The announcement that Crafar Farms has been put into receivership is not unexpected.
Bernard Hickey has a good analysis on the problems with the operation and he wants an inquiry into large herd dairy farms.
However, it’s not the size of individual farms or operations that’s the problem, it’s the rapid growth of dairying which has led to a shortage of good staff.
If you’ve got a bigger farm any problems you have will be magnified but problems aren’t confined to bigger farms and bigger operators.
We talked to the CE of a very large dairy operation last year. They have very good systems which include regular visits, the timing of which depends on how each farm is running. He said that was everything to do with the manager and staff and nothing to do with size.
They’d had 400-cow farms where the wheels fell off and 1500-cow farms which were model operations.
Big isn’t bad by itself. But the bigger an operation gets the more important it is to have really good management systems and processes; and no matter how good they are, they depend on good people to make them work well.
Bigger operations need regular checks to ensure they do. In smaller operations it’s much harder because often only the people on the property know what’s going on.