Getting the facts on winter options for dairying

The announcement of a three and a half year study on options for wintering dairy cows in Southland is welcome news.

DairyNZ regional scientist Dr Dawn Dalley said the aim was to measure all parts of the wintering systems, including the impact on feed supply, animal health, finances, and staff, as well as environmental monitoring.

“We want to look at a whole-farm system analysis and get a comprehensive data set on wintering systems.”

The goal was to produce “good robust data” so farmers considering a wintering system could make an informed decision.

. . .  “What we’re not trying to do is say one system is better than the other.

“It’s more about if you’re choosing a system, these are the things you need to be thinking about and to get right to implement successfully.”

This study will provide facts which will help determine what is best for cows, staff and the environment and that could help counter some of the ill-informed criticism of the industry.

Plans to house cows indoors in the Mackenzie basins were opposed for a variety of grounds including animal welfare, environmental degredation and the impact on tourism.

Almost all of the opposition was on emotive rather than factual grounds.

New Zealand is a world leader at converting grass to protein in the most efficient way – by feeding stock on pastures. But that doesn’t mean that everyone here has to do it that way.

The ODT featured Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen who farm at Morven in South Canterbury. They’ve invested $4.5 million in a European-style barn housing 500 cows which are milked by six computer computerised robotic milking machines. One of the features of the barn is back scratchers for the cattle.

It may not be farming as we know it but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

Farmers in Southland have been moving to housing cows indoors over winter for the sake of the cows and to safeguard pastures and soil. But they’ve been criticised for doing this because it’s “not natural”.

The study won’t prove housing is natural but it will provide scientific data on which comparisons between various options for wintering cows can be made.

17 Responses to Getting the facts on winter options for dairying

  1. “Almost all of the opposition was on emotive rather than factual grounds.”

    Nonsense homepaddock. You vastly underestimate ‘those in opposition’ to the McKenzie proposal.

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  2. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    Yes, I think Mr Guyton is right.

    I’ll be most interested to see how these European style high capital, high operating cost systems get on when interest rates get back up to ten percent and the pay out drops back to five bucks – like maybe in just two short years.

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  3. Andrei says:

    Well Adolf if you are right then the people who invested in it will do their dough and if you are wrong they wont and the nation as a whole will benefit.

    Which is exactly how it should work – its called free enterprise and it is the best system known to mankind for bringing improvements in productivity and wealth known to mankind.

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  4. Worse still of course, is the damage already done by irrigation in the MB. Fluro green in an environment that is naturally brown spells destruction for the plants and creatures that have gradually adapted to those unique conditions.
    But then you can suck milk (white gold that is) from a grasshopper, can you.
    Neither Andrei not Adolf mention the environment …

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  5. can’t – good grief!

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  6. Raymond A Francis says:

    We are talking Southland Robert, not the McKenzie

    I have looked through Aad’s barns, I don’t think I have ever seen more content cows, it was a real eye opener to the non dairy group that went through with me
    Aad claims that he can make money with quite a low pay-out, I forget the exact per head cost but knowing what I do about him have no doubt about that

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  7. JC says:

    I was thinking about this the other day..

    It seems to me that moving cows into big sheds concentrates most of the environmental issues in one place where you can best control it.

    You could, in fact, create a giant flat concrete soupbowl of water and effluent for much easier collection for spraying, methanol production and irrigation.

    The benefits would include reduced soil compaction in the wet, probably more of the farm devoted to crops for the cows and likely less runoff contamination and reduced fertiliser. It would build a supplementary feed option for other non dairy farmers in the district and option for treatment to reduce methane (when the science catches up).

    Whats also possible is it brings in the drier and harder country for dairying.. land less susceptible to soil compaction and because its more extensive you could run a lot of cows at lower densities sans irrigation.

    JC

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  8. “Plans to house cows indoors in the Mackenzie basins were opposed for a variety of grounds including animal welfare, environmental degredation and the impact on tourism.

    Almost all of the opposition was on emotive rather than factual grounds.”

    I see.

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  9. swinestein says:

    I am involved in the pig industry and the best comment I have heard in regards to different housing systems is that the farmer must want to do it a particular way or it wont work. There is no point trying to use someone else system

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  10. swinestein – your wise words describe perfectly the situation with Tolley’s national standards!

    ” the farmer (teacher) must want to do it a particular way or it wont work. There is no point trying to use someone else(s) system”

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  11. homepaddock says:

    Ray & JC, good points, thanks.

    RG – you are right that teachers could sabotage the policy. But farmers are private individuals who can do what they want with their businesses – within the law. Teachers are public servants who have to abide by the policy of the government of the day.

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  12. Gravedodger says:

    RG @ 07 33 pm: Try a tactic like that at Red Alert or The Standard and see how it turns out, but then you would approve of their style of blog management I suppose.
    HP you make a distinction that seems to be incomprehensible to robert. His comprehension skill level is a worry.

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  13. GD – I drew, in my opinion, a valid parallel between the two situations. I have no great love for the ‘blog management style of either TS or RE and have managed so far to remain un-excluded, despite using the same style of argument as I do here. Kiwiblog is another matter altogether, where I’ve seen the most appallingly vindictive and uneven-handedness employed by Mr Farrar regarding the expulsion of ‘dissedents’.
    Homepaddock – I didn’t say or imply that teachers ‘could saboutage the policy’. My point was that any newly introduced programme will have greater chance of being successfully adopted if the implementers of said, want to do it, as swinestein quite rightly pointed out. You like to think the compulsion will result in compliance, but it doesn’t (that’s your liking for authoritarianism showing again. DO AS YOU ARE TOLD! It’s an outdated and failing model. I’m surprised you all cling to it so steadfastly!

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  14. management, was, implementers, etc. Do you have an ‘edit’ function?

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  15. homepaddock says:

    RG – sorry, I can edit (and have done so for the words you listed) but I don’t know how to let anyone else edit their comments.

    This post isn’t about education.

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  16. Thanks. I’ll proofread before I press sand.

    (joke)

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