The comfort zone- Looking underfoot and overhead on a Southland farm
From stand-off pads to herringbone platforms, Numat surfacing is used in a large number of ways around New Zealand’s farms. In Southland, a clever combination between a quality surface and a comfortable Herdhome® is proving a winning one…
After converting to dairy over 23 years ago, Shane and Vicky Murphy have steadily increased their herd while pragmatically investing in the infrastructure of their Winton farm. Their improvements have focused on creating a more efficient use of land and labour across the busy farm.
Their approach parallels that of many forward-thinking farmers who, using a combination of Herdhome® Shelters and Numat surfacing, ensure both functionality and comfort to herds and humans. Increased cow comfort reduces resting damage and subsequent joint injuries. This leads to increased mobility, increased fertility, and increased milk yield.
Photo right: A group of 50 dairy farmers visited the farm recently to hear how Herdhome Shelters and Numat rubber matting is currently helping Shane and Vicky manage their pasture and animal well-being.
Making the decision to install such a system came down to simple pragmatism for Shane.
“The cost of building another effluent pond or a couple of Herdhome Shelters was probably around the same,” says Murphy. “The Herdhome was initially to be used just as a feed pad too.”
“With some really heavy soils we were also doing a lot of damage to pastures and needed to fix that situation,” he says. “Feeding them inside during wet weather saves a lot of pasturelands.”
In the second year, he decided to winter some of the herd on a trial basis on the matting inside. The positive results were enough to warrant further expansion, the farm building two more and undertaking various trials over the following three years.
The results were obvious to the busy Winton farmer.
“You can see that, given hay or matting, the cows definitely prefer the matting when given the choice,” he says. “The cows in our Herdhome are in better condition than those wintering out in the open, they’re fatter and they are going through roughly a third less feed than the others outside.”
This waste in feed is another important factor when it came to deciding on the investment. “Out in the field the cows will trample feed into the ground,” said Murphy. “You’re just throwing money away.”
It’s not just the cows that find life is easier with the matting says the dairy farmer.
“If you don’t have the rubber mats you need straw, which makes it that much harder to get rid of the effluent. You’ve really got to be digging it out all the time. So, you’re saving time and money every day.”