Te Anau Basin
“We’re always trying to increase our production by using new varieties rather than straight ryegrass and clover mixes. Persistence is a big problem here with ryegrass paddocks.”
Previously unproductive land has been transformed by lucerne at Chris and Henry Douglas’s Te Anau Basin sheep and beef farm.
Chris and his son Henry farm at Te Anau, where they run the Monymusk polled Hereford stud as well as a commercial ewe flock of 3,500 Romney breeding ewes and 850 hoggets.
Calving 170 stud cows and two-year-old stud heifers each year, they keep all progeny through to 18 months. They sell about 30 bulls in May each year at their on-farm sale. Anything that is not sold for breeding is finished. About 25 hectares of Seed Force™’s Force 4 lucerne is grown for both cutting and grazing but is mainly utilised for lamb finishing.
Henry says crop yields have been outstanding. “This was country that never used to grow much, then Craig (Thomson) introduced me to SF Force 4™, now we’re growing heaps and fattening a lot of lambs on it. Because it’s such a high quality product and has a big leaf on it the lambs tend to really get into it.”
They are able to cut a good quantity of lucerne baleage off it and it’s a good product to have on hand when there’s a feed shortfall, to supplement their ewes.
“As far as cutting goes, the quality of the baleage is incredible, stock do really well on it. We’re feeding ewes and hoggets baleage and that means we’re able to keep them on crop a lot longer,” Henry says.
“Once they get a taste for it, they’re right for life,” Chris says. “We’re into our third season growing lucerne and it’s definitely changing our farming operation, especially on the lighter soils that weren’t growing a lot of grass… the life expectancy of those paddocks is now much longer and we’re producing more kilograms of dry matter.
“We’re still learning how to graze it, but it grows well and we’re pleased with it.”
They are moving towards planting 50ha of lucerne and are also looking at establishing a lucerne and cocksfoot mix paddock this year. They have recently started using a 50/50 mix of SF Stellar™ perennial ryegrass and other cultivars for their permanent pasture mix. “It seems to be performing well, we’re going to carry on using it,” Chris says.
They are mixing SF Greenly cocksfoot II with their permanent pastures and, on the lighter blocks, are using a higher rate of cocksfoot to ryegrass, along with red clover and some plantain. “It’s almost a year old and it’s looking good, very strong, we’re very pleased with that.
“We’re always trying to increase our production by using new varieties rather than straight ryegrass and clover mixes. Persistence is a big problem here with ryegrass paddocks. Another one of the reasons for using cocksfoot is to combat grass grub.”
Henry agrees grass grub was a major reason for using the cocksfoot and the addition of SF Stellar™ helps with palatability for stock.
The Douglas family has been dealing exclusively with Craig Thomson for their seed mixes and expects that relationship will continue now he is with Seed Force™.
“He is a clued up, knowledgeable man on his pasture varieties…No doubt we’ll see more of Craig in his capacity as a rep with Seed Force™. When looking for new pastures and new varieties he is good on his research,” Chris says.
“We have stuck with Craig, that’s the sort of reputation that he has. The service is good and he’s more than happy to come and help us out if needed,” Henry says.