DTT Gibson

The property is perfectly suited for farmlet comparisons with 72 x 1 ha paddocks and infrastructure to support multiple herds.The trial will investigate the profitability of using palm kernel expeller (PKE) and locally grown Maize grain and barley vs a traditional all grass farmlet.

Farm Data

  • Coastal South Hawera
  • 110 effective ha
  • 72 x 1 ha paddocks
  • Annual rainfall 1100 mm
  • 100 metres above sea level


The traditional all grass system has lost favour in the past 15 – 20 years due to variable climatic events resulting in short lactations and underfeeding of cows at times. PKE feeding has become widespread on dairy farms in New Zealand as a cheap and reliable feed source. Imports of PKE have increased from 96,000 megatons (MT = 1 million kg) in 2003 to 2,500,000 MT in 2016 (equivalent to 500 kg/cow of cows milked in 2016). There is concern regarding the effect of PKE on milk quality and the environmental impact the Palm oil industry is having in Thailand and Malaysia. Locally grown maize grain and barley are perceived as reliable sources of imported feed, that could replace or compliment PKE.

Trial Design

Three 24 ha farmlets. Annual pasture growth over the past 9 seasons = 15.4 t DM/ha and cow liveweight = 510 kg/cow. Stocking rate based on 90 kg LWT/t feed available/ha

  1. All grass – stocked at 2.9 cows/ha (69 Friesian cows)
  2. PKE farmlet – stocked at 3.29 cows/ha (79 Friesian cows) feeding 500 kg/cow PKE
  3. Grain farmlet – stocked at 3.29 cows/ha (79 F cows) feeding 500 kg/cow either barley or maize grain


  • Pasture growth from calibrated weekly visual estimation of all paddocks (2 weekly in winter)
  • Pre and post herbage mass measurements and estimated cow intakes
  • Supplementary feed harvested and fed, imported feed (amount and cost)
  • Milk production from 2 weekly herd tests for the first 100 days of lactation and then 4 weekly
  • 2 weekly cow liveweight and condition score
  • All animal health and cow fertility events
  • Full financial analysis of all farmlets

Supplement feeding

Trigger for feeding supplements to be when cows are underfed from pasture only from weekly farm walks and pre and post grazing measurements + targeted cow intakes. Residuals to be no lower than 1500 kg DM/ha through lactation on the supplemented farmlets. Majority of feeding to be in late winter / early spring ( calving to October) and late summer / autumn (Feb – May). Supplements especially used to extend lactation and increase milking days/cow. Drying off decisions to be made on feed budgets and cows condition measurements.

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