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Dairy Focus JUNE 2019

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Dairy Focus

Dairy Focus



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Linda Clarke


Information is power so it is good to see Federated Farmers stepping up with support for farmers under active surveillance for mycoplasma bovis. The eradication programme for the cattle disease rolls on and so far welfare support has been reserved for those with infected properties and those under a notice of direction. The largest group of farmers caught up in the programme are those under surveillance. Those that may have a risk of having mycoplasma bovis and testing has begun. The problem until now has been that there has been no welfare advice for the surveillance group, their situation not yet deemed serious enough to have triggered the support that those up the chain receive. These farmers need more than basic information. They might not be under the legal rules incurred

at surveillance stage, but you can bet they will be farming as if they have it because they have a moral obligation to stop the spread of the disease. The what ifs, the what happens next will be huge. And stressful. So Federated Farmers, funded by MPI, has come up with a Farmer Assistance Programme to get alongside farmers and give them the advice and information they need so those farmers don’t go to dark places by default. Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers have some very good people in their ranks, farmers who have been working hard for a year to make sure the decision-makers in Wellington know the whole cost of their eradication programme. Ashburton is most affected – our farmers are the backbone of this district and if they are smiling, then we all are. The man heading the eradication programme has said that our farming leaders are advocating hard for this district. I have no doubt they’ll be telling it like it is. The programme needs to succeed, or else the pain will have been for nothing. In the meantime, that new support for farmers under surveillance will go some way to lowering stress levels.

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Under surveillance – a helping hand By Linda Clarke

Federated Farmers has launched a special support group for Mid Canterbury farmers under surveillance for suspected mycoplasma bovis in their dairy or beef herds. Farmers under active surveillance had no access to advice from MPI, but were in a stressful situation and needed information, Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers’ boss David Clark said. Feds have formed a Farmer Assistance Programme and it will be led by respected dairy farmer Jessie Chan-Dorman, of Dorie. Figures at June 21 show 80 Mid Canterbury farms under surveillance for the cattle disease. Another 20 properties were under notice of direction (restricting stock movements) and five properties were still classified as active or infected. Twenty farms in the district have been cleared of the disease through the culling and disinfection programme. Nationally, 173 properties have been found to have


mycoplasma bovis, with 39 considered still active; the others have been cleared. At June 21, there were 229 properties under a notice of direction and 592 under


surveillance. Some 104,583 animals had been culled in the eradication programme so far. M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn said MPI, Beef + Lamb and

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DairyNZ had asked Federated Farmers for help. “Asking them for further support and engagement is to ensure that affected farmers are as supported as possible

and that we’re all doing everything we can to make eradication a success.” Continued on page 4

Rural Reporter The Ashburton Guardian is based in New Zealand’s primary production heartland, and our independently-owned daily newspaper is looking for a new team member. The person we’re seeking will have a strong affinity with, and knowledge of, the rural sector. We are looking for a journalist with a solid media background, who is excited by the opportunity to write for our two monthly publications as well as for our weekly rural pages. Our monthly publications are distributed across Canterbury and North Otago. The rural reporter’s position offers the successful candidate an opportunity to write for a wide audience across the entire spectrum of the rural sector because of the district’s diverse agricultural economy. We are open to employment options that could include working as an independent contractor or as a Guardian employee, full or part-time. The Ashburton District offers an opportunity to enjoy the best the outdoors has to offer but is within an easy hour’s drive of Christchurch City. We have Mt Hutt Skifield on our doorstep and offer a wide range of aquatic sports on Lake Hood.

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Dairy Focus

From page 3 He said Ashburton was the most affected area and MPI was working with Feds and alongside the Ashburton Regional Advisory Group, chaired by Ashburton Mayor Donna Favel. “Farmers under active surveillance are not under movement restrictions but often find it a difficult situation to manage. While they are able to continue farming normally, including moving and trading stock, we know that many farmers find this difficult.” Clark said farmers under active surveillance had no statutory controls about what they could do with their animals, though they had a moral obligation to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. “There are also connotations on the property, rightly or wrongly. But under the rules of the response there is no welfare assistance, there is no advisory team available.” He said farmers under surveillance were farming like they had the disease, until otherwise notified, and feeling a huge amount of stress. “It is almost more stress than having a notice of direction. They have a

vacuum of information. Once you come under a notice of direction or are an infected property, there is a whole lot of support that is wrapped around you by MPI and the rural support trust.” He said Federated Farmers had realised there was a large group of farmers under surveillance who needed help. “The positive is that there is a better-than-even chance that if you are under active surveillance you will move out of it. But there are so many what ifs.” He said that under surveillance, there is a lot of forward and back-tracing of stock done, a lot of going through Nait records and testing of animals. There was interaction with MPI, but not about how the process worked, the legalities and the ramifications. The Farmer Assistance

Group is an initiative being set up by Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland and MPI director general Ray Smith. Clark said Chan-Dorman would lead the Mid Canterbury Farmer Assistance Group with the help of other capable members. The group is being funded by MPI and could be a template for other regions. He said members would get alongside farmers in their business and give them an

understanding of the process and advice. The group could also escalate concerns with MPI as needed. He said there was no compensation for farmers under surveillance, though they were incurring costs about where stock could go for grazing or segregating mobs. “We just need to get alongside them and make sure they are fully aware of the process.”

CROSS-PARTY GROUP ON BOVIS FORMED Members of Parliament from across political parties have met to talk through the handling of mycoplasma bovis across New Zealand, says Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon. “The recent surge of 1100 properties deemed at some risk of infection was incredibly disappointing. By their own admission the Ministry for Primary Industries have said it was poorly handled, and they’re right.”

Falloon said the Ashburton district was the most heavily affected by the eradication programme’s culling process, with one in five cattle culled belonging to local farmers.

National MPs Nathan Guy (Otaki), Barbara Kuriger (Taranaki King Country), David Bennett (Hamilton) and Hamish Walker (Clutha Southland), along with Mark and I.

others. Already we’ve been able to get progress, and an undertaking from MPI that they’ll prioritise historic compensation claims, some of which are more than a year old.

“Following the surge I spoke to Mark Patterson of NZ First about working in a much more collaborative manner across Parliament. Recently the first meeting was held, with Labour MPs Damien O’Connor (West Coast-Tasman) and Rino Tirakatene (Te Tai Tonga),

“Up until now it’s been individual MPs or political parties battling with MPI over how they’ve been treating farmers. Bringing cases to one table means we’re now better able to compare how farmers are being dealt with in one location compared to

“It’s a shame it’s taken so long to bring together, but I’m hopeful it will see a more consistent approach with how farmers are treated across the country, and provide for a speedier resolution of issues with compensation,” Falloon said.

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No need to feel isolated, alone Farmer Assistance Programme co-ordinator Jessie Chan-Dorman said farmers under surveillance for mycoplasma bovis needed to know 95 per cent would test negative for the cattle disease. The Dorie dairy farmer said the new support programme was about farmers helping farmers on the ground as the eradication programme rolled on. She said Federated Farmers, with help from MPI, had identified that farmers under surveillance were missing out on welfare support, information and advice that only kicked in if they tested positive. But active surveillance was also a stressful time. “There is a stigma attached to having regulators on your property and it causes anxiety. Our aim is to take some of the stress away and help,” she said. Chan-Dorman co-ordinates a team of five women with the necessary skills to help farmers. “These women are farmers who have experience with compliance and corporate

expertise to provide some confidence to farmers about working through the process.” She said Rural Support Trusts and industry bodies like DairyNZ were doing a lot of work behind the scenes and Federated Farmers wanted to work constructively with them. “We identified some gaps, which in this case was for support around active

surveillance farms. One of our key messages is that of those who go into active surveillance and testing, 95 per cent come through with clear results.” Chan-Dorman said that her group would work with farmers when they had been advised they were under surveillance, talking farmer to farmer, helping and answering questions.

She said initial advice would be around making sure NAIT records were up to scratch. “None of us are completely perfect in this regard.” She said it was important that farmers record what “business as usual” looked like. “In the event you are one of the five per cent that will go on to a Notice of Direction or Restricted Property, you want to make sure you have

everything recorded. If you had planned to sell your bull calves to someone at a certain price, have it in writing. If you can’t sell them, you have some evidence of what you would have got.” She said it was also important to record grazing arrangements, including stock numbers and costs. “Record agreements in place so it is really clear what you are losing out on or what you are trading off.” Chan-Dorman said the three-month programme was a trial and learnings would be applied to improve the programme in Mid Canterbury and in other places heavily affected, like Southland and North Canterbury. “We will learn through this process too. It is a trial and we will look to add value and alleviate stress at active surveillance level.” The mycoplasma bovis incursion was unique for the country and it was essential farmers under stress did not feel isolated and alone, she said.

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Dairy Focus

Disappointment, anger following As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreignowned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain. Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. How the minister can be expected to overhaul vitally important legislation when the people in MPI advising him seem to have little understanding of the dairy industry and the rules constraining it defies belief. On one hand there’s a recommendation the minister appoint someone to sit on the milk pricing panel, and on the other there’s a recommendation that totally

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ignores the reason for this panel’s existence. So I’m disappointed and a little angry, how should I react? I could get on twitter and give Damien O’Connor a serve, I know he does his own social media and interacts with the public. In fact when Genevieve Toop, Greenpeace’s sustainable agriculture campaigner, tweeted that the government’s stance on open entry was a disaster, the minister interacted quite forcefully: “Absolute bullshit”, he replied. While cathartic, getting angry on twitter is ultimately pointless. The minister would probably ignore me, but there’s always the chance I could make him think farmers are dicks and that’s possibly not the best approach when he’s got something I want. Let’s not forget that only a year ago this government really did think farmers and Fonterra were dicks, Shane Jones launched a sustained and blistering attack on Fonterra’s chairman




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at the time, John Wilson, and when he wasn’t reined in by his party’s leader or the Prime Minister he doubled down. Fonterra had spent the better part of a decade acting like a farmer advocacy group rather than a politically neutral, multi-billion dollar international company and the incoming Labour-led coalition government didn’t like them and weren’t afraid to show it. What interests me is how our industry leaders have reacted to the DIRA announcement, they are representing my views and theirs is the lead I should follow. They are the ones

who get to meet MPs and will make submissions on my behalf. Federated Farmers who can always be relied on for a good bit of outrage were, surprisingly, not outraged at all. They expressed disappointment with some parts of the release, highlighted the parts that gave them hope and expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of making submissions on the changes. John Monaghan, Fonterra’s Chairman, was the epitome of diplomacy. He voiced cautious optimism and signalled a willingness to work with the government to make changes that


DIRA changes Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk to new processors. PHOTO SUPPLIED

were not only good for Fonterra, but good for the country and good for the environment. If John was disappointed he hid it well, his was the response of a man who knows Fonterra have come a long way in the face of a hostile government and Fonterra will ultimately gain more from having a constructive rather than combative relationship with the Government. He recognised the progress made for what it was and welcomed the opportunity to take those changes further. Then we have Fonterra’s Shareholders’

Council. It has always been my understanding that they are there to represent farmers’ views and concerns to the Fonterra board, to review the board’s performance, to create a healthy tension and keep the board accountable, but they seem to have been popping up in the media lately expressing opinions on all manner of things. In contrast to Federated Farmers and Fonterra, the Shareholders’ Council wrote a very angry press release containing phrases like “continue to kick the can down the road”, “a step too far” and “in direct conflict”. It read like a declaration of war, that they were there to fight, to argue, to be outraged. It feels to me as if for every two steps the industry takes forward there’s always someone willing to take us a step back. Now is the time for diplomacy, to put forward reasoned arguments for change. As an individual who will never come face-to-face with a government official I can afford to throw some angry words at MPs, the people advocating for my industry cannot. The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of the Ashburton Guardian Co Ltd or any employee thereof

Oat milk takes off Kiwi start-up Otis Oat Milk has ambitious plans to take on the dairy giants and diversify the agriculture sector. Managing director Tim Ryan said Otis was developed to disrupt a dairyfirst generation of Kiwis, to try a tasty plant-based alternative that was homegrown and sustainable. “We started Otis with a clear vision to help New Zealand diversify its agriculture sector. A thriving oat milk market will help free the country from an over-reliance on dairying and the commodity price trap, moving instead to a high-value, more sustainable plant-based future. “Oat milk sells at a premium and is consumed increasingly widely offshore. The global non-dairy milk market is expected to reach revenues of over $US38 billion by 2024.” Ryan said New Zealand had a longstanding tradition of growing some of the world’s best oats. “This export market is largely untapped so there’s enormous opportunity for New Zealand to capitalise on that.” Oat milk contains about half the amount of fat than that of dairy milk, is high in the soluble fibre beta-glucan which aids in reducing cholesterol, particularly the type associated with increased risk of heart disease.


Ryan said oat milk production required significantly lower environmental inputs than dairying. According to a recent Cambridge University study, producing one litre of oat milk requires 11x less land, 13x less water, 6.5x less fertiliser, and emits 3.5x less greenhouse gas emissions than that of one litre of dairy milk. Oats are sourced directly from Southland and Otago farms and processed at FoodSouth’s Canterbury facility. The company plans to boost production to half a million litres annually and expand into 300 cafes by the end of the year.

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Dairy Focus

Farmers check out opportunities for Canterbury farmers are among those showing interest in milking sheep. A recent workshop run by the Sheep and Goat Dairy Project attracted a good turnout. At the Lincoln workshop were farmers who wanted to know more about market opportunities for sheep milk and on-farm changes that would be needed. Project team member Shane Kells said the Canterbury workshop was very successful. The project, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, is about providing information to farmers looking at other ways to use their land and to manufacturers and markets interested in the industry. New Zealand has about 100 dairy goat farms with almost 70,000 goats and some 16 dairy sheep farms milking around 15,000 ewes. Nuffield Scholar Lucy Griffiths studied the sheep milking industry in 2015 and said it had the potential to be a billion dollar industry, if the right breeding programmes, feed mixes and other technologies were

implemented. She said it was a natural fit for New Zealand farmers and a six-month lactation would fit the pasture growth curve better for many regions than a nine-month cow lactation. Back then sheep dairy farmers were achieving $2 a litre. Today North Island company Maui Milk is offering $3 a litre contracts. The sheep milk will be processed at a new drying plant under construction in the Waikato for nutrition company Spring Sheep NZ, which exports highvalue food products. Maui Milk general manager Peter Gatley said there was plenty of Canterbury interest in large scale production for export, but the region needed a powder processing plant. There were already a few small sheep dairy operations supplying milk for local cheese and ice cream manufacture. Gatley said Maui Milk was offering multi-year contracts with payout locked in at $3 a litre. “This reflects the forward commitments on our milk and there’s no way we can satisfy

Maui Milk general manager Peter Gatley (left) and geneticist Jake Chardon see a bright future in sheep mi

demand in the next few years. At that payout, a ewe can earn over $1000 in milk income, so it’s pretty attractive.”

He said a typical inquiry was from small Waikato dairy cattle farms lacking scale for cow dairying, or

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“New Zealand needs diversification in exports. We need higher value. Farmers need payout stability and to

be able to meet environmental regulations.” New genetics are also boosting farmer confidence in the industry. Gatley said all three of the world’s leading dairy breeds had combined on a Coopworth base to provide the industry with a milking ewe that promised to do for sheep dairy what the Kiwicross™ has done for cow dairy in this country. The new breed is now officially recognised by the NZ Sheepbreeders’ Association as the Southern Cross™. Geneticist Jake Chardon says the new hybrid capitalised on hundreds of years of selection pressure in the East Friesian, Awassi and Lacaune breeds. Chardon said the Lacaune breed from France is backed by a large and highly sophisticated progeny test programme that aligned closely with New Zealand requirements for grazing ability, high components and good udders. “Until recently, New Zealand sheep milkers were dependent on a tiny shipment of old East Friesian genetics. Everything

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descended from a trailer load of rams and ewes that were brought in to lift fecundity and put more milk into our meat and wool breeds. They weren’t expected to create a sheep dairy industry. That all changed in the last three years when the door opened to importation of semen and embryos from the UK and Europe.” In addition to 3000 artificial inseminations carried out by Southern Cross, more than


200 Southern Cross™ rams have been run with ewes by several farmers seeking to create progeny to meet demand for more milk. This number is expected to more than double in 2020 as Maui Milk takes on new suppliers. Gatley said farmers were aware of the success of dairy goats. “It’s a great export option to countries where cow milk is not traditional and where a

lot of people have problems digesting cow milk. Goat and sheep milk products are in strong demand, but the farmers we’re talking to prefer to farm sheep on grass rather than goats in a barn. And the high-end consumer wants grass-fed. This is also a better fit with brand New Zealand. We’re famous for sheep, for dairy, and for free range farming. Here it is, all together.”

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Dairy Focus


New approach for successful transition With winter now well under way, dairy cows are fast approaching the most stressful period of the year. Having been exposed to many changes during the drying, run off and transition period, it becomes critical for farmers to try and anticipate their needs in advance heading into a new lactation season. Hormone secretion, metabolic changes and bone rebuilding are all changes being experienced, and these are only exacerbated by the added stress and low dry matter intake during the first days post calving.

Calcium is critical for function of the smooth muscles of the uterus, rumen, teats, and sphincter

Being confronted in a short period with such huge challenges, cows have to manage this situation which will impact not only production, but also immune status and reproduction performance. A dairy cow moves many nutrients to producemilk solids during lactation and as a result of this she needs to rebuild her body and skeleton during the dry and transition period to start the next lactation without any metabolic disorders developing. Dr Joe McGrath, animal nutrition expert and Sollus technical advisor, stresses that for each lactation a cow can lose around 500gm of calcium from her natural storage,

namely her bones. “She is mining her skeleton to put calcium and phosphorus into milk. This situation can explain why higher producing older cows are more susceptible to milk fever. “It is important to understand we need to optimise the absorption of calcium and phosphorus if we want strong, healthy cows, basically putting back what we take out,” he says. Under New Zealand conditions, knowing the dynamics of the minerals in the different stages of the cow’s transition is the key to designing the proper transition programme. Excess potassium affects magnesium absorption. “You also need to take into account mineral ratios, vitamin levels and understand the difference between farms in order to devise the most beneficial strategy on farm.” Based on that scientific knowledge and understanding of the New Zealand conditions, Sollus’ approach is very different to conventional mineral company recommendations. Sollus designs and formulates products to be the best transition supplements for the New Zealand dairy cow. Along with the calcium, magnesium and salt that cows need, Sollus’ product Tranzsol incorporates antioxidants, magnesium and, most importantly, Rovimix™ Hy-D. This combination allows cows to safely transition, even when consuming pasture. Rovimix™ Hy-D is a molecule designed by world leading animal nutrition company DSM to manage calcium absorption. Calcium is critical for function of the smooth muscles of the uterus, rumen,

Sollus technical advisor Dr Joe McGrath urges farmers to consider cows’ nutrient needs in the lead-up to calving and beyond.


teats, and sphincter. “If these muscle groups can’t function effectively we greatly increase the risk of metabolic disorders, and prevalence of mastitis and

reproductive issues.” With Tranzsol, Sollus is helping increasing numbers of New Zealand farmers reduce metabolic issues, including milk fever, through

functional nutrition based on proven science. “We no longer need accept these diseases as a natural consequence of milking cows,” McGrath said.

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Pastoral sector poised to cope New Zealand’s pastoral sector is well positioned to handle new rules requiring farmers to reduce methane losses from livestock. Greenhouse gas losses from livestock form 45 per cent of New Zealand’s total gas losses, almost rivalling losses from the transport sector, and pressure has been on farming to develop ways to mitigate those losses. The latest trial work across a range of New Zealand dairy farms is showing that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are possible using existing practices, and make the initial 10 per cent drop less daunting than many farmers may have realised. A dozen demonstration dairy farms operating across New Zealand through DairyNZ’s Partnership Farm Project are highlighting the successes farmers can enjoy in not only lowering gas emissions, but also achieving gains in productivity and profitability along the way. The first farm to open its gate on how well it has done over the past two-year trial

period was Owl Farm, owned by St Peter’s School near Cambridge. At the farm’s open day farmers learnt how management, working alongside DairyNZ staff, had managed to slice almost 13 per cent off the farm’s gas emissions while also increasing farm operating profit per hectare by 14 per cent. The reductions were achieved through a number of relatively straightforward moves that included cutting stocking rates back by 5 per cent, dropping nitrogen fertiliser use by 13kg a hectare and slicing bought in feed from 20 per cent of total feed down to 11 per cent. In addition to reducing gas losses, the farm also managed to lower its nutrient losses into waterways, slicing 14 per cent off nitrogen losses. Overall the farm managed to achieve a reduction of 1t of gas per hectare. Its profile as a relatively typical “average” Waikato farm provides a positive example of what could be

achieved by many other farms running similar grass-based systems. DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said New Zealand is already one of the lowest emissions producers of dairy products in the world per kg of milksolids, and wanted to build on that advantage. “The 2030 reduction target is the first step, which we know will be very challenging. But there is action farmers can take, and are already taking to reduce on farm emissions through farm systems changes and new technologies.” The development of that new technology is being headed up by the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, tasked with developing technologies

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Calves reared using Calf Xtreme calf growth at a very young age (0-5 weeks) 40,000 50,000 50,000 SPECIALISING in order to boost heifer milk production – 30,000 40,000 (University of Illinois trial - 10 per cent extra 40,000 20,000 30,000 milk and protein - worth approximately $100) Calves reared using Calf Xtreme SHAVINGS WOOD CHIP 30,000 10,000 50,000 20,000 020,000 Calves reared using Calf Xtreme 2017 2018 40,000 Calf Xtreme allows you to achieve 50,000 10,000 30,000 10,000 this: 40,000 20,000 0 • Helps reduce nutritional and 2017 2018 0 2017 2018 Calves reared using30,000 Calf Xtreme 10,000 disease scours Molasses - Dried Distillers Grain 50,000 - Custom Blends • Stimulates grass hay and meal 0 2017 2018 20,000 consumption at high rates of 40,000 10,000 milk 30,000 • Earlier weaning 021 228 33 86 – 0 2017 2018 20,000 • Very affordable – easy to mix I’ve always fed high rates of milk to my calves – 8 L TAD to 4 weeks of age then 6 L OAD. The 10,000 three things I’ve noticed since using Calf Xtreme are: 0 2017 2018 1. We no longer struggle with nutritional scours 2. The calves eat heaps more grass 3. We no longer get a post weaning check. (Stu - Edgecumbe) CalfCalf numbers numbers


Calf numbers

Calf numbers


Calf numbers

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Hewson Farms (NZ) Ltd are a family owned and operated agriculture business located in Mid Canterbury. Hewson Farms sell a wide range of good quality locally grown stock feed. Including Wheat straw, Barley straw and Thrashed Rye/Hay straw. All feed was baled in ideal conditions this year and stored in covered sheds. Hewson Farms deliver to your farm with their own fleet of trucks. For any inquiries or information please contact: Joseph Gillies on 027 230 3379 or email

Calf no 17 at 28 days and about 2 weeks after weaning at 77 days of age “To understand more about our system of calf rearing, phone: ”

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Dairy Focus



Improved prospects for calf rearing Milligans Feeds, the wholly New Zealand owned and operated family business, is again set to tackle the upcoming calf rearing season head-on this year. After two strong growth years in the calf rearing markets of 2016 and 2017, last year saw fewer calves reared due to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak which led many rearers and finishers to opt out because of the highrisk factor of contracting this destructive disease. “There may be the odd farm still going through a quarantine period this season, but most have been cleared and it should give some positive hope that calf rearing can pick up from where it left off a couple of years ago,” Milligans North Island regional manager Glen McKay said. Despite this disease and other issues, including variable global markets and fluctuating domestic farm gate milk and meat prices, both the dairy and beef industries remain buoyant, which is great for the NZ economy.

“Milligans Feeds continues to work hard to produce the best products at competitive prices for the NZ market and has solutions to these problems with milk replacers to suit most farmers’ needs including our new lamb and goat kid whey milk replacers.”

McKay says the company has carefully partnered with one of Europe’s largest animal milk replacer manufacturers with proven history of top quality and performance throughout Europe, to offer NZ farmers and rearers more options in the lamb and

goat sector with specifically formulated whey milk replacers for NZ conditions. With the spring 2019 calf rearing season approaching fast, rearers should be proactive with their CMR pricing and purchasing to ensure they are getting the right product at the right price to suit their needs. “There are many CMR products on the market and choosing the right one can be a daunting process. “Milligans Feeds can help make things easier with a complete range of milk replacers including colostrum, whole and skim based, and also whey-based powders for calves, lambs and goats.” Understanding the product in the way it works within an animal is an important factor, especially the differences between whey and casein proteins. Both are excellent at growing young animals but correct feeding is a key aspect

in fully utilising their native functions, he says. “Talking to the experts before dismissing any product is recommended as you may be missing out on something good because of a lack of knowledge about it.” The Milligans calf milk replacer range this season includes ExcelPlus CMR, a premium CMR with added growth stimulating and immune health package; Classic CMR, its most popular powder; and GOcalf CMR, the economy choice, as well as Multi-Milk Replacers in two, five, 10 and 20kg sizes made from traditional whole and skim milk. This year the company will introduce GOlamb and GOgoat, full whey milk replacers that now complete a full range to suit every need. For more detail visit Advertising feature

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Dairy Focus

Upskill your staff during winter Winter is a great time to schedule training for your staff. Wet days and short daylight hours limit the amount of work that can be carried out on farms. IrrigationNZ has a great online irrigation learning system that our members (which include many irrigation scheme shareholders) can use for free. The first module of our online system covers irrigation scheduling and features animated videos explaining topics like soils, climate, plant water use, water budgets, soil moisture monitoring and scheduling. Eleven short 10-20 minute lessons make up the first training module. Each lesson is followed by a quick online assessment. It takes around three to four hours to complete all of the lessons and assessments but the training can be completed in stages. If all modules are completed you will receive a certificate of completion which can be included in your Farm Environment Plan


Elizabeth Soal

Winter is a great time to upskill your staff on irrigation management ahead of the next irrigation season.


records as evidence staff have received irrigation training. Employees can also add this certificate to their CVs. As the training is delivered online, it can be done anytime that suits, and fitted around farm work. If you have new staff joining you the online training will help them get a better understanding of irrigation management and you can complement this training with some on-farm instruction. The training is also suitable for more experienced staff who already use irrigation to help expand their knowledge. We are currently filming a second module for the online training system. For this module, we are creating


a series of short videos explaining and demonstrating how to do bucket tests. The videos will explain what doing the test involves and what equipment is required. The videos will also show you how to do the testing, including where to place buckets and how to time your testing and interpret your results. Videos covering bucket testing for pivot, drip, linear, gun, travelling, K-Line and solid set irrigation systems will be available through the new module. Each video will be up to seven minutes long. The online training is designed to make it easy for

irrigators and farm staff to upskill themselves without leaving the farm. To find out more about using the online system visit and select the ‘E Learning’ option on the webpage. In other news, it was pleasing to see the government recently announce that they are not planning to introduce a water or other environmental taxes on farmers. This has been a real concern for irrigating farmers who could have been facing several different taxes, at the same time the government has been signalling they want

to toughen environmental regulations. IrrigationNZ has been campaigning against the introduction of a water tax for the past two years, and we submitted twice on this issue this year as well as meeting to air our views with numerous politicians and Tax Working Party representatives. Elizabeth Soal is chief executive of IrrigationNZ. The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of the Ashburton Guardian Co Ltd or any employee thereof.

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What are your cows missing? We are well into winter now. If the weather stays as it is, it’s going to be a breeze. We made silage on our small holding only a month ago and there is already plenty of grass regrowth in the paddock. Life on the farm is a lot more enjoyable this way than when it is wet all the time. I don’t have to tell you that, and that is also the case for our cows. I talked about that in my article last month but we do seem to under-estimate how big a deal that is for our cows. This is their annual holiday. A wet winter sets the cows up for a hard year. They will struggle more right from the start of calving. I would like to see some research being done on the correlation between resting time in the winter and lameness issues throughout the season. The reason why we can be quite sure there is a correlation, is by looking at cow behaviour. Why do cows do what they do? Often when I ask that question I get answers like: because cows are lazy, or they prepare

Fred Hoekstra


themselves for no available water when they are going to the cow shed, or they like the food better than what they are getting in the paddock. I have talked with farmers who had to drive a fourwheeler in front of the cows to slow them down on the tracks because they were running. The reason why they didn’t want the cows to run was that they were more likely to get stone bruising and become lame because of it. There is no evidence that stones make cows lame, but the point I would like to make here is that cows are primarily motivated by their situation in the moment and not so much by anticipation. Cows are not lazy, cows are tired. Cows are not running

because they get something tasty, cows run because they are hungry. Cows don’t drink water before they leave the paddock, they drink because they are thirsty. If you tune in to see cows by their behaviour you will start to ask different questions. You may now ask why cows don’t drink even though they have a water trough in the paddock. If cows are not lazy and they don’t drink to prepare themselves for limited access to water for the next few hours then why do they not drink earlier? One of the reasons probably is because the more dominant cows keep them away from the trough. When they have gone, then the less dominant cows get a chance to get a drink. When you ask the question “why” often enough you will become wiser even if you don’t know the answer immediately. The fact that you ask the question means that you are opening your mind to other possibilities. However, the attitude behind the asking is important.

Ask the question to find out what is wrong or missing in the cows’ life so that you can provide for them. The thing is, cows tell you lots of things with their behaviour. If you pay attention to cows’ body language you can avoid many problems before they occur and you can manage them better to get the optimum performance from them. If you have questions


or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me on The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of the Ashburton Guardian Co Ltd or any employee thereof


Dairy Focus

Farmers obsessed with planting natives Dairy farmers Mark and Jenny McDonald began beautifying the landscape on their 138-hectare Methven dairy farm a decade ago. They started in 2009 with a New Zealand native vegetation planting project along a 300m stretch of the road boundary to help screen dust from a shingle road. The following season, they planted the margins alongside a one kilometre spring-fed stream that meanders through the farm on its way to the Ashburton River. At first, they planted standard Kiwi plants like toetoe, flax, carex, pittosporum and coprosma, but since then, they’ve added an array of others including kaikomako, pokaka, kahikatea and pseudopanax. Trees like kowhai, totara and beech have also been planted to cover as much ground as possible and to reduce the need for maintenance. Like many farmers that begin planting projects, McDonald says he’s become slightly addicted to tree

Mark and Jenny McDonald.

planting and has begun to propagate some plants as well. “It all helps to keep the cost down, and it’s very rewarding to collect seeds from the foothills and grow them into trees. And there’s always friends donating seedlings that have popped up in their gardens,” he says. For the first couple of years, the McDonalds received


funding from ECan which helped to get the project on its feet. “We also became involved in the Carex Project, a collaboration between ECan and the University of Canterbury, who came to sample water quality each month. The aim of the project was to create a set of tools for farmers to use to

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shading of the stream which has reduced the number of weeds. The stream is home to eels, trout and bird life, and while they’re still mostly introduced species, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we hear bellbirds and tuis on the farm.” The work goes on The McDonalds have completed planting along most of the farm’s waterways, and now have their sights set on developing two other wetland areas close to the northern branch of the Ashburton River. “One is covered in willows, and we’re using the existing cover the willows provide to plant specimen trees like kahikatea, matai, totara and beech. Once these trees get established, we will poison the willows and cut them out,” says McDonald. “The other area is a lowlying one which is better suited to flaxes, grasses and sedges. We are also in the early stages of restoring a support block near Mayfield which has a significant stream dissecting it.”

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improve water quality and eco systems in freshwater streams across Canterbury. It was an excellent project to be part of.” Restoring a wetland Six years ago the McDonalds decided to develop a small wetland area that had been unsuccessfully tiled some years before. The area was opened up with a digger to remove drainage pipes and expose the springs that are prevalent in the area. A lot of hard work followed. “We shaped up a pond in one section and contoured the rest. The area was fenced and, with help from Ashburton College students on work experience, we planted the same basic species,” says McDonald. The McDonalds are now at the point where they’re seeing a lot of self-seeding which provides a source of young plants that can be transferred to other areas. Making a difference McDonald says it’s good to see all their hard work starting to pay off. “We’re starting to see better

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Water leak tool wins award The Gallagher Water Flow Indicator took out the Fieldays International Innovation Award at the International Business Networker on day two of Fieldays 2019. Inspired by pure frustration, Murray Jones was sick of forever going around his farm looking for water leaks and was told by his wife that he’d talked about it enough and it was time to get on and do it. The process for creating the Water Flow Indicator took about six or seven years and went through three or four different prototypes until Murray was ready to take it to the next step. Equipped with his prototype secured in a box, Murray went to Gallagher to pitch his idea and come up with a plan. “It was an easy choice to go to Gallagher to make this happen, I knew what I wanted but I relied heavily on their expertise to make it happen. Gallagher have such a great reputation nationally and globally and their marketing reach is pretty hard to beat,”

Murray Jones (left) with the water flow indicator he helped design with Gallagher.

said Murray. Step one was the actual Water Flow Indicator unit and step two was to get it into a smartphone which is where Gallagher came in. It was important to solve the

problem of finding water leaks but also to make it able to be easily checked remotely. The award judges enjoyed the brilliantly simple practicality of the Gallagher Water Flow Indicator and

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standalone nature and appreciated its scalability to offer a more comprehensive on farm water monitoring system through digital communication and easy to use smartphone apps.


Dairy Focus


ClearTech wins fans at Fieldays Ravensdown’s ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system which was developed in conjunction with Lincoln University has won a Highly Commended Award at the Fieldays innovation awards. The system uses a coagulant to bind effluent colloidal particles together in order to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risk linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). “ClearTech is ideal for those dairy farmers who want to save on effluent pond storage and take back control of their capacity and compliance,” said Product Manager Carl Ahlfeld. Stripping out the E. coli and other bacteria in farm dairy effluent means cleaner water to wash down the dairy yard or irrigate on to paddocks and less volume of effluent that has to be stored and used safely. The nutrients in the effluent

Ravensdown’s Mike Manning (left) with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and ClearTech Product Manager Carl Ahlfeld at Fieldays.


can be re-used back on to paddocks with minimal odour. “These environmental and safety benefits are important, but commercially the system makes sense,” added Carl.

“Reducing compliance risks, saving on pumping, fertiliser or effluent storage costs are the bottom line benefits to those farmers who also want to do the right thing in

terms of reducing water use and reducing environmental impact.” The judges were impressed with the technology and its potential benefits.

“Fieldays is all about showcasing the best of the sector and it’s a great way to get feedback on innovations. We are stoked with the result and all the positive comments from the stream of people stopping by the stand,” concluded Carl. Professor Keith Cameron and Professor Hong Di of Lincoln University both said they were really pleased with this recognition. “This is a great example of how researchers and industry can work together to deliver new innovative technologies for the benefit of New Zealand,” said Keith. “Our field lysimeter studies have shown significant reductions in leaching losses of E coli. and phosphate from ClearTech treated effluent applied to land. Application of ClearTech treated effluent is therefore less likely to harm water quality than untreated effluent.” The research behind ClearTech has been published in internationally peer-reviewed scientific papers.

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Manage your water Need a well? It can be easy to assume that irrigation means, ‘just add water and it’ll grow’, but many have discovered that there’s more to it than this. Visualising what you can’t see under your feet, while looking up at the weather and juggling compliance and profitability can put anyone to the test. Farmers and growers can now unearth what’s really beneath their feet with the accuracy and timeliness of soil moisture technology. Combining AquaCheck hardware and sensors with agronomy allows crops and pastures to be measured and managed more accurately. Irrigation, rainfall and soil temperature data is captured in real time. The AquaCheck range of products provides a powerful tool to improve the management of all agricultural crops, and sensor options are further enhanced when combined with the Halo telemetry system. The technology allows growers to optimise water use, maximise production and reduce potential nutrient leaching by accessing data such as current soil moisture status, infiltration rate, date and time of irrigations, depths of irrigation and fertigation applied and daily water consumption rates. The data is easily assessible online from anywhere in the world through a computer or a phone app in the palm

An AquaCheck moisture probe with a weather station, on the Halo telemetry network, sending data to the clients phone. PHOTO SUPPLIED

of their hand. Agri Optics NZ Ltd supplies a range of reliable and affordable AquaCheck soil moisture probes with different telemetry options including the very adaptable Halo system. Optional extras include milk vat monitoring, flow meter logging, weather stations, rain gauges, plus a range of command and control. For more information call Agri Optics NZ Ltd Phone: 03 302 9227, Email: or visit: Advertising feature

Washingtons Exploration Ltd pride themselves on providing both standard and personalised solutions for the drilling needs of every project, whether it be a small domestic well right through to a high flow irrigation bore. With branches in Timaru, Alexandra and Invercargill; Washingtons have been supplying clients with advice, drilling equipment and experienced operators for 57 years. They provide a wealth of experience together with proven results. Washingtons offer a wide range of small and large rigs designed for mineral prospecting, exploration, piling solutions, soak pits, offal holes and water bores which are capable of a variety of drilling methods including conventional, RC, air core and diamond across New Zealand and

the South Pacific Rim. All Washingtons’ drillers have their New Zealand Certificate in Level four Non-Hydrocarbon drilling which gives you the confidence that the job will be completed right the first time. Washingtons also have robust programmes in place to promote and protect the health and safety of all employees and clients. Washingtons Exploration can also provide equipment for hire; including pumps for dewatering or construction works, high capacity air compressors and boosters and various drill rigs. The Washingtons experience can be summed up by ‘Strength’; not only the strength and reliability of the machines and employees but most importantly the strength of their commitment to put their customers first. Advertising feature


Dairy Focus

Happy cows over winter Winter can be a challenging time for farmers. Rainfall and cold weather events inevitably make things wet underfoot and managing those conditions is particularly challenging for farms whose paddocks are home to animals. Industry good body DairyNZ spoke with two Southland dairy farmers about how they look after their cows and the environment. As Otaitai Bush dairy farmer Luke Templeton checks on some of his cows, he takes time to give a few of his favourites a scratch and grub the odd weed. Like most dairy farmers, he takes great pride in having his cows and his farm looking good. However, at times, wet and cold conditions in winter can make this a challenge. But Luke and other farmers are prepared. They’ve spent the last 12 to 18 months growing extra feed and planning how best to manage their paddocks in a way that looks after their cows and the environment. “We always hope for the best, but plan for the worst,”

Luke Templeton is ready for winter.

says Luke. Like the majority of dairy farmers in Southland, Luke uses crops, such as kale, swedes and turnips, to keep his cows in tip-top condition when grass growth becomes almost non-existent. Another popular crop is fodder beet. About two-thirds of Luke’s herd will be fed kale, swedes and turnips, along with some baleage to ensure a balanced diet. The remainder, mostly cows


due to calve early, will graze on “really dry paddocks” and their diet consists largely of baleage. Despite the benefits of feeding crops, it’s not without its challenges. Once the crops are eaten, the soil is left bare and at risk of turning into mud in wet conditions, if not managed carefully. Like many farmers, Luke hates seeing cows in mud and does everything he can to keep it to a minimum.


He says farmers use a range of practices to reduce mud to ensure their cows can move freely, have a dry surface to lie down and limit the impact on the environment. Practices include using back fencing, portable troughs and providing additional feed, such as hay and baleage, and moving the break fence up to three times a day. “I find feeding five per cent extra means the cows are much more satisfied, lie down more and are more relaxed. We’re always focused on trying to make them as comfortable as possible.” Luke also grazes his cows in small mobs of about 100 to 150 cows to minimise damage to paddocks and make it easier to check their condition. “A big part of my winter is monitoring the cows, making sure they’re satisfied. If I can walk between them and they don’t all chase me honking and hollering, then that’s a good indication that they’re full and content.” Down the road at Ewen Mathieson’s farm, it’s clear driving up the crop-lined

driveway, with baleage strategically dotted every couple of metres, he’s also ready for winter. Ewen winters a diverse range of animals on-farm, including 910 cows, 250 calves, a handful of sheep and even some goats. He winters all his animals on the farm and produces all his own feed. He feeds the cows fodder beet, kale and swedes, and supplements with baleage. He says dairy farmers put a lot of planning into preparing for winter, selecting which crops to sow and paddocks that are most suitable, then cultivating and placing out supplement such as baleage. Part of this process involves leaving grass buffers near critical source areas (low-lying areas where water can pool or flow after heavy rain) and waterways, and determining the best direction to graze paddocks to prevent nutrient run-off and topsoil loss. For more information, visit wintering

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Quarantine presents opportunity In the midst of conflict comes opportunity, and two years after the first cases of M. bovis appeared in New Zealand we believe we have an opportunity to create a scientifically-backed management plan that could put to rights many other affected farms throughout the country. North Canterbury sharemilker Arno Luten recently made headlines for refusing to release his heifer herd for slaughter after MPI suspected cases of M. bovis on farm. He dismantled the cattle yards, bolted the farm gates and moved the heifers to the back of the farm, telling stock agents the matter was with a lawyer. With the threat of an interim injunction over their heads, MPI verbally granted Arno a 12-month reprieve. And we don’t intend to let that 12-month period go to waste. This farm is one of nine nationwide whose livestock has tested positive for antibodies in an ELISA test

David Law


on the milk, but where there has been no trace of the disease to this farm. While it is MPI’s working assumption that this is the result of unrecorded animals and NAIT inaccuracies, we disagree; this farm’s NAIT records are impeccable. MPI assumes that a sensitive ELISA test shows the likelihood that M. bovis may be present, and confirmed by a positive PCR test. We have a different hypothesis: that the condition of the farm, particularly soil and animal health, can create the opportunity for elevated antibodies to appear without having any connection to disease or to tracing, having been spread from another farm.

The ELISA test is showing a normal phenomenon of healthy animals and carries no proof of the disease being present. So, while Arno and his lawyer continue to liaise with MPI to hopefully find some resolution, my team and I are lobbying government in the hope that it will endorse a full quarantine on the farm to prove that healthy cows have better immunity, and that immunity will keep the threat of mycoplasma bovis away. Before the attempted removal of the cattle, I met with Arno to introduce an M. bovis management plan onto the farm. The purpose of this plan was to achieve a better immunity in the herd, thus rendering M. bovis ineffective. Our approach was to focus on altering those conditions, which we believe compromise any animal’s immune system and make them susceptible to disease. This is generally inadequate nutrition from minerally unbalanced, microbe-deficient soils, coupled with incorrect

balance of other feed entering the cow. In detail, the management plan included an appeal to get a long term quarantine; soil audits analysed by independent Perry Lab in Missouri USA, then applying a remedial fertiliser programme; analysing all feed available to the cows and checking for any additives needed; isolating cows with elevated antibodies and treating them separately with extra vitamins as an immune boost; and continued testing of the base group after boosting immunity. A quarantine would allow this study to be undertaken under controlled conditions, resulting in scores of scientific data from which we can draw some real conclusions about M. bovis, and how we can manage and avoid it. If the plan is successful, there is a possibility it could be phased in with government support as the active cases diminish. We are now at a major crossroads with the disease.

100,000 cows have been culled to date, many of these cows in prime, healthy condition without symptoms at all. We want to correct the cause of the symptoms, and the quarantine farm is a great opportunity in which to study this: 4000 cows in a completely closed-circuit system. We want to see a solution and want people to get on board with that solution. We want what’s best for the country. We believe the data that will come from studying these animals, and their environment, is a gamechanger.

The views, opinions, positions or strategies expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of the Ashburton Guardian Co Ltd or any employee thereof

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Dairy Focus

Darfield tanker drivers best in class Tanker drivers at Fonterra’s Darfield plant are the best in the company. Darfield’s transport crew picked up the transport cup at Fonterra’s annual awards recently. There are 14 best site cups awarded, recognising commitment and dedication among the company’s 26 manufacturing sites. Shane Taylor, depot manager for Canterbury and Upper Southland, said tanker drivers were the face of Fonterra every day, both to the public on the roads and to shareholders at milk pick-up time. “I’m really proud of the transport teams at Darfield and the Upper South Island. It’s their hard work that has contributed to winning the award. It’s about getting everyone home safely at the end of the day.” The transport cup is based on driver performance scores, fuel efficiency and culture. “If our drivers drive well, we keep ourselves and the public safe on the roads, save money on fuel and take better

I’m really proud of the transport teams at Darfield and the Upper South Island. It’s their hard work that has contributed to winning the award. It’s about getting everyone home safely at the end of the day

Fonterra’s Darfield crew with their winning transport trophy. PHOTO RICHARD PEASE

care of our tankers.” Darfield was also runnerup in the best big site award. The plant employs around 280 people and is three plants

within one, producing milk powder and cream cheese. It has a fleet of 50 tankers and 150 tanker operators, that collect milk from dairy

farmers in the Canterbury and Upper South Island region. The fleet travels about eight million kilometres every year.

Product from the Darfield site, including milk powder and cream cheese, is distributed to more than 40 markets.



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Dairy Focus


Fully robotic milking decades away By NZME

Industry body Dairy NZ sees fully automated milking as a major opportunity to lift onfarm productivity, but doesn’t expect it to be commonplace for several decades. About 44 per cent of the country’s dairy herd are milked in more efficient rotary dairy sheds, despite the style accounting for just over a quarter of the nation’s sheds. About 72 per cent of the country’s dairy sheds are the less efficient herringbone style. In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of technology on the future of work, Dairy NZ said rotary dairy sheds have the highest uptake of automation, with 77 per cent using automated technology. However, out of New Zealand’s 12,000 or so dairy farmers, there are just 25 fully robotic dairy sheds. “Fully automated milking represents a large opportunity for farmers, but currently adoption is low (about 25 farms in total) due to factors such as cost of technology and poor fit with large pasture-based dairy farming,” chief executive Tim Mackle said in the submission. Dairy NZ expects automation will free up farm workers from early starts and long days, and while there might be a small reduction in total labour per farm, the industry body group said the European experience tended to shift that work to other tasks. “We expect milking will be more automated in the future, this may still take several decades to be commonplace in NZ. The extent to which fully automated systems will become commonplace will depend on the adaptability

Milk is harvested from a cow by a robotic milking machine.

of the technology to pastoral systems and economic considerations,” Mackle said. Dairy NZ said there had been a significant amount of public and private research attempting to adapt automated milking to pastoral farming techniques. A Frontier Economics report prepared for government officials as part of their review of the dairy sector’s legislative framework found local dairy processors’ investment in research and development had been modest relative to international peers. The report noted that farmer shareholders of the dairy co-operatives were likely constrained in their ability to encourage investment in processing, given their own rising levels of debt. In its submission to the

future of work inquiry, Federated Farmers said the elevated levels of debt among farmers - especially new dairy conversions - meant interest costs were one of their biggest expenses and undermined their appetite to invest. “This may be an impediment to investment in expensive and new (to New Zealand) technology, where there is no clear value proposition for the investment,” Federated Farmers policy analyst Nick Hanson said in the submission. The Feds said dairy farms provide the majority of on-farm employment and greater mechanisation and use of robotic sheds is the best short-term answer to labour shortages. “A number of barriers to their uptake in New Zealand could be speculated on but


probably the major issues at this stage are currently high cost and the fact that they do not integrate well with pasture-based farming that is common to New Zealand,” Hanson said. The Feds also said farmers will be reluctant to shift away from pasture-based techniques because of constraints created by the Resource Management Act consenting process, and because it provides a marketing tool in setting New Zealand farmers apart from their European and American rivals. Both industry groups also identified increased use of data as an opportunity for farmers to better understand their systems and techniques, with a view to more productive and sustainable practices. Federated Farmers said

a labour shortage was a significant issue for the primary sector, with low unemployment rates and increased urbanisation shrinking the pool of available workers. Dairy NZ said government support of innovation and technology will support the dairy sector to upskill the workforce and raise productivity, and wants to see education and migration policies recognise the ongoing technological change. “Technology ultimately helps farmers utilise modern systems and tools that will not only increase productivity but can represent a more attractive lifestyle change for workers, with a gradual shift away from more manual tasks, fewer hours worked and a shift of focus on the farm,” Mackle said.

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Dairy Focus

A new innovation programme for the dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national herd.


$25m boost for sustainable innovation A new $25.68 million innovation programme for New Zealand’s dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and be a stepchange in sustainable milk production. The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future is being led by farmer-owned herd improvement co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ. It will invest in new disease management technologies and advancements in genomic science to improve cow productivity, and produce better cows with improved health, wellbeing, and environmental resilience. The programme was officially launched at the National Fieldays by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Over the life of the programme, LIC is investing $11.2m, MPI is investing $10.3m and DairyNZ is investing $4.2m. “At the heart of the new programme is innovation that aims to deliver long-term economic, environmental and animal health benefits for New Zealand,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s investment programmes director. “For New Zealand to maintain its reputation as a world-leading producer of premium products, we need to further increase the value of our products in a way that improves sustainability. “MPI is investing in this new programme as it aims to deliver longterm gains in a number of areas,

including sustainable production, milk quality, and animal wellbeing, while importantly reducing impacts on the environment.” LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, will leverage its existing capabilities in genomic science and diagnostics to develop innovative breeding tools and tests that support more sustainable milk production. “We’re committed to providing farmers with the tools they need to improve their prosperity and productivity in a sustainable way, with animal health, well-being and the environment at the forefront,” says Richard Spelman, LIC’s chief scientist. “This programme will strengthen our existing research and development work to keep our farmers and New Zealand leading the global pastoral dairy system.” Spelman said the programme would address calls for resilience and sustainability on dairy farms, now and into the future. Investment from industry-good body DairyNZ will go into re-building its national evaluation system for dairy cattle to incorporate genomic information to facilitate faster rates of genetic gain. “Resilient Dairy is our opportunity to get back in front of the world with genetic gain,” says Bruce Thorrold, DairyNZ’s strategic investment leader. “With new discoveries in genomic methods and data collection we are now in the position to jump ahead and incorporate genomic data into our animal evaluation system – enabling the whole sector to maximise genetic gain.”


Families invited to fun day at races After a hugely successful inaugural running in 2018, the Farming Families Day at the Races is set to return again this year. Held in the wake of the mycoplasma bovis outbreak as an outlet in which likeminded people could get off the farm for the day and enjoy an afternoon of fun and entertainment, plans are well under way to make this year’s edition at the Ashburton Trotting Club meeting on Sunday July 14 a must-attend occasion for farming folk from around the South Island, and even further afield. At no cost to those attending, the day sees food, refreshments, entertainment for both adults and children, fashion in the field competition with a huge number of spot prizes to be given away throughout the day right from meal vouchers to accommodation packages. And of course there’s horse racing going on throughout the day as well. A meeting was held earlier this month between representatives of the major

sponsors of the event, event organisers and the Ashburton Trotting Club and there’s plenty of plans in place to make this year’s event even bigger than last year. Well-regarded rural identity Craig Wiggins will be on track to guide those who attend the day through the event with the use of his trusty microphone and he’ll be tapping on the shoulder of a number of harness racing experts to help guide people into a few winners throughout the day as well. The event has seen major support coming from a huge number of businesses and organisations with key sponsorship roles being held by Farmlands, Rabobank, FMG, Farm Source, Ballance, Ashburton Guardian and the Ashburton App with support from the Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust.

REGISTER FOR A FUN EVENT Anyone who wishes to register their interest in attending the event is asked to do so using the Farming Families Day at the Races Facebook page or by emailing

Rural families are being invited to a fun day at the Ashburton races next month. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN



Ashburton App

MING FAMI LIES FARDAY AT THE RACES Sunday, July 14 Starts from 11.30am Ashburton Racecourse Free race book and admission. Come along for a great family day out! We will be providing food, refreshments, losing tote spot prizes, children’s entertainment to give away on the day with the focus on a positive day out for farmers. “Rural fashion in the field”

st via Facebook

Please register your intere

the Races” or email “Farming Families Day at


rst.midcanterbur y@gmail

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