Pad helps beat the pugging

By Mike Barrington

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Grant and Christine West built a 600sq m stand-off pad, so cattle won't pug their farm's paddocks.
Grant and Christine West built a 600sq m stand-off pad, so cattle won't pug their farm's paddocks.

The worry of cattle causing pugging damage was keeping sheep and beef farmers Grant and Christine West awake at night. Literally. So they decided to do something about it.

The couple farm 446ha at Tangiteroria and are Beef + Lamb New Zealand demonstration farmers, which means their farm is one of 10 around the country showcasing a narrow category of farming and testing latest innovations on farm.

In the Wests' case, their demo farm project focuses on how to minimise pugging damage, estimated to cost them $30,000 annually in lost pasture production.

The property is winter wet and spring dry, with heavy clay soils and a lot of kikuyu grass.

The stand-off pad, costing $125,000, comprises a clear roof and rolled limestone floor, which slopes down to a concrete-covered effluent collection pit.

"We were going to build it big enough for 200 animals, but decided to go halfway for a start," Grant West said.

"We wanted to see how it goes and be able to build a second elsewhere on the farm, making improvements based on how the first home goes."

The Wests' heaviest cattle, 2-year-old steers, went on to the pad in mid-winter until early September.

A penetrometer, or soil compaction tester, as used on building sites, was used to measure soil susceptibility to pugging and decide if it would be a cattle inside or outside day, he said.

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