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Dairy Focus JULY 2017

Calving

gets under way Page 10 - 11

House of Hearing


2

Dairy Focus

Farming GUARDIAN

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EDITORIAL COMMENT

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Action needed on migrant worker visas

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Southern hub research ‘invaluable’

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PAGE 24

Detect herd health problems early

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

Calving is under way for another year and although the recent wet weather caused a bit of on-farm surface flooding, that’s not the issue that’s been causing many dairy farmers sleepless nights. Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy section chairman Nathan Currie said the biggest concern in dairying at the moment is about how farmers are being portrayed in the media and the resulting image of them held by the general public. “There are a lot of stressed farmers out there and it’s not around payout. They’re upset about public perception,” he said. “If you’re an axe murderer you’re probably more well liked than we are.” What makes it worse for many, is that historically farmers were looked at as respectable pillars of society, putting food on the table of those who lived in towns.

That wasn’t that long ago. But a combination of bad press and urban ignorance has seen that good image well and truly slip. Farmers, and in particularly dairy farmers, just don’t seem to be getting their story out there. Groups like Greenpeace are getting a lot of mileage in mainstream media portraying farmers as the worse kind of environmental vandal, even if the overwhelming amount of evidence simply does not back that up. That doesn’t mean that change is not coming to the farm, particularly when it comes to proving that farms are operating in accordance with good management practices. For most, if not all, dairy farms, that will mean getting a farm environmental plan and then sticking to it. In this month’s issue of Dairy Focus environmental auditor Megan Hands explains what one of those plans is and why the term will become part of modern, onfarm vocabulary. While they will come at a cost, FEPs will also bring benefits, not the least being that farmers can show that they do care for the environment they operate in, and how much they do to protect it.

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Environment plans the new reality Farm Environmental Plans and their associated audits are set to become part of the Canterbury rural landscape. But what are they and what will they mean to dairy farmers?

Colin Williscroft

Environmental auditor Megan Hands told a recent meeting organised by Federated Farmers that farmers will need to know their own Farm Environmental Plan inside out.

PHOTOS COLIN WILLISCROFT 050717-CW-117

RURAL REPORTER

At their core, Farm Environmental plans (FEPs) are a risk management tool, Irrigo Centre Ashburton environmental auditor Megan Hands says. Hands has been in demand recently, not just providing environmental audits for a rapidly expanding number of farms, many of them dairy, but also giving presentations to farmers and others involved in agriculture, such as at last month’s South Island Dairy Event, along with a recent Federated Farmers’ seminar on nutrient management. Both those presentations attracted plenty of interest and comment from the floor, as farmers get to grips with the fact that heading into the future, FEPs and the audits that come with them will become a significant part of farming, as ECan and other regional councils bring in new regulations aimed at both improving water quality and proving to consumers that farmers are operating at good practice levels. In those presentations Hands has taken those present through the farm environmental auditing process, noting that those who are part of an existing irrigation scheme will, to an extent be looked after in terms of explaining what is required to comply, while for those who

are not, things could be a bit more tricky, initially at least. Every business and property will be different, she said, but one thing is clear - for the vast majority of farms an FEP will be required, and farmers will have to know their own one inside out. “It will be a core part of the way you run your business from now on,” she told her recent Federated Farmers’ audience. For those in Canterbury, under ECan’s proposed Plan Change 5, anyone with a property that irrigates more than 50 hectares, or those who have the ability to irrigate over that area, will more than likely be required to have a consent to farm. The onus will be on the property owner to determine whether a consent is needed. ECan has said that there are many different requirements, depending on a property’s location, however, all land use consents will need to be completed this year. As part of that consent, every farm will need to have an FEP implemented and audited within 12 months of that consent being granted. Once a farm has been audited for the first time, the grade it receives will determine the frequency that future audits will need to take place. That’s where it all comes down to benchmarks described as Good Management Practice (GMP). Within ECan’s FEP audit system, audit grades are not strictly pass or fail, Hands said, but are based on an A, B, C or D grade. continued over page

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From P3 Most consent conditions will require an A or B grade to achieve compliance. If you’re an A grade (operating at GMP or above for all management areas) or a B (on track to meet GMP) you won’t need to be re-audited for three years (or four if you’re in an irrigation scheme or collective) or two years respectively. However, if you end up with a C, a re-audit will be required within 12 months and if it’s a D, you can expect to have to call an auditor in again within six months. Hands points out an environmental audit is not just about ticking boxes, it’s more like a rope, which is only strong when all aspects of a farm business are tying together. Auditors will want to look at farm practice records to see an objective level of evidence, she said, emphasising that there was a real “prove it” factor involved. “You really need to provide good records to prove you are making good decisions at the right time in the right place on-farm,” Hands said. “We can’t just take your word for it.” And don’t just think you can swot up the night before. An FEP audit for a dairy farm should be expected to take two to three hours onfarm, Hands said. “This will consist of time around the dining table or in the office, along with time looking around the farm. “Every auditor will have slightly different style as to which parts they like to do first but the information they are looking for is the same. “If you’re a leasee, sharemilker or contract manager, it may be useful to think about having your farm owner or operations manager at the audit. “The auditor is interested in speaking to the person who

is responsible for the day-today management of the farm in accordance with your FEP, but will also want to look at and talk about whether the farm infrastructure is fit for purpose.” Hands said when an environmental auditor comes to see you on-farm, they are undertaking what is called a “level of confidence assessment”. “That sounds a bit airy-fairy but in basic terms the auditor is asking ‘how confident am I that this farm is achieving or working towards the required good management practice objectives and targets?’ “Level of confidence assessments are based on assessing the likelihood that each objective target is met. The auditor needs to consider whether there are systems and practices in place that

effectively manage on-farm environmental risks, whether you meet the GMP standards and whether you meet the nutrient limit set in your consent.” Hands said that for each target and objective, the auditor needs to see objective evidence and provide reasons for and against their level of confidence in their report. “The number of highs, mediums and lows add up to your audit grade, with objectives graded according to the number of highs and lows at the target level.” If that all sounds a bit grim, in terms of what standards you’re going to be held to in the short-term, ECan councillor David Caygill sounds a ray of hope, at least in the short-term. Caygill fully admits ECan is still unsure where the final

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regulations will end up, and he understands the frustration that uncertainty is causing farmers. He said the GMPs that farmers will be expected to achieve have been worked out through consultation with industry groups, rather than in isolation. Although ECan will be charged with ensuring farmers comply with whatever new regulations are finally settled on, Caygill said it was unlikely that it would choose to immediately prosecute those who struggle to comply, instead preferring a more cooperative approach. He said ECan was in a similar position five or six years ago when the government promulgated regulations about the metering of ground and surface water, which ECan was expected to enforce in Canterbury.

“We came under pressure then but we didn’t prosecute anyone,” Caygill said. “We’re not in the business of collecting fines. We’re in the business of working with people to protect the environment.” Caygill said he is a firm supporter of the outputbased approach to nitrate loss management currently being followed by ECan, rather than restricting inputs. “We’re not the only country facing nitrate challenges, most of Europe and North America is facing the same problem, but they are responding with input limits, and I wouldn’t want us to go down that path. “We stand to lose our innovation advantage if we go that way. “The output approach is correct. We just have to make it work.”

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MEGAN HAND’S HOT TIPS •

Get yourself on board asap.

Understand the why and what the requirements are before the auditor shows up.

Read your FEP, understand what is in it and put yourself in the auditors’ shoes.

Get your team on board, give them tasks, involve then in your FEP actions, build a culture of understanding to implement good management practice

Always ask yourselves the question “Can I prove I am doing a good job for the environment?”.

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Dairy Focus

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Action needed on migrant worker Dairy farming communities need to lobby their MPs over proposed immigration changes, an immigration consultant said. Graydon Sharratt, of Hamilton consultants Greenstone Global, told farmers who attended his workshop at the South Island Dairy event at Lincoln last month that it was important politicians heard from voters about their concerns over the changes potential effect on their communities. He said uncertainty over whether migrant workers, particularly those who fell into the mid-skilled bracket that includes herd managers and assistant herd managers, had a long-term future in New Zealand had the potential to significantly affect rural communities. The current temporary entry and residence policies do not match the employment requirements of the dairy industry, Sharratt said, the overriding issue being that visa assessment is largely

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

guided by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of occupations (ANZSCO) system. “The persistent problem is how ANZSCO relates to the dairy industry because there are only two ANZSCO codes on the extremes of the dairy employee spectrum – dairy cattle farm worker (skill level 5) and dairy cattle farmer (skill level 1). “There is no relevant ANZSCO code to cater for the large number of dairy farm workers who fall between those ANZSCO codes,” he said, adding that the positions most affected are the semiskilled positions of assistant herd manager and herd manager.”

Most other industries have ANZSCO level 2 or 3 codes to cater for their mid-skilled roles but the dairy industry does not, Sharratt said. “Because of this ANZSCO code anomaly, all dairy visa applicants judged at a skill level 5 currently receive a one year work visa, exacerbating the financial costs and uncertainty involved for both employee and employer in applying for visas each year. “In comparison, any trades worker at skill level 3 will likely obtain a three year work visa.” Making the problem worse, the occupations of assistant herd manager and herd manager were removed from the Immediate Skills Shortage Lists by Immigration New Zealand in 2016. Sharratt said Greenstone Global has made a submission to INZ that both the assistant herd manager and herd manager positions be returned immediately to the skills shortage lists. Although it’s proposed that

Graydon Sharratt

the ANZSCO classifications be replaced by remuneration thresholds as the main determinant of the skill level of an essential skills visa holder, the thresholds, which are calculated on an hourly rate, are based on a 40-hour week, where the norm for dairy farm positions averages

out at about 50 hours a week over a whole year. The result is those who fall into that mid-skilled bracket will still be assessed as being at the lower end of the scale, which means their visa will only allow them to stay in New Zealand for three years before they have to spend a year’ s stand-down outside New Zealand. On top of that their partners would likely only get visitor visas, Sharratt said, while the children of lower skilled migrant workers would likely not be able to get fee subsidies as domestic students. “Instead they will pay international student fees if they intend to go to school and these costs can be over $10,000 per annum.” If those children were unable to attend school due to the cost involved, it would result in a corresponding drop in school rolls, he said. “Do they (politicians) want to reinvigorate rural areas? To make people move out of

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visas Auckland to the regions? “These proposals won’t achieve that.” Instead, Sharratt said, the changes would lead to more single farm workers, which in turn would lead to lower levels of social and community engagement. “Why would familyoriented workers want to come to New Zealand under those conditions?” Sharratt said despite some politicians trying to get mileage out of immigration in an election year, a 2017 Federated Farmers survey showed 46 per cent of dairy farmers found it either not at all easy or not easy to find staff, so migrant workers were not taking farming jobs from New Zealanders. “Having been involved in rural banking since 2002 and then dairy farm recruitment since 2006, my experience is that the pool of suitably skilled New Zealand dairy staff is either static or falling.” There are many reasons

for that, he said, including the rapid growth of the dairy industry, the continued growth of the New Zealand economy and reduction in unemployment rates, reduced sharemilking opportunities

contributing to a lack of a clear pathway to cow and/or farm ownership, the isolation of dairy farms in many regions, and an increasing number of New Zealand employees being unable to

pass drug tests required by employers as a result of stricter health and safety requirements on farm. “Without an increase in available New Zealand staff to fill growing shortages, the

dairy industry is relying more and more on migrant workers at most levels, not only to keep farms operating but to facilitate the productivity gains that the industry has made.”

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Early calving under way Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

Calving is under way for another year but fortunately, given the wet weather in recent days, it’s still early days in most areas. Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy spokesman Nathan Currie said although the heavy rain meant many farmers had to keep a close eye on their stock, there were some positives in the weather. “It’s a good thing it’s not cold. We didn’t get the freezing temperatures. It’s when you get the gale force winds and it’s snowing, that’s when it gets difficult.” He said those farmers who had begun calving – mainly those nearer the coast – would have brought their calves into shelter to keep them out of

the worst of the rain. “But that’s farming, you’ve got to deal with all conditions.” It was also fortunate that even for those who had begun calving, it was very early in the season. “It’s (calving) only just starting, so they won’t have a lot on the ground just yet.” Most Canterbury farmers would not begin calving for another two or three weeks, Currie said, so the best thing would be for the worst of the winter weather to pass through now. “I’m not sure it’s going to happen but it would be great to get it out of the way now.” However, it was not only stock that needed looking after at this time of year. Currie said it was important that farmers and farm workers did not get too tired and stressed. “You’ve got to look after the stock but you’ve also got to look after each other,” he said. Calving is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. People need to remember

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Bobby calf rules reminder The Ministry for Primary Industries is reminding farmers to be ready for new bobby calf regulations coming in this season. “The new requirements for bobby calf shelter and loading come into play on August 1 and we want to make sure everyone is well aware and prepared,” Paul Dansted, MPI’s director, Animal and Animal Products, said. “Calves need to be provided with shelter that keeps them warm and dry, and loading facilities that allow them to walk on to trucks.” Seven new regulations were announced last calving season, four came into force in August last year, and for spring calving farms, three more will apply this season. These are: Young calves must be slaughtered as soon as possible when they arrive at slaughter premises, and within 24 hours of the last feed on farm (came into force on February 1); shelter must be provided for young calves before and during transportation, and at points

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of sale or slaughter (comes into force on August 1); and loading and unloading facilities must be provided and used when young calves are transported for sale or slaughter or as a result of sale (comes into force on August 1). “Ultimately, the regulations are about protecting the welfare of calves,” Dansted said. “Last year we saw a significant reduction in problems with bobby calves and we thank everyone across the supply chain who contributed to that. We are keen to see more improvements this year once all of the regulations are in play. “The shelter and loading facility regulations don’t give specific building requirements, so this allows farmers, saleyard operators, processors and transporters to find a solution that works for them. “The new regulations also require calves to be slaughtered as soon as possible on arrival at the

processing plant. “To meet this regulation, the Meat Industry Association has played a big part in putting systems in place to track when the calves were last fed and collected from the farm.” Communicating the new regulations has been a considerable industry-wide effort. Dansted said MPI was working with stakeholders across the bobby calf supply chain to reach as many affected people as possible. This included working with DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Meat Industry Association, dairy companies, transport companies, stock agents and saleyard managers, and veterinarians. “Collectively, we have pushed out information through field days, workshop events across the country, training, rural and professional publications and newspapers, newsletters and emails, on-farm resources, web and social media content,” Dansted said.


12

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

MILLENNIUM FARMING

Learn to give feedback, for the sake The cows are shifting in the bails, their eyes looking up and down trying to see if there is any danger. They can feel the tension in the cowshed this morning. The milking staff can feel the tension as well. James starts to help Ali on cups-on for a few minutes while trying to work out what was wrong with Duncan, their boss. He had come in this morning in a furious mood, he went straight to cups-off without a word, but with that look on his face that said something was making him angry. “What’s up with Duncan this morning?” James whispers to Ali. “No idea,” replies Ali. “It could be anything? My advice is to just ignore him and keep out of his way.” James shrugs his shoulders and heads off for the second herd. From Duncan’s point of view, he was annoyed with James’ performance and did not have an easy pattern to communicate with James

Stu Taylor

MILLENNIUM FARMING CREATOR

about it. All he could do was try to control his anger and carry on hoping he wouldn’t explode at him again. This situation is played out across NZ dairy farms on a weekly basis but it doesn’t have to be. It takes time, but you can set up rules of communication within your team so that corrective feedback can happen easily, that is without emotion or tension. Emotion gets in the way of the message. The staff member ends up thinking about the boss’ behaviour instead of the corrective feedback that was being delivered. Team leaders seem to be in two camps in relation to feedback:

Above – On-farm communication should flow without tension or stress. Right – Cows will pick up on any tension between staff.

1. They either give feedback too fast after the event – often in anger or based on emotion, get the situation wrong or falsely accuse staff. The staff leave the

conversation thinking about how the team leader acted rather than their own behaviour with no real shift in how the staff member was acting. The

staff member loses respect for the team leader and this approach sets up a blame culture in your team, which ultimately leads to tension and poor staff/team

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MILLENNIUM FARMING

13

of your team and business tension or stress.

Information for each person to use to improve their own performance. How does a team leader/ manager/sharemilker/ farm owner do this?

performance. 2. Hold it in and say nothing – The team leader does not want to upset the team or finds it hard to communicate what was done wrong by the staff member. The team leader looks upset or angry, but the staff have no idea

what was done wrong. The result is no change in behaviour and a loss of respect for the team leader because he/she fails to deal with poor performance from team members. This results in the team getting frustrated with each other and tension

increases as they try to step into the gap and give each other corrective feedback without the authority. Poor team performance is the result. The goal is to set up a team where information can flow between individuals without

Talk to your team as a group and tell them you are going to start giving feedback more often: 1. When you see a situation that warrants feedback wait until you are relaxed (if still angry wait until you can control yourself). 2. You are both alone (very important). 3. Ask them ‘Can I give you some feedback?’ This is so they are ready to listen and also say this is information for you to use. 4. Focus only on what you saw (the facts) or what you were told, no assumptions. 5. Tell them the outcome of the action or behaviour. 6. Ask them for their thoughts. 7. If they start to defend themselves just say quietly that this is information for you to use only, you don’t have to defend it. “I am not

judging you, I am giving you this information out of respect so we can discuss it further.” 8. If possible, try to give positive feedback and not just corrective. Maybe play a game in your head of five positive to one corrective. 9. If you can lead the behaviour by allowing the team to give you feedback, it will make it natural and take your team to the next level in performance. Learn to give feedback. It is something that can be learned and will have a major influence on your team’s performance.

Stu Taylor is the creator of Millennium Farming

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14

Dairy Focus

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Southern hub research ‘invaluable’ The world-class Southern Dairy Hub has been formally opened, marking a new era for dairy farming supported by research in the south. About 200 dairy farmers and supporters gathered recently to celebrate the opening of the cutting-edge research and demonstration farm near Invercargill. Southland and South Otago farmers and businesses have invested $1.25 million in the hub through the Southern Dairy Development Trust, and principal shareholders DairyNZ and AgResearch have invested $5 million each. Conversion of the 349-hectare property began in November last year and the hub is now in operation, with research under way. Southern Dairy Hub chairman Maurice Hardie described the opening as a milestone. “Carrying out research in the southern region’s climate and soil types will be invaluable. We’re excited that research is now under way to drive better farming practices, environmental initiatives and

The milking shed at the new Southern Dairy Hub is state-of-the-art.

increased efficiency on farm.” The first research trial is comparing the feed regimes of cows on fodderbeet with those on kale. Research to validate DairyNZ’s Forage Value

Index (FVI), a ranking system for ryegrass cultivars, has also started. The study will compare the performance of high and low FVI ranked perennial ryegrass cultivars under realistic dairy farm

management conditions. DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle, said DairyNZ invested in the hub to help dairy farmers and communities identify the best options for profitable, competitive and

sustainable dairying. “The future is all about fixing real challenges with real solutions, and that’s where the science at the Southern Dairy Hub is crucial.” AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson said the hub will be part of a network of high quality new science facilities across New Zealand that support the land-based industries. AgResearch is also investing in new joint facilities with partners in Lincoln and Palmerston North, while maintaining its important presence at its Invermay campus near Mosgiel. He said permanent, purposebuilt research facilities in southern conditions could provide huge benefits. “Working alongside local farmers also makes good sense so that the scientists are doing research that is relevant to the local needs.” The next phase of development at the hub is an agri-business centre to provide facilities for training, education and farmer events, as well as office spaces. A sponsor is being sought.

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15

Milk protein to regrow body parts A University of Canterbury PhD student is using milk protein to 3D-imprint muscle and bone cells and one day she hopes her research may be used to regrow missing body parts. Electrical and computer engineering doctoral candidate Azadeh Hashemi, originally from Tehran, came to start her PhD at the University of Canterbury (UC) four years ago. Hashemi’s successful work in UC’s Biomolecular Interaction Centre is turning what is basically milk powder into biomedical devices, such as implants to help regrow missing body parts. Her work is focused on fabrication of casein-based films with surface patterns, and growing cells on them. “The aim of my work is to replicate a 3D imprint of cells onto films made of milk protein, to use them as a substrate for growing cells. Development of the replication process and controlling the biodegradability of these films are the main parts of this

work,” she said. “The patterns on these biodegradable cell culture substrates mimic the cells’ natural physical environment and they can influence cell shape and growth. Once they have done their job, the films gradually degrade and leave the grown tissue behind.” The possibilities of these micro- and nanostructures are tantalising, with applications in stem cell engineering, regenerative medicine, and implantable devices. “If they can help the cells grow into muscles, bones or other tissues they would be able to replace any missing body part and help them regrow,” Hashemi said. “Another great application for these substrates is to grow stem cells on an imprint with patterns of different cell types and see what type of cell the stem cells would change into. We might even be able to stop cancer cells from being cancerous by growing them on these patterns, in which case the biodegradability of the substrates would also be an advantage for eliminating the

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Azadeh Hashemi hopes her research may one day be used to help replace missing body parts.

need for secondary surgery.”   The materials have not been used in the human body yet, but in theory their application could help recovery from injury or disease with muscle or bone replacement. “These films could especially be used as implants to help missing tissue or muscle regrow using the surface

patterns as a guide. The biodegradable implant would then just dissolve and there won’t be any need for secondary surgery to take the implant out.” The project is based on a collaboration between Dr Volker Nock of UC’s Biomolecular Interaction Centre and Dr Azam Ali,

formerly AgResearch, now at the University of Otago. It was initiated through the Biomolecular Interaction Centre via a summer scholarship. The early results were promising and Hashemi’s work took it to the next level, Nock, her PhD supervisor, said.

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16

Dairy Focus

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Size and efficiency has its advantages Craig Hickman

ELBOW DEEP @dairymanNZ

Last month my wife and I were travelling south on the I-5 from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Like most holidays that involve me driving I was admiring the sights and looking for likely places to eat while my wife was encouraging me to slow down, stay on the correct side of the road and yellling ‘oh my god, what are you doing, we are all going to die’! There was plenty to see; orchards stretching to the horizon, 10 avocadoes at a roadside stall for a dollar, parched grassland and hundreds of hectares of blackened earth where another seemingly spontaneous roadside fire had taken hold. There were fire trucks continuously putting out these

blazes on both the I-5 and the 101 as we travelled. The GPS beeped to alert us that petrol and food were available 10 miles ahead, but the name of the restaurant put me off and we pushed on to the next stop. I spent a few minutes wondering what sort of place would call itself Cowschwitz, sure that the negative connotations would put far more people off than those who would appreciate the joke. I filed it away as extremely poor marketing and soon forgot about it in the excitement of seeing a Taco Bell for the first time ever. At Taco Bell I got myself a Double Chalupa Box, a

feast which consisted of a deep fried wheat flour gordita shell filled with beef and vegetables, along with two hard shell tacos and a drink the size of my head. I really wish restaurant brands would hurry up and bring this to our shores. The meal cost me $5, or it would have except for the annoying American habit of adding sales tax to everything, and left me unable to eat another bite. My trip continued in this vein, cheap, filling and plentiful food at every turn: hot dogs for $1.79 at the Seven Eleven, $2.99 cheeseburgers at In N Out, southern fried chicken and grits for $12 and all you can eat buffets for $25.

There was so much food available for such little money that we usually weren’t even hungry when breakfast time rolled around. When I got home I came across the snap I took of the GPS when it alerted me to Cowschwitz, and a quick google soon revealed that what I had passed was, in fact, Harris Ranch. It’s California’s largest beef producer and the largest ranch on the West Coast, producing 150 million pounds of beef per year. Cowschwitz is a phrase coined by animal rights activists to convey their distaste at the feedlot system of raising beef, drawing

parallels between the feedlot and war time death camps. Getting that phrase on a GPS map stopped me from going to California’s sixth busiest restaurant (57th busiest in the entire USA). The feedlot was empty when we drove past so I didn’t see what the activists are upset about, but I do see that animal behaviour expert Temple Grandin calls the phrase cowschwitz a public misperception, saying that Harris Ranch does a great job of looking after its animals. There are many reasons food is so cheap and readily available in America, and one of those reasons is highly efficient production on a truly massive scale. It’s all very well to hold your nose as you drive down the I-5 and mock the farmers based on nothing more than an impression gained as you whiz past at 70mph, but I wonder how many Americans would be willing to forgo their affordable cheeseburgers and cheap Taco Bell in return for a less intensive, pastoral-based farming system.

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17

Refrigeration start up Murray Hollings

COOLING OFF

Starting up your refrigeration systems is generally a straight-forward operation. Some dairy companies recommend having your refrigeration serviced prior to startup and while there can be faults develop over the off season, certain aspects often can’t be checked accurately and we would recommend also doing a routine service over the main operating period of the season.

Milk silo refrigeration systems In the absence of a winter service we recommend the following for milk silo refrigeration systems to be done two days prior to storing milk: • Put water in the milk silo to

cover the agitator paddle. • The water will need to be above 6 degrees Celsius on the temperature display to operate - if not you may need to put some hot water in to achieve operational temperatures. • Switch on the base refrigeration unit (It would normally need to be switched on for the temperature to display. • The unit should run and pull the display temperature down to around 5 degrees Celsius where the refrigeration unit should switch off (it may overshoot by up to 1 degree - this is normal). • While the refrigeration unit is running listen for any unusual noises.

Water chillers Generally it is best to leave these off until there is a reasonable load on the chiller as they will be less efficient (using more power) on low loads and some system types may also be susceptible to frost damage. Where water

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chillers have been drained of water over the winter I recommend they are only recommissioned after the end of August where the risk of severe frost has reduced.

Glycol systems Glycol systems differ from water chillers in that they are

designed to operate at lower temperatures and in so doing are not susceptible to frost damage in the main cooling circuits. They may be operated safely and unless they cool the milk silos also they do not require earlier operational testing as the milk silos will have separate refrigeration units cooling them.

Most heat recovery systems and Mahana Blues will have automatic drains on them and can be operated without the threat of major frost damage. Some earlier models do not have this as the heat exchanger configuration did not allow draining to be effective although the heat exchangers in these models tended to be more robust than later models. The water supply pipework to all heat recovery systems is vulnerable and for this reason and the fact low milk volumes produce very little hot water we recommend leaving the systems until late August (ideally with the supply pipework drained) before commissioning them for the season. If you would like some free advice feel free to call us. Murray Hollings is the owner of Dairycool

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Dairy Focus

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High performance agriculture – a sys High performance agriculture is defined as allowing plants to express in full, their inherent genetic potential by providing nutrition and the environment they need in a sustainable way. To achieve high performance a soil should be composed of 45 per cent minerals, 5 per cent humus, 25 per cent water and 25 per cent air. This is achieved by a balanced mineral application determined by a soil audit for each particular soil. It’s the chemical make-up of that soil which determines the physical structure, the correct physical structure provides an environment for the biology. It’s the biology that provides the foundation for soil health by having adequate mineral nutrition, in a form readily available to plants, supplied by an active soil microbial community. The key to plant production and the concept to grasp is when we provide a plant with greater levels of nutrition, the performance of these plants is greatly increased. It all starts with photosynthesis, absorbing

water from the soil, CO2 from the air and through a catabolic process with sunlight energy forms carbohydrates (sugars) inside the leaves of green plants. The Australian soil ecologist Dr Christine Jones termed this the liquid carbon pathway, (liquid carbon is basically dissolved sugars. Sugars are formed in plant chloroplasts during photosynthesis. Some of the sugars are used for growth and some are exuded into soil by plant roots to support the microbes involved

in nutrient acquisition). This microbial support is also required to improve soil structure, increase macro and micronutrient availabilities and enhance soil waterholding capacity. Anything we can do to increase the plants’ photosynthesis capacity will increase the plants’ energy. Photosynthetic capacity is derived relative to (A) balanced mineral nutrition and (B) the micro-biology content, in the soil. Nitrogen fixation depends

on energy efficiency. It takes a lot of energy and requires a lot of sugars from photosynthesis and minerals, which means tuning the entire system by improving first sulphur, boron, silicon then calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as enzymatic co-factors – zinc, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum and cobalt. Many of these elements are essential for resistance to pests and diseases and the resilience to climatic extremes such as drought or frosts. A lot of chemicals and fertilisers are counterproductive to producing humus. The application of large quantities of inorganic N, as found in urea, MAP and DAP, can compromise the effective system of producing N in the soil. In addition, large quantities of water-soluble P, such as that found in superphosphate, MAP and DAP, compromises the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, which are essential for maximising the ability of plants to obtain

water nitrogen and minerals from the soil. We must comprehend two important facts, (A) that the activity of the microbial life in the soil along with the process of photosynthesis in plants is solely responsible for directly or indirectly supplying the world food supply (B) that many of the traditional farming practises (that formerly were called best managements practices) are detrimental to that biology. Tillage, glyphosate, chemicals, synthetic fertilisers, seed treatments, mono pasture species, are all contributing too most of the issues and problems that’s facing agriculture environmental and sustainability today. The greatest road block in solving a problem is the human mind. Many conventional farmers are making really significant strides in sustainability, but many farmers are persisting with a farming system that’s failing them. A system approach to problem solving in agriculture.

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19

tem approach for problem solving I have mentioned a lot about changing farming systems, what do I mean? We have to shift from a farming system focusing on only production and yield to a farming system focusing on quality, protein and stewardship, benefiting the environment and sustainability by applying system thinking to what you are doing. Our food systems are complex, how I farm and what I produce doesn’t just affect us personally but effects our environment and human health, political stability and ultimately the stabilisation of our planet is important. The quality of food that we are producing is having a dramatic effect on the health of the nation and its repercussion on the economy from both medical and economic measure are reaching epidemic proportions, and will continue unless we change. Taking a system approach for problem solving is a valuable tool of how to make our farming more resilient and profitable.

System thinking makes us think about what we are doing, which is not always pleasant. Most of us have been raised as linear thinkers, we have been taught to see a direct absolute relationship between cause and effect. An example of linear thinking, for lack of grass, is applying more urea, or spraying a weed or pest rather than understanding and changing the environment which created the problem in the first place. A system thinking approach takes the relationship between

a problem and its cause. Asking why, instead of how, makes us really think about what we are doing, and it’s that thinking that can lead to long-term sustainable solutions with minimal unintended consequences. Animal health issues and deficiencies therefore are a reflection on the mineral content of the soil. And if minerals are needed to be added to supplemental feed to keep animals alive and to support and maintain production, then it’s a direct indication of mineral or

microbial deficiencies in the soil.

Future: On being a plant

“For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” - Carl Sagan Until we change the human mind we are not going to change anything. Healthy soil produces healthy plants but the reverse is also true, healthy plants build healthy soils and it is that environment which

determines genetic expression (Epigenetics). What we are demonstrating is that there are soil fertility systems, able to reduce the artificial nitrogen application on traditional dairy farms by up to 200 per cent without compromising yield and profitability. On one farm trial over several years we have produced more kgs of milksolids and kgs of DM per ha with half the nitrogen application, and a greater gross margin than a conventional fertiliser system. On cropping farms, produce record yields, decrease the amount of chemicals, pesticides, weeds and diseases. All this with added benefit of being profitable, truly sustainable and meeting environmental goals within the 20 kgs/N leaching limit. So, let the results speak for themselves. In the end, it’s common sense with good science. D L Hart, Top Soils, Biological Farming and Soil Fertility Consultant.

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20

Dairy Focus

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DRILLING FEATURE

Providing the best possible service For Roger, Joanne and Bailey Smith, being a family business and working together to achieve identical goals feature right up there with providing a high standard of quality work for clients. Roger and Bailey, along with two staff, are able to focus on the various forms of contracting the business provides and Joanne keeps the office work up-to-date and provides valuable support. As Roger puts it; “Our clients are the lifeblood of our business so keeping them happy is paramount, it is then up to us to provide good modern machinery, and the manpower to provide the best possible service and results we can for them”. Achieving those goals give us all as a team immense satisfaction. “We are proud to be the preferred cultivation contractors for this year’s competition winning fodder beet crop”. Roger Smith Contracting at the end of last year imported a 12 furrow, Grégoire Besson

reversible plough which is the only one currently being used for contracting locally. This, along with the purchase of a new John Deere 9370R tractor, shows his commitment to local farmers and the Mid Canterbury area to keep up to date with

modern machinery. Combine with their skilled operators, they provide outstanding results and service to their farmer clients. Other equipment used by the business includes, a Top Down cultivator complete with a roller drill, 6m John

Deere 750a Direct drill, 4.8m leveller/roller drill combination custom made for Canterbury conditions, seven furrow plough, a variety of tractors, equipped with auto steer and GPS systems, a header, baler and truck. For farmers who want

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conventional, minimum or no till options Roger Smith Contracting will deliver outstanding results with: • Precise seed placement in all conditions • Highest work-rates offering outstanding area output • Reliable working performance even with large amounts of residue • Exact depth control for even crop emergence and optimum yields • Maintain deep respect of the soil as the foundation of growing food for the New Zealand and the world. Roger Smith Contracting a family business you can rely on for competitive pricing on package deals – Phone Roger 03 307 6401 or 027 223 0406, or Bailey 027 824 9968 for your cultivation work no matter what season of the year. www.rogersmithcontracting. co.nz A family Contracting Business you can rely on for - competitive pricing on package deals. Advertising feature

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Winter is here...

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Prepare for winter now. Contact Victory Lime to place an order. 0800 303 980 • www.vlime.co.nz


22

Dairy Focus

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What are the benefits of goat milk? The compositional features of goat milk give rise to a number of potential benefits when compared with cow milk, according to New Zealand’s Dairy Goat Cooperative. Goat milk proteins are digested more completely than cow milk proteins. For example, trypsin, an enzyme present in the stomach, breaks down 96 per cent of goat casein, compared with only 76 to 90 per cent of cow casein. Similarly, nearly three times more beta-lactoglobulin in goat milk is digested by human digestive juices compared to cow milk. One reason for this is the differences in the way caseins coagulate in the stomach to form a sponge-like curd. Goat milk formula behaves more like breast milk, forming a looser curd structure than standard cow milk formulas. When in the baby’s stomach, this softer type of curd allows digestive enzymes easier access to the milk proteins, assisting with digestion. As shown by a study in

children with digestive disorders due to gluten intolerance, goat milk fat, with a higher proportion of medium chain fatty acids, is absorbed more efficiently than cow milk. A number of studies have shown that micronutrients

in goat milk can be absorbed more efficiently than cow milk, especially during anaemia or when the absorption capacity of the intestine is compromised. These studies point to a greater bioavailability of minerals from goat compared

to cow milk, rather than the quantity of minerals in the milks. Goat milk is widely used by people with digestive problems and sensitivities to cow milk, the co-operative said. While goat milk cannot be considered hypoallergenic, it does have a different

allergenic burden compared to cow milk. On average, five times more goat milk than cow milk is required to trigger an adverse reaction in children allergic to cow milk. Based on scientific evidence and experience of use, the Dairy Goat Co-operative said that the effectiveness of goat milk to alleviate allergyrelated sensitivities to cow milk depends on the type of reactions. Symptoms of dermatitis were reduced in 59 of 67 infants aged 1-9 months and 33 of 41 children aged 12-36 months when treatment was combined with introduction of goat milk formula. Goat milk can sometimes help to reduce digestive symptoms or colic. These symptoms all result from delayed or slow-onset allergy reactions to cow milk. In contrast, goat milk is less able to relieve severe reactions such as redness and swelling of the face that may occur immediately following contact with a small amount of cow milk.


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23

Milking solutions for goats and sheep Dairy farmers of a different kind are beating a track to the door of a New Zealand business to avail themselves of milking technologies and systems regarded as the most innovative in the world. Waikato Milking Systems is known worldwide for its design and manufacture of innovative milking systems and technologies for the bovine industry but the company is also in demand for systems for the goat and sheep milking industry. Adapting a range of milking systems which works with the behaviour of the animals wasn’t simply a matter of downsizing bovine-sized systems. Waikato Milking Systems worked with leaders in the goat and sheep milking industries to develop a range of systems which are customised to individual farmers. The range of dairy and goat milking systems includes rotary and herringbone options from a basic package up to a high-end system with milk meters and automatic cup removers.

The Capra Rotary, for example, was designed with animals and operators in mind and is an efficient option for large herds, working with the behaviour of the animals to achieve optimum flow and production. Farmers are able to tailor how animals access the platform ranging from the traditional walk-on, back-off to loading from the centre via an underpass and being milked facing outward. The Capra Rotary platform can be configured to suit specific animal or operator requirements for example the head lock system and configuration is different for goats than it is for sheep. The deck is constructed of engineering plastic which is extraordinarily strong yet light, with rubber mating for animal comfort. Bail divisions are rotamoulded, saving weight while ensuring robustness and strength. A cutting-edge overmoulding technique is used to construct the platform’s maintenance-free polymer rollers.

The composite platform is built in sections and shipped to site in kit-set form. Sections are built with precise laser cut stainless steel profiles to ensure accuracy of sections. Stainless steel is also used to enhance the corrosion resistance of the platform. The Lowline herringbone option has been crafted and customised to milk goats and sheep with maximum effectiveness. It has been designed to handle large herd numbers quickly and efficiently while retaining excellent vacuum stability. One hundred per cent designed and manufactured in New Zealand, Waikato Milking Systems’ range of small ruminant platforms and milking systems is easily upgraded to keep pace with advances in technology. Right - The Capra rotary with automatic cup removers is an efficient milking solution for large herds. PHOTO SUPPLIED


24

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

ANIMAL HEALTH FEATURE

Detect herd health problems early A snapshot of a dairy herd’s vitals just by clicking on a phone app or the website is providing dairy farmers with cow by cow insight on any health problems that crop up. That means farmers or their vet can react promptly to resolve problems before more damage occurs, minimising losses and protecting overall herd health and productivity. Smaxtec, Austrian-sourced bolus technology adapted for New Zealand by Smart Farm Data Ltd, provides internal temperature, activity including oestrus alerts, and even pH data from the rumen, all valuable indications on whether those cows are as healthy as they could be. For one of the early adopting farmer clients, the boluses provided a valuable early alert to their reproductive health, well before mating was due to start. Cambridge dairy farm manager Cam Forbes has been one of the first in the country to use the Smaxtec bolus technology. For someone passionate about having healthy, happy productive cows, the Smaxtec boluses have opened the door to a new level of herd health understanding. Forbes manages a “Formula One” herd of 600 cows producing at the very top of their potential, averaging 695kg milk solids a head on a mixed ration diet of grass, grass/maize silage, soy feed, brewers grain and palm kernel. Getting the most out of this herd has been Forbes’ priority, but not while compromising their health. “I have always taken a lot of pleasure having cows that you know are really happy and producing well. We put the boluses in all the autumn calving herd and I now have a

A field study reported by DairyNZ found 40 per cent of herds had either or both types of endo-metritis, and its presence can lower three week in-calf rates by 34 per cent. “So detecting any problems early brings real benefits going into next season. We can find the problem earlier in our pre-mating lead up, and deal with it to ensure we have more cows getting in calf sooner for the following season.” Metri-checking of the herd focuses on the group that will really benefit, in that busy lead up period. “We also had a cow that calved and had a prolapse, and the vet warned us she may get an infection in a couple of weeks. Sure enough, two weeks later she had an elevated temperature indicating an infection. “We were able to treat her straight away with antibiotics before she was fully infected and showed clinical signs.” Forbes is finding the temperature alert posted by the boluses is helping him get onto herd health issues much earlier, with more positive outcomes by treating cows earlier. There is a health report in the phone app that he checks first thing every morning which provides an update on cows that have consistently Farm manager, Cam Forbes says Smaxtec boluses have opened the door to a new level of herd elevated temperatures for the PHOTO SUPPLIED health understanding - Smaxtec-1. last three reporting periods. Smaxtec has provided Cam very clear picture of just how early. Acidosis problems elevated temperatures in the with a simple way to inform healthy they are, and whether are highlighted by sudden Smaxtec bolused sub-group his staff about health issues, they are cycling as they changes in rumen pH, while of two-year-olds, with a third and the reasoning behind should.” metritis infections can come of them indicating metritis or treatment decisions. He is aware some of through increased temperature other infections. For Forbes the use of the the biggest animal health alerts over a period. Being able to detect and Smaxtec boluses is more than problems he can encounter are The bolus temperature treat metritis post calving simply about having better the ones he can’t see, including alerts provided Forbes with is a significant boost for herd health. ® conditions like acidosis and valuable information in the the animal’s welfare and “I like being able to give Mikeproductivity Luke on Vet LSD them metritis. lead up to mating last year as during the® a good life – if you give Mike Luke Vet LSD These are conditions the well. criticalon transition to peak 350 cows) (Mangapai – Northland, them all they need, they give a boluses can help detect The health report pointed to lactation. (Mangapai – Northland, 350 cows) lot back to you.” • Mike has made Vet LSD his drench of choice to • Mikeboost has made Vet LSD his drench of spring choice period. to his herd’s health over the GET THE FACTS: VET LSD® contains ® boost hisMike herd’s health over the spring period. on Vetlower LSDthe ® • Vet LSD hasLuke helped Mike GET THE FACTS: VET LSDessential containsfor minerals and vitamins (Mangapai – Northland, • Vet LSD has helped Mike lower lameness incidence in his the350 cows) minerals andperformance vitamins essential for dairy cow – including lameness incidence in his herd significantly. • Mike has made Vet LSD his drench of choice to dairy cow performance – including Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium, herd significantly. boost his herd’s health over the spring period. Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium, Iodine and Chromium. GET THE FACTS: VET LSD® contains • Vet LSD has resulted in fewer • Vet LSD has resulted in fewer • Vet LSD has helped Mikeand lower the Iodine and Chromium. down cow incidences, minerals and vitamins essential for ® lameness incidence in his down cow incidences, and delivers a high VET LSD dairy cow performance – including fewer calving problems. VET LSD® delivers a high herd significantly. fewer calving problems. quality boost to dairy Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium, quality boost to dairy “To me this product isfewer as • Vet LSD has resulted in Iodine and Chromium. cows’ immune system at “To medown this product is as and cow incidences, cows’ immune system ®at big as when Gladys Reid critical timesVET of LSD the year. delivers a high big asfewer when Gladys Reid calving problems. critical times ofquality the year. discovered the benefits of boost to dairy discovered the benefits of HIGH on “To me this product is as zinc for facial eczema cows’ immune system at zinc forbig facial eczema as when Gladys Reid prevention.” critical times of the year. performance, prevention.”

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ANIMAL HEALTH FEATURE

25

Udder health Since 2011, the popular Healthy Udder guide has helped farmers manage mastitis and improve milk quality. An updated and refreshed guide is now available to order. It’s no secret that udder health and milk quality play an essential part in farm productivity and profitability. Healthy Udder is designed to help farmers and their advisers improve practices and encourage all members of the farm team to use the right procedure, every milking, every day. It gives clear instructions on ways to keep udders healthy by preventing new cases of mastitis, finding new cases, and treating new and existing cases in the right way The booklet, produced by DairyNZ, contains quick tips for minimising mastitis, has a prevention is better than cure focus. To find out more, go to the DairyNZ website www.dairynz.co.nz

New approach to TB eradication OSPRI, the organisation that helps protect and enhance the reputation of New Zealand’s primary industries with the NAIT and TBfree programmes, has created a framework of TB Management Areas (TMAs) that set out activity plans at a local level for the purpose of eradicating bovine tuberculosis in New Zealand. Information on those plans has recently been communicated to farmers, interested landowners and occupiers nationally. Pest management under the TB Plan will be delivered through a framework of more than 100 TMAs nationally, according to disease patterns, geographical features, control history, and future control needs. This will enable possum control and wildlife disease surveys to be planned and contracted efficiently, and will provide a local focus for communications and consultation with land occupiers, communities and groups interested in or affected by our operations. Each TMA has a planned target date for the eradication of TB. Each year OSPRI will update and publish the plan for each TMA, which will describe pest control or wildlife survey work planned for the coming year, as well as providing a forward view of further work that will be required to achieve TB eradication.

Top – Upper South Island TB management area. Above – Baits covered in deer repellent. The non-toxic pre-feed pellets are brownish-tan while the toxic baits are green.


26

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

ANIMAL HEALTH FEATURE

Claw blocks can be lifesavers Do you understand the benefits of the claw block? It is quite interesting what sort of responses farmers give to this question. Some think they are wonderful, some think they are too expensive, some struggle to make them stick on for any longer than a few steps and some make comments like “just make sure you don’t have any lame cows”. This last comment is very easy to say, but most farmers I know haven’t got easy answers to their lameness issues, but I better not get side-tracked. Claw blocks are lifesavers for many cows. Without them there would be a lot more cows going to the works - that is if the blocks are put on correctly and, unfortunately, I have seen many instances where they weren’t. Sometimes we come across cows where the block has been put on the sore claw and so it would seem that there is a lack of understanding as to how claw blocks work. The idea of a block is to glue it underneath the healthy claw so that the sore claw is relieved from carrying any weight enabling

Fred Hoekstra

VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES

it to heal up much faster. You should see an immediate improvement in the way the cow walks when the block is correctly applied, because she is experiencing a lot less pain. A block should last for at least three to four weeks. There are many different blocking systems available now, but my preference would be for the Demotec FuturaPad, which uses a wooden block as opposed to the shoe design. The main reason for that is because they are very easy to work with, are nowhere near as weather dependent in the time they need to set (cold and hot days) and, most importantly, we can position the block much better on the claw. There are several other very

good systems available, such as the Hoof-Tite or Bovi-Bond blocking systems that also use a wooden block. Often you find with the shoe-type blocks that they sit too far forward, which makes the heel part of the block wear too fast, or they even collapse in that part of the block. The cow has no choice

but to walk on the heel of her foot, which puts an enormous amount of strain on the tendon that is keeping the pedal bone down. This can cause such considerable stretch in some cases that there is a degree of lasting injury. The Demotec Easy Bloc system has minimised this

effect, with its shoe design making it a good choice if you prefer that style of block. With a wooden block, you can always place it correctly on the hoof. The back part of the block should be flush with the heel of the cow. It doesn’t matter at all if the toe is sticking over the front if the heel is flush. This way the block will wear much more evenly and that is much better for the ligaments. The block should also be flush with the inside of the claw and needs to be as flat as possible and not on an angle. Just remember that the block is there to support the weight of the cow. This can only be achieved if the block is placed nice and square and not too far forward. The price of a block is often challenged and it does pay to shop around, as there can be big variations in the prices of the same products between retailers. However, even if blocks were sold for $100 each they still would be cheaper than a lame cow.

Get the right advice when buying and selling your livestock We have clients wanting to buy and sell: • Herds • In-calf heifers • Heifer calves • Empty heifers & cows

Contact Paul Bailey

M: 027 229 9774 E: paul@canterburylivestock.co.nz www.canterburylivestock.co.nz


Gypsum is one of those rare materials that performs in all categories of soil treatment: an amendment, conditioner and fertiliser. It is useful in the transition period in dairy cows 2 – 4 weeks pre & post calving, and can be used as an anionic salt to counteract the effects that high potassium & sodium concentrations have on increasing hypocalcemia. Gypsum, a readily available form of calcium, is 100 times more soluble than lime and is more suitable for the digestive system during this period. Gypsum in fertilising Soil tests for many areas in New Zealand show that sulphur deficiency is wide spread. Although the importance of this element is often overlooked, sulphur is needed in at least equal quantities to phosphorus. Many responses in crops are sulphur responses arising from the sulphate radical (SO4‑‑), rather than phosphate responses. • Readily dissociates into free calcium ions (Ca++) and sulphate ions (SO4‑‑), major elements in plant nutrition • Has an approximately neutral pH and can be used in heavy applications without causing undue alkalinity in soils

Gypsum in water savings • Promotes water infiltration, retention and conservation • Allows water to penetrate the soil without forming puddles or water logging • Conserves water by stretching intervals between irrigations • Tests show that farmland treated with gypsum requires up to 33% less water than soils without recent gypsum application

Gypsum in soil conditioning • Breaks up soils compacted by sodium and clay, and compounded by farm animals and machinery • Reduces cracking and compaction following irrigation and retards soil crusting • Allows soil to dry more quickly after rain or irrigation so that it may be worked sooner • Decreases energy requirements for tillage • Binds organic matter to soil and checks soil erosion • Enhances friendly bacterial action and discourages plant diseases related to poor soil aeration • Conditioned soil allows for deeper, healthier root development and water penetration

Gypsum in amendment • Displaces sodium binding clay soils • Reduces high soil aluminium levels • Suppresses the soil acidification effects of growing crops and the prolonged use of acidifying fertilisers

For further information please contact your local farm supplier or Telephone: 0800 100 442 Visit our website at www.gypsum.co.nz


28

Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Water quality a balancing act Improving the water quality in Canterbury’s rivers and streams was a delicate balancing act and no matter what choices were made not everyone would be pleased, a Selwyn Water Seminar heard last week. Melissa Robson, from Landcare Research, addressed two sessions at Lincoln, looking at what is happening to water quality in the region and what is being done about it. In response to a question from the floor that asked why there was no movement towards actually reducing pollution, rather than just mitigating its impact, Robson said the Selwyn Waihora zone committee, like other ECan zone committees, was tasked with trying to deliver improved water quality across a number of target areas – social, cultural, environmental and economic. She said the catchment was complex, and different people who lived within it valued different things, so there was

Colin Williscroft

RURAL REPORTER

no one simple solution. “That’s why the policymakers can’t make the decision alone. They want to share that responsibility with the community. It’s not easy. “If you want a vibrant economy and community, but then take out local producing activities, then there will be other impacts.” A Canterbury Water booklet given out at the meeting says that the long-term effect of nitrogen loss means that water quality will get worse before it gets better, due to the “in the post” effect. “Nitrogen losses from agricultural land uses contribute about 95 per cent of the total (Selwyn Te Waihora) catchment nitrogen

load, although the full impact of this is not currently being seen,” the booklet said. “Even with no further land use intensification, we can expect a 40 per cent increase in losses from the nitrogen load already making its way through the groundwater system to Te Waihora.

“This load will appear in the next 10 to 60 years, as a result of previous and current land use.” The estimated nitrogen load currently reaching Te Waihora is 3200 tonnes a year, which will increase with nitrogen already in the ground.

The load necessary to bring it back to 1940s nutrient levels is estimated at 800 tonnes a year. “To achieve this would require a totally different land use mix on the plains, with virtually no livestock grazing, and considerable community and economic disruption.”

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Dairy Focus - July 2017  
Dairy Focus - July 2017