I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 3rd after 23 hours of travel and having left Ontario on March 1st. The weather in Christchurch right now is very similar to our late summer and fall weather with warm days and cool nights. For the next 7 months I will be working on a 750 head dairy farm in Oxford, New Zealand which is part of the Canterbury region. For some farms in New Zealand they produce milk all year round where others dry their cows off during the winter months. Milking is also done most commonly in a rotary style milking shed which is not fully enclosed.
On the farm that I will be working on they follow a bit of a different milking schedule depending on where the cows are during their lactation. At the beginning of the lactation cows are milked once a day until about 20 or 30 cows are back in production and then milking goes to twice daily until the autum months when it moves to a 16 hour milking schedule which means you milk in the morning and evening the first day and then a lunch milking the second day.
The dairy systems in the Canterbury region are also mainly all pasture systems so maintaining and rotating the pastures is a very important practice. Irrigation is also an important practice for most of the farms in the Canterbury region as the soils have a very low water holding capacity and high evapotranspiration rates. Irrigation takes place during the summer months in order to maintain the pastures for the cattle. For some farms water comes from a river and there are governing bodies and policy’s in place to protect the amount of water in the river and if the river becomes to low farmers are not allowed to irrigate or there is a restriction on the amount and timing of irrigation allowed.