Matthew Tayler
Lorne Peak Station

“If you told me five years ago that I would be killing R2 cattle off beet I would have laughed at you!”

Matthew Tayler isn’t at the mercy of the store market now he’s taking weaners through winter on  SF Brigadier fodder beet.

“If you told me five years ago that I would be killing R2 cattle off beet I would have laughed at you!”

Lorne Peak Station near Garston in Northern Southland is an extensive hill country sheep and beef farming operation.

With the introduction of SF Brigadier, cattle are 150kg live weight heavier when they come to sell. “I attribute 80-90kg of gain to the fodder beet and the other 60kg to improvements to summer feeding.”

Matthew says cattle previously wintered on swedes and kale could never put the weight on he wanted.

He admits he was initially skeptical about fodder beet’s high yield potential particularly when people from outside his district sung its praises. Just because it worked in Ashburton with its long summer, crisp winter and well-defined growing season, didn’t mean it would work in the unpredictable autumns and 120-day winters of Lorne Peak.

His initial skepticism disappeared after heifer mating became a reality on his farm as a result of the SF Brigadier. The ability to guarantee his heifers would be 300kg or over at mating meant he confidently put them to the bull.  It’s added 90-95 calves to his cattle system.  Previously heifer mating wasn’t attempted for fear of calving problems and detrimental effects to lifetime performance because the heifers calved too small.

“We can consistently grow the heifers. And it’s the same story with the hoggets,” says Matthew.

Matthew plants SF Force 4 lucerne which has excellent cold and drought tolerance. Grazing lambs on lucerne through the summer allows him to get them up to a better mating weight. He’s now putting 60kg two-tooth ewes to the ram. Previously they averaged 52kg.

And the results speak for themselves. Four years ago the lambing percentage was 100 per cent. Last year it was 135 per cent and this year it’s 120 per cent. “Yes, it’s about some of the other things we are doing on farm, but the SF Force 4 is definitely letting us feed the hoggets better.”

Matthew has planted SF Force 4 lucerne at Lorne Peak for three years and now grows 250ha. He says neighbours have commented on its growth. They ask why he gets lucerne three weeks earlier than they do. “I say I’ve grazed it and sprayed it but I am sure it’s also something to do with the variety.”

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