Making a marginal difference

Understanding the marginal costs of milk production better might help New Zealand dairy farmers achieve a better level of profit from their farm businesses, even if it involves a fall in milksolids production.

Read more…

  • Loving the corporate approach

    While many young dairy farmers are working towards buying a small farm, Josh and Rebecca Dondertman are thinking big. They told Anne Lee their roles as equity managers for one of Canterbury’s larger agricultural investment companies are providing them with exceptional opportunities.

    Read more…

  • Keeping their eyes on the prize

    North Otago sharemilkers Hayden and Robyn Williams know where they want to go, and they know how they want to get there. They told Anne Lee DairyBase has been a key tool in working towards their goals.

    Read more…

  • People Power Pays off

    Breeding quality stock has been a lifelong passion for Willie Muir but he told Claire Cameron that with an increasing reliance on employees in his farm business he now has his sights set on improving his people management skills.

    Read more…

  • You’re not crazy… just stressed out

    You’re not crazy, you don’t have to battle stressful situations on your own, you’re not weak when you ask for help and, like a broken leg, depression doesn’t define you – it’s just what you have for a time.

    Read more…

The loan arranger

Fonterra’s co-operative support loan will bring a little welcome relief to cashflows this season but farmers are being cautioned about how they treat it in their accounts.

Read more…

  • Tying the knot

    Fencing is both an art and a science. Done well, it can be one of the most satisfying tasks on the farming calendar, but a poorly constructed fence can be as annoying as a stone in the boot – not to mention dangerous and inefficient. Wondering why there’s only 1000 volts in that break fence? Check the connections – are they in parallel and joined again at each end of the stretch? Tried to save time by not putting in a stay only to have your strainer tip? With three-wire electric you might be able to get away with a breast plate.

    Read more…

  • Progress welcomed but more work needed

    It’s hard to gauge what policy changes will be triggered or influenced by recent water quality reports by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright, and the implications for dairy farmers. 

    Read more…

  • Farmers finding a social voice

    Dairy farmers across the country took to social media in their droves following SAFE’s release of video footage of bobby calf mistreatment.

    Read more…

  • New rules for raw milk

    A new raw drinking milk policy provides rules for farmers producing the product and Village Milk partner Richard Houston says it’s a step in the right direction, but leaves room for improvement.

    Read more…

Serious business and a bit of fun

Planning is the key to success for this year’s Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the Year, Justin and Melissa Slattery. They told Anne Lee their plans include every aspect of farm management, and also ways to enjoy life.

Read more…

Programmed for success

Westland Milk Products’ Farm Excellence programme helps suppliers identify ways to improve all aspects of their farm management. Westport farmers John and Jo-Anne Milne told Anne Hardie the support and advice has been invaluable.

Read more…

  • No stopping at No 1

    Les Kenworthy-Thompson started off as a city boy with a Post Office Savings Bank account. He went shearing to get into sheep farming but decided dairy was a better bet. Now he and wife Vicki produce organic milk, finish cattle and have a forestry block. Glenys Christian reports.

    Read more…

  • Sustainability keeps everyone happy

    Taking care of the environment is a top priority for dairy farmers, but the owners of the Medbury Dairy Farm operation found measures to promote sustainability have had flow-on effects for employees and cows.

    Read more…

  • Saving the lake

    Turning around the degradation of waterways isn’t something that happens overnight, but a group of West Coast farmers, working with their community, are making big efforts to improve the state of Lake Brunner. They talked to *Anne Hardie* about the steps they’re taking, and the results.

    Read more…

  • Staying in the black

    Running a pasture-dominant, all-grazing system with reduced feed and nitrogen fertiliser inputs can significantly reduce nitrate leaching without necessarily inflicting a big blow to profit.

    Read more…

Careful cuts set course for the future

Slashing the big three costs in the farm budget have brought it back to a break-even position, but Oxford dairy farmer Cameron Henderson told Anne Lee some cost-cutting measures are short-term while others would be replicated over the years ahead, making a leaner, more efficient operation.

Read more…

  • Shining a different light

    Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) became a beacon for pasture management through the early 2000s with a simple, repeatable system that meant high-octane pasture was on the menu for its cows throughout the season

    Read more…

  • All the beet you can eat

    Fodder beet is becoming more popular as a winter feed, but managing the transition isn’t always straightforward. Anne Lee talked to David and Carrie Irvine and Dr Jim Gibbs about the system they have set up to get the most from the feed and minimise problems for cows and staff.

    Read more…

  • Bouncing without breaking

    Volatile times in global dairy markets put pressure on farmers to develop resilient farm business systems. It’s a fine balance between capturing upside risk and mitigating downside risk.

    Read more…

  • Values and culture drive the business

    Canterbury Grasslands might be an international dairy farming business but its innovative People Passport documents aren’t for travel.

    Read more…

Magnetic attraction

Taking a more precise approach to identifying soil types on a farm can lead to significant drops in Overseer nitrate loss predictions.

Read more…

  • People-first in health and safety

    Rachel and Kenneth Short say getting on top of your health and safety policies doesn’t have to be about piles of paperwork and shouldn’t be about simply ticking the compliance boxes. They told Cheyenne Stein how they strive to run simple yet effective systems that make health and safety on their farm a breeze.

    Read more…

  • Thriving on a hybrid system

    Southland’s Zeestraten family has developed a hybrid system for their farms, combining the strengths of pasture systems and cow housing to create a manageable and sustainable operation. The owners talked to Karen Trebilcock about the benefits of their system for the cows and for their family.

    Read more…

  • A risky business

    Manawatu sharemilkers Duncan and Kim Fraser came third in last year’s Sharemilker-Equity Farmer of the Year competition and picked up an award for risk management. They told Erin Hutchinson the secret to dealing with risk is planning and backing your decisions.

    Read more…

  • Right up to speed

    David Bartley would rather have his foot on the accelerator than the brake.

    Read more…

Bulls for heifers

While a lot of the focus in reproduction is on heifers and cows, Otago farmer Kelly Allison says the bull is just as important. He talked to Karen Trebilcock about his dairy bull stud.

Read more…

  • ONCE-A-DAY WINS

    Greg and Hannah Topless are into the second season of their once-a-day milking journey with their small Taranaki herd. They talked through the upsides and downsides with *Jackie Harrigan.*

    Read more…

  • Hard work and happy cows

    Some people steer clear of working with family members, but for the Cockrells the family farm really is a family affair. They told Glenys Christian parents, children, partners and in-laws have all had a part to play in developing the successful enterprise.

    Read more…

  • Winning with young stock

    Raising good stock starts with raising great calves. Bryce and Rosemarie Costar are doing that very well, and they told *Glenys Christian* some of the secrets of their trade.

    Read more…

  • Old dog, new tricks

    Almost half of New Zealand’s top 50 bulls are linked back to Raeden Jackson’s Valden Holstein Friesian Stud, with 22 descending from either the Valden Curious Paladium or Valden-Hi Applause families. *Sheryl Brown* visited the 73-year-old dairy farmer who uses the latest technology in embryo transfers to accelerate the onfarm breeding programme.

    Read more…

  • Spaans new DairyNZ head

    Waikato dairy farmer Michael Spaans has been elected the new chairman of DairyNZ.

    Read more…

  • A passionate dairy man

    “An all-round good guy who loved life, loved his family and loved the dairy industry” is how LIC’s current chairman Murray King remembers David Milne, who died peacefully on the West Coast in early September at the age of 71.

    Read more…

  • Talk to banks about finances

    DAIRY farmers are being encouraged to stick together and talk to friends, family and agribusiness professionals to help them get through the tougher economic times ahead for the sector.

    Read more…

  • Cows ‘struggling’ with intensification

    Genetic gain in New Zealand has focused on breeding cows to suit low-input systems and they are struggling to stand up to the rapid move to intensive farming, breeding consultant Don Shaw says.

    Read more…

Togs, togs, undies

Playing it safe is not something we celebrate in our culture. We are a nation of pioneers. It’s part of this country’s DNA. The good old cliché of the Number 8-wire mentality. We make do. But at what point does “making do” cross the line and become dangerous.

Read more…

  • What’s it all worth?

    Just as it’s difficult to decide which car to buy when you are comparing different makes with lots of different features, so finding the perfect cow or bull is a big ask. You have a herd of cows in front of you or a paddock of bulls, and you are interested in fertility, milk volume, low cell counts, milkfat and protein production, and a cow or bull that can put kilometres on the clock – how do you rank them?

    Read more…

  • History and the present

    There is a well known quotation from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana that says, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So let’s take a brief look at the history of the New Zealand dairy industry, and see if old George’s insight has any relevance to it today.

    Read more…

  • An environmental balancing act

    Finding a balance between successful dairy farming and decreasing the risks to our natural resources is a challenge facing New Zealand farmers as regional councils roll out new water and land plans to meet the requirements of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management. 

    Read more…

  • Running the ruler over representation

    When the chips are down in any agricultural sector the silver lining is often how well all involved come together to get through the tough times. 

    Read more…

Opinion – Serving up milk on a plate

*Fairlie dairy farmer Leonie Guiney is visiting Ireland. She looks at the Irish and our dairy industries, makes some comparisons and draws some conclusions.* 

Read more…

A jewel in the north

Awanui sits at the base of Far North’s Aupouri Peninsula, with Ninety Mile Beach to the west and some of the country’s favourite beaches to the east. That makes it a great location for a dairy farm, especially a 243 hectare one producing up to 1250kg milksolids (MS) a hectare without irrigation.

Read more…

  • Take your pick in Northland

    A 3300ha dairy and drystock operation in Northland owned by the Pinny Group is up for sale as seven individual dairy farms and three support blocks, or as an entire portfolio.

    Read more…

  • Selling the dream

    For nearly half a century Ben and Ria Zwaans and family have been growing their farm near Dargaville and now their much-admired 244 hectare farm is for sale.

    Read more…

  • Crank it up

    Huge scope exists on a 488 hectare south Canterbury farm that milks 1600 cows through an 80-bail rotary and has the potential to be cranked up to the next level.

    Read more…

  • Heart of the south

    A 171 hectare dairy farm for sale in the heart of central Southland milked 480 cows for 208,688kg milksolids (MS) last season.

    Read more…

Getting a good start

A report released recently by economic research agency BERL on the potential economic, environmental and financial impact of the Queen of Calves rearing system on New Zealand dairy farming found if 10% of the national herd adopted the system over the next 10 years, 25 million tonnes extra milksolids could be generated from the same grazing footprint.

Read more…

  • The long road to recovery

    As the lower North Island flood clean-up gains momentum after recent flood events farmers face a stressful time considering the state of their pasture and to what extent silt deposits will affect their soil. 

    Read more…

  • All class

    With continuously variable transmission and cutting-edge, on-board technology, the new Claas Arion 600/500 CMATIC is arguably the most advanced, efficient, versatile and comfortable mid-range tractor available in New Zealand.

    Read more…

  • More than a trade show

    While the low dairy payout will undoubtedly cast a shadow, exhibitors and organisers National Fieldays at Mystery Creek remain confident the event will continue to cement itself as a global showcase for New Zealand farming enterprises.

    Read more…

  • Built for absolute reliability

    SAM fertiliser and combo spreaders are reliable and built to last. 

    Read more…

It’s all in the planning

While most New Zealanders soaked up the warm weather, Dairy Exporter Associate Editor Anne Lee spent the summer shivering in a UK winter investigating wintering options developed in a cold climate. 

Read more…

  • Animal health

    *Feet*

    Read more…

  • Slurry cleaning systems

    Passageways or scrapeways both indoors and outside can be cleaned by automatic scrapers. Most common were hydraulic scrapers that require a raised, covered track to be installed in the centre along the length of the passageway.

    Read more…

  • Effluent management

    Storing and managing the slurry from a housed cow system or scrapeways on an outdoor pad can require a significant capital outlay for storage and handling.

    Read more…

  • Quantity makes the difference

    Moorepark has carried out several experiments on crop wintering diets and found that how much the cow is offered makes more difference than what it’s fed.

    Read more…

Simple steps to great yards

*New dairies*

Read more…

  • Innovators keep on innovating

    The exhibits at Fieldays’ Innovation Centre this year featured the usual array of probables, possibles, and perhaps-not winners. Tim McVeagh had a look at a few of the promising ones with details provided by those on the stands.

    Read more…

  • Pre-season plant pointers

    Ryan Hall, manager of the QCONZ farm team, has some tips for getting new season milk production off to a good start. 

    Read more…

  • Getting the dairy up to scratch

    With seasonal milk suppliers cranking back up again, it is timely to review systems to ensure milk hygiene and compliance requirements are met.

    Read more…