PJ Williams, current sharemilker for Normandy Land Company, Waharoa.
Situated out of Waharoa on 96 effective hectares milking just over 300 cows running a system one. The cowshed is a 28 aside herring bone.
Covered feed pad, flood washed into a weeping wall system.
We use to have an old stand off area that was about 200m long and about 10m wide that use to hold all the cows in the winter with post chip. We use to tear our hair out in the winter about two weeks in – it use to get very muddy and cows in mud up to their bellies. Our effluent system use to be from the cow shed directly into a clay line pond. Stored there, then slurry tankers in to suck it out a couple times of year. One of our key drivers on why we did all this is that the farm was getting hammered in the winter. The spring planner in the dry, you could never keep to that plan because it got so wet. You were either moving the cows on, because you couldn’t stand them on the chip area any more because it was too wet and/or the cows had sore feet.
The major challenges we had with the effluent system was being compliant. we were boarder line to be honest. It was time to bring everything into the 21st century. We boohoo’ed the weeping wall because it had a bad reputation. We looked at wedges, stone traps and i kept walking away from them all, there was something better out there.
That’s when we went onto a farm with an Archway Group Weeping Wall system. It was designed specifically for that farm system, and engineered structurally designed. A key driver was that it has to be simple. Not just myself can use it, but I can send my kids down here to use it. One set of instructions, push a button or screw open a valve and its done. Easy. The whole system is contained, doesn’t matter what or how wet the winter is, we have a whole system purpose built for this farm. In the winter when it rains, because its covered in, I don’t wake in the night thinking where the heck am I going to put the cows. They just go in there any you know your effluent system is up to scratch and its simple! With the shading – the cows are waiting at the gate to come in on the hot days. Its about 8′ cooler in the barn than out side. The cows are in there most of the day until 6 at night and they are off the high spore count grasses, so its great. One of the biggest wins is the labor saving and time. Time is money. You feed out, everything’s close to the shed. your not spending 3-4 hours feeding out. Everything is utilised which is great because of the cost of feed. It takes longer to load up than feed out! 30 minutes to feed out instead of 4 hours. We have a weeping wall that separates all the solids, the green water is pumped to the pond which feeds back to the floodwash tanks, which washes the barn as a green wash and keeps the pond levels down. The irrigator stands idol a bit as we use the greenwater a lot in the shed. No fresh water is used, it’s all recycled. You set your spring planner up in the dry and you stay there. You go above it sometimes – they have feed, they are happy, clean sheltered and warm and man do they put some weight on because its warm. The system that we have put in has not increased our workload, its decreased it. We all know what it is like in calving when its wet and muddy and you let the cows over, and its a big mad rush to get the calves in. Now we wind the reel up, call the cows they know exactly where they are going and they walk to the barn themselves and you draft out your springers or your calvers and its great.
One of the big things we went and looked at and a lot of different ones said to me was our bloody floodwash doesn’t work, this and that. The key for the floodwash is to have good separation from the solids, the Archway Group weeping wall is so effective. Their design of their weeping wall separates the solids completely. The big thing is not to get complicated, keep it simple. With effluent keep it simple, talk to the right people, look around. With Archway Group you can totally trust them, they say what they do and do what they say and that’s a hard thing to find in the rural sector these days. It took a bit to work out but Matt from Archway has a clear goal for your farm, he listens to you have your spiel and he goes away and comes back with his plan and by the end of it you do Matt’s plan because he has done it before, and what he says is what he does. He maps it all out, doesn’t actually just put it on site; he makes it look good as well and that’s important. There’s a lot of work that goes on under ground that goes on before you start pouring concrete and that’s one of Matt’s specialties. We started earthworks 17th April 2017 and it was the 18th October 2017 when we finished. We have a joke around here, there’s an old saying that “Rome wasn’t build in a day” but I am sure Matt would give it a good go!