DTT Kavanagh

Trial will investigate the benefit of autumn calving.

Farm Data

  • 213 effective ha
  • Adjacent to Gibson property


Autumn calving is becoming popular along the coastal belt of Taranaki. Summer dry is the most challenging climatic event with average summer rainfall of 240 mms and evapotranspiration of 410 mms resulting in periods of moisture deficit and reduced pasture growth rates and feed deficits. Also winter pasture growth rates have improved over the past 20 years with more widespread use of urea and gibberellic acid, improved ryegrass cultivars and increased winter soil temperatures (+1.6 degrees C in 30 years). Fonterra is now pursuing more winter milk for UHT exports to China with winter premiums of $2.85 to $3.50 for the period 16 May to 15 July (less transport charges).

Trial Design

2 split herds of 300 cows with 105 ha/farmlet stocked at 2.85 Friesian cross cows/ha. Herd 1 autumn calving (proposed date = 20 March). Herd 2 spring calving (proposed date = 10 July).


Although year 1 is targeted as a transition year, it is proposed to take detailed measurements on best practice for farmers and compare systems in the first season.

  • Milk production from 4 weekly herd tests + vat measurements. Milk can be stored and collected from 2 separate vats & 2 supply numbers via Fonterra.
  • Pasture growth from calibrated weekly visual estimation of all paddocks (2 weekly in winter). Pasture calibrations to be done at WTARS Gibson
  • Pre and post herbage mass measurements and estimated cow intakes
  • Supplements harvested and fed.
  • 4 weekly cow Liveweight and condition score.
  • All animal health and cow fertility events
  • Full financial analysis of both systems

Aligned with and supporting the WTARS Kavanagh work we are proposing to run 2 programs at the Waimate West & Stratford Demonstration farms to demonstrate best practice for wintering of dairy cows in Taranaki.

Get the research that local dairy farmers want

Sign up to receive weekly farm walk notes