It rained, and rained, and rained… from a famine to a feast in one month! First 53mm at the start of January, then a further 47mm in the middle of the month and 28.5 mm to finish the month off. Oh, and did I mention the showers in between times. In one month we have received 40% of our entire rainfall for the previous year. Now we can look for the year ahead with renewed hope of being able to feed our animals on pasture rather than supplementary feed.
The first lot of rain was sufficient to achieve the grain fill required on the cereal silage and we got a harvest ! – 20 ha into a stack, to be used for self- feeding the hinds in the winter.
We took delivery of a Taege 3m direct drill between showers and immediately set it to work drilling into bare paddocks. There is a lot to like with this drill, from the large seed and fertiliser bins, the narrow coulter spacing, the angle that the tynes enter the ground, the seed calibration system that is so accurate and can be done from the cab, and finally the finger tynes that cover the ground after the seed has been sown. With 50 hectares to sow this autumn and a further 50 hectares for the spring this drill will soon pay its way.
As the feed comes away, in particular the lucerne very quickly, it's great to see all animals being fully fed. Hinds and their fawns reclining in the paddocks at ease with their lot. As the month draws to a close we can see a surplus of lucerne building up, a chance to make some supplement soon and refill the barns or silage pits. We were pleased to be able to put away the grain feeders in the middle of January. Ewes have come off their feedlot and grazing pasture again. We start tagging the first mobs of deer fawns at the end of the month. Although still quite small we can estimate from their weight at tagging that they have been growing at about 650 grams/day since birth late November/early December. Pleasingly losses at birth have been minimal and hinds are generally in good condition.
Lyndon Matthews is the farm manager and one of the directors of Puketira Deer.