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PHOTO ROBIN HOOD 190818-RH-002
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EDITORIAL COMMENT Fonterra’s interim chief executive Miles Hurrell could be forgiven if he feels like he’s been thrown under the bus. Literally a few days after the dairy co-operative drops its 2017-18 payout forecast by five cents to $6.70 a kilogram of milk solids, he gets the top job. Sure this would have been weeks in the planning, but the timing couldn’t be much worse for him. Previous chairman John Wilson has only just stood down because of health reasons, leaving two new faces in two key positions. That would normally go against corporate wisdom. Also, farmers are pretty grumpy on several counts. They aren’t happy that Fonterra announced earlier this month that farmers and investors are unlikely to be paid a final dividend in order to tighten the balance sheet or that they are getting a smaller milk payment. They have been questioning the co-op’s performance. Fonterra wrote down more than
$400 million earlier this year from its $750m investment with Beingmate and last year was ordered to pay $183m to infant formula maker Danone for losses it incurred from the botulism scare in 2013. Farmers figure they aren’t getting fair value from their expensive shares. So this is the environment that Christchurch-born Hurrell finds himself in one of the highest profile roles in the country and usually the highest paid. Sadly for him it looks like he won’t get the big dosh of his predecessor, outgoing Theo Spierings. The Dutchman who came from the Dutch dairy co-op Royal FrieslandCampina in 2011 to lead the helm, was last year paid
$8.3m, including salary, superannuation payments and cross-year bonuses. Spierings is here to the start of September so there is a pretty small handing of the baton transition. Hurrell has been hired in the interim as Fonterra takes stock of its direction. The board has suspended its international search for a new CEO, while it does this. That all seems to make sense. Presumably a familiar face will keep farmers happy that their boss is within easy reach of them. One of the criticisms Spierings faced was that he distanced himself from the farming front. Hurrell has been with Fonterra for 18 years, more lately as the chief operating officer of its Farm Source unit which is at the coal face with dealing with its 10,500 farmer owners. New chairman John Monaghan told farmers that Hurrell has “great mana’’ and the savviness to deal with managing large, complex business units in many global markets.
So it’s hard to criticise the thinking behind the appointment. Maybe Hurrell is here for keeps, but hiring local is at odds with Fonterra’s track history of hiring chief executives with big overseas track records. Putting inaugural head Craig Norgate to one side, Spierings came from the Netherlands and Andrew Ferrier was a Canadian. It’s hard not to think that Fonterra will resume its international search soon. Send a query to Fonterra and its response would be a predictable: we will hire the best person irrespective of nationality. So do farmers want someone that can satisfy the connection they crave? Or do they want a razor-sharp leader solely focussed on driving out performance. Farmers would argue it’s possible to have both – someone that can relay to them the nuances of the big business and deliver them decent milk payments and share earnings without big boo-boos.
Sunny calving greets new dairy worker Calf rearing newcomer Laura Bagrie has struck a nearperfect winter to start her first job farming. The 18-year-old left her office job in sales in Ashburton to become a calf rearer in July at James and Kerri Lemon’s 950-cow farm at Lauriston. Bagrie has no regrets about the country move and is at ease with her daily attire of gumboots and overalls. “I love animals and the opportunity arose because my father does quite a bit of work on this farm and they needed a calf rearer so I jumped on board. I’ve got no regrets whatsoever – I could never go back to a nine-to-five office job.’’ She isn’t entirely a newbie to country life as she has lived on lifestyle blocks and her parents’ dairy farm which is leased out. But she has enjoyed the chance to learn more about managing stock and can now drive manual vehicles. By October it looks like she will be added to the milking team and she hasn’t set her sights beyond that for a dairying career. “At the moment my focus is on getting the calves healthy and getting them into the paddocks.’’ Her co-workers have let her know she has enjoyed the best winter in a long time with little rain and virtually no mud. James Lemon said staff morale was high as they were not traipsing through muddy paddocks. “The weather has just been a dream and we have been dairying for nine years and I don’t think I have had such a good run for winter and calving – it’s been phenomenal.’’ The only concern was where the weather was heading and farmers needed the security of snow on the hills for
irrigation. “I’m not that confident we have the bulk in the hills to get us through when it gets dry and the run of river can drop quickly. Last summer they held up well and we didn’t have any irrigation restrictions, but my gut feeling is they might come on early this year.’’ Farmers have avoided metabolic issues with their herds because of the mild winter and the survival rate of calves has been high. Normally Lemon might get 250 replacement calves, but it looks like this will rise to 300, leaving him with 50-70 surplus heifer calves which will be raised and sold as incalf heifers. Some of the extra numbers are a result of artificial insemination for first-calving heifers, but the mild winter is thought to have contributed an extra 20-25 heifer calves. Lemon said the other benefits were that there was little pugging in paddocks and feed utilisation was high at about 85 per cent instead of 65-70 per cent for August. Grazed paddocks already carry a green tinge and average grass covers are up at the 320 hectare farm with a 260ha milking platform. However, cows can be hormonal after calving and selectively graze only the best of high pasture covers. Paddocks have to be managed with slower rotations so grazing is at residual levels otherwise pasture quality
Top – James Lemon and Laura Bagrie in the calf pens.
PHOTOS ROBIN HOOD 190818-RH-010
Above left – Feeding time for the calves at the Lemons’ farm.
Above right – Laura Bagrie with Toby Lemon.
can be an issue on the return sweep. Lemon plans to drop some paddocks from grazing for baleage. His milk dockets are up about 25 per cent for the start of the month because of early calving, however milk production per cow is down because energy levels are lower in high pasture covers.
Artificially inseminated heifers were due to calve from July 22-24, but they started landing newborns on July 8 at a rate of 10-12 a day. Dairy NZ head of South Island farm performance Tony Finch said farmers were enjoying a reasonably mild winter after getting through typical wintry conditions in
June. Since then the weather has been in a “kind place’’ and had contributed to more calves arriving than expected, he said. He said the end of August always seemed to bring “one more storm’’ and farmers would be prepared for this eventuality.
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Law changes for movements infuriate Farmers are uncomfortable with changes to animal movement legislation that will give ministry officials the powers to search farms without warrants. Ministry for Primary Industry officials can conduct warrant-less searches of farms under an amendment bill to the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) Act passed under urgency this month by the Government. The bill makes changes to the act which will allow for warrantless inspections aimed at non-co-operating farmers, clarifies animal movement requirements, and makes it an offence not to record animal movements. The government made it known that it was unhappy with low compliance by farmers tracking stock movements through the Nait scheme after the mycoplasma bovis cattle disease was discovered last year. Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said allowing raids on farms without warrants
was overkill and they should not be isolating one part of society. He said the Nait system was inadequate for a large disease incursion. “They set it up for $300,000 and it’s designed to fail. They say only 40 per cent (of farmers) are compliant, but I bet it’s over the other 50 per cent. All it was designed for was the sending and delivery of animals and the key was to get the support of farmers and address an issue without fear of prosecution or persecution. What they are doing is losing the confidence of farmers.’’ Ford said farmers knew they had nothing to worry about if they had nothing to hide, but that did not justify farm
inspections without warrants. He said it would be good if the Government adopted the same enthusiasm to pay compensation for farmers with the disease in the stated 10-14 day period and to speed up culling of cows. The Nait bill might add some value, but the search and surveillance changes appeared to be another sledgehammer to Mid Canterbury farmers in a sector under pressure from M. bovis, said Tavendale and Partners agribusiness partner Tim Silva. A far better approach would be for MPI to win the support of farmers by providing a much more inclusive approach for the M. bovis response, he said. “The powers are more extreme than available to police for drug and other
criminal related searches,’’ he said. “There is no problem with the other tweaks of the Nait legislation. They are just tweaks to a system which seem to be reasonable, but it would seem prudent to have a search warrant with its checks and balances.’’ The agribusiness law firm has seven lawyers acting for farmer clients affected by M. bovis. Industry-good organisation DairyNZ supported the government’s decision to pass amendments to Nait legislation this week. “It’s become clear over the past year, as we deal with the fall out of mycoplasma bovis, that some farmers haven’t been taking the requirements to record animal movements through Nait as seriously
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as they should have been,” said chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. The failure of farmers to complete Nait records had caused problems for the disease response and legislated changes were necessary. Crucial to preventing the spread of a future disease was knowing where cattle had been, he said. The amendments align search and inspection powers in the Nait Act with those that the National government passed in the Search and Surveillance Act in 2012. In Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor’s first reading of the bill, he said the bill would ensure all animal movements could be tracked and people moving stock to unregistered locations without declaring the movements could be held to account. The bill was not about increasing powers for officers but ensuring that those already available to them could be used properly and be aligned with other legislation to help eradication efforts, he said.
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A flying milking start for dairy farmers Canterbury dairy farmers have got away to a racing start for the 2018-19 season judging by the first 17 days of Fonterra’s milk collection. The milk co-operative collected 54.4 million litres of milk in the province over the first two and a half weeks of August which is up 19.3 per cent from the same period last year. Farmers won’t be getting overly excited yet as it is early days and the extra milk is as much a reflection of a poor start last year as this season’s mild winter, earlier calving and promising grass growth. Farm Source Canterbury regional head Charles Fergusson said milking arrived off the back of a poor winter last year and hopefully the good start would point to a more normal season. This did not necessarily reflect a fantastic year would lie ahead, he said. “I expect a significant narrowing in these percentages as our volumes increase. We expect to collect 185 million litres of milk during August in Canterbury so it is too early
to say what impact a good first few days of milking will have.’’ The mild winter - after a couple of wet weeks in June had placed farmers in a better position and driving around the Canterbury Plains provided a far different picture than last winter, he said. “It is really early and we’ve got a lot of farmers yet to even start milking but it’s been a very favourable winter.’’ Canterbury provides 23 per cent of the co-operative’s domestic milk. Fergusson said milk flows for winter contracts were much stronger than last winter and early calving for the main season was promising. He said it would be wrong
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to paint too rosy a picture for dairying because of the mycoplasma bovis cow disease. “If we can have a good spring it would be positive for everybody. A good spring consistent with a good payout would lift farmer sentiments.’’ Farmers were disappointed after Fonterra lowered its milk
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price forecast this month by 5 cents to $6.70 a kilogram of milk solids for the 2017-18 season. The co-operative remains firm on this season’s payout forecast of $7/kg, but economists are looking at a lower figure on the back of a 9-plus per cent drop in the
Globaldairytrade auction. Fergusson said a lot could happen with the season ahead and farmers would be hoping for high milk flows at the peak of the season, usually mid to late October. Irrigation helped remove some of the volatility of weather changes in Canterbury, he said.
NZ milk bound for India in new joint venture India’s digitally-savvy youths are the target for New Zealand milk in a dairy range by a new joint venture with dairy giant Fonterra. The partnership is with one of India’s largest consumer companies Future Consumer Ltd and will produce a range of consumer and foodservice products. This will tie in with growing demand for better nutrition in India, particularly within “New India’’. The reality is India’s complex mix of wealth and poverty means that not everyone will be able to afford the dairy range. Fonterra is returning to the tough market after retreating from a previous joint venture in 2009. Since then Old India’s transformation to New India has accelerated with vast malls alongside corner shops. Driving much of the demand for better nutrition is the country’s large young population with 70 per cent of its people aged below 45-years-old. India’s youth is digital, lives in urban areas, leads an active lifestyle, has
more disposable income and wants higher quality dairy products. The new partnership, called Fonterra Future Dairy Partners, plans to launch the first products midway into next year and has begun some product development. They might include fresh cheese paneer or cultured butter ghee and Future Consumer also has a chilled supply chain so this might allow it to extend the range beyond long-life milk. Global Consumer and Foodservice chief operating officer Lukas Paravicini said the partnership would help Fonterra establish a presence in India. “It will allow us to … make the most of our expertise as
we enter the world’s largest and fastest growing dairy industry. Consumer demand for dairy in India over the next seven years is set to increase by 82 billion litres – seven times the forecasted growth for China.’’ Locally sourced milk and dairy products from New Zealand will go into the range. Paravicini said the Indian dairy industry was transforming itself.
“This has resulted in a big shift away from more traditional locally-based dairy businesses with limited product and brand differentiation, to a new era where more value-added and innovative dairy products are in high demand across the country.’’ Future Group chief executive officer Kishore Biyani said the dairy industry in India was flourishing.
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Virtual calves a winner in trying times The effects of mycoplasma bovis continue to ripple through communities, making itself felt far beyond the farm gates of the unfortunate few whose herds have tested positive. These people quite rightly attract the bulk of the media attention for, through no fault of their own, they are facing huge stress levels, devastating stock losses and an uncertain financial future. One of the side effects of M. bovis is that here in the South Island four-day-old friesian calf prices have taken a tumble. Calf buyers have backed out of the market, their reluctance to rear calves this season fuelled by a number of factors: fewer contracts available for 100 kilogram calves, milk powder is expensive, cheap penicillin milk is off limits and there is the fear that the person you buy from could test positive for the disease. Calf club days and fund raisers, community events and the life blood of some clubs, have been cancelled up and down the country. Some smaller ventures like
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the one run by Mid Canterbury Rugby Union have found a way to go ahead, ensuring the annual injection of some $25,000 into junior rugby continues. Larger ones however, like that run by IHC, have been put on hold at a cost of well over $500,000 to the organisation. I had the opportunity to speak to the IHC Calf Scheme organisers before they made their decision public and was blown away by their compassion, decency and sheer desire to do the right thing. During that conversation I kept focusing on the money they were missing out on, but that never factored into their decision to suspend the event this season. Farmers, they reasoned, had been backing them for
30 years now and it was only right that IHC did what they could to protect the industry that had shown them unwavering support for so long. Yes it was a big financial blow, but a bigger blow would be to facilitate the spread of the disease. I tweeted about IHC’s decision and said I’d still rear the two calves I’d pledged and donate the proceeds, urging other farmers to do the same. The response from the farming community was universally positive with some continu-
ing to rear calves and others pledging a “virtual calf ”, a $300 donation. It wasn’t just the farming community that was moved by IHC’s selfless call, North Island teacher Jacky Braid saw my tweet and resolved that twitter should pitch in and help, so she set up a bank account and a goal of buying a virtual calf and asked for donations. With the first virtual calf easily bought Jacky kept the ball rolling and donations poured in from Kiwis all over
the world. Soon she had her second, third, fourth and fifth virtual calves. She didn’t stop though and set her sights on seven virtual calves, a total of $2100 for IHC, and she fittingly reached that goal on her birthday (which also happens to be mine). I like to think that with support like this the financial impact of IHC’s decision will be negligible and maybe, just maybe, that urban/rural divide isn’t quite as big as I thought it was.
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Recruitment options over calving With most of you running around after calves at the moment, administration is unlikely to be a priority. If you are also faced with recruiting over this busy period, this can only add to your stress. It is understandably tempting to rush your recruitment and jump at the first applicant that seems alright and is immediately available. Who can blame you? However we caution against this as we have, too often, seen a rushed recruitment effort coming back to haunt employers. Our view is that the dairy industry is experiencing one of its tightest labour markets since just before the Global Financial Crisis. Quality New Zealand staff became thin-onthe-ground earlier than usual this season. With the economy still growing steadily, our potential labour pool is being pulled in many directions, with many other industries also short of staff and competing on wages and time off. With the labour market pool thin, it is crucial to prioritise robust screening and reference
checks on candidates. There are often issues concealed from CVs that only come out after robust checking. These include police and drug histories; health issues; problems with driver’s licences, or the lack of them. There are, of course, legitimate reasons for some good farm staff looking for jobs at this time of year, but work needs to be put in to ensure the facts being presented to you stack-up. It is our experience that you may be best served at this time of year to include non-New Zealand staff in your search, whether these staff are in New Zealand or overseas. Some may have flexible working conditions on their visas such as working holiday
visas or post-study visas and can start immediately, but they may not have the levels of experience you need longterm. Other better qualified candidates may need to apply for correct work visas, but these take time to get. However, our experience is that if you cannot find the quality of staff you are looking for right now, you may be better served to find a temporary/relief solution to see you through the next 4-8 weeks, and then focus on the pool of non-New Zealand permanent staff options, who may be a better long-term fit to your farm. Our immigration team takes care of most of the visas
for our non- New Zealand recruits. I know that their work requires the employer to have genuinely tested the labour market, including advertising widely and listing with Work and Income. We believe this is a good thing for New Zealand, as we aim to achieve the highest levels of employment we can reasonably achieve. The problem is, our evidence points to us already being at or near record low unemployment levels, especially in the farming industry. Therefore I suggest that you make sure you advertise your vacancy both nationally (for example through Farmsource and/or a recruitment
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Farmers hurting by payout and divvy drop Dairy farmers in the Ashburton district stand to lose about $20,000 each from Fonterra winding back its payout forecast by 5 cents to $6.70 a kilogram of milk solids for last season. This will drain $10 million from the Mid Canterbury economy and a total of $75m from the national economy. The final payout is usually confirmed next month, but the cooperative announced on August 10 the cut to the milk payment for 2017-18. Furthermore, it appears to have ruled out paying farmers and other investors a dividend for the second half of the year and it looks like the full dividend will remain at 10c, already paid in April. Dairy farmers have seen heftier cuts before, but any decrease in the payout is unwanted, especially this late in the year. Dromore farmer Chris Ford expects he will be down by about $40,000 in lost revenue from two farms. He said this could have gone to staff wages or covering other farm expenses. “At five cents a milk solid, that’s $20,000 off your bottom line and with the new levy from mycoplasma bovis coming and other costs that’s coming out of our pockets,’’ said Ford, the Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy chairman. Ashburton district farmers have larger herds than nationally and if they produce about 400,000kg of milk solids, the lower payout would remove $20,000 from expected revenue of about $2.7m. “Any drop in payout is disappointing. As a farmer we would prefer they under-value and overperform,’’ said Ford. “We just hope it’s not a reflection of where things are going for next year. Farmers have enough to deal with especially Mid Canterbury farmers with mycoplasma bovis and we need the industry to be on the positive side of the ledger with these ups and downs.’’ New Fonterra chairman John Monaghan said it was important for the co-operative to have a strong balance sheet. He said the year had already been challenging as a result of the payment to Danone and the “impairment’’ of the co-op’s investment in Chinese company Beingmate. Earlier this year Fonterra wrote down more than $400m from its $750m investment in Beingmate, and last year had to shell out $183m to infant formula maker Danone for the
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Premium, Quality Product! botulism scare in 2013. “Our forecast performance is not where we expected it would be,’’ said Monaghan. “While the numbers are not finalised, our margins were less than we forecasted right across our global Ingredients and Consumer and Foodservice businesses.’’ Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull said Fonterra’s leadership could expect some “very challenging’’ talks with the council about how they would restore the confidence of shareholders. “I can understand the board’s rationale and that it is prudent to protect the balance sheet, but the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable.’’ Dairy NZ senior economist Matthew Newman said Fonterra suppliers in Mid Canterbury, from Waimakariri and including the Ashburton district, produced about 257 million kilograms of milk solids each year and would receive about $10m less in revenue. Average Mid Canterbury suppliers would be down by about $16,500, he said. “Although the 5c reduction is for the 2017-18 milk price, it is the 201819 season that will have the lower revenue as a result. It is a small impact and won’t have serious implications for farmers, but it is a decrease nonetheless.’’ The average milk solid production for Mid Canterbury farms is 329,000kg and the herd size is 760 cows. Fonterra’s trim to the payout removes $75m from $12.5 billion in revenue and overall suppliers with smaller herds nationally will lose $8000. The co-operative advised its share earnings would either be at the 25-30 cents range or slightly below. Its full year results will be announced on September 13. A Fonterra spokesman said the co-op had no plans to adjust milk payment forecasts for the 2018-19 season, despite easing milk prices in the Globaldairytrade auction.
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Hard work, avoiding money traps pays divid From hot-footing it in a smoky nightclub to owning farm equity, Chris and Jodi Ford have made giant strides in dairying, writes Tim Cronshaw. Dromore dairy farmers Chris and Jodi Ford came to Mid Canterbury for its dairying scale and opportunities. They have no regrets about making the move. Today the hard-working pair oversee two farms, each with 900 cows, on “blue-chip’’ land. They have a 30 per cent equity stake in one of them and have the opportunity to invest in the other. There remains another goal to one day own their own farm outright in a 10-year timeframe. In the meantime, they have their hands full running two large operations. Balclutha-raised Chris Ford began working in the dairy industry as a 16-year-old in Reporoa, his family moving there from Otago 10 years earlier. From the outset he wanted to own a farm after watching his father narrowly miss out, thwarted by rising land prices. “I think you make your own
luck. The people who sit back and wait are the ones that complain that farm ownership is never achievable. Looking outside the box, having the right mentors and network is the way to get ahead.’’ They arrived in Canterbury in June 2007 from the Bay of Plenty where they had worked on a hill country farm milking 650 cows. “The first job we came to here was dead flat milking 1500 cows in Hinds for Evan Chisnall as lower order sharemilkers on a first year conversion. The thing that got me was the irrigation and farming all year. It didn’t matter what soil we had, water, water and
water was the key.’’ As lower order sharemilkers – employing staff but owning neither cows or plant – they received a percentage of the milk cheque. “We made enough money in the first year to pay off freehold a house we had in Papamoa by Mt Maunganui.
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That was a great pay off for moving down here.’’ Their timing was good as their arrival landed during a high paying season of a $7plus payout per kilogram of milk solids. Almost exactly a year later they moved to the farm which is home base now for them.
The farm was then known as Dromore Dairies and part of a group owned by Pete Williams and the late Allan Hubbard. They were hired as contract milkers – paid a contract price based on cents per kilogram of milk solids. The following June they
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dends for Ford family Far left and left – It’s a girl – cow with calf a few minutes after birth. 180818-RH-017, 180818-RH-024
were employed as 50:50 sharemilkers, owning cows and plant, at Kokura Holdings, at that stage under PA Farms (P for Pete and A for Allan). The property was once owned by John Roadley, founding chairman of Fonterra and pivotal for merging companies to form the co-operative. For five years they worked there as sharemilkers until
the death of Hubbard in a car accident in 2013 resulted in them being offered an equity stake in the farm. With no second thoughts they sold their cows and sharemilking business to raise capital. By then the Fords had reduced the herd size from 1300 cows to 1200, steadily raising the genetic quality of the friesian and friesian cross herd
with a few jerseys. “We dropped the numbers but production stayed the same per hectare at 2200kg/ ha because the per-cow production went up as a result of culling cows. We were also able to sell off good lines of cows for cashflow as I was trading a bit.’’ Today they are equity shareholding managers of the
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farm, which now comes under Williams Holdings Ltd. “Farm ownership was definitely a goal for us and was always achievable – that’s what we were pushing for. I remember the day because it was the day the big wind came and we had 50 trees blown down and no power for seven days. We had bought a bottle of champagne from duty free for $170 and always said we would drink it when we got our own farm. Because of the changeover from sharemilker to farm owner we were so busy we didn’t get to drink it until New Year – we’ve still got its case.’’ The “putrid’’ tasting bottle didn’t dampen the moment for them of finally getting a stake in the farm. Ford works on the farms every day, often helping feeding out. Each farm has a manager, two full-time staff and a full-
time harvester. This season the Fords aim to produce 436,000kg of milk solids from each farm at 470kg per cow under a low input system supplemented by 800kg of grain and palm kernel extract per cow. Early calving began on July 15 with 160 heifer calves expected from each farm. Ford aims for the “sweet spot’’ in the System 2-3 operation, optimising grazing for cow consumption. At Kokura is the oldest rotary milking shed in Mid Canterbury, a 50 bail structure built in 1978. Jodi looks after much of the paperwork for both farms that is not done by a Timaru office for the wider group including four farms in Waimate and five in Mid Canterbury. This season they took on more responsibilities, to oversee the other 900-cow farm called Winchmore and at the end of the year they have the opportunity to invest in the business. Ford says they could never have achieved what they have without Jodi. Continued over page
from page 11 “Jodi has been on the journey the whole way since we met 19 years ago in 1999 across a smoky nightclub floor in Rotorua. The same year the Highlanders were robbed by the Crusaders in the Super final when Caleb Ralph put his foot into touch before cameras and then France beat the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter final so 1999 wasn’t a flash year,’’ says the passionate rugby supporter, tongue-in cheek. Rugby memorabilia is hung up on the Fords’ lounge wall – signed jerseys and rugby balls amid a rugby book collection. Each year they like to watch an All Black game and have a season pass for the Crusaders – Ford drawing the line though when they take on his beloved Highlanders. That’s when the Highlanders jersey comes out. They like to give back to the community and sponsor charities as well as the senior University of Canterbury women’s team which their daughter has played for since the age of 14. Next year they are off to watch pool games at the World Cup in Japan. Ford also is a supporter of Federated Farmers and among his many duties finds time to
Chris Ford at John Roadley’s old milking shed. The Dromore farmer is a Mid Canterbury dairy leader for Federated Farmers. 180818-RH-028
be the chairman of the Mid Canterbury dairy section. The feds connection can be traced back to 2003 when they were lower order sharemilking at a 300-odd cow farm in Whakatane and entered the local dairy awards, winning
several minor prizes. Among the prizes was leadership training by the federation which led to Ford being elected as the sharemilkers chairman for Bay of Plenty, eventually rising to vice chairman on the sharemilkers’
board for the organisation. During this stint he came to see the value of building networks and connecting himself with like-minded driven people. Then he took a five-year break from leadership and
lobbying to concentrate on family and dairy farming. Reconnecting with the feds this year, he was immediately embroiled in the mycoplasma bovis outbreak and has done a lot of work to support farmers. The cow disease is
The Ford family at calving – Leah (left) Chris, Jodi and Tayla.
not his only concern. “I can’t see into the future, but it concerns me the lack of moisture at the moment and it concerns me where Fonterra is sitting in regards to an interim chief executive and the drop in the dairy price
and lack of delivery this year. A sign of a good company is its dividend return. We don’t know many companies which go ‘whoa there is no more dividend’.’’ Jodi says a lot of effort has gone into getting where
they are today and they have many people to thank for their progress. When they arrived in Mid Canterbury and a bank turned them down for an overdraft, a Whakatane employer personally rung its managers
to get them to change their minds, she says. “We were starting out and didn’t have the business sense and we have grown and we were lucky that the business leaders here showed us the way. Ex-employers
and industry leaders we know personally have all contributed. We also owe a lot to both our families.’’ Some of the best advice they received was to be cautious with their money and avoid the trap of buying new cars and shiny toys. As a youngster growing up in Reporoa, Ford watched his father rise in logistics management – initially as the import manager for the local dairy company – after coming so close to owning a farm. “They used to have farm ballots and when we applied every day Dad saved money but the ballot moved up in price. He thought he would move to North Island to earn his fortune to buy a farm. He’s been in logistics management for 35 years and retires next year.’’ Ford senior takes six weeks unpaid leave each year to work on the farm and he and his wife are building a house on Kokura in preparation of moving there next year. “He got there in the end,’’ says Ford. “The big thing for me is for Dad to be here. That’s what he wants and I want to make it happen. Dad wants to return and be here with his grandchildren and work on our farm.’’
Keep tabs on cover What’s the best way to keep your pasture cover on track this spring? And when is pasture enough, or not enough? DairyNZ feed developer Sally Peel provides some timely advice. At this time of year, it’s difficult to find the time to monitor average pasture cover (APC). However, keeping a close eye on your cover allows you to determine if there’s a shortfall in feed. Regularly assessing your farm’s APC every seven to 14 days will also allow you to get the best value from DairyNZ’s Spring Rotation Planner by monitoring actual APC against your target APC. One of the aims of spring feed allocation is to have your APC at its lowest when pasture growth is expected to equal feed demand. If your APC is below the target line, the quickest way to get back on track is to hold the rotation length and not speed up until APC is back on target. If you have insufficient feed for your milkers, consider supplementing dry cows and restrict their pasture allocation, or supplement milkers to achieve a consistent even-grazing residual. If you’re anticipating a feed shortage, consider using nitrogen or, if it’s profitable for you, supplements can help to build pasture cover by extending rotation length. If your APC is above target, you may have the opportunity to speed up your rotation by increasing the area offered to cows, and/or removing supplement while ensuring cows are still grazing to a consistent and even grazing height. Learn more about average pasture cover at dairynz.co.nz/APC
Common questions about supplements Q: Will feeding supplements improve reproduction? A: No, not if cows are at target BCS at calving and are adequately fed on pasture. Pasture is enough if you have enough of it. Q: If I’m feeding supplements, can I stop doing so during mating? A: Yes, if the energy supplied by pasture is adequate, there is nothing
FEED AND NUTRITION MANAGEMENT
to fear (both from an in-calf rate or profitability perspective) from reducing or removing supplement during the mating period. Q: Are there reproductive benefits from feeding a high-starch supplement during early lactation? A: No, there’s no benefit to reproductive performance from feeding a starch-based versus a fibre-based supplement.
Feeding cows: is pasture enough? Good-quality pasture provides a well-balanced feed for dairy cows, supplying them with energy, protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals. In fact, spring pasture offers enough protein to allow cows to produce up to 2.5 kilograms of milksolids per day (kg MS/day). It’s true that cows fed a total mixed ration (TMR) – a method of feeding by blending many ingredients – will produce more milk than cows grazing pastures. However, most of the difference in milk production is due to the increased dry matter (DM) intake and reduced activity in a TMR system, and not the nutrient composition of the diet. So, if supplements are required for energy, they should be purchased on a basis of cents per megajoules of metabolisable energy (MJ ME). It’s important to remember that the profitability of using supplements depends on both the revenue generated from the purchased feed and how much it costs. Based on the last 10 years of DairyBase data, the average response to supplements is 80 grams (g) MS/ kg DM supplement fed. However, this response will vary depending on how supplements and pasture are managed in the system. If your cows are grazing high-quality pasture to residuals of 1500 to 1600kg DM/ha, adding supplements to the diet will simply result in cows leaving more pasture in the paddock. For more information, check out DairyNZ’s Feeding cows in spring book at dairynz.co.nz/spring
A cow-centred approach What’s at the centre of your dairy farming system? Your cows of course! So why not let them lead your decisionmaking around feed and nutrition management. At Mineral Systems we call this a CowCentred Approach. 1. Dietary Analysis. There’s always a link between disease and diet. Analysing pasture and feed helps you understand these dietary risks to cow health and control them in the short term. The beauty of this approach is it will also reveal the underlying problem, which can then be addressed with customised mineral supplementation (not some offthe-shelf product). 2. Fertiliser. The next step is to minimise dietary risk in the first place. You have more control over this than you think through your fertiliser choices.
By considering the requirements of your cows, as well as the plant and soil, you can reduce disease risk from the diet and improve animal health and production on your farm. 3. Nutrient Management. Finally, while nutrient leaching targets can be seen as onerous and limiting to production, they often come with unrealised benefits to animal health. In fact, considering animal requirements first can positively impact nutrient management on your farm, meaning improved sustainability and superior performance can go hand in hand. Our Cow-Centred Approach delivers a simple and sustainable process with your animals in the driving seat. So, if you’re looking for independent animal health, fertiliser or nutrient management advice give me a call on (03) 339 4450. Advertisng feature
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Wallace Group extends services to Southland Agricultural recyclers Wallace Group has extended its operations into Southland, creating 50 seasonal jobs. The group began operations from its new Mataura site on July 18. About 20 seasonal contracting and 30 seasonal staffing jobs have been created. Last year, there were reports the market was in decline, but Wallace Group chief executive Graham Shortland said the market had been turning back around, providing an opportunity for the business to expand. “The market has gotten a bit better than what it was one, two, three years ago. For the smaller skins, it’s not all rosy, but calf skins have gotten better in the past year.” About $200,000 had been spent on the expansion, which included trucks, equipment and capital items. Having the site based in Mataura was geographically ideal, and Southland’s dairy and farming industry made the region a good choice, Shortland said. “We are committed to
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extending collection coverage and providing a timely and efficient service for removing waste materials and turning them into higher value products.” “While we have decades of experience in casualty cow collection and recycling of
agricultural wastes, we are always looking for creative ways we can add value to the industry.” The expansion had been in the pipeline for several months before the existing building became available. Shortland said the new
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venture would benefit the region economically, and offer work to those who might otherwise not be employed. He also believed there was a gap in the market for the service. “The recycling of coproducts from the agricultural
sector performs a valuable service for farmers and processors, as well as protecting the natural environment from the impact of dead stock.” Wallace Group picks up about half a million slink lambs annually in the South Island and around 40 to 50,000 in the North Island. The company also provides a year-round casualty cow collection service to farmers in most New Zealand regions. Shortland said there had been a huge push towards having customised vehicles for the service. “We are on a mission to strengthen the agri-recycling industry. We have created the nationwide network to remove hundreds of thousands of dead stock that would otherwise be left on the land – which has a very positive impact on the environment – and the processing capability to create a wide range of products from meat and bone meals, to hides and skins for export,” Shortland said. Advertising feature
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Helping farmers manage animals DairyNZ’s Early Response Service team springs into action to support farmers whenever concerns are raised about the wellbeing of livestock. DairyNZ’s animal care extension specialist Bruce Eyers explains how the service works. The confidential Early Response Service (ERS) has been successful in helping farmers manage their animals when the going gets tough. It operates nationwide with regionally-based animal care specialists supported by the dairy companies. People contact the service for different reasons. For example, someone driving by may think cows don’t have enough to eat or notice the break fence hasn’t been moved, or rural professionals such as vets and neighbours may have concerns about animal welfare. “One of our advantages in these circumstances is that DairyNZ has a reputation as an unbiased intermediary with farming experience,” says Bruce. “Spring can be a particularly busy time of year for our ERS team. It’s a challenging time when people are under stress anyway, and last spring in my region, the upper North Island, some farmers were simply overwhelmed when the weather conditions raised animal welfare risks on-farm. “All calls to our freephone remain confidential,” says Bruce. “When we receive one, we go through a detailed process with a dairy company colleague to assess the situation across the board and to offer realistic solutions. Of course, some calls are misjudgements, but we always visit the farm, and check the welfare of the animals as well as the wellbeing of the farmer. “If there is a genuine issue, we then assess risks and
write an action plan for the farmer to follow. This outlines practical steps showing what can be done today, this week and next week. We return to make sure the actions are being followed up, and we advise the dairy company when the case can be closed. Only in rare cases, where there has been deliberate
mistreatment of animals (and all those involved feel the case needs escalating), does the relevant dairy company make the decision to contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).” Bruce believes there is now an appreciation among farmers that inappropriate behaviour around animal welfare
puts the entire dairy sector at reputational risk. “There is plenty of support available. For example, if someone only has four or five days of feed left, if they let us know, we can get in touch with Federated Farmers to see if they can rustle some up. We also work with the Rural Support Trust and vets to help us.
“Being part of the ERS team is a challenging job, but very rewarding because in most cases you are supporting farmers in difficult circumstances and it’s great to see them getting back on track,” says Bruce. DairyNZ’s Early Response Service can be contacted on 0800 4 324 7969.
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ANIMAL WELFARE FEATURE
Cows need rest before returning to work Calving has started. What are the points that are important to minimise lameness currently? At the start of the season it is important to realise what the risk factors are, and how to manage them as this has an impact on the whole season and possibly beyond. Spring is a particularly important time because there are lots of things happening in the cow’s life that are stressful. At calving there are lots of hormonal changes in the body, their diet often changes suddenly, getting into a different routine etc. This is even more so for rising two-year-olds. They have never calved, or been milked before and, the more dominant heifers, in particular, will struggle with finding their place in a new herd where they suddenly are not the dominant animals anymore. So, at this time of the year a big focus should be on minimising stress on our cows. This is important at any time of the year but particularly so at calving time. You need
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to make sure cows are fully fed, keep heifers in a separate herd, practise excellent animal handling skills and make sure your cows have comfortable dry resting areas. I can hear some of you thinking that this just isn’t practical and we need to eat out the paddocks properly to make sure we have a good quality grass in our second round. Don’t underestimate the importance of resting and of fully feeding your cows. Of course, there is a balance between fully feeding and wasting grass and that needs to be managed properly as well. But if you hold back on your cows in order to gain a better quality grass, then it will cost you more than you probably realise. Why not use a mower? That is what they
are made for and it doesn’t cost as much. It only feels that way because you can see and calculate the cost and it is a lot harder to calculate the gains of properly fed cows. The resting opportunity is a big challenge for most farmers, especially on irrigated farms where all the trees had to be taken out to give way
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to the centre pivot. On top of that, many cows in New Zealand are now wintered on winter crops. You may have noticed that those cows spend a lot more time standing particularly when we have had some rain. Those cows haven’t had the rest over the winter that they needed. They are “coming
to work” after their holiday already tired and it’s only going downhill from there. That is why I have big problems with the way winter crops are being fed. It is too hard on the cows, and you will be paying for it in loss of production, lameness, mastitis and the image that you create to the public.
ANIMAL WELFARE FEATURE
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Hoofbond footbaths are specially designed for New Zealand dairy farms to limit lameness, help prevent hoof rot, protect against heel erosion and promote resistance to bacterial infection. The mattress is made in NZ from 100 per cent recycled hard wearing rubber, designed to reduce excessive splashing and spread the toes allowing superior penetration of the fluid into each cleat. Easy to wash surface minimises contamination of the solution and reduces the recharge frequency keeping your costs down. The super tough self supporting tray is made in New Zealand from recyclable polyethylene that will never rust or rot. Tray size is 2150 x 960 x 58mm. It’s simple and it works – call today to speak to one of our friendly sales team 0800 80 85 70. Advertisng feature
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ANIMAL WELFARE FEATURE
Hoof Haven Foot Bath Research has shown that lameness can come at a cost of $7000 per 100 cows. Lameness can cause a loss in production, lower fertility, poor longevity plus a high cost in hoof trimming. Ceemee hoof haven is made of 3mm galvanised steel. It’s 2.30m long and 900mm wide, making for a comfortable fit into the bails. It has a slight ramp into and out of the bath. The step down helps to open the animal’s claws and hoofs wide. This movement, plus the design of our mats, help to press-push the penetration of the treatment products. Using the hoof haven foot bath with the right solution will kill or inhibit bacterial infections like foot-rot and heel erosion as the action from the mat water and solution is penetrated up between the opened toes and cracks. Washing away objects stack in the hoof small stone etc plus where bacteria inflames the soft skin and under the horn lining Why have we made these out of steel and not plastic? The weight of the steel means it wont move when the animals
jump on too it. Steel lasts longer in any weather. Basically, it just stands up better. This season we have had cows bulling when standing in it and it hasn’t moved. Using the hoof havens in the shed hasn’t slowed the flow on the girls coming in. It does for the first 3-4 days then they forget it there. The hoof haven is designed to go above ground level, as study has shown animals prefer to step up to a bath rather than stepping into unknown water depth. A video is available to view on our Facebook page. The mats are locked in at one end making sure they wont slip or slide. Ceemee mats are double skinned meaning they can be used both sides. They are sewn down the middle in a diamond shape. The reason for this is it stops the form from moving and rolling inside the coving. Healthy hooves for optimum animal walfare. Advertisng feature
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HEATWAVE on-demand feeding station
Ad-lib warm milk feeding for
LAMBS CALVES GOATS
Improved lifetime performance Increased growth Simple & easy 24 hours between refills Low labour & low cost
189 Great North Road, Winton
(03) 236 8324
ANIMAL WELFARE FEATURE
Why are calves different to babies? How many women feed their babies on demand? And how many would restrict their children’s access to milk? It’s an interesting point to ponder. I recently attended a conference in the UK where the same question was posed about baby calves. They are the only animals who get restricted access to milk and some would argue that they would benefit from more. If heifers never reach target bulling weight they can be drafted out into the meat chain, but when so much time and effort is vested in genetics it’s a pity they never have a chance to perform as adults. Equally, those with low 15 month weights will never reach their genetic potential. There is increasing evidence from the UK and Northern Europe that during the first 42 days of life the calf has a very efficient feed conversion rate (FCR). If a calf is offered totally ad-lib milk, fed to appetite, it will not only drink 10 to 12 L/day in seven or eight meals, but it will grow at over 1kg/ day. It’s a very efficient time in the growth phase and should be exploited. Not only does the calf grow bigger but all the internal organs are better developed. Optimising the heifer’s genetic potential will bring improved lifetime performance. Some studies have shown
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gill Dickson with husband Alan ran a contract calf rearing business buying and selling 600 calves/ year for 20+ years in Hereford UK. a larger udder parenchyma laid down at this time which potentially leads to higher productivity. There is evidence that these well-fed heifers go on to produce more total solids when they come into lactation and live longer, which has a big effect on profitability. Whilst most would acknowledge these facts, there are questions raised about committing to ad-lib feeding.
Common questions include:
• Will they scour? • Will they suck navels? • How do you manage the transition to dry food at weaning? Having reared 600 calves/ year for many years on an
ad-lib system I feel I am in a position to offer an opinion. Firstly, animals take multiple small meals on this system so the abomasum isn’t overloaded with a vast quantity of milk, so digestion is good with very little scour or abomasal bloat. Secondly, calves which are fully fed don’t suck navels as their appetite is satisfied at the teat and they don’t harass other calves when they feel hungry again. Thirdly, the animals FCR benefits most in the first 40 days of life, so a two-stage approach gives easy weaning. There are two ways to approach weaning. Either wait until the calf has doubled its birthweight then offer ad lib milk by day and ad lib cold
water via teat at night. Or alternatively, offer ad-lib milk for 40 days in the barn then transfer calves to the traditional twice a day feeding via milk bar trailer and turn out to paddocks with ad lib creep available. Either method prevents a check at weaning. It’s not just the calves who benefit from milk on offer all day. The system offers a more flexible lifestyle, so feeding time no longer clashes with school pick-up time and calves can be fed at a time convenient to the calf rearer. by Gill Dickson Calf and youngstock advisor Pyon Products Ltd Advertising feature
Above – Dairy x beef breeds will drink 10-12 L/day
Left top – Contented calves take small frequent feeds
They also ran an animal health and nutrition business for 25 years. Gill is a registered feed advisor, and worked as senior calf specialist for the Wynnstay group until starting a new family business in 2015. Pyon Products markets a simple, affordable ad-lib rearing system for whole milk or milk powder which was launched in New Zealand at Fieldays 2017. The Heatwave milk warmer system can be used for calves, lambs or goat kids. NZ stockist is Dairytech South, 189 Great North Road, Winton. info@dairytechsouth. co.nz (03) 236 8324
Website www. pyonproducts.com to view the videos Left bottom – Typical set up: 4 teats for 30 calves.
Not all lime is created equal Lime quality can vary by up to 30% from one supplier to another, creating unnecessary expense for less results.
It is essential that you know the quality of the lime going onto your ground, and you need to trust the information you are being given. If you’re keen to know about the lime you are using, get on the phone to your Aglime supplier and ask to see recent results from a New Zealand IANZ accredited independent lab. If you get given a test or advice suggesting over 100% LE on an as delivered basis (or even near 100%) we would strongly recommend you seek some advice before taking that as gospel. Why? Quite simply, if the results show a percentage that high, the testing methodology has failed, it is being incorrectly reported or the results are fabricated.
We’ve been in the lime industry for a very long time and we pride ourselves on producing a consistent, high quality product and we use independent IANZ accredited labs that specialize in fertilizer testing to regularly test our products. Reporting our quality honestly is key, as it’s this information that a customer can use to understand how much lime they need to apply and when the pH change will be achieved. As you would expect, we know a lot about the science behind lime and the ways in which its quality can be tested, and recent claims by competitors have, quite simply, got us shaking our heads!
For comparison, here is our test results Wet LE
To see the results for yourself, get in touch today for a quote: 0800 303 980 • www.vlime.co.nz
The benefits of Victory AgLime: • Stimulates soil biology • Maximizes crop yields • Minimizes the use of costly fertilizers • Is a consistent, proven, high quality product • Quality tested by IANZ accredited labs • A range of different quantities available.
For further information, copies of test results, or to enquire about our products, get in touch with our friendly team today.