It starts off dry but with a forecast of some rain we make a start on autumn drilling. The ground is very dry, not too hard but very very dusty conditions for direct drilling. 16 ha is drilled initially – one being rape stubble paddock overdrilled with 10kg subclover and 2 kg of cocksfoot, the others getting a mix of red and white clover and a 2 year ryegrass. The 2 year ryegrass is intended to fill a feed deficit in early spring as we try to maximise growth rates in our weaner deer. As I drill I try to visualise what the paddocks will look like once they get rain. Will it come by the end of the month?
It rains! – first 13 mm on the 7th March, a further 60mm from 11-13th March and 16mm spread over several showers later in the month. For the first time in 3 years we are getting autumn rains again. Its very exciting seeing the land start to respond – initially there is not much to see, then a green tinge and finally after some warmth – an explosion of feed, and weeds.
The farm has gone from dust to an average pasture cover of about 2,500kg in a little over 3 weeks. Meanwhile we continue feeding cereal silage to hinds and ewes while weaner deer get Lucerne balage and grain in addition to the best paddocks available. The weaner deer are very settled this year – and will come running up when you bring fresh Lucerne balage into their paddock. I guess they must really like this supplementary feed. Whilst it was great to refill a silage stack with Lucerne in the spring we really could use some more Lucerne balage for stock performance. Next spring we will make a conscious effort to put more Lucerne into balage.
The good news is that with the wonderful autumn rain we will be able to keep the second stack of silage in reserve for the future.
The rest of March is spent spraying out paddocks for drilling into annual ryegrass or greenfeed oats for later winter/early spring feed.
The ewes remain shut on one paddock but are supplemented with some barley grain as well as their silage in order to “flush” them prior to the rams going out at the end of March.
Lyndon Matthews is the farm manager and one of the directors of Puketira Deer.