about eight years and that means a good premium for their lambs. “We sat at around $6.80 last year and averaged a 17kg lamb.”

The Ruddenklaus run a big Seed Force™ Force 4 lucerne rotation that helps with finishing the lambs, Paul says.

“We take a first cut of lucerne as baleage then wean lambs on to clean ground, and they never leave it – until they go on the truck. We strive for quite large weaning drafts, 40-50% off mum. It’s all about worm burden and trying to get around that as much as we can.”

They have more recently sown a SF Force 4™ lucerne, SF Greenly cocksfoot and SF Rossi™ red clover mix, with similar yield results to straight lucerne.

“Straight lucerne is fantastic but for animal welfare the lucerne and cocksfoot mix works well…we strive to get our soils right and find the Lucerne will compete with any grass that comes in there.

The oldest stands (of Lucerne) are eight years old and still going strong.

“It’s a bloody good mix for us on our gravel ground. We have a really good understanding of soil science and make sure our fertility is right up. The biggest part, for us, is understanding what it takes to grow a crop.

“The lambs do superbly on it, especially the cocksfoot and lucerne as there’s no transition, no down time. They just fly. We can achieve 350grams a day when they’re on those mixes.”

By mowing three to four rounds in each block and letting it wilt before grazing, they eliminate issues of feed being too rich for the lambs going straight on to the green standing feed.

“It’s a good tool to make sure the lambs get that extra bit of dry matter. When you intensify things like that and, say you’re a bit late shifting the break, you’ve got to be careful of bloat. Mowing gives another option, other than pure Lucerne.”

Paul also works as a consultant in the area and many of his clients have started similar lucerne grazing systems too.

He helped develop the Agrimap Agri360 cloud-based farm management software, which he uses on-farm to record and analyse everything on the property, daily.

Seed Force™ rep Craig Thomson is able to get tasks and seed orders from clients who are using Agri360. “He can see what mixes we’ve put on and the yields we’re getting, and can analyse what’s going on.”

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