Rural round-up

May 31, 2019

Employment model tipped on head – Richard Rennie:

As dairy farmers struggle to hire and keep staff Woodville farmer and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes has tipped his farm employment model on its head. 

He and wife Nicky aim to attract and retain people in an environment that recognises effort and nurtures potential while recognising a work-life balance.

The challenges in attracting and retaining good people and a need to restructure their business two years ago presented the Allomes with a chance to look at how they employ people on their 750-cow operation.

“It also came from a realisation that if I was in this industry for the long haul and was relying upon key people then I had a duty to make it work for them.  . . 

Wellbeing Budget should have worked with farmers on conservation:

The 2019 Budget has left Federated Farmers questioning why the Government’s first Wellbeing budget has left a critical gap in its commitment to conservation.

There is no additional funding for the QEII National Trust or the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund. Plus, woefully inadequate funding for the control of wilding conifers, Feds Arable and Biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

The extremely modest increase in funding for the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme means its work will be going backwards in terms of managing this out-of-control pest.  

“We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25 million per year.  . . 

Farmers milk new technologies – Luke Chivers:

Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam believe tapping into modern technologies is the key to an efficient dairy operation. They spoke to Luke Chivers.

It is 7am.

As daylight breaks on the Southland Plains, Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam’s morning milking is well under way.

Their 36-bail rotary is filled with the steady hum of modern machinery – from automated cup removers to automated teat sprayers and heat patches. 

“It’s all about labour and efficiency,” Sharn says.  . . 

Taieri couple can stay and seek residency – Sally Rae:

A Taieri couple’s future in New Zealand is looking much more certain after they were told they can apply for residency.

Last year, nurse Pawan Chander faced deportation to India after her application for a work visa was declined by Immigration New Zealand, as her husband Harrie’s employment as herd manager on a Woodside was deemed “lower skilled”.

Following publicity about the couple’s plight, Mrs Chander was granted a 12-month visitor visa to line up with Mr Chander’s work visa, which expired this month. . . 

Innovation rewarded – Yvonne O’Hara:

John Falconer’s hydraulic, remote-controlled deer crush, which he designed, was one of the reasons he and wife Mary won the Gallagher Technology and Innovation Award at the 2019 Deer Industry Environmental Awards last week.

“The crush has been a game-changer for us,” Mr Falconer said.

Mr and Mrs Falconer, of Clachanburn Station, Puketoi, won the award for their use of “farming technologies to improve productivity and manage resources”.

They also won the Duncan New Zealand Award for “vision and innovation while mastering a demanding environment”. . . 

Costs up as farmers reinvest back into business:

DairyNZ’s newly-released Economic Survey 2017-18 shows farmers have taken advantage of increased milk income to catch up on deferred farm maintenance and revisit capital expenditure, previously delayed due to lower milk prices.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said the annual farmer survey shows the largest increases in spend during 2017-18 (1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018) were on feed, repairs, maintenance and labour. But, it is likely expenditure has increased further in 2018-19.

“The 2017-18 season was difficult due to a dry spring/early summer for all regions. That affected pasture growth and peak milk production. It’s also the season that Mycoplasma bovis was discovered,” said Matthew. . .

Living off the grid for almost 80 years – Ciara Colhoun:

Margaret Gallagher has lived off-grid for almost 80 years.

When she was was born – near the Irish border in County Fermanagh in 1942 – it was not unusual for families to live without electricity and running water.

Margaret’s neighbours only began to update their homes in the late 1940s and 1950s.

But her family missed the opportunity to join the trend due to her mother’s death, when Margaret was 10, and her father’s ill health. . . 


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

August 6, 2015

Red meat on the brink of greatness:

New ANZ research has underlined the huge performance potential of the red meat industry, but also identified significant barriers that need to be overcome if it is to once again be a driving force in the New Zealand economy.

The annual ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer survey found the top performing farmers were achieving returns on investment that outshone almost any other producers in New Zealand. However, a larger number of farms were achieving more modest returns and comparatively flat growth. . .

 Fatter, less flatulent cows good for planet and for farmers –   Olivia Wannan:

New feeds that make cows less flatulent are a discovery that could truly save the world.

The methane produced in the stomachs of ruminant animals including cows, sheep and deer is a powerful greenhouse gas. In New Zealand, agriculture comprises nearly half of our rising gas emissions.

A global search is on to find ways to reduce the amount of methane produced by farm stock, and a Kiwi researcher is part of the team behind what may be the first solution.

Research co-authored by Matthew Deighton, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal last week, found a new stock feed additive, NOP, cuts the methane produced by cows by almost a third. . .

Increased reports concerning farm animal welfare:

More people are reporting concerns about the welfare of farm animals, official data shows, particularly on lifestyle blocks.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) received 2947 complaints about farm animal welfare between 2010 and 2014 – with a high of 698 complaints last year.

Commercial farms accounted for 1852 of the complaints, while lifestyle blocks accounted for 785 complaints – who were overrepresented in the figures, according to MPI. . .

Production drop forecast as farmers look to manage costs:

Analysis undertaken by the DairyNZ Economics Group is pointing to at least a two to three percent drop in New Zealand’s milk production this season as farmers tighten the focus on improving the efficiency of their farming systems.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman says the official Ministry for Primary Industries cull cow figures show that farmers reduced cow numbers earlier than normal last season. “This looks likely to continue this season in response to low milk prices,” he says. . .

Alpaca farm is the stuff of dreams – Emily Norman:

The Alpaca Place is a humble, scenic farm along Rangitumau Road that has not only captured the hearts of its owners, but has also captured hearts around the world, making it the number two attraction on TripAdvisor in Masterton and Wairarapa.

Owners Cheryl Hughson and Liz Barnes are two sisters that left their nine-to-five jobs in office work to fulfil their dreams of owning an alpaca farm.

The sisters, who live by the advice of their late father, have gone from establishing an alpaca farm with two alpacas in 2001, to running what is now a guided tourist attraction of everything alpaca. . .

 Canterbury-born veterinarian Cheryl McMeekan leaves legacy of rescued animals  – Brittany Mann:

Cheryl McMeekan had a gift with animals. She cared for every one she found and her beneficence is living on, despite her death.

McMeekan, a highly-regarded veterinarian, died in a suspected suicide on June 8 in her adopted home of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. She was 43 years old.

The “cattle whisperer”, originally from Canterbury, moved to the island 11 years ago. She was the only vet in the rural village of Mui Wo, where she managed an SPCA clinic.

The South China Morning Post reported flowers had been left for McMeekan outside the clinic, in tribute. . .

Air passengers to face new biosecurity controls:

New biosecurity measures will be introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries to make it tougher for air passengers to bring goods into New Zealand that could carry pests or diseases.

The measures are the result of new biosecurity funding from the government’s 2015 budget.

Expected to be in place by December for the busy summer season, the measures include the introduction of 20 more biosecurity detector dog teams, more x-raying of baggage and more targeting of passengers likely to be carrying risk goods.

One of the plans is to use detector dogs to screen passengers much earlier than before in the arrival process for international passengers, says Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director. . .

 Tougher biosecurity measures at airports welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a new package of biosecurity measures to be implemented at international airports, including more detector dogs and new x-ray machines, as a result of $27 million in new funding in Budget 2015.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has announced today that by December there will be:

  • 20 new biosecurity detector dog teams
  • Five new x-ray machines
  • Trialling a mobile x-ray machine that can shifted to different sites
  • Introducing new communications to target passengers more likely to carry Queensland fruit fly host materials. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 16, 2015

Work of dedicated greenie on view  – Tim Cronshaw:

A lifetime’s work by a Canterbury farmer to lay out a tree canopy on his property, the envy of many farmers, will be opened up to visitors this month.

Lochaber Downs was until lately the home of Graeme and Christine McArthur and they spent decades putting in shelterbelts, woodlots and many varieties of native trees and plants on the 680 hectare hill country and downs property at Whitecliffs, inland Canterbury.

This was rewarded with the couple being named the Husqvarna Farm Foresters of the Year for the South Island. As part of the award they will hold a field day on February 21 despite since selling the farm. The field day has been allowed to continue with the consent of new owner Ken Wragg. . .

Kiwi smashes world barley record – Alan Williams:

Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

His determination has paid off with the numbers and now he’s just waiting to see if Guinness World Records will ratify the result. Word from the United Kingdom-based group was expected any time.

The January 23 harvest produced a yield of 13.8 tonnes a hectare from the 11.5ha block of land on the coastal Poplar Grove Farm. . .

 Dairy man disputes barn finding – Neal Wallace:

A study questioning the merits of wintering barns or free stalls has been slammed as muddled and narrow-focused by an advocate of the system.

Ray Macleod, the manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin company specialising in hybrid dairy farming systems, said the report failed to look at the barn system as part of a year-round production cycle and confused farm intensification with better use of resources.

The study by DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFrirst consultant Phil Journeaux said the jury was still out on the financial and environmental merits of the barns. . .

Astronauts catch on to wool’s fire resistant qualities – Mary-Jo Tohill:

For merino wool protective clothing specialist Andy Caughey, there’s nothing like going straight to the source.

The New Zealand merino wool advocate was at the Central Otago A&P Show at Omakau yesterday, mingling with some of the farmers who grow wool for his UK-based brand, Armadillo Merino. 

From the sheep’s back to outer space might sound a bit far-fetched, but not when you’re talking about astronauts, whose under-garments are made from merino wool. . .

Government distrust of Fonterra ‘staggering’:

The level of Government distrust in Fonterra was a “huge shock” according to the man who led the dairy giant’s board inquiry into 2013’s botulism scare.

Speaking at an Institute of Directors function in the Waikato today, Jack Hodder, QC, said the inquiry team was taken aback by the lack of goodwill between the country’s largest company and politicians.

“That was a huge shock. That was probably the most staggering thing,” the Chapman Tripp partner said. 

“Accidents happen, but the lack of goodwill Fonterra had in Wellington was a real concern.”

Hodder said what goodwill had existed between the two “evaporated” once the botulism scare broke. . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2015

Farmers trading risks with barns, study shows:

Investing in a wintering barn may feel good for the farmer but it won’t necessarily be profitable, according to a DairyNZ study.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux, presented the interim results of the study to a conference in Rotorua today, indicating that the jury is still out on whether investing in a wintering barn is a good financial or environmental move.

The paper presented to the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society’s annual (AARES) conference is based on analysis of a selection of five South Island farms with free stall barns. . .

Safer Farms a personal responsibility:

Speech by Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers Gisborne/Wairoa provincial president to the SaferFarms launch at Wairakaia Station, Muriwai

First of all I would like to congratulate WorkSafe on the Safer Farms initiative. Improving farmer awareness and understanding of risks involved, along with education on how these risks can be minimised and or managed, is a far more effective approach than dishing out heavy handed fines which are totally disproportionate to the offence committed, and create much antagonism towards the regulators.

By nature, farmers are individuals who strongly believe in personal responsibility rather than having ‘big brother’ telling them what to do, and have an inherent intolerance for bureaucracy and attending to endless compliance documents. Family farms are still the backbone of the New Zealand economy, and often are run solely by family members. Farmers do what they do because they enjoy the lifestyle the business provides. It enables the family to be involved in the business. It is a challenging, demanding and complex business, so attending to increasing compliance and filling out of forms is not something that most farmers enthuse over, and does take away some of the enjoyment factor. . .

Biosecurity officials go to war over bug:

Biosecurity officials are raising a bit of a stink about a voracious bug that could cause havoc with fruit and vegetable crops if it gets loose here.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has scaled up treatment requirements for vehicles and machinery coming from the United States because of more frequent discoveries of the brown marmorated stink bug on these imports.

The stink bug originated in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea but has now invaded the United States where it is causing huge losses to crops. . .

China-NZ Customs work to enhance trade:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says New Zealand and China Customs authorities are a step closer to establishing a system to enhance trade assurance and facilitation under the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement.

Ms Wagner and NZ Customs officials met with the Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Mr Sun Yibiao and his delegation in Auckland today to discuss facilitating trade and combating drug trafficking.

“Trade with China is critical to our economy, and it’s important that traders’ documents meet our trade partners’ standards to ensure exports travel smoothly,” Ms Wagner says. . .

 

Julio’s first day of farming – Julian Lee:

Campbell Live reporter Julian Lee – also known as Julio – wanted to find out what it was really like to be a dairy farmer.

So he left the office for the day and stayed on the Downings’ Farm in Morrinsville and did an actual shift on the job.

Everyone in the Campbell Live office was so impressed by Julio’s first day as a dairy farmer, that we’ve decided to turn it in to a series: Have you got a job for Julio? . . .

Merino fashion brand PERRIAM expands with the launch of Little PERRIAM:

Little PERRIAM, the exciting, fresh new babies and children’s merino clothing label by Wanaka fashion designer Christina Perriam, launches online and in select retail outlets today.

Today’s release of the first Little PERRIAM range follows the successful launch of Christina’s new luxury lifestyle merino fashion brand PERRIAM, which took place in Tarras in October 2014.

Little PERRIAM replaces Christina’s hugely popular babies and children’s label Suprino Bambino as she continues to deliver her new brand’s overall vision. With similar design elements to Suprino Bambino, like fun prints, bold colours, touches of Liberty fabrics and on-trend designs, the Winter 2015 range of Little PERRIAM is expected to continue to be a hit with parents and kids.

 

Leading real estate company strengthens leadership of its rural division:

Bayleys Real Estate has strengthened its countrywide rural division – with the appointment of Simon Anderson to head up the company’s rural marketing and sales activities nationally in the newly created role of national country manager.

Mr Anderson has been involved with the company’s rural activities for 13 years as the regional rural manager for the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Taranaki regions.

Based out of Bayleys’ Tauranga office, Mr Anderson will take on a strategic role to expand the agency’s national and international marketing of rural properties – ranging from horticulture, sheep and beef, forestry and viticulture sites, through to agricultural and dairying blocks. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2014

Solid Energy sells farms – Collette Devlin:

Solid Energy has sold its Southland dairy farms, but the state-owned company is yet to release the price it got.

About 2,000 hectares of the Eastern Southland rural property was sold by tender.

The properties included three dairy farms, two dairy support or conversion farms, and four properties considered as dairy support farms.

The farms, ranging from 33ha to 399ha, were within a 5-kilometre radius between Mataura and Gore.
Solid Energy bought the properties to secure access to the large lignite coal resource in the district, but no longer required the land. . .

Robo cows ready for milking – Diane Joyce:

Robots will be milking cows in Havelock North by early next year, and everyone will be able to stop in and see for themselves how it works.

Dairy farming could become a substantial earner for Hawke’s Bay if the latest robot technology is taken up by farmers, says the man behind the plan, Michael Whittaker.

A state-of-the-art 3500 square metre dairy barn is being built, in which the cows will decide how often they want to be milked and how often they want to head outside into the sunshine. For the 120 cows there will be two “self-milking” bays, to which the cows can wander whenever they chose. . .

Steady rise in milk prices over 50 years – Andrea Fox:

The milk price paid to dairy farmers has increased by an average of 11c a kilogram of milksolids a year over the past 50 years, new analysis by DairyNZ shows.

For DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman that was one of most interesting findings of the industry organisation’s economic survey for 2012-13, which also marked 50 years of economic analysis of key financial data from dairy farmers.

“That the milk price has continued to increase is not a recent phenomenon, although in the last 25 years it has shown more volatility and even increased volatility in the past six or seven years,” Newman said.

The trend had implications for farmers around risk management and how to manage changing prices, he said.  . .

MBIE’s dairy farm employee position statement positive:

With the employment practices of dairy farmers in the media spotlight, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Labour Inspectorate’s newly released position statement, is to be followed up by both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

“Dairy farmers can expect a joint Industry Best Practice Guidance note next week,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson.

“Both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ endorses MBIE’s common sense position statement, which not only reminds employers about the Minimum Wage Act 1983, but reminds them ‘seasonal averaging’ has gone the same way as 245-T. . . .

Scales’ target continued growth – Alan Williams:

Apple grower Scales Corporation expects to lift production every year until about 2020 to take advantage of increasing demand in Asian and Middle East markets.

Apple consumption was growing strongly in big-population markets such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates, and was growing in India, chief executive Andy Borland said.

Scales subsidiary Mr Apple had been steadily replanting its Hawke’s Bay orchards with redder, sweet varieties such as Gala, NZ Queen, and Fuji, Borland said.

It was getting the increased production now and that would continue, because apples took 5-7 years to reach production peak, he said. . .

Tasked to wake sleeping giant – Alan Williams:

Nick Berry is off to work for the opposition, but he has never seen it that way.

In his 30 years in Fonterra’s retail store business RD1, it was always RD1 as a dairy specialist and PGG Wrightson a sheep-and-beef farm supplier.

“We didn’t see Wrightson as a real competitor. It was more CRT and Farmlands as the competitors,” Berry said.

Because of that background it isn’t such a big wrench that he’s going now to help Wrightson build its supply network to dairy farmers.

“We spoke of it as more of a sleeping giant, with its 100-plus stores, and I’ll be happy to help it grow,” he said. . .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2012

Business skill vital for farming success – Ali Tocker:

Business skills are crucial to high-performing and profitable farms, new research from DairyNZ shows.

The research covered 150 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury, and identified the key characteristics of the top-performing farms.

It took the top quarter of farms surveyed, ranked on operating profit per hectare, and identified their common characteristics.

“It’s not animal husbandry, feed or people management – the biggest skill gap is in the business area,” DairyNZ economist Matthew Newman said. . .

Lamb prices hurting Americans – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers are not the only lamb producers facing tough times.

North American sheep farmers have had a 40 per cent drop in lamb prices with values now sitting where they were a decade ago, Beef+Lamb North American representative Andrew Burt said.

Mr Burt is back in New Zealand having recently taken up the role of Beef+Lamb’s chief economist.

US lamb producers were forecasting an over-supply of lamb for this coming season he said. . .

Alpaca breeders’ patience pays off – Peter Watson:

You need plenty of patience to breed quality alpacas.

New Zealand herds are invariably small and vary widely in quality, top animals are expensive to buy, females take almost a year to produce an offspring and twins are rare. . .

Apple orchardists on a roll south – Sandra Finny:

With little help from anyone outside of family, orchardists Peter and Danny Bennett are reaping the rewards after nearly six years of battling red tape to bring a lucrative apple growing franchise to South Canterbury.

The Bennetts, who own the established Waipopo Orchard near Temuka, are in expansion mode planting 50,000 apple trees on top of 40,000 they planted three years ago, which are already producing export crops to meet an insatiable demand for their trademark HoneyCrunch apples in US markets.

The apples are a point of difference with Southern hemisphere supply being market-led not producer-driven. . .

Unlocking the perfect sheep:

Imagine the perfect sheep; healthy, fertile, and high producing, with meat of unsurpassed eating quality and wool fit for high value markets. This is the sheep that will transform New Zealand’s sheep industry, providing higher returns to growers and elevating the fibre on which much of the New Zealand economy was built to new heights.

With assistance from the government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is investing in production science initiatives to unlock the potential of this perfect sheep, which will thrive across a range of geographic areas and combine great quality meat and wool traits in the same animal. . .

And an interesting infographic on the difference between natural cheese and processed cheese.


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