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[Video] For Richard van Ras, Numat’s rubber matting was a lifesaver

Te Puninga, Waikato

For Richard van Ras, Numat’s rubber matting was a lifesaver. The matting reduced pugging, allowing Richard and son, Johan, to bring their farm up to 2400 cover, ready for calving season.

Richard had been farming for 38 years and last winter was the wettest he’s ever seen. The area where they grazed was completely flooded.

Richard and Johan had built a concrete surface feed pad in 2013 and their initial plan was to use this and a sacrifice paddock to manage their wet pasture. But, being a concrete surface, they could only have the cows on the feed pad for a short period.

It became clear that if they continued with their initial plan, they would run out of paddocks for calving. A better solution was needed.

“We’ve never looked back – it’s been good… really good.”

- Richard van Ras.

It was Johan who researched and found the solution – a Lincoln University research paper on the benefits of rubber matting providing the evidence he needed to consider rubber matting. After becoming convinced the rubber mats were the solution, Richard and Johan contacted Numat. Within a couple of weeks, they had their feed pad covered in 25mm thick mats.

After installation, they were pleased to see how the cows responded well to standing off on the rubber mats. With the ability to stand off for extended periods, their pasture was able to recover and grow.

The following comes from Johan, who wrote to Numat about his experience after installing the mats…

In a few days I saw how the cows responded to spending time on the pads, I could really adjust my management. So, for the month of June they spent 20 hours a day on the pad and I went on a 200-day round to build cover. I got the cover from 1800 by end of May to 2600 (bit high I know) by the 1st day of calving.

The pad needed to be cleaned each day, but I had no lameness and the cows ran to the feed pad each day, which they don’t do after two days on concrete.

The rest of the season was a well above normal rain fall so the farm stayed wet for a long time and the feed pad got a hammering with cows calving on there as well. But the key to having the rubber on the feed pad was to ensure I could limit the pasture damage due to the well above normal moisture levels.

I had a higher pasture cover so than when cows went into pasture they just filled up and sat down. It was a successful strategy and once it did dry out, we could top and get back to normality.

The rubber mats have been in for three seasons and still look like the day we put them in. Even though we haven’t had the extremes of 2017 the mats are an essential management tool over both winter and summer. I can take cows off pasture at any time, so I don’t over graze in summer and have no pugging in winter.

Johan van Ras

Numat recently had the opportunity to catch up with Richard van Ras for a video interview. When asked by the interviewer if he’d sell the mats back to Numat, Richard was quick to reply, “No way! No way! No way! You can’t get ‘em back. If you offered twice as much as what we had to pay for them, you wouldn’t get ‘em.”

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