Dairy Focus SEPTEMBER, 2014
No mystery deaths in Canterbury Pages 3-4 Photo Eden Kirk-Williams
Phone: 027 255 8501 Scott
Farming Dairy Focus Older cows and lameness are on the agenda in Fred’s column this month, where he looks at the role of diet and laminitis.
VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES
FACE TO FACE
COMMENT FROM EDITOR
Busy mum Chanelle talks about getting the veggie patch in order with the help of a toddler and a new pup, before the family welcomes a new addition next month.
Grant unravels the complexities of the stock market, noting few surprises in August.
Andrew talks about the importance of employment contracts, describing a real-life situation.
A BROKER’S VIEW
t’s a dairy farmer’s worst nightmare – drying off healthy cows; putting them out on costly winter feed only to have them become sick and often die. Across Southland hundreds of cows have died after wintering over on swede crops, and while scientists, vets and industry experts scramble to find the reason, farmers are left dealing with the emotional and financial costs. As the mystery illness, which impacts on kidney and liver function, has taken its toll on replacement stock, as well as cows expected to produce this season, the ramifications are likely to be far reaching. In such an unprecedented situation it is critical farmers whose businesses have been effected by stock loses are talking to their banks and rural consultants to come up with a plan that will work for them. Getting support to deal with the psychological trauma is also important. Animal welfare problems
always come with a human cost. It is extremely stressful watching helplessly, as animal after animal goes down. At this point there is no telling how many cows have been affected, therefore how much longer the crisis will go on. Rural communities across the country are renowned for reaching out and offering support, but unfortunately farmers are not always willing to ask for help. If you or someone you know needs help coping, ask for it. Contact your local Rural Support Network, talk to your doctor, talk to each other. The age-old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved might be stretching the reality, but it certainly helps to know you’re not alone.
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Killer illness baffles scientists
n illness killing dairy cattle in Southland has experts baffled. DairyNZ general manager extension Craig McBeth said it was still too early to form a scientific conclusion about what is causing the death of hundreds of cattle, and striking down many more with kidney and liver damage. An industry-led working group met for the first time last week. Chaired by DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader Richard Kyte, the group comprises representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmer’s, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. Specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science are also involved in the investigation. Mr McBeth said there was evidence the illness was implicated in the deaths of two to three hundred cows, but he suspected the figure was under-reported. In many cases cows may have gone down with metabolic disorders, such as milk fever and failed to get up. Farmers may not have made
Swedes have been implicated in the deaths of hundreds of cows.
report what is happening, whether they have experienced problems or not. As of last week more than 350 responses had been received. “We are trying to build up a picture of what is happening out there, and where it is happening,” Mr McBeth said. Samples from autopsies and plants are being gathered and analysed. “We’re testing them for a range of things to try and find out what is causing it from a clearly defined scientific perspective, rather than speculating too much at this stage. “Depending on what we find from there will determine where we head next with this process. Just trying to get to the bottom of what we can and putting extra resources in to that as quickly as we can.” “We are trying to find out what the dispersion of the incidence is and what common factors there might be around it. Other than that the rest of it is anecdotal hearsay at this point, and we don’t like jumping to conclusions on the basis of that.” continued over page
the link between the animal’s already compromised health, if it had been grazing on swedes. “We’ve identified there has been an issue about two weeks ago and put together what we know and sent that out to farmers,” he said. “If they haven’t been aware
of it and speaking with their vets they should do that – and if they are having issues they should amend the feeding for their stock to alleviate any symptoms.” In the reported cases, symptoms included weight loss, unresponsive down-cows,
and photosensitivity – cows seeking shade, reddening of the udder and skin damage to white areas. They may also appear restless, shown by skin twitching, flicking the ears and tail, irritability and twitching. A survey has been sent to farmers asking them to
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from page 3 At this point it appears the problem is confined to dairy cattle in Southland and to some extent in South Otago, however the working group wants to hear from anybody has evidence that it might be more widespread. “The trouble with these things is it could just be one farmer impacted, but unless you get several incidence joining together you don’t make the linkages,” Mr McBeth said. “It could be in the North Island and less severe; it could be in parts of Canterbury and we haven’t heard about it yet. “It’s very difficult to read too much into it at this stage – there appears to have been cases with cattle of different varieties of swede succumbing to the symptoms and cattle on the same varieties not
succumbing to it. “It’s a conundrum really – there is no consistency at this point. “There are different amounts of varieties of swede planted throughout Southland, so that can influences the incidence of a problem – whether it’s related to one variety or not, we just don’t know yet.” The illness appears to be affecting animals of all ages, whether they are in milk or day. Mr McBeth said some farmers had been hit hard and would be facing tough decisions, in terms of replacing lost stock. “If young replacement stock has been affected, it’s unlikely they will develop into high-producers in the herd – farmers might need to look at culling them now, and replacing them to lessen the
future impact of this,” he said. “We don’t know yet whether it has had any impact on the spring calves.” “We need to act very quickly because it’s coming to the end of the grazing window for swedes and we want to capture what we can – it also does have implications decisions farmers will be making around what they will be planting for next year’s winter feed. “We are working very hard to try and determine what the impacts of this situation will be – but we need to get a few more answers first, so we can be certain about what we say. “We are speculating on what the reasons may be – it could be culmination of various factors, from on-farm management that we haven’t understood well enough before, to the season and the
climate – we just don’t really have enough information. “We are asking farmers what their planting dates were, what treatments has the crop had, how has it been grazed, and see if anything comes together to cause what is a first time event for us – at least in terms of consciously becoming apparent that there is problem here which we need to find out more about. “It could have happened in previous years, but at such a low incidence that we didn’t know about it. It might have just been written off as a case of milk fever that the cow didn’t get up from or something else like that. “That’s the good thing about science, is you need to keep an open mind until you’ve got compelling evidence to be confident about what recommendations we make.
“We see our role as DairyNZ as really supporting levy paying dairy farmers to come up with confident answers. It’s a stressful time for dairy farmers anyway – they’ve had a very wet winter in Southland and dairy prices are falling which is stressful enough without issues impacting not only on the business aspect, but also the emotional aspect of dealing with the animals welfare. “There are support mechanisms like the Rural Support Trust, who we’ve been in contact with to make them aware of the issue. “If farmers are finding things challenging we want them to pick up the phone and speak to someone - speak to the Rural Support Trust or speak to us. No-one needs to be alone at these times.
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City dwellers vital to dairy industry T he dairy industry is a big part of Ashburton’s economy but do you know who is leading its thinking and research? This month, as part of our continuing series on key industry leaders from DairyNZ, the industry’s research and science body, we profile Dr Mark Paine.
Focus on DairyNZ’s Dr Mark Paine.
Dr Paine knows that urban people are the dairy industry’s greatest challenge and its biggest opportunity. Dairying has to be appealing to the city dwellers, he says. “We can’t rely on our industry’s workforce coming from farming families. Around 80 per cent of New Zealanders live in towns and cities. That is where most of
our young people live, work and play – so we have to be appealing to people from all kinds of backgrounds. “I’ve come from Melbourne and now live in Tauranga and that hasn’t stopped me understanding and working for dairy farmers.” Mark says his job is to focus on the people side of the business of dairying. “People are our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity to build an internationally competitive industry. Over the past six years, we have put a lot of effort into building our strategy in this area because in the long term it is the single most significant thing we can do to build a sustainable dairy industry. continued next page
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from P5 “We have plenty of public discussion about the importance of value and volume in terms of dairy products. But there are similar issues with our people challenge – we need more staff and we need them to be more qualified and highly skilled,” he says. Mark came to DairyNZ in 2008 after an eight-and-a-halfyear career with Melbourne University as a principal research fellow in innovation and change management. “My research investigated how farmers make decisions and I had a particular interest in improving information services. “I focused on improving the way agricultural researchers and farmers worked together. I learnt to appreciate the learning processes that farmers use when adapting their management practices,” he says. His current role as the strategy and investment leader for people and business includes setting the direction for DairyNZ’s work on recruitment, employment relationships, leadership and career development. “I oversee the strategy for dairy education and training,
from apprenticeships through to post-graduate scholarships. “I am also responsible for the industry’s work around the development of resources for extension and farm business management.” Mark identified early on in his career that there was too little known or appreciated about the role of people in the farming system. He has
www.guardianonline.co.nz people in the industry. He has also led a growing investment into researching areas like stress management, managing decision-making and what wellness and wellbeing means for dairy farmers. “We need to look after ourselves as well as our staff. “Mental health is just as important as physical health
the South Island. “Workers from the Philippines and other immigrants have really added a lot of value to our industry. I think that will continue but we also need to keep working on making dairy farming attractive to New Zealanders. “There are plenty of other industries vying for their attention.
Mental health is just as important as physical health and farming has its own unique set of stresses and strains that can test people’s ability to cope.
never lost sight of the need to appreciate that people are the core strategic asset on the farm. “Good staff can unlock a farm’s potential,” he says. “I’m passionate about valuing the human side of the business just as much as the cows. “I’ve had farmers tell me they know more about their cows than they do about their staff and they want to change that.” Mark has brought renewed vigour and academic rigour to the importance of attracting, developing and retaining highly skilled and motivated
and farming has its own unique set of stresses and strains that can test people’s ability to cope. “We’re putting a lot of effort into that area of our work including providing free health checks for farmers at various events and studying stress management,” he says. Mark says the industry has to provide a world-class work environment on-farm if it wants to make dairying a career of choice. Immigrant labour is filling an important gap for the industry – particularly in Canterbury and other parts of
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“It’s a competitive environment and we really need to up our game. People want exciting and varied careers and they won’t put up with working conditions that aren’t fair or reasonable.” There are signs that the strategy is working, he says. “The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards was a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists were relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers. The majority of the finalists also had Bachelor degrees. “We’ve put a lot of
investment into the Primary Industry Training Organisation. We had a 26 per cent increase in new enrolments into the National Diploma in Agribusiness Management in 2013, and around 8700 trainees are participating each year in industry skills-based training.” Mark says the industry needs more people with formal qualifications. While farming is the main source of employment in the dairy industry, there are growing opportunities in the supporting agribusiness sector with the largest increase in employment numbers expected in dairy manufacturing. “The qualifications most in demand are likely to be in the agriculture, environment, engineering, management and commerce fields of study.” A big issue is the average period of tenure for farm staff – currently sitting at only 1.6 years. “The cost of undesirable turnover to the industry is $146 million, not including the loss of experience. “We can all do something to help – including setting an example as a farmer. Sharing experiences helps others learn too.”
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Do low milk prices mean cutting costs?
ast season farmers experienced a farm-gate milk price of $8.40 per kilogram per milk solid, enabling them to invest capital in their operations, pay off additional debt or expand their farms. With a current forecast payout for the 2014-15 season of $6.00, farmers are facing a 30 per cent drop in milk income, which makes it timely to look at the topic of cost reduction. Setting the cause of the reduced pay-out aside, I prefer to evaluate the effect this has on dairy farmers, and often this means more questions are raised than answers are given. Farmers are being advised to tighten their belts, cut cost where they can and have to struggle through this season until the milk pay-out increases again. When looking around the industry we see farming operations making decisions based on this advice, and I
have to wonder where the wisdom is in cutting costs indiscriminately without knowing what this does to your farm and the bottom line. The fundamental drivers
without being fed. These costs reflect the level of efficiency for the farm and the cow. Core costs can be broken down into “herd costs”, “shed costs”, “pasture costs”, “labour costs”
cows need to be fully fed. We try to fill them with grass where we can and complement the diet with supplements. The cost of supplements will be reflected in their quality
With a current forecast pay-out for the 2014-15 season of $6.00, farmers are facing a 30 per cent drop in milk income, which makes it timely to look at the topic of cost reduction
of good farm returns do not change from season to season and the fluctuation in milk price between the seasons is a volatility that farmers have to manage. From my point of view, I like to evaluate each cost and the efficiency. Working expenses need to be broken down and the distinction made between feed cost and core cost, which is important when evaluating the operational efficiency. Core costs are the costs that every cow has – being on the farm
and “overhead costs”. The value of these costs on a per cow basis can be evaluated to assess the overall management efficiency, but any sort of cutting in cost will only result in poorer performance i.e. you can’t decide to not to treat animal health issues, not use electricity in the shed or not grow your pasture. When we look at cutting back the feed cost in a low milk pay-out year, we can’t cut back on the quantity we feed the cows as
and subsequent milk response. This is where we look at the efficiency and conversion of the cost to milk. Nutritionally balancing the diet and using the ingredients that for every dollar spent, returns the most dollars back is important as we know that not all feeds that have the same energy density yield the same milk response. That is why you evaluate the cost of supplement with the expected response in milk rather than looking at the cost per metabolisable energy
(ME). Don’t just cut costs for the sake of it, evaluate each cost in perspective of your management and estimate the effect this has on the overall efficiency of the farming operation. Evaluating efficiency is something a farming operation should do every season, regardless of whether the milk payout is high or low. The level of efficiency is the direct reflection on the management and performance of the farm and therefore reflects the profitability. Achieving optimum efficiency means that you can farm profitably in a low milk pay-out year. For more information on evaluating your farm operation cost or nutritional balancing of diets please contact the Ruminant Nutrition Consultancy team at Dairy Business Centre (NZ) Limited on 03 308 0094, email email@example.com. Advertising feature
Farming Dairy Focus
High-producing cows need more care Fred Hoekstra
VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES
once was asked why older, high-producing cows become lame more often than younger ones. That is a good question, but not always accurate. Some farmers get a lot of lame heifers as well. This has a lot to do with the different stresses on the different animal age groups. Let’s look at the older, high-producing cows. What is going on for those animals? Well, to start off with, they are older and high-producing. A high-producing cow is under a lot more stress than a low-producing cow. You may have heard of the comparison between a cow and an athlete - the better the athlete is performing the more accurately their diet and
lifestyle needs to be balanced. If not, it will show in the end results. This is the same for a cow. A high-producing cow will need a more accurate and balanced diet than a low-producing cow. The big difference between a cow and an athlete is that the athlete can choose to go back to a normal, medium-active lifestyle. A cow can’t. A cow is genetically
programmed to produce milk. She does that for her offspring. We may think she does it for us but the cow doesn’t know what happens with the milk after she has been in the cow shed. We have tricked her into producing the milk as she believes that it is for her calf, but in reality we use it for totally different purposes. So if we have managed
to breed a cow that is programmed to produce a lot more milk for “her calf ” then that is what she wants to do because her offspring is important to keep the species alive. So, if her diet is not of a standard that she needs then she will suffer from that in other ways than just a lower milk production as the production of milk is so
important to her. Another issue with older cows is that they have had more opportunity to get laminitis because they have been alive for longer. When a cow suffers from laminitis, her claws are growing out of balance, therefore she ends up with the wrong weight distribution on her claws. This is evident with a bigger and a more damaged outer claw. These cows are in need of preventative trimming. This is where the outer claw needs to be trimmed back to the same size as the inner claw to get an even weight bearing distribution. Just one trim will not fix it forever. The correct shaped and sized claw needs to be maintained just the same as one visit to the dentist won’t keep your teeth healthy forever. Trimming is an ongoing procedure which is a cheap remedy to a big problem. Highproducing cows need more care, but because they produce more, they are worth it. Advertising feature
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Windstorm provides learning oppo
year ago this month a devastating windstorm wrecked havoc in Canterbury. Wind gusts of up to 140km/h blew cars off roads, cut power to more than 40,000 homes and ruined gardens and hedges. Rural communities were especially hard hit with fencing, farm sheds and machinery among the casualties. For many farmers however, the immediate concern was damage inflicted to irrigators, particularly as the irrigation season was about to get underway. Initial reports estimated more than 800 irrigators were broken or destroyed in record wind gusts on September 10, 2013; many of these centre pivot systems within central Canterbury. Irrigation New Zealand CEO Andrew Curtis said at the time: “The extent of damage to centre pivots and other irrigators across the region is unprecedented.” Staff from the industry body worked with industry and immigration to facilitate the quick entry of experienced crews into FINANCE OPTIONS E AVAILABL
Janine Holland looks at the lessons Irrigation New Zealand learned in the wake of last September’s windstorm, which caused chaos for farmers and the irrigation industry. New Zealand to help with repairs and the rebuild of irrigation infrastructure. One year on, Irrigation New Zealand reports back on the consequences of that natural disaster, what irrigation service companies have learnt in its wake and how they plan to respond if and when another major wind storm occurs. FMG Rural Insurance looks after the majority of New Zealand irrigators and sent staff to Canterbury within days of the event to inspect damage. Mike Lange, FMG’s General Manager Products and Services, says it was immediately obvious the windevent had caused significant damage. “We knew that these wind storms were going to heavily impact on our clients in the region, particularly those with
irrigators, so we made sure our assessors were on the ground as soon as possible. As a result of these two windstorms, FMG saw 260 claims from irrigator damage, with a total cost of around $7 million. We’re pleased to say that 98 per cent of these claims are now settled.” Lucas Cawte from Rainers Irrigation recalls last year’s event as a “logistical nightmare”. “Overall I think we managed pretty well. We were quite quick to jump onto repairs. The first thing we actioned was an overseas contract crew from South Africa. They focused on our existing workload such as new installs so our team could get on with the repair side of things, deconstruction and reconstruction. I think it worked well.
Scenes like this mangled centre pivot irrigator were a common sight Cant
“The only trouble we did face was staffing, getting the numbers. It would have been nice to throw other resources at it as well but our tools and machinery were limited. So we did the best we could with what we had.” As well as grappling with getting enough people on the ground to do the repairs, Lucas says accessing parts was
an issue. While the company had good stocks of some irrigator components, others needed to be ordered in from the United States. Their own suppliers were quick to help, but ordering in competitor’s parts wasn’t as easy. “Getting parts for machines that we don’t normally service was our biggest nightmare,” he says. Companies were focused
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company’s immediate placement of staff in the field to undertake visual inspections of all damaged irrigators, which led to bulk orders of supplies being placed within 48 hours. “Because of this we didn’t run into too many issues with our own suppliers. What held us up were parts from other suppliers and getting guys to do the work.” Liz Stephens from Plains Irrigators Ltd says dealing with the wind’s aftermath was a massive undertaking but staff coped admirably and their company has learnt a lot from the experience. Already having a strategic plan, setting out how they would respond to the usual run of damaged irrigators that September, proved invaluable, says Liz. Being prepared meant they were able get on with the job at hand rather than waste time planning and divvying resources. “The teams of pivots, mainline and pump installers, and service technicians carried on with the existing build plans and regular service callouts whilst supporting each
PHOTOS ASHBURTON GUARDIAN
on looking after their own suppliers, which meant delays of up to four months. This situation affected up to 20 per cent of Rainers’ workload, which meant the balance of these machines weren’t fixed until well into the new year. Rainers fixed machines as best as they could in the interim; for some this meant operating without a corner
arm or end span, if that part was waiting for componentry. However, for some farmers, the absence of parts meant missing out on irrigation for most of the season. Rainers learnt a lot from the event, says Lucas, and is better prepared if another wind event of this scale occurs. One of the things that worked well was the
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Corner systems are vulnerable as even if the main pivot is faced into the prevailing wind, the corner is not, and this was proven to be a real issue for some properties. “We found that we were still able to salvage a lot of the equipment and re-use it. The nature of the damage was different to normal impact damage. “Normally there is a crumple effect to the span pipes and angles, but in this instance the damage came from the wind’s swinging action. “Many irrigators rolled over on their backs with the drive gear and wheels in the air. Because of this we didn’t have to replace as many pipes as we expected. It was joint stress as opposed to collision stress,” says Liz. Plains Irrigators took the approach that they needed to get irrigators watering urgently, so they disconnected the damaged spans and corner systems and restarted the undamaged sections wherever possible. continued over page
... and it’s right here in Ashburton
other on the wind damage repairs. We just enlarged our normal capacity for repairs and in the end we didn’t have to employ anybody else.” Having a core group of experienced staff was the main advantage. Staff who had been with Plains Irrigators for more than 10 years took a lead role advising more recent staff who were at times overwhelmed with the scale of repairs required, says Liz. “Our senior staff are used to dismantling irrigators but the scale of damage was something quite different. It can be dangerous at times deconstructing these machines as we’re talking about a huge amount of steel under high tension. We’re very proud of the fact we had no injuries or incidents during this time.” One of the interesting observations Plains Irrigators staff made was around the type of damage sustained during the event. Unlike normal repair jobs, where an irrigator has suffered impact and/or collision, the damage was mostly to tower joints and support angles.
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from page 11 “The plan for those irrigators was to get them watering in any capacity. Even if they only had two spans out of 12 working, at least they had something. We also concentrated our repair efforts on those irrigators that had completely collapsed.” Nearly 10 per cent of irrigators surveyed by Plains Irrigators fell into this category. Parts were ordered quickly after a round of visual assessments, it was two months before Plains Irrigator’s five containers of parts arrived, however they were able to commence repairs with stock held at their two branches, Ashburton and Timaru. Most irrigators were repaired by the end of February, but corner systems and some other machines that could not be repaired without further impact to crops were completed in March. The inability to repair everything when it originally crashed was upsetting and frustrating for staff, says Liz, given their good relationships with clients and professional desire to get on with the job. “At the time, staff were devastated that we couldn’t help any faster. There were a lot of sleepless nights because
they worried there weren’t enough of us and they wanted to fix everything the next day. It was a very difficult time. Because of the enormity of the event and the number of machines that were down, nobody wanted to be last.” To manage the situation, Liz says the company tried to be as pro-active as possible including collaborating with clients to come up with solutions to their individual repair jobs and involving senior staff in overseeing all major rebuilds. Special recognition was deserved by growers who volunteered their positions in the new build plan for the season to enable us to help those with no ability to water. “Overall the windstorm’s impact on the business was a positive one - nothing of that magnitude could have been predicted, and since then the level of confidence within the company has increased again significantly – we do not however want to expect this on an annual basis!” Ray Mayne from Ray Mayne Hose and Fittings says while the aftermath of the wind event was a very busy and stressful period of time, “we were lucky in that we managed to get all of our repairs done by early-mid January”.
The first thing the company did was visit all clients to determine what parts would be needed. Getting out in the field and assessing the damage in the first 48 hours meant they could place orders within a week, says Ray. Their US suppliers were extremely supportive, partly due to their experience of tornado damage, and some parts arrived in ten days and the rest within a month. Even with close-up inspections, Ray says at times staff found it difficult to gauge the extent of damage. “It was only when machines were dismantled that we realised some sections of the irrigator could be saved. Certainly with some components we overordered as the damage wasn’t as extensive to those parts as we thought.” With most wind damage occurring in a wide belt along the foothills of central Canterbury, Ray’s staff were kept busy visiting farms from Darfield to Montalto. “Our biggest problem was the scale of the event. We had to dismantle all of these damaged irrigators which in many cases involved pulling trees and other debris out of the way and we simply didn’t have the manpower.”
The September gales could scarcely have hit Canterbury at a worse time.
One of the key learnings for Ray was the importance of having a flexible labour force when managing events of this nature. “We initially thought it would be a couple of months’ work but that’s not how it turned out at all. We got in some part time staff and used university students in the holidays and they were wonderful.” The company
also brought in local freezing works’ staff, which were off work, and word of mouth provided most of their casual labour. “We put a lot of effort into assessing what was required while at the same time getting on with the job. In the end getting components and spare parts wasn’t the issue; it was sourcing labour and having
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enough time to get through all the repairs.” WaterForce manager and director Paul Donaldson says both farmers and insurance companies were extremely good to deal with throughout the event and their understanding of the situation and patience was appreciated. “We found that a large portion of clients were under-
insured for this type of event. Often the farmer had insurance for the irrigator value only and had not included the construction cost and in some cases the clients had only insured half the value of the irrigator. “WaterForce was extremely proud of our people and the way they stepped up to the rebuild challenge. We had people working until after midnight to complete product repair lists for insurance companies and build crews and technicians working additional hours, weekends and public holidays to get the job done for our clients. We also organised a US construction team to travel to New Zealand and assist with the repairs and take a little bit of pressure off our people.” Paul says WaterForce holds large stocks of spare parts, including complete pivot irrigators, and this stock holding assisted greatly as repair work could begin immediately. “Approximately 80 per cent of all the components required for the repair work were supplied from our New Zealand stock holding. The remaining 20 per cent of components were air freighted, with the exception of larger
specialised components that were too large to fit in a plane, these were sea freighted.” On the day of the storm WaterForce contacted Valmont Industries USA, the manufacturer of Valley pivots to advise them of the situation. “They responded immediately, assisting us to facilitate the urgent airfreight of some 35+ tons of required components. One shipment alone was 30 tons and the airline company in New Zealand had problems lifting the large weight from the plane. Valmont were also able to utilise multiple factories and had container product dispatched within 10 days of the wind event.” “A number of irrigators were damaged due to factors other than the wind flipping them ie trees falling on them, silos/tanks hitting them, pivots catching on fallen trees as clients move them after the wind.” “We also found that cropping farmers were very supportive of their fellow pastoral farmers. We had cropping farmers who were prepared to delay their rebuild in favour of us focusing on a pastoral farmer who was in a worst position.” Among the lessons WaterForce learnt was the
importance of identifying a known “park” location for irrigators. “This location should be included in your on-farm Health and Safety manual to assist with managing the irrigator as a hazard and also assist with protecting your machine from high winds.” Irrigators that were parked directly into the wind or down-wind suffered less or no damage, says Paul, and technology can be used to help farmers remotely monitor prevailing wind direction and speed in relation to irrigator positions. The role of irrigators in effluent dispersal was also highlighted. “In some cases the irrigator was damaged so effluent could not be dispersed. This event has reminded everyone of the importance of effluent storage and ensure this storage has capacity at the right times of the year. “ Finally, WaterForce like other service companies, were also able to use technology to reduce the impact of damaged irrigators. “In one situation a large machine with a corner arm had part of its structure damaged. WaterForce was able to remove the damaged spans and temporarily shorten this irrigator, get it running
promptly and installing a GPS controller on the corner arm to allow this arm at the end of the shortened irrigator to operate fully extended to maximise the irrigation area while the full repair project could be assessed and organised.” In preparation for another wind event, FMG Rural Insurance and Irrigation New Zealand are working together to release updated recommendations which advise how to protect irrigation infrastructure during a windstorm. “To better support farmers and growers, we wanted to proactively understand the impact these storms had and how farmers can best protect their machines,” says Mike Lange from FMG. “FMG has partnered with Lincoln University’s research team to investigate how farmers protected their irrigators during the storms. We hope to generate a wider discussion on best practice around irrigation system protection and provide further practical advice to farmers around reducing the impact of future storms. A full summary of the findings from this research will be published on our website from October.”
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It’s time to get your vege mojo on S pring is here! Most of the stags have dropped their buttons and starting to grow their precious velvet. We just had a brilliantly-timed day of rain, post-fertilising, which is causing the grass to bolt out of the ground and time is moving rapidly as I have six-and-a-half weeks until my due date! The fact that my busy husband will be flat out velveting 1400ish stags, at the time when I will be juggling a newborn, a full-noise toddler and an equally fullnoise vizsla puppy – was not thought out overly carefully! Meanwhile, I’m urgently trying to get my very large vege garden weeded, seeds raised and the root veges direct sown. I finally got my tussock garden planted last week, my ancient sheep shed poo spread in some areas and mowed the lawns (Side-note: Don’t mow the lawns when you are pregnant with a very low baby).
In the past few years I have really got into vegetable gardening. I don’t have much patience with flower gardens, but in the past two weeks we have been lucky enough to move to a big house with large established gardens, which makes a nice change from starting from the ground up at previous places. It has been expertly planted with flowers seeming to pop up in a million different colours in unexpected places. As an even bigger bonus, I have found a lemon tree, a lime tree, a peach tree, loads
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of walnut and hazelnut trees, figs and even a tropical golden passionfruit tree that is usually found in Tonga and Hawaii – AND that’s not even counting the trees in the orchard! Three months ago I made 12 litres of apple cider from an old orchard back in Mayfield and, although I haven’t tried it recently, it was amazing at bottling time – bring on summer! (It will go well with last summer’s elderflower wine!) The fact that we get the privilege to live on a farm, where, if you look hard enough, you can find wood scraps, old fence posts, old gates, pallets or, if you are really lucky, perhaps an already built and established raised garden (and I recommend making raised ones if you can) I would really encourage you to get amongst it and get growing. Soil off a recently ploughed paddock? Horse, cow and/or chook poo? A tractor to deliver it? Then you have two options
to either buy seeds in big numbers, for little money, or fast track it all a little and buy some seedlings. Labour weekend is the traditional “plant out date” so you have six weeks to get organised! Onions, garlic and your Christmas-ready ‘taters should be directly planted and in now. My last selling point to you would be that this is awesome to get kids involved, outside and growing their own vege. My two-and-a-half-year-old is relatively helpful (say, 30 per cent of the time when she isn’t standing on newly-sprouted garlic (hence the recommended raised beds). This year I have raided Kings seeds and got her some fast-growing, colourful Easter egg radishes and sunflowers – not to mention Bright lights rainbow silverbeet and Rainbow carrots! No time like the present to establish your green fingers right?
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Farming Dairy Focus
Sweet taste of success Grant Davies
A BROKER’S VIEW
he smorgasbord that is reporting season on the NZX often serves up equal measure of gourmet dinners and petrol station pies. Every February and August, critics get to feast on the varying array of dishes on offer by New Zealand’s listed companies. This year there were few surprises and the fare dished out was generally easy on the palate. One company that did add some spice to proceedings was PGG Wrightson, whose share price shot up 10 per cent after they announced a solid growth in underlying earnings and a big jump in the dividend. In fact the gross dividend yield, including a special dividend, is now above 15 per
cent p.a. The company took advantage of the recent good growing conditions and record soft commodity prices. However the picky eater in me has to note the recent drop off in milk prices and dry El Nino conditions in the forecast, which could make it difficult for PGG Wrightson to repeat this year’s succulent result. Another Christchurch-based company that tasted success
over reporting season was Ebos Group. After acquiring their Australian counterpart last year, the medical supplies distributer reported a 216 per cent rise in revenue and a 34 per cent increase in earnings per share. The result beat their post acquisition forecasts in spite of the relative strength of the NZD weakening their Australian earnings (which now make up 80 per cent of
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the company’s earnings). Also dining out this reporting season was Heartland NZ Limited. The bank grew their earnings and dividend, continuing to reward investors who stuck by them after the merger in 2011. The company has been successful in finding niche markets, such as vehicle finance, invoice financing, livestock financing and reverse mortgages. The company investors hungry for yield a very filling dividend of close to 9 per cent. Not every result was gourmet. Opus International Consultants, the infrastructure design, construction and asset management consultancy firm who are currently involved in the Christchurch rebuild, produced a soft result on the back of poor margins. The company is leading a multi-company consortium, implementing the first Anchor Project won as part of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan. This three-part project includes implementing developing the green “Frame” around the
Christchurch CBD. The company, which also boasts offices in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, faces a lot of international competition which has squeezed margins. The market will be looking for proof of a turn around before we see too much upside for famished investors. Whilst Opus may not have excited the market, patrons should be fairly pleased with the overall quality of the courses on offer. The rewards on offer on the New Zealand share market should give investors food for thought. *Written by Grant Davies, Authorised Financial Advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene Limited. This article represents general information provided by Hamilton Hindin Greene, who may hold an interest in the security. It does not constitute investment advice. Disclosure documents are available by request and free of charge through www.hhg.co.nz.
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Nevada – Stronger than ever H
awera-based Mid-West Machinery, home to Nevada Dairy Effluent Equipment, has a friendly team, dedicated to providing high quality reliable products, and safe innovative solutions to increase profitability. The dairy effluent equipment specialists are also accredited dairy effluent system designers, offering both tractor-driven and electrically-driven systems, designed to suit New Zealand conditions. Nevada was born from the solid platform of Midwest Machinery, which was established in the 1980s. “We aim to be at the top of the game, searching the globe for innovative ways to help the farmer achieve more with their machinery that actually works,” marketing manager Andy Thomas said. “We identified the New Zealand dairy industry as being of global importance, and sustainable dairy effluent management is integral to the industry’s success. “Drawing from the company’s experience and
A Nevada slurry tanker hard at work
motivated by a passion to provide farmers with muchneeded safe and reliable dairy effluent equipment, the team procured, invented and developed products to fulfil this niche.” Small steps in the early days became giant leaps in the 21st century, when new products were added to the range, and market share increased
dramatically. In the 25-plus years the business has been running, it has seen its share of ups and downs, on the rollercoaster ride which typifies the agricultural industry, but as Mr Thomas said, it has pulled through and become continually stronger over the years. “We have a brilliant team
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Precise performance data pays off T
he new electronic milk meter from Waikato Milking Systems is a high accuracy milk meter that stands out for how easy it is to use and maintain. Peter Risi, farming near Cambridge, says “the accuracy of the new electronic milk meter from Waikato Milking Systems is phenomenal.” The electronic milk meter is a powerful source of real time information including milk yield, milk flow rates and milking duration. This data will help farmers make key herd management decisions including feeding, breeding and culling – ultimately increasing the efficiency and profitability of your herd. Risi goes on to say “now that we’re bringing this data together, we’re making better decisions on a daily and weekly basis. We think the pay back is going to be relatively quick”. The electronic milk meter integrates easily with herd management software including LIC’s Protrack Vantage. More real-time data
The electronic milk meter with the Bail Marshal sitting alongside under the platform. SmartD-TECT to the left.
is expected when the next generation of Protrack is launched. The electronic milk meter package comes with a “Bail Marshal” which
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approval for their FEP template under Schedule 7. “Farm environment plans also offer financial and management opportunities to farmers. By using resources more efficiently you can save money and increase profit. Efficient use of water, energy, fertilisers and other resources is cost effective and can also increase crop, pasture and stock production generating greater profits.” While FEPs may sound like a lot of work, the process for landowners wanting to prepare and implement one is actually quite straight forward and should be familiar. To find out more information about the farm environment plan halfday session at the Great Irrigation Challenge and the other 15 workshop options on offer, please look at www. irrigationnz.co.nz-events-and-training The Great Irrigation Challenge is open to both existing irrigators, potential irrigators and dryland farmers. Those working within the dairy industry will find value not only in this workshop but in several others with close relevance to the sector. This is the second year of the Great Irrigation Challenge which is the brainchild of IrrigationNZ.
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any of you will have heard about farm environment plans but may not know why they’re needed, what value they add or where to start to create one. Next month’s Great Irrigation Challenge hosted by IrrigationNZ at the Hotel Ashburton (October 2-3) has a workshop dedicated to this topic. Presenter Sue Cumberworth and colleagues, Dave Lucock and Katherine McCusker from The AgriBusiness Group, will guide participants through the rationale and mechanics of farm environment plans. Soil and farm maps will be completed by farmers who register so they can get started on their own farm environment plans on the day. Farm environment plans have been linked with irrigation for at least 10 years, Sue said, since being developed and implemented by the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) and The Ritso Society with Central Plains Water (CPW). “They were developed as a tool for irrigation schemes in New Zealand to achieve sound on-farm environmental management and to demonstrate this to regulatory authorities and the wider community. Now farm environment plans (FEPs) are being used and required much more widely than irrigation schemes,” she says. Sue describes the FEP as a dynamic process rather than an end point in its own right. “It’s a description of your farm physically and your farming systems. It will include an assessment of the environmental risks on your farm and outlines the management practices, monitoring and recording you plan to implement to achieve your required environmental targets and outcomes. FEPs are a programme of continuous improvement.” With the proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan now prescribing FEP requirements under Schedule 7, getting to grips with FEPs is essential, Sue said. The AgriBusiness Group has recently received Environment Canterbury
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Farming Dairy Focus
Get a head start EM hits the mark A
s we head into spring itâ€™s time to start thinking about fertiliser application and you may have read and heard a lot about ProGibb and Flow Fert N. To gain the maximum benefits from applying these products here are some handy tips you should know. Soil temperature needs to be 7 degrees celsius and rising. Application is best on the shoulder of the seasons but not exceeding two per autumn and spring. Applying at these times creates a feed wedge maintaining growth in front of the grazing rotation. For best results application timing should be 0-5 days post grazing and performance is best on clean pasture. Grass is still the most cost effective feed a farmer can grow and there are significant savings when applying these products together. This means you are feeding the plant at its most active growth stage and also giving the plant an opportunity to produce significantly more dry matter over and above what a Nitrogen only application may produce. It is also a great tool to use after cutting silage to get those paddocks back to the grazing round faster. Planning to use Flow Fert N and ProGibb this spring gives you a head start on the season. Advertising feature
recision Agriculture has been the domain of arable farmers but thatâ€™s all changing. Dairy farmers are rapidly adopting Precision Agriculture as a way to reduce costs and increase production and quality while meeting environmental requirements. To date many have been using Precision Agriculture without realising. In animal management they are utilising cow specific data such as individual weight, production and heat detection to improve animal health and productivity. This site-specific management is now moving out to the field. All farming starts with the soil. Often the farmer knows that he has a poor patch in one place while another can produce very well. With Electromagnetic (EM) soil surveying, the farmer gets an in-depth look at what his soil is like in both the top and subsoil. These maps can be used for identifying soil testing areas. The same map can be adapted for variable rate application of irrigation, fertiliser or any other field input. With the big focus on water and nutrients throughout the country, farmers are now looking at variable rate irrigation to improve their application systems and make their water go further.
Often the farmer knows that he has a poor patch in one place while another can produce very well
By utilising Electro-magnetic soil maps for variable rate irrigation, farmers are now varying application rates, matching them to specific soil types across their farm, typically achieving water saving of up to 30 per cent. Added benefits include reduced power costs and improved environmental management through reduced leaching. Similar techniques are being used for effluent dispersal. Agri Optics NZ Ltd, based in Methven, are the leading Precision Agriculture specialists in the country. They provide Electro-magnetic soil surveying services, specialised data management and independent advice to farmers throughout the South Island and are there to answer all your Precision Agriculture queries. Precision Agriculture in dairy is truly powering ahead. Advertising feature
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nd nutrient plans to improve pasture ward and grazing residuals; reduce oil compaction; increase soils carbon www.guardianonline.co.nz vels; provide more control over where nd when nutrients are applied; and is n efficient way to apply nutrients.
utrient management rules in Canterbury took immediate effect on January 18 this year and these relate to every farm of every type in the Canterbury region (with very few exceptions or exemptions). Every farm needs to be aware of their obligations under the LWRP, and work out how it affects them going forward. What are key steps to take to determine what you need to be doing now to comply? • Find out which nutrient allocation zone you are in. The region is broken down into nutrient allocation zones, being red, orange, green, light blue, or lake zones. The colours reflect the current nutrient status and whether water quality objectives are met. • Work out your nitrogen baseline. What is a “nitrogen baseline” I
Benefits are: No spreading costs No spreading costs Reducing soil compaction, Precision control over where and when 23 Reducing soilarecompaction, Pasture management nutrients applied Precision control over where and whe 0800 337 840 - 0276 email@example.com nutrients are applied Benefits of fertigation
hear you ask. This is defined as the average annual loss of nitrogen from a property from July, 1 2009 to June, 30 2013. At the moment, the only way to determine this is to use the Overseer model. The zone you are in and the nitrogen baseline determine what you do with your farm going forward. It is particularly important if you are considering buying a farm, or selling a farm as the nitrogen baseline will dictate what you can do with a farm, or what a potential purchaser can do with your farm. We are the only consultancy in Canterbury to have three Overseer experts in house. Therefore, contact us for all your nutrient management advice and support. Advertising feature
0800 337 840 276 246 750 firstname.lastname@example.org 20 Hoskyns road, Rolle 1375 Springs Road, Lincoln, C
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Irricon has an experienced and fully qualified team to help you with your farm nutrient management requirements:
276 246 750 276 2460800 750 337 840 email@example.com 0800 337 840 - 02 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 276 246 750Lincoln, 20 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Road, Canterbu 20 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Road, Canterbu 0800 337graeme@fertigation. 840 840Lincoln, 0800 337 - 0276 246 7 email@example.com 276 246 750 firstname.lastname@example.org 20 Hoskyns road, Ro 1375 Springs Road, Lincoln email@example.com 20 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Road, Lincoln, Canterbu
0800 337 840 • 0276 246 750 • www.fertigation.co.nz firstname.lastname@example.org 20 Hoskyns Road, Rolleston
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0800 337 840 0800 0800 337337 840 840 0800 337 840 -- 0276 0276 24 24 276 246 276 246 750 750 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Going to Southern Field days 12-14 Feb – site 441 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org 20 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Road, Lincoln, Cante 20 337 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Lincoln, Cante 0800 840 Road, 0800 337 840 - 0276 246 276 246 750 0800 337 840 • 0276 246 750 • www.fertigation.co.nz email@example.com 0800 337 840 • 0276 246 750 • www.fertigation.co.nz firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 620 B Hoskyns Kidman Street, 20 Hoskyns road, Rolleston 1375 Springs Road, Lincoln, Canter firstname.lastname@example.org Road, Rolleston Rolleston
tion.c email@example.com 20• www.fertigation.co.nz Hoskyns Road, Rolle 0800 337 840 • 0276 246 750 firstname.lastname@example.org 20 Hoskyns Road, Rolleston
Farming Dairy Focus
Grazing management P
asture-based dairy farming is a balance between managing the pasture and the cows to maximise sustainable profit. Grazing management must optimise future pasture production and quality, with milksolids production and reproductive performance. The tools of grazing management are frequency and intensity of grazing. Pasture production and quality are mainly affected by cover (amount of pasture) and grazing intensity. Pasture intake is mainly affected by the amount and quality of the available pasture offered each day. Pasture and herd performance are optimised by having sufficient quality feed on an annual basis to meet cow demand and by allocating this feed applying the following principles and management practices: • Control the area grazed each day (or rotation length) to manipulate pasture eaten to meet average pasture cover targets for the farm • Estimate the area and pre-
grazing cover required for the cows based on the target grazing residual and adjust after observing when/if the cows achieve a "consistent, even, grazing height" • Make management decisions to maximise per cow production for the season not at any one grazing, the "main course principle - no
dessert" • Treat pasture as a crop - remove pasture grown since last grazing and prevent post-grazing height increasing over the season • Have pasture cover distributed between paddocks in a feed wedge to ensure that high quality pasture is offered on all
paddocks • Keep average pasture cover above 1800kg DM/ha in early spring and between 2000-2400kg DM/ha for the season to maximise pasture growth rates • Over the season the height of post-grazing residuals (cover) does not change but the dry matter mass does
increase. • This is the value of using "clicks" on the Rising Plate Meter (RPM) or one formula for the RPM for the season 12 versus 24 hour grazing The number of times fresh pasture is offered within a day does not affect dry matter intake or milk production. Grazing frequency does not affect grazing time, rumination time or resting time of cows. There is no research evidence that grazing frequency (12 vs 24 hr) affects pasture growth, as growth is influenced by a range of factors. It is much more important to maintain appropriate residuals of 1500-1600 kg DM/ha. Decisions about grazing frequency are often a result of farmer preference due to specific farm characteristics, i.e. even/uneven paddock sizes, shape of the farm, soil types, labour availability etc. Dairy NZ www.dairynz.co.nz Advertising feature
Healthy Soils Canterbury has a new name, but the same people, objectives and proven results. Our new name reﬂects our objectives to produce Top Soils for Top productivity and Top performance creating for environmentally sustainable, economic and proﬁtable farming. This is achieved through having
specialises in fertility programmes for balancing soil nutrients using the Kinsey Albrecht System of Soil Fertility • • • •
Total Soil Fertility Solutions. Soil sampling, testing and audits Consultation and recommendations Fertiliser importation Custom blending
Top Soils line of over thirty products oﬀers a customized program and blend, to ﬁt every growers needs, whether for orchards, vineyards, dairy, sheep, cereal grains and seed, winter feed crops or vegetable production. Top Soils prescription soil fertility programmes are tailored to address and meet your soils most limiting factors by correcting and balancing the nutrient deﬁciencies or surpluses. To build and maintain soil nutrient levels for future production and the growers requirements, these are science based to provide balanced nutrients for your soils.
To see how we can Improve your soils contact…
Biological Farming and Soil Fertility Consultants: Don Hart – 027 432 0187 or 03 302 8191
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Farm staff - missing in action?
“ Matt Jones
hat’s the deal with our skilled worker shortage and what the hell can we do about it? It’s nothing new for the dairy industry, however labour shortages are also starting to plague farm owners across other agricultural sectors. Over the next 10 years we need approximately 40,000 more farm workers but where are we going to find them? With potentially 50 billion dollars being pumped into the Christchurch rebuild, its buoyancy could be at the demise of agriculture. Let’s face it, the rural labour market has become slim pickings according to over a quarter of farmers. It’s increasingly difficult to hire skilled staff - especially
To attract young, vibrant staff we also need to position ourselves as an industry of choice
in 2014. Low regional unemployment and a drain of workers to the burgeoning city of Christchurch doesn’t help matters. Canterbury, Otago/ Southland and the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty areas are the worst hit so what can we do to attract workers back to our industry? Most farmers now demand that new hires possess certain expertise and experience, however training them can be a worthwhile but sizeable investment for a small farming operation. The issue is that there is a clear disconnect between what we desire when recruiting these skill
sets and the supply available. With abundant jobs on offer, particularly on isolated farms, how can we attract the younger talent to fill our positions? Ample opportunities await ag students who are training academically and developing a more specialised skill set. Many students receive multiple job offers before their course is even complete and often the total number of vacancies exceeds the number finishing their training. Trust me, it’s a tough market out there! How can we find skilled and motivated staff who are more willing to pick up hay bales instead of hammers? As an industry we may not be able to always compete on wages so it’s time to act now to stem this drain of talented workers. While we know the benefits for employees working on farms, we need to do more. We can attract good staff by offering students scholarships to pay their course fees, provide them with holiday employment and consider a bonded full-time position once
they are qualified. Offering top workers tempted by the rebuild a healthy remuneration package with accommodation and some meals may make isolated farms more of a drawcard and help offset the threatening competition of city living and a myriad of construction jobs. To attract young vibrant staff we also need to position ourselves as an industry of choice. As a sector we need to invigorate and repackage how we present the valuable opportunities we have to offer potential newcomers. We are also seeing more and more women training in agriculture so keep your options open, women have made quite an impact in agriculture and have a great work ethic. As individual employers we should also instill an “employer of choice” culture and work hard to retain staff. We need to focus on looking after our valued employees and remind them that they are the core of our business. Involve them in all aspects of your farming operation so they have a vested interest.
By promoting excellence in our industry through training, good ol’ hard graft and a better work life balance, we can secure better staff retention. With the big picture in mind, we need to raise the profile of agriculture in our secondary schools and convey to eager minds our enviable lifestyle. We need to encourage successful young farm staff to educate and inspire young people to join our rewarding industry. As farm owners and managers we need to implement some of these measures as part of a game plan to combat challenging recruitment issues. Why not make a start now to attract and retain your staff while protecting our key economic sector from haemorrhaging workers to the bright lights of Christchurch! Struggling for workers? Agstaff have a large pool of quality local and global candidates to help you with temporary and longterm staffing shortages. Advertising feature
Rural monthly publications Farming GUARDIAN
Take another look at the humble hazelnut Linda and Les McCracken in their Wakanui hazelnut orchard.
Pages 3-5 Tetsuro Mitomo
Guardian Farming • Contracting • A&P Show • Education • Business proﬁle
Dairy Focus AUGUST, 2014
Thursday, October 7 The new voice of dairying Pages 3-5 Jessie Chan-Dorman, the dynamic new Federated Farmers’ dairy spokesperson.
Wednesday, September 24
Effective effluent dispersal for enhanced sustainability Our low-pressure K-LineTM Effluent dispersal system helps improve soil, reduce pollutants and decrease the costs involved in running your farm. Find out more: call 0800 288 558 or visit rxplastics.co.nz
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Photo Tetsuro Mitomo
Dairy Focus • Feeding Calves • Fertiliser strategies • Irrigation maintenance • Business proﬁle
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Let our experience in the industry be part of your farming success We are in our 6th year of designing and building exceptional dairy eﬄuent systems. We understand the problems that farmers have with compliance so much that our systems go beyond compliance to industry best practice. Our quality control is second to none because we do everything ourselves, for you. No need to organize each aspect of the job, we do it all! We are backed by some terriﬁc suppliers who will go the extra mile to make things happen. Give us a call if you are planning on upgrading your system, we are happy to visit your farm to have a straight up, no BS discussion about your dairy eﬄuent. That visit is
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Good relationships important
ynlait milk supply relationship manager Mark Burnside believes good relationships and great communication are the key to quality partnerships with Canterbury’s leading milk suppliers. “Communication is essential, both on a day-to-day basis, but also in connecting our suppliers with our progress as a company,” Mr Burnside said. “Our approach is simple: we’re always looking to support our suppliers and wherever possible, add value to their milk.” A big advantage for Synlait is its close locality to suppliers. One of their newest suppliers, Andrew Quigley, is only a 30-minute drive from the Dunsandel plant. “We signed up to supply Synlait just over a year ago, and we’ve had a good relationship with Mark and his team since the start. I know we’re not just another number to them,” Mr Quigley said. He converted his 100 hectare Punawai property to a dairy farm last year. Having
left a 50/50 shareholding arrangement with another dairy farm the year before, he knew exactly what he was looking for in his first full equity venture. “I was quite mindful of the economics in setting up our farm,” Mr Quigley said.
“We work with other farmers all year around through our contracting business, so I knew what the pros and cons were with our options. “Being able to invest our capital in our land and business, rather than in
company shares, was a big advantage for us “We also stopped to think ‘where are the best opportunities to add value to our milk’ and ‘where do we want to be down the track, Synlait ticked that box for us.” Mr Quigley operates Quigley Contracting from the same site as his dairy farm. Employing up to 60 people in peak season, the business provides other farmers in the region with bailing, chopping, straw, drilling and cultivation services. Synlait’s Lead With Pride programme also aligned with Mr Quigley’s vison to operate at dairy farming best practice, while being financially rewarded for doing so. “I liked it because if we’re operating at our best, we’re meeting market demands in terms of food safety and sustainability,” he said. “Being responsible adds to my bottom line and also brings longer term benefits. It fits with the level I want to be performing at in this industry.” Adding to this was Synlait’s 2014 supplier conference,
which provided an insight into the markets and consumers who benefit from milk produced by the company’s Canterbury suppliers. “We’re just the first step in that process. Knowing about the customers at the other end makes us want to do the best we can,” Mr Quigley said. Mr Burnside believes showing suppliers how they are contributing to a bigger picture also gives them an appreciation of what Synlait is trying to achieve. “Making sure suppliers are aware of our long term strategy, where future opportunities are and how important the quality of their contribution is completes the whole picture for them,” Mr Burnside said. “Synlait partners with world-leading health and nutrition companies. This starts at the farm with our milk suppliers, which is why we focus on each and every one of them.” “We’re always interested in talking to any dairy farmer about milk supply options for the 2015/16 season.”
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Farming Dairy Focus
90-days provision ‘crucial’
he experience of a husband and wife farming team underscores why the 90-days provision in employment contracts is so important to small businesses. Last week a Federated Farmers member called 0800 FARMING to raise a flag on a man doing the rounds in Taranaki who appeared to be gaming employment laws “He appeared to be a keen farm worker but became insistent that all he needed to start was a handshake,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said. “This guy told the couple concerned that he could see they were under pressure so even offered to pitch his tent.” However, they insisted he sign the federation’s industry standard employment contract before starting. That’s where the bush lawyer emerged as he tried to get clauses modified. Lucky for them they stuck to their guns and to Federated Farmers’ agreement and advice.
FROM THE FEDS
As it turns out it wasn’t a long employment relationship – it only lasted 4.5 days. On the very first day there was a major argument over helmet use where he refused to wear one. He turned up to work another day wearing a balaclava asking if “it intimidated them”. Along with a generally unhelpful demeanour it appeared to our member that he was trying to bait them into a summary dismissal. They called Federated Farmers 0800 327-646 advice line and followed that advice to the letter, dismissing the person under the 90-days provision. His parting shot was “it’s going to cost you”. “It shouldn’t because
they stuck to the law and to they had systems in place Federated Farmers’ advice and backed up by Federated contract. Farmers’ employment “No matter how small or contracts and member short-term the role is, never advice. ‘shake on it’ or allow a person “If you haven’t to start work before they got your systems have signed their employment together you contract,” Mr Hoggard said. seriously risk an “What concerns us is that employment law there are bush lawyers out shellacking,” there who could be looking Mr Hoggard to game employment laws in warned. order to secure a settlement from unwitting farm employers. “Our member wanted this publicised to prevent other farmers from being caught out. “It is why the 90-days provision is so important and why it would become a feeding frenzy for such people if it were to be axed. “The 90-days provision is a crucial protection for employers to prevent them from being stuck with ATS NEWS AUGUST 2013—HANHAM 1/2PG ADVERT unscrupulous workers. Our He turned up to member told us their last work another day employee only left after wearing a balaclava four years in order to go ATS NEWS asking if “itAUGUST 2013—HANHAM 1/2PG ADVERT sharemilking. intimidated them”. “They were fine because
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Farming Dairy Focus
It’s time to make important decisio
orced birth (inductions) has been used as a tool to address calving pattern issues on New Zealand dairy farms for many years, and as the industry has been working over recent years to phase out the practice, its routine use will no longer be permitted on dairy farms from spring 2015. Farmers facing life without inductions in 2015 for the first time need to start making some important decisions right now, says Joyce Voogt, a dairy farmer, veterinarian and reproduction solutions manager for LIC. “Success for living without inductions in 2015 and beyond will depend on the actions farmers take now, starting with their planning for mating this year,” she said. “The industry has made remarkable progress over the last few years in reducing the percentage of routine inductions in the national dairy herd, but with the practice now being banned altogether, there has never been a more important time to address overextended calving spreads in a sustainable way.
“Late calving cows will hold a farm back in both production and reproduction, so having a robust plan in place to minimise them is vital and the most natural way to do this is by focusing on their herd’s six-week in-calf rate, with a proactive approach to mating management, all year-round. For many farmers, that needs to start this spring.” The industry target is to get 78 per cent of the herd in-calf within the first six weeks of mating, but with the national average currently sitting at 65 per cent, Voogt says it represents a significant opportunity for many farmers to boost profits, production and remove reliance on reproductive interventions like inductions. As farmers shift their focus to maximising their six-week in-calf rate, the need for inductions will be removed, she said. “Late calving cows hold back a herd’s reproductive performance, so the higher the six-week in-calf rate and the lower the number of late calvers in the herd the more
sustainable long-term herd fertility will be. “These faster rates of pregnancies will reduce the need for reproductive interventions as cows get more time to naturally cycle and conceive the following year.” Research shows farms with
higher six-week in-calf rates have more early-season days in milk, fewer empties, more choice at culling and all with both fewer interventions and the opportunity to shorten the mating season, she said. “LIC records from MINDA also indicate that many farms
achieving the industry sixweek in-calf rate target do so without inductions. These farms are also substantially closer to industry-set targets when it comes to threeweek submission rates and conception rates, with high levels of performance achieved
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ons on living without inductions 2014 MATING CHECKLIST ■
PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN
during artificial breeding and natural mating.” Voogt says farmers will always have some late cows, but the key is to be proactive in how they manage them, and with the new regulations looming, this coming mating will be a critical time.
R1 heifers: Will they meet target liveweight by mating at 15 months? And mated 7-10 days ahead of the herd to allow more time to commence cycling after their first calving? Body condition score (BCS): Will 85% of the herd be at BCS 4-4.5 by mating?
“It’s not just a simple as pulling the service bulls out early this year – mating length decisions should be made in conjunction with your veterinarian or farm management consultant. Gathering and using the right herd testing and pregnancy testing information will be crucial for making the best mating and culling decisions.” Farmers can start by analysing the information they have at hand. Looking at who the late calving cows in the herd are now and why they are there means work can start on addressing the underlying causes of calving pattern slippage in the herd.
Non-cyclers: Is there a proactive plan in place to identify and deal with noncyclers? Have high risk groups and the underlying causes of non-cyclers been identified and dealt with? Heat detection: How good is heat detection on-farm?
“The key areas to look at now are heifer liveweight and mating date, cow condition at calving and mating, and early identification and management of non-cyclers. “Heat detection is always crucial, but don’t forget the natural mating period too. Farmers with enough pregnancy test data can check out their new pregnancy rate graphs in MINDA reproduction to see how things went after AB finished in their herd last year. “Many things can impact a cow’s ability to get in-calf. Now more than ever, as an industry, we need to focus maximising performance in the first half of
Is there adequate training? Is the system for identifying and mating bulling cows well defined? Natural mating period: Are bull numbers, quality, and management up to (best practice) standard? How long are you going to leave the
mating.” Voogt said farmers also have access to new solutions which can form part of their toolbox this mating, like LIC’s short gestation bull team which can shorten the period of gestation of dairy cows by an average 10 days on-farm. New reproduction tools, at www.MINDA.co.nz, also make it easier for farmers to analyse their herd’s reproductive performance, and identify areas for improvement. Liveweight tools help with heifer rearing, while heat detection aids can be used to enhance heat detection efficiency. “All these tools can play their part in helping a farm make
bulls out for this year? Nutrition: Using daily farm milk production data, does management know how to monitor nutrition? Seek help: From advisors, LIC’s 6 Week Challenge (www.6weeks.co.nz) and the DairyNZ InCalf programme.
gains. Every little bit helps in the drive to improving calving pattern.” Voogt said more than 1100 people have also taken a positive step towards improving their herd’s reproductive performance, by registering for LIC’s 6-Week Challenge. The free programme provides a mating planner tool and practical tips to apply a year-round focus on mating management. “Vets and farm consultants listed on the website also play a vital role in the programme, providing on-farm advice, support, and helping everyone stay focused on their goals to achieve success.”
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Ashburton Guardian Dairy Focus September 2014