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New Zealand

New barn ready for maternity season

Dairy farmers in eastern Southland say it takes time to do good things, like finding the right composting barn.

DairyNZ’s wintering barn tour stopped at the Mackenzie family’s dairy farm on Gorge Road last week.

Logan Mackenzie was born and raised on a family farm for over a century.

Mackenzie said construction of a “shiny new” compost barn was completed last month, but it still has no cows.

“The only time we’ve been here is a 10th birthday party where six boys rode around in the dark on their bikes.”

About 360 “early Culver” cows needed to finish eating the kale crop before being moved to barns later this month.

The reason for building the composting barn was to provide a dry place for farrowing.

He also wanted a barn with internal feeding capabilities and a holding area where the herd could evacuate during inclement weather.

The due diligence to build a suitable barn included visiting several farms operating various barns over a period of about six years.

“It was never a quick decision.”

The deal to obtain the barn kit set from China was signed in November 2021.

The barn arrived at the beginning of the year, and earthwork began in February last year.

All the concrete work was completed before last year’s duck shooting season.

The barn’s site on a slope helped the decision to install a Clean Green Drainage Company system, including a greenwash scheme to clean two feeding lanes.

“I like the concept of greenwashing, but when I talk to people, scraping concrete seems like a pretty daunting task.”

Woodchip bedding for the barn, made up of sawdust on one side and shavings on the other, arrived last month, days before his flock dried up.

By agreeing to build a new barn, we were able to winter up to 300 cows in the barn.

As a result, some of the later-calving cows overwintered in open pastures.

Approximately 760 mixed age cows will be born in the barn.

The barn was designed so that the two composting areas could be retrofitted to contain three sets of plots on each side if needed.

“When composting doesn’t work or when wood chips become too expensive.”

Remodeling the barn would require new consents, but could accommodate more cattle.

But he was “cautiously optimistic” that composting would be successful and conversion would not be necessary in the future.

Southern Land and Water Planning consultant Sonya Nicole was hired to get the new barn approved.

He and his wife, Mel, had a capital tie-up with their parents, Robert and Barbara Mackenzie, who lived in Cromwell.

The farm had approximately 380 ha of active milking platforms.

The plan for this season was to deliver about 1,020 cows.

On average, each cow was targeted to produce 430 kg or more of milk solids.

The farm barns were 36-bale rotaries and 54-bale rotaries.

The low input farm system included 17 kg nitrogen use per hectare last season.

“We are not anti-nitrogenists, but we don’t need to apply nitrogen.”

He was happy to have a system with a low inventory rate due to the high price of nitrogen.

The low grazing rate allowed us to produce 1 tonne of dry matter per hectare as additional feed and that was all we needed.

A tour of wintering facilities on Southern dairies began last week at Steve and Andrea Dobson’s Redpass Compost Barn in Isla Bank, West Southland.

Last week’s tour’s final stop was a composting barn with a concrete fodder pad and steel roof at Palm Lansdowne in Lomajapa, south of Balclutha.

West Southland’s DairyNZ extension partner Nathan Nelson said there are plans to make the tour the final stop, possibly at a smart shelter barn in Southland next Tuesday.


A steel-framed composting barn on the Mackenzie family’s dairy farm.

position: Gorge Road, about 10km south of Edendale.Built Year: 2023

Barn Dimensions: 100.8 meters long and 36.5 meters wide

Bedding material: 500mm sawdust and 500mm bark chip base

project manager: Logan Mackenzie

Kit set configuration: Advance Dairy Barns and Rodger Short of Winton Engineering

Builders and concrete works: Nathan McDermott

Plumbing: donald engineering

Drainage: clean green wastewater company

Site work: marshall drilling

Consent process: South land and water plan


https://www.odt.co.nz/rural-life/dairy/new-barn-ready-calving-season New barn ready for maternity season

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