Rural round-up

March 12, 2020

Southern Dairy Hub to trial new winter practices for better animal welfare – Damian Rowe:

Cows being able to sit on biodegradable mats instead of mud will be trialled in a bid to improve their health during winter grazing.

Southern Dairy Hub staff with the help of scientists, engineers and rural professionals have teamed up to create concepts on how to improve the farm facilities for winter grazing.

Winter grazing techniques were put under the spotlight last year after a nationwide anti-grazing campaign highlighted some Southland cows standing in mud, and prompted the agricultural minister Damian O’Connor to set up a taskforce in response. . .

From the Ridge: our farms are already regenerative – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is a bit of wheel reinvention going on.

No, that’s not quite the metaphor that I’m looking for. How about teaching granny to suck eggs? Something like that.

Regenerative agriculture is all the rage, the answer to all our ills.

Really? . . 

Developing leaders for tomorrow:

Last month, 21 developing dairy industry leaders started Fonterra’s year-long Governance Development Programme, with two days of presentations and discussions at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland.

Now into its 15th year, the programme is an intensive year-long commitment built around a series of workshops, distance learning modules and coaching. It exists to help identify and develop governance acumen in future rural leaders. Being custom designed in conjunction with Massey Business School to be specific to the cooperative context, it is unique in New Zealand. Attended predominantly by Fonterra farmer shareholders and herd-owning sharemilkers it is also open to members of other New Zealand cooperatives such as LIC, Silver Fern Farms and Foodstuffs.  . .

Connecting to grassroots New Zealand -Fiona Windle:

It wasn’t a typical Sunday for my family.  We packed a lunch, extra layers and headed an hour south from our home in suburbia Napier for an opportunity to see what goes on behind a farm gate as part of the inaugural nationwide Open Farms day. 

On arriving at Mangarara Station in Central Hawke’s Bay’s Elsthorpe, we followed the signs down a long windy driveway where we and other families were warmly welcomed from our hosts, Greg and Rachel Hart at their guest Eco Lodge.  Nestled in front of the farm lake, among rolling hills and native trees, it was a picturesque and peaceful setting, which had you immediately feeling relaxed, with a sense of belonging. . . 

Keep stock off harvested hemp:

Feeding hemp to livestock is strictly forbidden and as well as contravening the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, doing so could put New Zealand’s red meat exports in jeopardy.

Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.

It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand. . .

New 500,000 tonne market on offer as India opens its doors for Aussie malt barley – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN exporters could be sending malt barley to India as soon as April after the Indian government removed a critical phytosanitary requirement that acted as a roadblock to sales to the subcontinental nation.

It paves the way for a market industry insiders suggest could easily see Australian trade to Indian in excess of 500,000 tonnes in the near term, rising to up to a million tonnes with time to forge closer relationships.

Based on current malt barley prices, the cost of preparing the grain for export and sea freight sales of that volume would mean a windfall of in excess of $180 million for the Australian barley industry based on current Australian port prices of $280/t. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 28, 2019

More good farmland lost forever:

News that two large New Zealand farms have been sold off-shore, largely for forestry is depressing according to 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick. The same owner has purchased both properties.

One farm is 734,700 hectares at Eketahuna that sold for $3.35 million. The other is 1037,000 hectares in Wairoa sold for $6 million.

“It’s bad enough having the land sold to foreigners but having good productive farmland sold for forestry and subdivision is criminal,” Mike Butterick said. . .

Decision time at Westland for Yili bid – Keith Woodford:

The time has come when Westland’s dairy farmers must make their decision. Do they want to take the money and go with Chinese mega-company Yili, or do they wish to struggle on as a co-operative?  We will know the answer after the July 4 vote.

If farmers vote to take the money, it will then be up to the Government to agree or refuse to accept Yili as the new owner. I will be surprised if they disallow the sale under the relevant OIO provisions. The ramifications of that would be severe.

Also important is whether or not the approval from Government is quick or drawn out. It is in no-one’s interest that it be drawn out, but OIO approvals can be remarkably slow.  Yili could step away if approval is not forthcoming by 31 October. . . 

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili – Point of Order:

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale. . . 

Minister heaps more costs on farmers:

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.

“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities. . .

Downsizing opens gate to A2/A2 farm:

He’s a dairy farmer with a passion for breeding, striving to be “at the front of the game.” She’s a converted city-girl who fell in love with the dairy farmer, despite her aversion to typical milk.

It doesn’t agree too well with my system,” Stacey White says.

“I used to have soy and almond milk and I’ve tried both them and rice milk; nothing’s really appealed in terms of taste, and baking with those substitutes doesn’t really work either.” 

So when Stacey became aware of A2/A2 milk 18 months ago, she tried it out and found it tasty, creamy, and, crucially, easily digestible.*  . . 

LIC migrates to NZX’s Main Board:

Herd improvement and agritech co-operative LIC will move to the Main Board of the NZX (NZSX) next month, transferring from the Alternative Board.

This comes as NZX announced it will move to a single equities board from July 1 and close the NZAX and NXT.

Of the companies migrating, LIC is the largest by market capitalisation, at approximately $109 million.

There are around 14 agritech companies featured on the NZX Main Board and only one other farmer-owned co-operative (Fonterra). . . 

How NZ farming is like a Steinway piano – Glen Herud:

I wonder if we rely too much on our pasture-based farming or our beautiful scenery or our clean image.

What if the things we think are our strengths are actually weaknesses?

Steinway and Sons had been the leading maker of grand pianos since 1853 when their business was crippled by Yamaha.

Professor Howard Yu explains how Steinway held on to their main strength for far too long and it eventually became a weakness. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 24, 2018

She Shears star Jills Angus Burney surprises audience at hometown screening – Sam Kilmister:

Shearing ace Jills Angus Burney​ wouldn’t be where she was today if she hadn’t picked up a handpiece nearly 40 years ago. 

That’s what the Feilding-born barrister and shearer told audiences as she surprised them during a hometown screening of her movie She Shears at Focal Point Cinema last weekend. 

The film, which premiered earlier this month at the New Zealand Film Festival, follows the fortunes of five female shearers as they prepare for New Zealand’s annual Golden Shears competition.  . . 

Big investor goes others dig deep – Richard Rennie:

The off-again, on-again Waimea Dam has dodged the loss of its mystery $11 million backer with some of the existing irrigation investors reaching into their pockets to make up the difference.

“At the end of the day the terms were not acceptable and it made more sense for the existing investors to take up the unallocated shares,” Waimea Irrigators spokesman Murray King said.

A key concern of the group is the apportioning of risk, with the investor carrying less while Waimea Irrigators carried substantially more.

A group of 14 businesses will collectively buy 2000 convertible notes in Waimea Irrigation at $5500 a share, the same share price paid by the scheme subscribers. . . 

The environmental benefits of glysophate – Mark Ross:

Glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used weed management tool has extensive economic and environmental benefits for farmers, especially for those involved with New Zealand’s grains industry.

The benefits of reducing farming’s environmental footprint are immense. Not only do glyphosate-based products successfully control a broad spectrum of weeds, they also help farmers grow crops more sustainably. This is because they allow farmers to adopt ‘conservation tillage’ – benefiting soil health, reducing carbon emissions and conserving water.

There are countless benefits to the land, the farmer and the environment from adopting a no-till system. First and foremost, by leaving the soil mostly undisturbed and leaving high levels of crop residues behind, soil erosion is almost eliminated. . .

LIC spends big on research – Alan Williams:

Dairy genetics group LIC has confirmed innovation at the heart of its work and the spend on research and development this year is more than 5% of revenue.

That is a spend of $13.1 million for the year to next May 31, chairman Murray King told shareholders at the annual meeting in Hamilton.

The New Zealand primary sector’s research and development spend averages about 1%, he said.

The ambitious spend will drive sustainable growth and profitability and deliver more value to farmer shareholders. . . 

Capital gains tax punishes hard work – Lyn Webster:

 I watched Jesse Mulligan on The Project recently saying something like the only people who did not support a capital gains tax were rich selfish people, and I could not help but disagree.

I do not own an investment property, profitable businesses, shares or farms, so a capital gains tax will not necessarily affect me, but I do have an opinion on it.

The premise behind a capital gains tax is that people who work pay tax but people that get income from investing in capital – ie: shares, farms, rental properties etc do not and that this is somehow unfair. . . 

The Farmer’s Fast Five – Pete Greenwood – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five quick Questions about Farming and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer and Amberley A&P show President, Pete Greenwood.

1. How long have you been farming?

 I have been farming since I was 16 years old.

2.What sort of farming were you involved in?

Cropping, horticulture briefly. Now sheep & beef.

3.What makes you Proud to be a Farmer?

 I am proud of what we produce & how we produce it. I am also proud of our position on the world stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2018

Discovery that could help save the world – new diet to make cows burp less methane – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could be the first country in the world to change a cow’s diet so it burps out less methane.

Dutch nutrition company Royal DSM is developing a commercial feed additive which it hopes will be on the market in two years’ time. Studies had shown it could reduce up to 30 per cent of cattle methane in intensive farm systems.

It is focusing on New Zealand because the country’s livestock produce a lot of methane, one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

A single dairy cow generates about 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year in the form of methane (CH4). . .

Robotic technology running at Alliance Dannevirke plant :

State-of-the-art robotic technology is now running as part of the Alliance Group’s $10.6 million investment in its Dannevirke meat processing site.

The primal/middle cutting machinery is part of the co-operative’s investment programme in the plant which also included a redsigning the boning room.

The technology is the most advanced system of its kind in New Zealand. The custom-built primal/middle cutting technology features an x-ray unit which analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

It automatically adjusts to a wide variation in carcass size, a challenge in the red meat processing sector. The technology also minimises waste and improves the accuracy of the cut. . .

New fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and NZ merino :

A unique, environmentally friendly fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and a New Zealand merino wool blend will be displayed as part of the Material Innovation exhibition at the London Design Museum.

The material, which was created by renowned Danish designers Kvadrat, was designed to be a sustainable replacement for leather in the latest Range Rover model.

Jaguar Land Rover NZ sales operations manager Ben Montgomery says the merino wool blend was chosen by the designers for its premium characteristics. . . 

Kiwi meat can cut the mustard – Annette Scott:

There are no facts in the future. It’s all just an educated or opinionated guess, agri-futurist and digital strategist Melissa Clark-Reynolds told 250 sheep and beef farmers in Christchurch.

In her keynote address to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart 2018 Clark-Reynolds said the biggest challenges in futureproofing farming will come in a changing business farming model.

“The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed,” she said. . . 

LIC takes disease precautions – Glenys Christian:

Breeding companies are gearing up for the busy spring mating season with extra measures to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis between dairy farms.

LIC shareholder councillor Mark Meyer, who farms at Tangiteroria, told a farmer meeting in Dargaville AI technicians have already inspected nearly 5000 dairy farms to make sure they have one major suitable entry point and footbaths were in place.

There was 100% compliance with 60 technicians in the field for winter milk inseminations despite some pushback from farmers to start with, he said.  . . 

Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? ‘Sell out as fast as you can’ – Phil McCausland:

Small-dairy farmers are getting squeezed out by corporate agriculture. “That is not what America is about,” a struggling farmer said.

All Curtis Coombs wanted was to raise cows and run his family’s dairy farm in this slice of Kentucky hill country, less than 35 miles from Louisville. But a few weeks ago, he was forced to sell his milking herd of 82 cows, putting an end to his family’s nearly 70-year dairy business.

On a rain-drenched Monday, Coombs, his father and his uncle struggled to shove their last 13 cows into a trailer destined for auction and slaughter. As the earthy smell of manure filled the air, the men yelled for the Holsteins to move and urged them forward with the whack of a plastic stick. . . 


Dairy Award winners living the dream

May 13, 2018

The winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards were announced last night:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are smart people who are technologically savvy, care about people, the environment and cows and who are doing very well at dairy farming.

In front of nearly 550 people at Invercargill’s ILT Stadium last night, Dan and Gina Duncan from Northland were named the 2018 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Gerard Boerjan from Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa became the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland-Otago was announced the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $202,000 .

“This year there have been a few trends amongst the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are acutely aware of the importance of biosecurity and health and safety with regards to both environmental issues, animal management and sustainability.  It’s extremely positive to see such dedication to these issues within the industry.”

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the judges were impressed to discover how educated the entrants were, either tertiary educated or looking to upskill themselves. “We’ve been from one end of the country to the other and we have met a stunning group of people excelling within the industry.”

“We met people who genuinely value other people and how they can help them progress through the industry.  They realise you have to look after staff and value them if you want to keep them. The winners will be excellent ambassadors for the dairy industry,” says Kevin.

Fellow Share Farmer judges Matt Richards, from Southland and Jacqui Groves from Westpac say it’s fantastic to see people putting themselves out there to be judged.  “The industry is in good hands,” says Matt.  “They might be doing it differently to how we used to, but the next generation is growing the industry and evolving and the rest of us have to be ready and prepared.”

Jacqui Groves agrees. “It’s fantastic to see them still seeking advice from more experienced farmers. “They’re seeking out established farmers and asking for support and mentoring,” she says.

The judges say Dan and Gina Duncan can be summed up in three words – passionate, professional and committed.  “They are a friendly, out-going couple who are working on an exceptionally challenging farm.”

“They epitomise living the dream.  They left secure jobs as registered valuers and made the career change to dairy farming, and they’re excelling at it. They’re the complete package.”

“Nothing has come easy for them, they’ve had to work hard” says Kevin.  “When they first began their career, they sought out employers that they thought would be good mentors and role models for them.  They’ve looked for opportunities where people are considered important.”

The Duncans are 50:50 Sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property.  Both Dan and Gina, aged 32, hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, with Dan holding a double major including Agriculture.

The former registered valuers have clear, realistic but challenging goals and gave an outstanding presentation which flowed and kept the judges fully engaged. “They managed to get that information across to us in a way we could understand and follow it,” says Kevin.

“Dan and Gina had written a long-term plan on future strategies to improve the property, which they presented to the farm owners.  They called it the Farm Prosperity Report and it encompassed sustainability strategies and solutions to drive the property forward. They had also successfully applied for grants to secure funds for planting on the property.”

In winning the national title and $49,700 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in pasture management and financial management.  They also won three merit awards; the PrimaryITO Interview Award, the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

“A good example of their pasture management is a comparison report on what quantities a cow would need to eat in Kikuya grass versus Rye grass to receive enough energy to make milk.  It just made it real,” says Matt. “They had calculated all their KPIs of their pasture and they were benchmarking with the rest of Northland, and picked appropriate benchmarks to compare themselves with.”

“They have a good work life balance, they still work hard but they find the time to pursue interests off-farm such as sport, and time with family and friends,” says Kevin

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Papakura 50:50 sharemilkers Chris and Sally Guy are described by the judges as traditional and solid who are cow and grass focused.

“They were very well organised, it’s a small organisation with not much labour employed,” says Chris.  “They have to be very efficient with their time, and Chris demonstrated this with little bits of technology that he uses, such as an ear-piece he wears in the shed that enables him to record notes.

The couple are in their second season 50/50 sharemilking on Allan Guy’s 80ha Papakura property, milking 200 cows. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award and $23,300 in cash and prizes.

Putaruru contract milkers Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, both aged 31 years, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes. The couple also the Federated Farmers Leadership merit award.  The judges noted their financial and analytical strengths and that they had outstanding community involvement.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner PrimaryITO.

Dairy Manager head judge Mary Craw, from Marton, says the 2018 Dairy Manager winner targets excellence in everything he is involved with.

“He has great experience as a manger of people, and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” she says.

‘Excellent attention-to-detail and an all-rounder’ is how judges described the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Gerard Boerjan. “He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm, he has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps,” says judge Mark Shadwick from DairyNZ. “Everything is well documented, he covers health and safety to an exceptional level and his financial understanding is of the highest calibre.”

Gerard, aged 50 years, has successfully farmed in Portugal and Brazil and is currently Farm Manager for Trevor Hamilton on his 553ha Takapau property.  He won $22,600 in cash and prizes.  Gerard also won the DairyNZ Employee Engagement and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning merit awards.

“Gerard is a stand-alone manager and he doesn’t just assume things are getting done, he closely monitors things.  He regularly reviews the information he gets against on-farm targets,” says judge Dave Hutchison from Westpac.  “He’s always monitoring multiple systems to report back to the farm owners, and has good procedures in place to do so.

“Gerard possesses the ability to manage a large, complex business with an absentee owner.  Every detail of the farm is closely monitored, but there’s a real human touch to it.

“He really cares about his staff, he cares about the people, the environment, his cows, what he grows and how he grows it, but he also understands very clearly that it’s a business he is running and he showed us that.”

“Gerard and his partner Marlene are a strong team and she supports him completely,” says Mary.  “He has consciously chosen to pursue a career long-term in management, rather than farm ownership or contract milking.”

“Gerard is very logical and intelligent person, who considers his answers and has a systematic yet adaptable approach to everything he does. He has a fantastic relationship with the farm owners, and keeps the farm and houses in immaculate condition.”

The judges say Gerard is an excellent example of understated confidence. “He’s experienced, yet humble.  He has a great team approach, even texting his staff to ensure they get home safely every night.”

The Dairy Managerjudges were impressed by the calibre of the finalists and by what they were achieving at a young age.  “The standard was phenomenal,” they agreed.

The Dairy Manager runner-up, Will Green from Canterbury, aged 32 years, also won the Ravensdown Feed Management Award.  Will is the farm manager for Kieran and Leonie Guiney on their 240ha, 830-cow farm at Fairlie and won $11,300 in prizes. The judges noted that he is an extremely focused manager with a real emphasis on his team, and has a philosophy of efficient milk production within the system he works, which he adheres to.

Southlander Jaime McCrostie, aged 32, was placed third and won $5500 in prizes and the PrimaryITO Power Play merit award.  Jaime is the Farm Manager for her employer Steve Smith and farm owners AB Lime on the 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton. The judges describe Jaime as a ‘machine’, who is extremely capable, energetic, focused and operates great systems on-farm.  Her excellent use of technology was commended.

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Simone Smail, presented herself very well, was at ease in the environment and gave considered, accurate answers. She has a quiet confidence and is sincere, says Dairy Trainee head judge Chris Withy from Southland.

“She is an excellent example of someone who hasn’t grown up in a farming environment, but has developed an obvious love of the land and of the stock that she works with.”

“Simone is an example that anyone can go dairying and succeed if they work hard.”

Judge Tony Finch, from DairyNZ, says Simone is considerate and genuine who is thoughtful of other people’s opinions. “She has mana, coupled with a bubbly personality and a mature approach. As judges, it’s fantastic to see young people like her.”

“One thing that is very clear is that this competition challenges the entrants with their own goals and abilities, and after reflection they realise they can achieve even more.  It has given them great confidence and self-belief. There wasn’t much between the top four, it was very close.”

Simone, aged 24 years, won $10,600 in prizes and the DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award and is herd Manager on an Invercargill City Council farm, working for Steve and Tracy Henderson on the 780-cow, 310ha property at Invercargill. 

It was while she was studying for her Certificate in Veterinary Nursing that she discovered her passion for working with cows.  Simone entered the awards to meet like-minded people who are passionate and want to progress in the industry.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Donna McKinley, also won the Best Video Award presented by Streamliner.  Donna is 2IC for Davison Trust Partnership milking 330 cows on a Central Plateau 116ha farm. The judges noted she was a confident person who sets goals, puts a plan together, then achieves those goals.  She’s a very determined person.  Donna won $6000 in prizes.

Third placegetter Quinn Youngman, 21 years, works on David Dean’s 245ha, 600-cow farm in Mercer, He was was inspired by his Grandma to look at the dairy industry as his career.  The judges described him as the quintessential young farmer who was a quiet achiever.  He won $3000 in cash and prizes.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

Full Results:

2018 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:

• Winner – Daniel and Gina Duncan, Northland
• Runner-up – Chris and Sally Guy, Auckland-Hauraki
• Third – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, Waikato
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Simon and Hilary Vallely
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Chris and Sally Guy
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Tim and Melissa Parsons
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Thomas and Jennifer Read
• PrimaryITO Interview Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:

• Winner – Gerard Boerjan, Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa
• Runner-up – Will Green, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Jaime McCrostie, Southland
• DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Gerard Boerjan
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Colin Tremain
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Anthony Lamborn
• LIC Interview Award – Anthony Lamborn
• Meridan Energy Leadership Award – Sam Moscrip
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Jaime McCrostie
• Ravensdown Feed Management Award – Will Green
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Gerard Boerjan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:

• Winner – Simone Smail, Southland-Otago
• Runner-up – Donna McKinley, Central Plateau 
• Third – Quinn Youngman, Auckland-Hauraki
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Andrew Trolove
• DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award – Simone Smail
• Best Video Award presented by Streamliner – Donna McKinley


More milk from fewer cows

November 29, 2017

New Zealand milk production is up while cow numbers are down:

Daisy and her paddock mates are record-breakers, reveal the latest national dairy statistics released today by DairyNZ and LIC.

Over the 12 months to June 2017, the average dairy cow produced more litres of milk containing more kilograms of milksolids than ever before.

The average dairy cow produced 4,259 litres of milk in the 2016-17 season, containing a total of 381kg of milksolids (kg MS), compared to 4,185 litres and 372kg MS in 2015-16.

The latest New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2016-17 also reveal milking cow and herd numbers have decreased for the second consecutive year. The latest count is 4.86 million cows nationally – down from 4.99 million in 2015-16 – while herd numbers have dropped to 11,748 from 11,918 (-170 herds).

But despite the decline in cow numbers, dairy companies processed very similar milk quantities – 20.7 billion litres of milk containing 1.85 billion kg MS in 2016-17. The previous season was 20.9 billion litres of milk (1.86 billion kg MS).

The results are positive for New Zealand and its farmers, says DairyNZ and LIC.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman says the trend for increasing per cow milk production shows farmers are opting for animals that are year-on-year more efficient at converting grass into milk – the industry’s national breeding objective.

“We are producing similar milk quantities from fewer cows, partly because we are breeding better animals and feeding them well,” says Matthew.

Since the 1980s ag-sag sheep numbers have dropped but meat production hasn’t.

Cow numbers have increased in recent years as more farms converted to dairying but now dairying is following sheep with more production from fewer animals.

“The average herd is now 414 cows, down from 419 in 2015-16. Currently we are at the lowest level of cows milked since 2012 – with North Island cow numbers declining 90,000 to 2.89 million, while South Island numbers decreased 46,000 to 1.97 million.”

LIC general manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, says the stats reflect a shift in the industry.

“Farmers are acknowledging that, as an industry, if they are not going to be milking more cows then they need to be milking better ones,” says Malcolm.

“The lower payout in previous seasons certainly forced some farmers to reconsider their cow numbers as part of a wider farm system review, but these stats prove it can really payoff for a farming business.

“It boils down to the fundamentals of herd improvement – creating high quality herd replacements that will out-perform their mothers in productivity, longevity and fertility.” . . 

It’s a matter of improving production rather than increasing cow numbers.

Doing more with less is better for staff, the environment and income.

Sharemilking structure

Farm ownership structures have also changed over the last couple of seasons, with 27.3 percent of New Zealand dairy herds operating under a sharemilking agreement in 2016-17, compared with 32.4 percent in 2014-15.

Within the sharemilker herds, variable order sharemilking (VOSM) herd numbers declined in 2016-17. In particular, 20-29 percent sharemilkers decreased by 235 herds (-29 percent) to 586. In 2013-14, there were twice as many VOSM herds compared to today (1,357).

Herd-owning sharemilkers (50:50 sharemilkers) declined (-91 herds) for the fourth consecutive season and now account for 19.8 percent of all herds.

Owner-operator herds increased 188 to 8,503 herds in 2016-17, reflecting VOSMs moving to contract milking after financial challenges with low milk prices. . .

Sharemilking started in New Zealand, where it’s governed by an act of parliament, and is rarely used elsewhere.

A reduction in numbers of sharemilkers isn’t good for the medium to longer-term health of the dairy industry.

It has always been a way for dairy workers to get on and up the ladder to farm ownership.

We used to have managers but changed to lower order sharemilkers several years ago.

The change has been better for animal health, staff and production.

Sharemilkers have skin in the game. The better they do, the more they make and that incentive works to get the farms working better.

For the sake of the industry I hope that the reduction in the number of sharemilkers is temporary.

 


Rural round-up

November 5, 2017

Rebuilding dairy farmers’ social licence to operate with the public – Pat Deavoll:

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the Forest Growers Research Conference. I was bamboozled by science except for one presentation by the director of Our Land and Water National Science Challenge Ken Taylor who works for AgResearch. He was a good speaker, and his topic piqued my interest.

Taylor praised the farming leaders, headed by Federated Farmers president Katie Milne, who fronted up and said: “water quality is our problem, we’ll own it and fix it.” Taylor told us that they were seizing the initiative and stepping towards rebuilding farming’s social licence to operate (SLO).

I’d never heard of this term before, but have since discovered that everybody else has. . . 

Tararua nurse first in country to get certificate in rural nursing – Georgia Forrester:

A Tararua woman is the first in the country to walk away with a new rural qualification in nursing.

Rowena Panchaud said her passion for her rural area led to her completing a graduate certificate in nursing practice, with a rural nursing speciality.

The Otago-born woman has lived in Dannevirke with her family since 2006. . .

LIC bulls given all clear from M.bovis:

LIC has confirmed its artificial breeding bulls are free from the Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease.

LIC is a farmer-owned co-operative and the largest artificial breeding company in New Zealand. More than three out of four cows grazing on New Zealand dairy farms are sired by an LIC bull.

Although confident the disease was not present in its bulls, the co-op announced in September it would test for the disease to provide its farmers with greater peace of mind through the dairy mating season. . . 

 – Keith Woodford:

Those of us involved with research relating to A1 and A2 beta-casein know all too well the challenges of publishing and disseminating that research.  Given the extent to which beta-casein research challenges established positions, some of which are held by powerful entities, there are lots of speed bumps.

Events of recent weeks have once again illustrated some of those challenges. I lay out one such example below.     

Together with Boyd Swinburn, who is Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at Auckland University, I was attempting to disseminate to a wider audience the results of a science review paper that we and other colleagues co-authored. The scientific paper itselfwas published earlier this year in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes which is part of the Nature Publishing stable of scientific journals. . . 

Dairy stays above churn of plant-based substitutes – Charlie Dreaver:

Spending on dairy-free alternatives is on the rise as more consumers turn to plant-based milks, yoghurts and cheeses.

The country’s two supermarket chains Progressive and Foodstuffs have taken notice and are stocking more of the products than ever, but the dairy industry said it was not worried.

Foodstuffs, which operates the New World and Pak ‘n Save chains, reported that sales of plant-based milks – such as nut, oat, soy and rice milks – in its North Island stores had shot up 11 percent since August last year.

Progressive Enterprises, which own Countdown’s stores, now has more than 60 non-dairy milk, cheese, and yoghurt products on the shelves. . .

Golden rice approval needed to produce a life changing staple food – V. Ravichandran:

 Their eyes tell their sad stories as ghostly white irises give way to vacant stares. We can look at them but they can’t look back at us. They’ve gone blind because of malnutrition.

I see these poor people all over India, where I live, but their suffering knows no borders: The problem of vitamin-A deficiency curses dozens of countries in the developing world. It causes visual impairment in millions of people. As many as half a million children go blind each year. Hundreds of thousands die within months of losing their eyesight.

What a heart-rending tragedy.

The good news is that science teaches us how to prevent this crisis. The bad news is that manmade complications keep getting in the way. . .


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