Outside the cows get their feed supplements in a NZ-developed and manufactured SmartShelter 20m by 140m shelter. The feed pad structure, which comfortably houses 350 cows, is an open-ended, opaque Tuffspan Membrane roofed modular tunnel design that provides excellent natural lighting and ventilation.
The clearspan construction provides easy access for machinery – and more importantly where stock are being fed, no roosts for birds.
And it gives good protection from bad weather. Richard says that with the correct orientation and shelter from tree lines it stays five-10 degrees Celsius warmer inside than out – even during a howling—southerly. And in summer it’s a good three degrees Celsius cooler inside.
SmartShelter sales consultant Harvey Cottle says their structures are a NZ invention, engineered and manufactured in Auckland to stand up to pretty much anything the elements throw at them – including Canterbury gales. Graham and Shelley’s shelter has only just been finished, but it’s already proving its worth.
“Two weeks ago we had some consistent heavy rain, so I brought one herd in here during the day and the other overnight. That halved the pugging on the farm, improved feed utilisation and minimised our drop in production compared with our neighbours,” says Richard.
“We’re also looking at bringing our springers in here; that will make it much easier to keep an eye on them, but ultimately the weather will determine just how much we use the shelter.”