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Dairy Focus MAY, 2016



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Farming Dairy Focus



COMMENT FROM EDITOR This month win The Snow Farmer by John Lee of the Cardrona Valley. Just answer the following question and either post it to Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton or email it to susan.s@theguardian. co.nz.

Who is the CEO of Federated Farmers?

CONTACTS Advertising Email trudy.b@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7955

We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to susan.s@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7961

I have big shoes to fill, taking over reporting for the Guardian’s rural publications from Nadine Porter. Nadine is off to pastures green and bountiful, as the national communications officer for New Zealand Young Farmers. It’s a pleasure to be handed the job from someone who set such a high standard and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into it. I come from a science background, having obtained a degree at the University of New South Wales many moons ago, and have found this to be of use when reporting on farming on and off over the years. While I am not coming into Dairy Focus and Guardian Farming completely cold, I do feel I have a big learning curve as I familiarise myself with the latest in agriculture. It’s encouraging to see in this issue the enthusiasm farmers are putting into their operations, as evident in our story on the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. Such enthusiasm must not always come easily considering the downturn in the industry that dairy farmers are facing. These farmers are also

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initiating new improvements in their operations with an eye to the longterm future of their farms and the industry as a whole. And they are not just looking at the farm’s cows, grass and production, but also thinking about its people. Head judge Hamish Taylor remarked upon how the award winners were improving health and safety, identifying hazards, holding weekly meetings, signing in staff and visitors – all to make sure their staff get home safe and well. This is just one small aspect of dairy farming overall, but reflective of an industry with strong, energetic leaders who are not afraid of meeting new challenges.

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Positivity pumping at dairy awards The winners and finalists in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are evidence of the opportunities for people to prosper in the country’s dairy industry. continued over page

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Farming Dairy Focus

From P3 In front of 530 people at Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena recently, Mark and Jaime Arnold were named the 2016 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Thomas Chatfield became the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicholas Bailey was announced the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth nearly $170,000. “There was an overwhelmingly positive vibe among the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” general manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are actively looking for opportunities to progress and to grow their equity and position within the industry. It’s something that is really exciting to see and great to witness.” Share farmer head judge and DairyNZ senior consulting officer Abby Scott says the economic climate had meant the finalists had changed some of their management practices to ensure they better managed available resources. “People were really focusing on growing grass and supplements within their farm boundary and making sure they utilised it. They were also more


interested in profit per hectare rather than benchmarking milk production per cow. We also saw some really innovative ways in how people have reduced costs,” Mrs Scott says. “They were all very positive about the industry, about their business and their future equity growth. Their positivity rubbed off on you and was infectious. There’s no doubt they’re in the industry for the long haul.” She says some of the finalists were new to the industry, but have progressed rapidly due to the industry’s open, cooperative style with sharing information. “The information is there and, if you want to, you can get stuck in and get ahead quickly in this industry.” Dairy manager head judge and Westpac Agribusiness manager Hamish Taylor says there has been a noticeable trend in improving health and safety practices on farm. “These guys want their staff to get home safe and well. They are identifying hazards, holding weekly meetings and ensuring staff and visitors sign in and out – there weren’t any clean books like we have seen in previous years.” The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac,

Above – Dannevirke couple Mark and Jaime Arnold took out the Share Farmer of the Year category.

Right – 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Nicholas Bailey.

DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown,

along with industry partner Primary ITO. The 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year winners, Mark and Jaime


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Arnold, took a huge pay cut when they launched their dairy farming career eight years ago. The former logging crew manager and teacher went on

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a single herd manager’s salary when they stepped on to a dairy farm for the first time. “They chose to go dairy farming as they thought it would be a


good lifestyle for their family and they had a long-term view of their future in it,” Mrs Scott says. In winning the national

title and $52,500 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in finance, business and pasture management. “The level of understanding they demonstrated in their financial presentation to us was very impressive. Their future growth plans are also impressive and they have a clear strategic plan of where they want to be and some clear goals.” The Arnolds are aged 48 and 35 years and are 50 per cent sharemilking 500 cows for Mike and Sherynn Harold and Stuart and Sandra Cordell at Dannevirke. It is their fifth season on the farm and a great relationship with the farm owners led the owners to partner them as they progressed from lower order to 50 per cent sharemilking. “Over the five years they’ve also developed a really impressive database of information they have recorded and they use that information well.” They have also analysed and completed budgets on more than 10 different progression opportunities. “Doing this had helped them make the decision that they were better off to stay where they are and to look to land ownership or an equity partnership as their next step.”



S / WE Y A D 5

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Dunsandel 50 per cent sharemilkers Michael and Susie Woodward, are farming at an exceptionally high standard. The Woodwards won four merit awards in human resources, leadership, health and safety, and recording and

30 years, placed third in the competition, winning $14,000 in prizes. “The environment is a real passion of Hanna’s. Her understanding of how nutrients come on to the farm and leave the farm was pretty exceptional.” Judges are confident the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Thomas

They (the Woodwards) treat the staff as family members and celebrate little things, like birthdays or success, and made their team feel valued by those little things that they did

productivity. “They employ really large teams and the majority of their staff have been recruited from overseas. They treat the staff as family members and celebrate little things, like birthdays or success, and made their team feel valued by those little things that they did,” Mrs Scott says. The Woodwards, aged 35 and 33 years, won $33,000 in cash and prizes. Southland 50 per cent sharemilkers Callum and Hanna Stalker, aged 32 and

Chatfield, will go a long way in the industry. “He enjoys what he is doing and has the attitude and personality that will take him where he wants to go,” Mr Taylor says. The 30-year-old former physiotherapist is managing a 500-cow Whakatane farm owned by Bruce and Judy Woods and won $27,000 in prizes. In 2013 he won the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year title in his first season in the dairy industry. continued over page

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Farming Dairy Focus

From P5 “Thomas showed and expressed opinions about the farming system he manages and is passionate about what he is doing. He is making a tangible difference to the business he is involved with and was engaged with the owner. He has a capable team working with him and was working with the team on a succession plan, should he move on. “He can see massive opportunities in the dairy industry,” Mr Taylor says. The dairy manager runnerup, Hamish Kilpatrick, 23, had clear goals, a thought-out plan and good mentors. The Culverden farm manager won $10,500 in prizes. Martinborough herd manager Lance Graves, 26, placed third and won $6000 in prizes. The former diesel mechanic had strong personal financial planning as well as good mentors. Changes to the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year entry criteria are a success, head judge and Hawke’s Bay dairy farmer Nikki Halford says. “The entrants were all very even on paper, in terms of the length they have been in the industry and the roles and


South Island’s finest – Michael and Suzy Woodward from Dunsandel came runner-up in the Share Farmer of the Year category but took home a number of other awards.

qualifications they all hold. They were all very similar, so the changes that have been made to the entry criteria are sussed and that was wonderful to see,” she says. The trainee competition is targeted at those aged 18 to 25 years with up to three years’ fulltime experience in the industry. They can hold a qualification no higher than a NZQA Level 4. The 2016 New Zealand

Dairy Trainee of the Year, Nicholas Bailey, is able to articulate ideas on some of the issues facing the industry. “He stood out. He talked about wanting to get some consistency in employment standards across the industry in terms of rosters, in retaining staff and understanding what it takes.” Mrs Halford says he is mature and has a good balance of activities off the farm,

2016 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Thomas Chatfield.

including refereeing football and being active in Young Farmers. Mr Bailey, aged 21 years, won $10,500 in prizes and is 2IC on Bryan Tucker’s 330ha Greytown farm milking 950 cows. It is the second time he has entered the awards and he plans to progress to a managing role. He describes himself as a hard-working, outgoing and driven person that is willing

to learn and likes to achieve positive results. The dairy trainee runnerup, Karl Wood, has strong practical skills and good general knowledge. The 21-year-old Feilding 2IC won $5500 in prizes. Placing third, Olivia Wade is full of exuberance and passion for the industry. Ms Wade is a 23-year-old Atiamuri assistant manager and won $2500 in prizes.




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Full results 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year: ■■ Winner – Mark & Jaime Arnold, Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa ■■ Runner-up – Michael & Susie Woodward, Canterbury ■■ Third – Callum & Hanna Stalker, Southland/Otago ■■ DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Michael & Susie Woodward ■■ Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Mark & Jaime Arnold ■■ Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Michael & Susie Woodward ■■ Fonterra Farm Source

■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Interview Award – Matthew Herbert & Brad Markham Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Michael & Susie Woodward LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Michael & Susie Woodward Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Callum & Hanna Stalker Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Mark & Jaime Arnold Westpac Business Performance Award – Mark & Jaime Arnold

■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Employee Engagement Award – Thomas Chatfield Meridian Energy Leadership Award – Renae Flett Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award –Hamish Kilpatrick DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Thomas Chatfield Primary ITO Power Play Award – Thomas Chatfield Fonterra Farm Source Farm

Management Award – Matt Birchfield ■■ Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Lance Graves 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year: ■■ Winner – Nicholas Bailey, Hawkes Bay/ Wairarapa ■■ Runner-up – Karl Wood, Manawatu ■■ Third – Olivia Wade, Central Plateau ■■ DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Karl Wood

2016 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year: ■■ Winner – Thomas Chatfield, Bay of Plenty ■■ Runner-up – Hamish Kilpatrick,

Canterbury ■■ Third – Lance Graves, Hawkes Bay/ Wairarapa ■■ Dairy Manager of the Year Interview Award – Sam Howard ■■ DairyNZ

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Luxton’s efforts recognised A rural sector stalwart and former government minister has been recognised for his efforts in the dairy industry at the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. Hon John Luxton, QSO, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust Chairman Alister Body, in recognition for his long service to the dairy industry and wider agriculture sector. “We have chosen John as he has dedicated himself to driving change not only on farm but also at an industry level,” said Mr Body. “John is a quiet achiever. He is absolutely passionate about the dairy industry and, of all the roles he has had, bringing DairyNZ together after the merger of Dexcel and Dairy Insight has been a huge achievement. “Nothing is a problem for John – he is approachable by all and relates to all ages within the industry. He is a huge advocate for farmers and promotes the industry widely.” Mr Luxton stepped down

from his role as the inaugural chairman of DairyNZ last year but remains active in a number of companies and organisations in the rural sector and retains extensive farming interests. “It is fair to say John has continued a tradition of community, industry and public service by the Luxton family over many decades and generations. He has taken on those roles with strong values, huge integrity and with the best interests of those in the rural sector he champions,” Mr Body says. Mr Luxton is co-Chair of the Waikato River Authority, Chair of the Asia New Zealand Foundation and iwi-owned Pouarua Farm Partnership, and a Director of Tatua Co-op Dairy Company, Wallace Corporation and a number of private farming companies. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Service Order, the 2016 Lincoln University Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, honoris causa, and an AC Cameron Award winner. He was elected to

Rural sector stalwart John Luxton has been recognised for his efforts in the dairy industry.

Parliament in 1987 in the then Matamata electorate, and was a Government Minister for nine years – including time as the Minister of Agriculture – before retiring in 2002. His farming interests are

in both the North and South Islands and ensure he supplies milk to Fonterra, Tatua and Westland Dairy Companies. He is a founder of Open Country Dairies and Kaimai Cheese companies.

He joins Gallagher chief executive and chairman Sir William Gallagher (2011) and Massey University Professor Colin Holmes (2009) as the Trust’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.


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Enerpro Feeds – reliable and efficient Enerpro Feeds Ltd has become one of the South Island’s leading providers of supplementary feeds since its establishment two years ago. A family-owned company operated by husband and wife team Noel and Nikki Dew, Enerpro Feeds supplies directly to the dairy farming industry. Enerpro Feeds provides a reliable, efficient and competitively priced full menu of commodities such as palm kernel meal (PKE), corn dried distillers grain ( DDGS), soyabean hulls (SBH), canola meal (CM) and soyabean meal (SBM) . Recognising that nutritional requirements of dairy cows change during the course of the year, Enerpro Feeds has developed a wide range of blended feeds ideally suited for in-shed feeding systems. Since establishing the business, Noel and Nikki have been providing farms with tailor-made blended feeds to suit the unique nutritional requirements of individual farms. “Recently we had a client

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who was wanting an in-shed feed that was nutritionally superior to PKE, but not priced over the top,” Nikki said. “In an effort to satisfy the client’s requirements we came up with our Enerpro Survival Blend (ESB).” Survival is a blend of PKE (maximum 40 per cent), rolled barley, SBH and corn DDGS, at a price that is only fractionally more expensive than PKE alone. “The wonderful concept of our blends is that we can also add in essential macronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, salt and trace vitamins and minerals, all at a minimal cost thereby offering the farmer a considerable saving,” Nikki said. Enerpro Feeds are also preparing to launch new calf meals for this season, and

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Wheat, Barley, Soyameal, Canola Meal, Corn DDGS, Soyabean Hulls, Lime Flour, Salt, Molasses, Soya Oil, Vitamins & Minerals, Bovatec No PKE is included in either Enerpro 20 or Enerpro 16. Both calf supplements contain essential Vitamins & Minerals along with Bovatec to help control Coccidiosis.

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Dairy Focus


High value dairy exports A decade ago the viticulture industry responded to international market demand by creating a sustainable NZ wine brand.

The viticulture industry committed to changing grower practices and moving up the value chain by producing premium products with robust environmental credentials – thereby leveraging their pure advantage. The conventional dairy sector in New Zealand has continued to focus on high production for the high volume, low-value commodities market. Figures quoted in Waikato Times (February 9, 2016) told the story - organic milk powder sells on the international market for more than $14,000 per tonne and in stark contrast conventional milk powder sells for $2900 per tonne. The international market is demanding high value sustainably produced food and the business case for a marketled approach in the dairy sector is urgent. The intensification of dairying relies on high chemical input strategies contributing to a number of factors that reduce on-farm profit including animal health issues such as; high empty rates, retained membranes,

quality (riparian buffers etc.) laminitis, high Somatic Cell Count (SCC) and mastitis. while information on the effects The resulting bills to mitigate of changing farm practice to these health problems carve prevent the pollution in the deeply into economic farm first place is lacking. surplus (EFS). Ironically most The United Nations animal health problems are declared 2015 as the a direct result of nutritional deficiency and when animals Year of Soil graze on high chemical input FAO Director-General, José pastures the root cause of these Graziano da Silva recently nutritional problems comes described soils as “a nearly from soil that is simply not forgotten resource”. functioning. Well-functioning soils Production over profit is are critical for global food economically unsustainable, production and a healthy particularly in the current environment, but we are not low payout period, but paying enough attention to high chemical inputs are this important silent ally. also environmentally Soil degradation leads to unsustainable. The clamor compaction loss of LTD waterAUTOMOTIVE T_A SC CUSTOMER SCand PUBLISHING 14/05/16 around environmental issues, RABIE.ALKOUNTAR SALES REP PUBLICATION TIMARU HERALD holding capacity, increasing the such as clean water,ADVERTISING will result DESIGNER OUTSOURCER SECTION MOTORING movement of sediment, manure in tighter on-farm regulatory PROOF PROOFED SIZE 14.8X20 13/05/2016 2:36:50 The p.m. and chemicals to rivers. rules becoming the norm. AD ID CH-7256793AA (100%) FAX low levels of biological activity The biggest single factor observed in degraded soils also NOTE THAT ANY ALTERATIONS to reduce chemical PLEASErun-off APPROVE THIS AD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. function impact on the wider in a plethora of weed, into waterways is healthy MUST result BE FINALISED BY OUR MATERIAL DEADLINE. environment, especially ground pest and disease problems. functioning soil. Over more These factors not only reduce and surface waters. than 60 per cent of NZ rivers AgResearch Professor the profitability of farming, are unfit for swimming, let Richard McDowell but high-analysis fertilisers alone drinking. Most of the recently observed that the and other chemicals used in an effort to date has been focused Government’s business growth attempt to mask the problems on mitigating the impacts of high input farming on water agenda – aimed at doubling created by reduced soil

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need to be asked about the way we farm. He says low returns for some agricultural products signal the need for farmers to look long-term and identify more sustainable options. Dairy farmers need solid information in order to access alternative strategies to high chemical inputs. The biostimulant industry worldwide is growing at 12 per cent

“ primary sector exports by 2025 – had “put researchers under the gun” to achieve the twin goals of improving land and water quality while enhancing primary sector productivity. But director of Massey University’s Fertiliser and

Lime Research Centre, Professor Mike Hedley, says policymakers have made decisions without really knowing the exact changes to farm management needed to achieve these twin outcomes. Hedley believes hard questions

provides a smorgasbord high nutrition ‘feast’ for soil biology, plant and animal health. In response to United Nations declaring 2015 - as the Year of Soil AgriSea funded Dr Christine Jones, an internationally renowned soil ecologist, on a tour of NZ speaking to farmers on the topic of how soil functions. Dr. Jones took up the position of

Although biological farming is not organic it is a bridge to this high value farming sector and becomes a viable choice for individual farmers to make based on solid data. NZ organic dairy farmers are tipped to receive up to double the price for organic milk solids per kg as paid for conventionally produced milksolids. However, the development of a national

Production over profit is economically unsustainable, particularly in the current low payout period, but high chemical inputs are also environmentally unsustainable

per annum – biostimulants are farm inputs that focus on the health of the soil biology – the life in the soil. One such biostimulant producer, AgriSea New Zealand, is a multi-award winning, Paeroa based, family company manufacturing high quality liquid seaweed concentrates, seaweed solid products, seaweed salt blocks and animal pellets from a fresh NZ seaweed species called Ecklonia radiata. Seaweed is one of the most complex elements known to man and

Head of Research at AgriSea New Zealand in April to develop a Soils First production System for farmers. The AgriSea Soils First Production System research project is aimed at providing high input farmers a safe transition from conventional farming to biological farming. Biological farming principles ensure healthy soil, healthy crops, healthy animals and healthy waterways. The economic and environmental benefits are aligned with the Government’s twin goals.

Eco Milk certificate that guarantees the product has been produced with robust environmental credentials on soil/water friendly farms will give returns to biological farms that are half way between certified organic and chemically produced products. This is a similar model to the three production systems in the egg industry: a) certified organic, b) free range or c) caged eggs. The rapid rise of the Free range category is the market speaking. continued on P12

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from P11 To meet the government’s twin targets of improved export revenue and cleaner water AgriSea are seeking mainstream, high input dairy farms across New Zealand to participate in a three-year leading-edge research project to fine-tune the Soils First production system. In addition to satisfying regulatory requirements for reduced chemical inputs, farmers will benefit by receiving regular free soil and herbage tests plus assessments of plant rooting depth and levels of soil biological activity. AgriSea will underwrite production levels in the trial areas. If production drops, they pay. The AgriSea research is designed to strengthen farm productivity, performance and profitability, improving soil, pasture and herd health while reducing ecotoxicity. The benefits of the Soils First production system will be both economic and environmental.

Why soil first? The science underpinning the Soils First research evolves around the fact that very few soil problems are intrinsic – most are due to the depletion or absence of diverse communities of soil microbes. Firstly, soil function is strongly influenced by its structure. In order for soil to be well structured, it must be living. Life in the soil provides the glues and gums that enable soil particles to stick together into pea-sized lumps called aggregates. Well-structured soils with high levels of biological activity are more productive, less prone to erosion and compaction and function more effectively as bio-filters. Vigorous root systems and relationships with beneficial soil biota are essential for maximising the ability of crop and pasture plants to obtain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium,

magnesium and a wide variety of trace elements including copper, cobalt, zinc, selenium, boron and molybdenum. Many of these elements are essential for animal health as well as plant resistance to pests and diseases. They also confer resilience to climatic extremes such as drought, waterlogging and frost. Plant function is enhanced when these nutrients are obtained via natural microbial pathways rather than applied in synthetic form. The single biggest onfarm factor to ensure healthy waterways is to have healthy soil. As rules tighten around environmental factors including compromised waterways, farmers need viable on-farm options. The AgriSea Soils First Production System research project will contribute to New Zealand’s agricultural future by bringing public institutions, private corporations and farmers together to accelerate the transition to more cost effective, environmentally friendly farming systems in a low-risk manner. The NZ Inc. brand needs to become the world leader in sustainable farming – both environmentally and economically.

AgriSea are doing ground-breaking research.




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Australia Fonterra offering support measures Fonterra Australia will offer support measures for its autumn calving suppliers, following the revision of its season 2015/16 farmgate milk price. Recently Fonterra announced it would cut the farmgate milk price for its southern states suppliers by 60 cents, reducing the full season price to $5/kgMS. The offset package announced today is designed to assist suppliers with an autumn calving structure. Fonterra Oceania managing director Judith Swales said the announcement was in response to concerns raised by farmers. “Although the reduction in the farmgate milk price affects all farmers, we recognise that it has a greater

impact on suppliers with autumn calving herds given the reduction has had to happen late in the season and we need something that is fair across all our farmers,” she said. “We have consulted with BSC (Bonlac Supply Company) to better target autumn calving suppliers, by providing an additional autumn offset to farmers for milk supplied in May and June 2016. “The package will go some way towards rebalancing the spring versus autumn seasonal incentives for FY17.” The offset will provide autumn calving suppliers an additional $2.50/ kgMS in July and August payments based on the kgMS a farmer supplies in May and June 2016. This will effectively be drawn through the redistribution of base rates in the 2016/17 season.

rolled out nationwide. Tenant farmer Sylvia Crocker asked the customer service team at the Launceston supermarket to sell onepint cartons alongside its sandwiches to encourage shoppers to choose milk over fizzy drinks, fruit juices and water. To her surprise, the store agreed and positive sales figures have led to four other stores in Devon and Cornwall following suit. “People just grab a drink when they buy their sandwich so why not have milk there as an option?” Sylvia told Farmers Weekly. The skimmed, semi-skimmed and full-fat pints are being sold for 45p – equivalent to 79p/litre – and have sold well since they were placed in the “food to go” chillers two months ago.

United Kingdom Devon farmer wants Tesco to put milk as convenience drink A Devon farmer who asked her local Tesco to promote pints of milk as a convenience drink could have her idea

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China China to invest in Kansas A Chinese company and the Dairy Farmers of America say they are planning a $100 million plant in Kansas but the location and other details are not being publicly released. The Dairy Farmers of America, a co-operative owned by 13,000 dairy farmers based in Kansas City, is working with the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group on the project, The Kansas City Star reported. The plant’s location has not been disclosed but it will likely be in western Kansas, where most of the state’s milk production occurs. It is expected to produce up to 88,000 tons of milk powder a year. According to a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Dairy Farmers of America will contribute $70 million and the Chinese company $30 million to build the plant, the Wall Street Journal reported. The deal would be important to the United States’ efforts to attract a larger share of China’s increasing demand for dairy products, an industry analyst said.


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2 14

Farming Dairy Focus



Rural Building Solutions wins silver Canterbury’s Rural Building Solutions (RBS) won silver at the NZ Master Builders Commercial Project Awards in Auckland recently at a soldout gala evening MC’d by Hilary Barry. RBS provides high quality dairy shed design and build services to the Canterbury region, and is the first to enter a dairy shed in this prestigious event. Owners Nigel and Ruth Hodges have a background in the commercial building industry. When they set up RBS in 2009, it was to provide commercial building quality to the rural sector. Nigel says “I found the rural building industry had very inconsistent quality and results. Coming from a commercial background I knew we could offer high quality results every time”. Confirmation that he has achieved just that has come in the form of the Silver Award from the NZ Master Builders Commercial Project Awards for 2016. These awards are the pinnacle of commercial

Linda Hofsteede (Homestead Farm (2010) Ltd), Nigel Hodges (managing director) and Alan Deane (construction manager).

construction in New Zealand. Their aim is to “recognise ‘New Zealand’s outstanding commercial construction and the project teams that work together to create our city skylines and rural landscapes”. The silver award was for a RBS 60 bail rotary shed for Linda Hofsteede at Homestead

Farm, Alford Forest. Initially fully booked for the year, Nigel had no slots left when Linda approached him to build her shed. However he knew Linda and her project manager would be a great team to work with, so after some tweaking, he managed to fit them in as last

build of the season. “I knew the communication and clear decision-making would make this a successful build, even under time pressure – and it was”. Linda still has the original ‘wish list’ for her shed requirements, and at the end of the build she was

able to say that yes, she got everything she wanted. So pleasing was the resulting build for everyone involved, that Nigel entered it in the 2016 Commercial Project Awards. Highly comprehensive judging criteria for the awards included design, innovation, workmanship, construction, and project management, with scoring done during site visits from the judges. Working relationships, teamwork and client satisfaction were also taken into account In awarding Silver to RBS, the judges noted “In an industry where it’s as much about the handshake as it is about the contract, the design and build of a 60 bail rotary style dairy shed and yard was delivered by a highly collaborative team working together for the first time”. Nigel is delighted with the team effort that produced this great result, and he says that he is proud of this shed and all of the sheds RBS builds – “we build every shed as if it is a show shed”.


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2 16

Farming Dairy Focus


NZ NEWS BRIEF Southland farmers formalise Dairy Leaders Advisory Group DairyNZ wants to spread Good Yarn workshop message DairyNZ is working to try to spread the influence of its GoodYarn workshops, promoting better understanding of mental health around rural New Zealand. GoodYarn is one of a number of initiatives DairyNZ is involved with to address stress and promote wellness and wellbeing on the country’s dairy farms. More than 30 workshops have been run since DairyNZ introduced GoodYarn in February. But realising that DairyNZ hasn’t got the resources to reach everyone on its own, together with Wellsouth Primary Health Network, it has created a licensing programme which allows others to deliver workshops. The workshops emphasise four main elements; • ensuring participants know what they need in order to be resilient and strong • removing the stigma of mental illness • recognising the signs when someone is stressed – how do you know, how do you approach them about it • learning how to refer them on if they need greater help than you can give. The workshops, aimed at farmers and rural professionals, take four hours, including lunch.

Farmer urges positivity on social media Sick of the constant negativity in the mainstream media, dairy farmer Olin Greenan shared a call to arms on social media. “To all my farming friends, I’m fed up with the negativity. Let’s buck the trend and tweet daily why you love your job. #lovefarminglovelife” tweeted Olin. The sentiment is one shared by many New Zealand farmers, and Olin says now more than ever, it’s important to keep the positives in mind. “The doom and gloom can quite easily drag people down,” says Olin. “We need more stories about how people have coped with the downturn. A lot of people are in unknown territory. Supporting each other and working together is crucial.” Olin’s first tweet on why he loved being a dairy farmer captured a photo of his two-year-old son Jack’s mini redbands, with the caption “A farmer of the future takes a well-earned break”. Olin says since he and his wife Anna have had children (Jack, two and Noah, three months), being able to spend more time with them is a massive benefit of the farming lifestyle.

A passion for sustainable farming and a drive to work collaboratively in the community has led to a group of Southland farmers formalising a Dairy Leaders Advisory Group. The DairyNZ-supported group comprises 11 Southland dairy farmers who are taking their expertise off-farm and into the community to work with others on environmental issues. The group will interact with industry and stakeholders, providing farmer opinion on policy and environmental decisions, and will also communicate back to other farmers. Advisory group chair Raewyn van Gool says they want to develop long-term sustainable solutions by working more closely with the community as issues arise. “We want a collaborative approach to how longterm solutions are developed. A lot of different community groups are involved in many of these initiatives and working together really is the best way to solve issues,” says Raewyn. “Many of the group’s members have already embarked on setting up catchment groups to improve water quality in a community waterway or have gone above and beyond on their own farms. “We are also all alumni of the Dairy Environment Leaders Forum – the dairy industry’s leadership programme which each year hosts environmentallyfocused farmers.”



Falling cattle numbers attributed to dairy price slump

Aussie farmers rebel against Fonterra Australia

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand has fallen for the first time in about a decade, according to the 2015 Agricultural Production Survey. Statistics New Zealand says the number of dairy cattle fell to 6.5 million in 2015, which was the first decline after nine years of consecutive increases. Sheep numbers have continued to decline and there is now just over six sheep for every New Zealander, down from 13 sheep per person 20 years ago. The survey is based on responses from farmers and foresters for the 12 months ended June last year, and it shows the number of dairy cattle has fallen as dairy farmers have slaughtered cows because of the slump in dairy prices. The national dairy herd hit a record high of 6.7 million in 2014. The biggest fall in animal numbers is in the Waikato dairy heartland where there were 153,000 fewer dairy cattle than in 2014, while Taranaki dairy cattle numbers were down by 8 per cent and in Canterbury it was 6 per cent lower. The survey also shows that sheep numbers fell by 2 per cent to just over 29 million sheep. – Radio New Zealand

Fonterra Australia dairy farmers are rebelling after the company cut its milk price by 10 per cent last week. The co-operative dropped the payout from $A5.60kgms to $A5.00kgms to match a cut by rival dairy company Murray Goulburn. It said a contract with a customer means Fonterra was required to maintain its price to match Murray Goulburn. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted an Australian group of dairy farmers, Farmer Power, as saying they’re preparing for ‘war’ against Fonterra following the cuts. United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Adam Jenkins told the Weekly Times that Fonterra was being opportunistic in using the agreement to pay less to farmers. Mr Jenkins told the paper to lower the milk price and push debt across the supplier base, was fundamentally wrong. He said many Victoria dairy farmers were feeling “angry, sad and let down” by Fonterra and Murray Goulburn. – Radio New Zealand

Transmission of diseases focus of Otago University The transmission of diseases passed between animals and humans is the focus of research to be carried out by Otago University. Known as Zoonotic disease transmission, around 60 per cent of micro-organisms causing human diseases are passed that way. The research led by Dr Pippa Scott will concentrate on two diseases, Escherichia coli, a particularly nasty bug that causes severe diarrhoea, and Staphylococcus aureus, a skin and blood infection. “The ecoli, that particular strand, is very common and most common in dairy farming communities, that is where you see a lot of the cases, places such as South Canterbury, Taranaki and so on. “The staph, (Staphylococcus) is actually very widespread both in humans and in animals, a lot of people have it without knowing it and most humans catch that from other humans, but it has been observed that for the antibiotic resistant streams can move from animal populations to human populations and that can limit treatment options in humans and we’d like to prevent that if we can.” Dr Scott said her research would take three years.


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2 18

Farming Dairy Focus


Laminitis - it’s a real problem I have just been running some trimming workshops on the West Coast and found myself regularly confronted with the continuing acceptance that physical force is the main contributor to lameness in New Zealand, together with a reluctance to accept that laminitis is a very real problem here. So, do we have laminitis in New Zealand? There are people who believe we don’t because “it has not been proven”. What difference would it make? Why would we care? I believe that if you really want to solve a problem, you need to know what causes the problem. How else are you going to solve it? I believe that if we try to keep lameness under control by solving all the physical issues then we are only solving the symptoms. So, what is my point? When I talk about laminitis I am talking about an unhealthy live tissue in the hoof caused by internal imbalances. The symptoms of an unhealthy live tissue are haemorrhaging, holes and

Fred Hoekstra


cracks, deformed hoofs and just about anything else we see wrong with the hoof. Most people mistakenly assume that all those symptoms are caused by standing on stones and other “sharp objects”, or “pushing cows too hard” and therefore adding too much pressure on the hooves. The problem here is that this has never been proven to be the case. However, the fact that those symptoms are mainly a domestic cow issue and not so much a wild cow issue shows that there has to be more going on than just physical forces. I would argue that a cow in the wild is a lot harder on her hooves than a domestic cow on our farms. The fact that those

symptoms are more cowrelated than hoof-related raises questions. Why are those symptoms symmetrical on both feet on most cows? That doesn’t make sense if it was caused by physical force. Also, why do we see haemorrhaging up on the dorsal wall? How could physical force be the cause of that? Why do we see the outer claw deformed much more often than the inner claw? Why do most cows go lame on the rear hooves if they only carry 40 per cent of the weight? Why do we see mostly the outside claws displaying these symptoms if this is supposed to be the claw with the most protection? Why does it have a positive effect on the cow when we take some of that protection away by trimming? Think about it. How do you explain all those things from a physical force point of view? Research overseas has shown that diet and stress have a major impact on lameness. I know we are in New Zealand, but if it looks

like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it waddles like a duck and it flies like a duck it probably is a duck. We need to understand this properly because it will affect our management style - all of a sudden, controlled starvation becomes a problem rather than a tool, only one water trough may not be enough, and having cows out of the paddock for long periods of time becomes an issue, and the list goes on. I do not understand why people deny that laminitis is in

dairy cows in New Zealand. I do not see any reason for that especially when the evidence so clearly points in that direction. Just for the record, I believe that just about every cow in New Zealand has some degree of laminitis in their feet. In the majority of cases it is not severe enough to be a problem for the cow. However, I belive it is by far the biggest cause of lameness on our dairy farms. Let me know your thoughts, email me at fred@veehof.co.nz



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2 20

Farming Dairy Focus


Preparing for calving Planning and preparation contribute to a successful calving season. Help your farm team get set up early for a smoother calving season.

PRE-CALVING CHECKLIST Supplies of metabolics, electrolytes, navel spray etc. on hand or ordered.

Secure fencing for cows and appropriate fencing for calves.

New team members up-to-date on farm policies and what to expect during calving.

Good power running through farms – especially through fence lines around macrocarpa trees.

Calf trailer and feeding equipment clean and disinfected. Calf shed clean and disinfected and all repairs and maintenance done. Designated sick calf area ready.

Good feed available for all weather conditions. Updated cow records. Good calving notebooks, computer systems or apps.

Fresh bedding laid in calf shed. Good wet-weathers and gumboots. Selected calving paddocks minimising long walks for cows calving. Portable yards and crushes in those far away paddocks Good tyres on motorbikes and trailers.

Machinery and farm vehicles serviced. Calving kit prepared. Keep your calving kit at the gate of the springer paddock. Have a team member in charge of making sure it is restocked regularly.


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Calving kit contents A well-stocked calving kit will save you making trips between the paddock and the shed.


Bucket with a lid to contain kit (tape a checklist of contents inside the lid).


Metabolics (clearly labelled milk fever treatments and starter drench).





Two litre container of lube (a plunger pump is an easy way to dispense lube if hands are busy).



Three calving ropes or chains (strong, supple and cleaned after each use).

The well-stocked calving kit includes:


Towel and soap for cleaning hands.

torch and spare 10 Head batteries.

Notebook and pencil (A pencil will still work in wet conditions, unlike a pen).

Ear tags or other calf identification system (Pre numbered tags with corresponding numbers on a record sheet will save time and reduce the chance of recording mistakes).

Spray paint - red plus another colour (red can be used as a warning colour. E.g. withhold milk. Communicate this with staff).




Iodine spray - premixed with water (do not use teat dip as an alternative).

Key contact numbers (vet, manager) on laminated sheet. Save numbers in phone.


Calving intervention guide.

Gloves - for rectal or other exam.

Food/energy bars.


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2 22

Farming Dairy Focus


Planning the key to successful calving • Good biosecurity measures include controlling wild birds and rodents, managing visitors and regularly cleaning equipment, work clothes and vehicles.

Minimising peoplerelated risks

Looking after your team • Team wellbeing. • Planning and preparing for calving with your farm team will reduce stress when calving is in full swing and help it run smoothly. • Hold a team meeting prior to calving and decide who will do what and when. Record the plan where everyone can see

it. Introduce new staff to systems and processes so everyone is on the same page when calving starts. • Establish a roster and make sure staff know how to fill out timesheets. • Eating well is important and some owners provide staff with crock pots, keep healthy snacks at the shed or have a cooked breakfast together after milking.

• Watch for signs of stress, meet regularly and talk often.

Health and hygiene

• Biosecurity foot bath • Newborn calves require more care and attention as they have a lower immune system. Following good biosecurity practices will help you rear healthy calves and keep the farm team healthy.

• Notify visitors, truck drivers, and staff about biosecurity requirements. • Have a separate pair of farm clothing and boots specifically for use around calves. Clean these regularly, especially during any outbreaks of scours. • Place foot baths or disinfecting mats at the entrance to the calf shed to disinfect boots • Bobby calf collection should be managed to avoid the truck operator going into areas where calves are housed, as they are a high risk of spreading diseases

Calf pickup in the paddock

• Pick calves up twice a day to minimise the time they spend in dirty environments.

• Spray navels with iodine and do not overload the calf trailer. • Clean the trailer regularly with disinfectant to minimise bacteria.

Calf housing

• Use a disinfectant regularly to clean pens and prevent bacteria build-up. The disinfectant should be safe to use around feed, water, and calves. • Keep calves in pens based on their age. Weak or small calves may be better off in younger pens, but check with your veterinarian before mixing ages. • Maximise sunlight – it is effective at killing bacteria. • Clean out, disinfect and replace bedding in pens at the start of the season, between batches of calves and at the end of the season.

Feed and water

• Clean all feeding equipment with hot water and suitable detergent after each use and draw hot water through the teats. • Try and place feed and water containers so staff

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season can access them from the outside of the pens to reduce the risk of bacteria entering the pen through footwear.

Segregation of sick calves • A designated area for sick calves will help minimise the risk of diseases spreading. • Position the sick pen to one side of the shed and prevent contact with healthy calves, either through a solid partition or by separation ensuring no nose to nose contact. • Feed healthy calves before going to feed, check, and treat sick calves. • Use separate feeding equipment for healthy and sick calves, otherwise ensure sick calves are fed last. • Wear disposable gloves when handling and feeding sick calves. • Clean out, disinfect, and dry sick calf pens between batches. • When sick calves appear healthy, use a recovery pen for a few days as they can continue to shed bacteria.

Do not put them straight back in with healthy calves.

Pest control

• Birds, rodents, and other pests must be controlled to minimise the spread of infection. • Keep water and feed troughs clean and free of pest droppings.

Zoonoses infections

• Zoonoses are infections which can be transmitted between animals and people or vice versa. • Diseases that people can contract from handling dairy animals in New Zealand include Leptospirosis, Cryptosporidiosis, Campylobacter, Salmonellosis and Ringworm. To keep both humans and animals healthy, it is important to maintain high cleanliness and hygiene standards and vaccinate your herd where possible after discussing it with your veterinarian.

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Profile for Ashburton Guardian

Dairy Focus - May 2016  

Dairy Focus - May 2016