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Dairy Focus APRIL, 2014

Goodness in the soil Pages 2-3 Jackie and Bryan Clearwater, of Peel Forest, with their organic dairy cows and Clearwater yoghurt.

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COMMENT FROM EDITOR

Michelle Nelson

I

RURAL EDITOR

t’s certainly been a gloomy autumn. Endless overcast days, heavy dews and humidity have conspired to keep arable farmers from getting a decent run on the late harvest and consequently from getting winter feed crops in. With ryegrass straw in short supply farmers will be hoping for a mild winter. On a brighter note, the wet autumn has favoured the kale crops – which are looking healthy, and that bodes well heading into gypsy day. On that note, this edition of Dairy Focus contains gypsy day and winter feed features. We also take a look at Bryan and Jackie Clearwater’s organic dairy farm at Peel Forest,

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A BROKER’S VIEW

where they make yoghurt in a factory built in shipping containers right next to the milking shed. We also profile DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle, in the first of a series to learn more about the experts heading up the country’s leading industry-good organisation. Our usual lineup of columnists offer advice on a range on topics relevant to the industry. Could miscanthus grass be the answer to Canterbury’s lost shelter belts on irrigated dairy farms? Read about the potential for this giant plant, which can be used as stock food, calf-shed bedding and even to produce biofuels. On a different tack, we meet Francois-Xavier Craquelin, who pampers his barn-raised beef cattle with classical music, massages and adds organic apple cider to their food. If you have a story, or any thoughts about this edition, we would love to hear from you.

Investing in property can be a good idea, if you don’t put all your money into the housing market.

P17

Animal welfare is a critical issue for farmers and their staff.

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Lameness in cows – let Fred Hoekstra know why you think cows go lame.

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VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES

For organic farmers Bryan and Jackie Clearwater, it all starts with the soil. Michelle Nelson gets the dirt on their Peel Forest dairy operation.

Determined to use Michelle Nelson

T

STAFF MATTERS

Fred Hoekstra

Dairy cows grazing quietly at Bryan and Jackie Clearwater’s Peelview Farm.

o produce the best yoghurt, you need the best raw ingredients. That’s the philosophy behind Clearwater Organic Dairy. But the 1000 litres of yoghurt produced onfarm daily are the end of a grassroots story. For Bryan and Jackie Clearwater, their farming operation begins with the soil.

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approach to soil science is based on the work of Palmerston North soil scientist Graham Shepherd, who promotes visual soil analysis, looking at plant and soil profiles, in conjunction with farm management. Mr Shepherd’s company, BioAgriNomics, was started to help bring clarity to the mixed messages often given to the farming community. The company specialises in linking soil conditioning, plant nutrition, animal health and farm productivity with “smart fertilisers” and smart farm management practices. Encouraging healthy soil structure is an ongoing project.

CONTACTS We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to michelle.n@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7971.

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“If you start with the soil everything else should come right,” Mr Clearwater says. “There’s no point in worrying about what’s happening on top, you need to start underneath. The Clearwaters milk 300 cows through the summer and 70 in the winter on Peelview Farm, near Peel Forest. They also lease 40 hectares in the same district and own another 40ha run-off block at Clandeboye. The couple converted the Peel Forest block 14 years ago, having climbed the ranks to farm ownership through sharemilking on Mid Canterbury farms. Mr Clearwater says his

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What is organic? Organic is a labelling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Bryan Clearwater mixes a garlic and cider drench for his dairy cows.

the best ingredients “There’s always room for improvement,” Mr Clearwater says. The couple operate under the United States National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. Under NOP certification, food producers must adhere to approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical processes that foster cycling resources promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. There are no nitrogenforced pastures on Peelview, or the run-off blocks. Mr Clearwater uses a seaweedbased foliar spray, to which he adds molasses to feed soil bacteria, and humates – a form of humic acid to feed fungi in the soil. The low stocking rate and standoff areas help prevent pugging in wet conditions, also helps protect soil structure. Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are off the options menu. The dominant grass in the pasture is tall fescue, but it

also includes two varieties of plantain, chicory, red and white clover – docks and dandelions are also welcome, with their deep tap roots to retrieve nutrients from the soil. “We should also be using birdsfoot trefoil (a deep-rooted legume), we will endeavour to incorporate it in to our regressing programme,” Mr Clearwater says. Like many other farms in Canterbury, the Peelview pastures have been hit by clover-root weevil. Combined with cooler summer temperatures, grass growth has been stunted this season. Mr Clearwater is unsure if a parasitic wasp introduced to control clover-root weevil is on the property, but he has applied Beauveria bassiana fungus, which parasitises the weevil’s eggs – and the clover has regenerated. Native plantings along a restored streambed and around the farm have increased biodiversity on the property, which in turn helps to keep the balance

of pests and predators. Mr Clearwater is now looking for a university student to conduct a biodiversity audit on the property. Alternative animal remedies must also be found. Drenching a handful of cows with a cider vinegar and garlic brew, Mr Clearwater says it’s a helpful remedy for mastitis – not a cure, but helpful. He has tried homeopathic remedies – but with no real success when it comes to mastitis. “These cows will now be held on hard rations; straw, water and a limited amount of grass.” From the get go they had decided to take the organic road. “If we didn’t do it then we never would have,” he says. During the conversion process, the milk went to Talbot Forest Cheese in Geraldine. Without Fonterra shares, the couple needed a market, Mr Clearwater says, but the yogurt-making venture was always part of the plan. “We never wanted to

We were looking for a niche in the market and wanted to produce a nutrientdense food

milk 1000 cows – which seems to be the normal thing to do.” Concerns about the environment impact of dairying also influenced the decision to convert Peelview, originally a sheep and beef farm, to organic production “We were looking for a niche in the market and wanted to produce a nutrient-dense food – a lot of consumers don’t want chemicals or additives in their food. “They are also concerned about animal welfare, and the environment.” The yoghurt factory has been installed in shipping containers right next to the dairy shed. The operation was initially set up in partnership with

Synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

Catherine and Ad (Ard) Sintenie, who had previous experience as a yoghurt maker, however, the Clearwaters bought them out about four years ago. The milk is piped directly into the factory at morning milking, filtered twice, pasteurised and inoculated with the yoghurt culture, then packed into the datestamped pots in batch lots, and incubated for nine hours, before it goes under blast chillers. By noon the following day it is collected for distribution. No colours, stabilisers, or gelatine are added – the yoghurt is naturally pot set, in the traditional method of manufacture. The recyclable packaging is free from BPA (bisphenol A). The Clearwaters are investigating in export markets in Taiwan, but Mr Clearwater says they are more interested in the production model and a pinch of IP. “It’s never been our aim to put organic milk into people’s coffee on the other side of the world.”

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Farming Dairy Focus

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Who’s who at DairyNZ The dairy industry is a big part of Ashburton’s economy but do you know who is leading its thinking and research? This month we start a series of profiles of the key industry leaders and thinkers from DairyNZ, the industry’s research and science body, charged with managing $83 million worth of research, science and on-farm support and advice to farmers.

Tim Mackle – leading from the start T “ he chief executive of industry body DairyNZ, Tim Mackle (right), has a history of being in at the start of new enterprises. “The beginning of something is so important. It’s like being part of a brave new world, and you are there helping shape and inspire a team to do new things. You have to start how you mean to go on, but at the same time be ready to listen, learn and change quickly if that’s what is needed,” he says. Mr Mackle has headed DairyNZ, which is funded by a levy on milksolids from the country’s more than 12,000 dairy farmers, since the organisation started in 2007. He was also part of the support team for the inaugural chief executive’s office when Fonterra was formed. “I learnt a lot from working on the inside in the early days of Fonterra. That led me to being appointed general manager of Anchor Ethanol, and then chief executive of Dexcel which was the forerunner to DairyNZ. “I’d worked for the dairy board too as a commercial strategist so I knew quite a bit by the time the industry was restructured and the work of the dairy board disbanded and distributed to other bodies.” Mr Mackle says being part of the team that formed DairyNZ in 2007 was a fantastic opportunity. “It was pretty exciting times, and it still is.”

DairyNZ has to remain close to farmers – and that’s what scientists have to do, too. We’re all about taking the science and knowledge to the farmer to use on the farm

Mr Mackle has overseen DairyNZ as it has matured into an influential industry body with 280 staff and an annual budget of $83 million – $61 million from farmers’ levy money and $22 million of external funding from other bodies. “We’ve secured external funding for research and science from a range of

bodies including the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and the Waikato River Authority. “Recently our work on the feed-conversion efficiency of cows won gold status from government officials because of its quality.”

Mr Mackle is passionate about the value of science and research to the dairy industry. He began his career as a nutritional scientist and has a PhD in animal, food and nutritional sciences from Cornell University in New York. He has a good understanding of the products of the business, not just the farming of it. “I grew up on a dairy farm in Kaikoura and loved it. But my interest was always in business and science, rather than hands-on farming. “I took a different path – but equally what I love about this job is interacting with farmers. “DairyNZ has to remain close to farmers – and that’s what scientists have to do,

too. We’re all about taking the science and knowledge to the farmer to use on the farm. “That’s when I get my buzz. Seeing that chain of technology transfer to the farmer and ensuring that it is smooth, energising and successful. “Ultimately DairyNZ is about keeping our farmers competitive in a fastchanging world. We have to keep abreast of risks to their businesses and to New Zealand’s economic success.” He says that farmers understand that local and international consumers want to see the entire supply chain focused on the integrity of the products that reach the shelves. “I see farmers and dairy companies living up to those expectations every day – but the challenge for our industry is to help everyone else in New Zealand see it and believe it. That is the mission we are on now as well. But at the same time, I know we have to keep the focus on science, innovation and keeping our competitive edge. New Zealand dairy farmers have always been about that and that has made us the envy of many other countries.” • In May dairy farmers will be voting for the first time in six years on whether to continue the milksolids levy that funds DairyNZ and its activities. • Go to www.dairynz.co.nz/ vote for more information.

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Synlait Milk’s expansion continues A

s anyone who drives on State Highway One south of Dunsandel will appreciate, Synlait Milk’s manufacturing plant is growing. Now with more than 200 employees based at the site, Synlait is about halfway through a multi-faceted $183 million expansion project that will further improve the company’s capacity to meet growing international demand for nutritional products derived from milk. In March a new lactoferrin plant and drystore commenced operation. Seven months in construction, the new $16.9 million, 2.25 hectare, dry store will improve logistical efficiency for the company, says Matthew Foster, the general manager supply chain. “Along with our existing 1ha drystore, this new facility enables us to warehouse all our raw material, ingredients and finished products on the one site here at Dunsandel. “This new drystore includes two fully enclosed loadout bays, with the capacity

Synlait Milk’s new drystore warehouse near Dunsandel.

to complete all container loading and unloading in all weather conditions here on site. Whereas previously we had to shift our manufactured products in curtain-side truck and trailer units to leased warehouses in Sockburn and the Port Hills, then return with raw materials to use on site. Now we are able to complete that part of the process in Dunsandel, and freight direct from the factory to Lyttelton to load for export,” he said. According to Mr Foster, the new drystore also

offers advantages in quality assurance, providing further benefit to Synlait customers. “As we are now able to truck product in container transporters, rather than the curtain-side units, we can close the door and seal the container here at the factory, ensuring improved assurance on food safety for our customers. “With the ports of Lyttelton and Tauranga both planning for container handling facilities in Rolleston, our logistics operation is set to become even more efficient. That could provide scope

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to improve links to the port of Timaru, as well as Lyttelton, therefore giving us greater options and competitive benefits for export consignments,” he said. Meanwhile Synlait’s lactoferrin plant was created from a $19.2 million upgrade to one of the company’s special milk driers. Bringing the lactoferrin plant online makes Synlait one of only three manufacturers in the world to produce the highly valued protein as a spray dried powder. On the current market,

lactoferrin is priced between $US500 to $US1000 a kilogram, and is used as an immunity supplement. The construction of a blending and canning plant began in October 2013 and is expected to be commissioned in June 2014. A third spray dryer, quality testing laboratory and a butter plant are also in the plans. An administration building to accommodate Synlait’s growing staff, which is forecast to increase to about 350 during the next two years is also in the planning mix.

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Farming Dairy Focus

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Smart irrigation systems launched I

f you irrigate or are thinking about irrigating, you need to know about Smart Irrigation (www. smartirrigation.co.nz) Launched earlier this month at Irrigation New Zealand’s national conference in Napier, Smart Irrigation is a new framework to ensure future irrigation in New Zealand is implemented and managed sustainably. It is a first for New Zealand and will help irrigators respond to public concerns about the use of public water resources by proving Smart Irrigators are effective water managers. The Smart (Sustainably Managed, Accountable, Responsible and Trusted) Irrigation framework provides three simple steps for irrigators to better manage their environmental footprint. One, design future irrigation systems to industry standards and codes of practice. Two, annually check the irrigation system is

performing as it should. Three, justify the reason for applying irrigation. Central to all of the above is record keeping – providing evidence that these three simple steps are being achieved. The Smart Irrigation framework is supported by ever-evolving education and training resources and accreditation programmes all provided by Irrigation New Zealand. The 350-strong audience at the Smart Irrigation launch gave the framework the big thumbs-up and our mission now is to spread the word across the rest of the industry. We need to build momentum and get more Smart Irrigators

onboard so the wider public can see that Smart Irrigators are the norm. The Smart Irrigation website (www.smartirrigation. co.nz) compliments the Smart Irrigation framework. It provides information to the public about how irrigation in New Zealand works: why, how and where irrigation takes place; why it is beneficial; what regulations and policies oversee it; more details on the Smart framework and examples of Smart Irrigators that we intend to add to monthly. Nationwide polling over summer showed us that the majority of New Zealanders (71 per cent) support sustainable irrigation and

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that the public needs more information about irrigation. The Smart Irrigation website and framework responds to this. Have a look at our website and be inspired by irrigators like Mark Ericksen, an-award winning orchardist in Hawke’s Bay who uses precision irrigation and soil mapping to minimise water use and Mark Slee, a Mid Canterbury dairy farmer and recent Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Award winner, who relies on GPS and soil-moisture monitoring for efficiencies. You’ll also read the stories of innovative irrigation schemes like the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) who led the way in

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introducing on-farm environment plans and actively supports other schemes to improve environmental outcomes. Over time, the Smart framework will help irrigators meet the public’s expectations around environmental responsibility, and will provide the necessary assurances that irrigating farmers are using water efficiently and with care. Smart Irrigation provides a benchmark for sustainable irrigation and is a way for irrigators to share with the community how they irrigate. It’s about being transparent. By focusing on efficient water use, regular auditing and technological improvements, the Smart Irrigation framework provides the public with the information and assurances they need, while up-skilling and transitioning the irrigation industry towards a more sustainable future.

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2 8

Farming Dairy Focus

Gypsy Day

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Patience T he last weekend in May is Gypsy Day, when sharemilkers and farm workers move, stock, farm machinery and household goods to their new farms. With large volumes of stock and machinery moving around the district’s roads, Council Contracts Manager Brian Fauth advises farmers to move responsibly to help minimise impact on the district’s road network. “It can be a messy business as herds are transported between farms. We urge farmers consider other road users and keep the roads as clear and clean as possible as they move cows for the start of the new dairy season,” he said. Mr Fauth says farmers also need to think about the safest time and place to move stock. “If you are driving equipment, make sure that your tractor or truck doesn’t bring mud onto the road,” said Mr Fauth. Mr Fauth says farmers should also clean up after their cows as effluent and mud can make it slippery and dangerous for other motorists. Stock trucks need to use the

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Gypsy Day

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urged on roads over Gypsy Day period effluent disposal facilities located at the Ashburton sale yards.

Slow-moving and oversize machinery on the roads can slow traffic down and Mr Fauth says common-sense from drivers of the machinery and other motorists will ensure things go as smoothly as possible

“The vast majority of truckies are aware of the facilities available and use them,” says Mr Fauth. With more machinery and stock on the roads, Council is

also asking for motorists to be patient over the Gypsy Day period. “We advise motorists to keep an eye out for stock on the roads and thank them for their patience as they encounter stock or equipment on the road,” he said. Slow-moving and oversize machinery on the roads can slow traffic down and Mr Fauth says common-sense from drivers of the machinery and other motorists will ensure things go as smoothly as possible. “A bit of consideration and patience goes a long way to ensuring everyone gets to where they need to go,” says Mr Fauth. Another issue the Council urges farmers to consider at this time is the storing of equipment and feed on the road sides. Mr Fauth says farmers need to ensure equipment and baleage is kept clear of road sides. “This helps ensure that other motorists can navigate safely on the road,” he said. Advertising feature

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Farming Dairy Focus

2 10

Gypsy Day

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Dairy cattle on the move T

housands of dairy cattle will be on the move in Mid Canterbury as sharemilkers move to new farms with their stock on June 1. Federated Farmers is asking for drivers to be aware of these stock movements on rural roads. Sharemilkers will be hoping for good weather, making moving day less of an ordeal. Some dairy cattle stock will be travelling by truck while others will be walking to their new farms. It’s not called gypsy day for nothing,

as it also involves moving the whole household too. “We’re asking people driving in rural areas to be aware that there may be a larger than usual number of stock on the road or in stock trucks. If you encounter stock on the road then please be patient and please do not honk your horn as that will startle stock,” Federated Farmers says. “To reduce effluent spillage, we’ve recommended that stock are kept off green feed for a minimum of 4-8 hours before they are

moved. Meanwhile, trucking companies have their own set of rules. They are required to have effluent holding tanks which are emptied regularly at designated dumping areas to prevent spillage onto roads.” Federated Farmers also advises sharemilkers to cover off the terms of their contract, such as leaving the house available for inspection and ensuring that adequate feed is left on-farm. This includes ensuring that all stock are fit for travel, like

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being able to bear weight on all four limbs and in good condition to withstand the rigours of transport. If cows are to be walked to their new farm, sharemilkers should check with their council to see if a permit is needed. It is also a good time to see if there are any other events being held along your route, like a cycle race. It is better to plan around these sorts of things in advance rather than have your herd confronting a wall of cyclists, getting jammed in the

gateway and breaking fences. Make sure you have the requisite signs and people for along the route. If your neighbours are also moving, it is a good idea to ask them about their plans rather than two herds heading out the gate at the same time and getting confused. Sharemilkers also need to ensure that if they are going onto a Fonterra shareholder’s farm, they have discussed the milk price/dividend payment structure with the shareholder. Advertising feature

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Gypsy Day

www.guardianonline.co.nz

11

Setting up to shift stock this Gypsy Day D

Magnesium bullets should be considered for cows in late pregnancy, as they are particularly at risk

DairyNZ animal husbandry team leader, Nita Harding, says preparing cows for transport should cover off a range of areas, from the cow’s fitness for transport through to ensuring the truck is in good order. “Preparing stock for transport

should begin several weeks out – from booking the transport provider to ensuring the cows’ feed requirements are met throughout the transition from one farm to the other,” says Ms Harding. “A good place to start is with diet requirements.” A feed transition plan should be in place for cows going onto a new feed, to ensure the cows adjust to it over seven to 10 days before. If you have crop on the milking platform that was planted for transitioning, allocate one to two hours of crop each day, while grazing pasture, feeding silage and still milking. Regardless of feed type, all cows should receive a diet containing 12-20g of dietary magnesium per day for three days either side of transport – if dusting CausMag, this equates to 80-100g/cow/day. “Stress during transport does cause blood magnesium levels to significantly drop. Dusting pasture with an appropriate supplement the week before will build blood levels. Magnesium bullets should be considered for cows in late pregnancy, as they are particularly at risk.” On the day of transport, stand cows off green feed for four to 12 hours before the journey. They

should have access to good quality hay, baleage or dry feed and water. Ms Harding advises to use a grazed out paddock or stand-off pad, rather than concrete. A grazed out paddock is often best, as it gives cows plenty of space to lie down. If in doubt about an animal’s fitness for transport, contact your vet. Have a team member who is skilled in transporting animals supervise the process on the day. “Pregnant cows are worth looking after well, they are a valuable asset.” Regulation changes have also reduced the weight allowance for general access vehicles, such as stock trucks, so farmers may need to allow for slightly reduced stock numbers being loaded. The DairyNZ website has further information and resources, including a checklist for Transporting Cows. Visit dairynz.co.nz/ transportingstock for more information. Farmers are also encouraged to ensure their NAIT requirements are met, including tags, registration and recording movement of cows – visit www.nait.co.nz to find out more.

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The main things farmers should consider when moving any stock, are: • people preparing and transporting cows should have the experience and knowledge to manage the cows’ welfare on the journey • cows should be fit, healthy and strong, and able to bear weight on all legs • cows need to have a body condition score (BCS) of three or more to be in good condition to travel. Any animal with a BCS less than three needs immediate attention • cows should receive a diet containing 1220g of dietary magnesium per day for three days either side of transport – if dusting CausMag, this equates to 80-100g/cow/ day (transport stress generally causes a significant drop in magnesium levels) • cows in their last three months of pregnancy should be treated with patience and care • a feed transition plan will help the cows adjust their metabolism to winter grazing and protect their health • stock should be moved off green feed for at least four hours and no more than 12 hours prior to transport to reduce effluent production – remember to provide water and hay, baleage or dry feed during this time • feed and water should be immediately available to the animals when they arrive at their destination.

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2 12

Farming Dairy Focus

Gypsy Day

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Transport pregnant cows with care D

airy farmers should take particular care when planning to transport cows in their third trimester of pregnancy, says DairyNZ’s Dr Nita Harding. Dr Harding is DairyNZ’s development team leader for animal husbandry and says at this time of year, many farmers are transporting cows with well advanced pregnancies. “There are several things farmers should be aware of to make sure their pregnant cows arrive at their destination in the best possible condition.” The key issue is to always make sure any cows to be transported have a body condition score of three or higher before transport. “In late pregnancy even cows that are in good condition are considerably more susceptible

to the stress of transport and need to be treated with patience and care if they are being transported to another location. Journeys should be as short as possible.”

pregnant cows for at least three days before and three days following the journey. All cows switching from one feed type to another require a feed transition plan to give

increasing the amount of the concrete for any more than four new feed or supplement made hours at a time,” Dr Harding available. said. “Any longer is likely to If this cannot be done lead to sore feet and legs, and before transport, ensure there potentially problems with is pasture at the other end to lameness.” transition cows from. Remember to take as much Dr Harding says that cows care with unloading the animals Careful planning is required before in late pregnancy should be at their destination. treated with patience and care Food and water should be pregnant cows are transported when being brought in and provided on arrival and the loaded for transport. animals checked, especially She says that careful planning their digestive system time to Before transport, cows should for signs of bloat, around two is required before pregnant adjust to the new feed, maintain be moved off green feed for hours after arrival. Phone: 022said 089 it 6224 Email: wilceen cows are transported. their condition, and minimise four to 12 hours (maximum) Dr Harding is always “Other than the duration of any nutritional problems. and be provided with hay and useful to have someone who is the journey, farmers should also Remember to consider a water to reduce the amount skilled in transporting animals consider their feed transition transition plan for coming of effluent produced during to supervise the process on the plan and ensure the cows home from winter grazing, the journey and minimise any day of transport. BREAKDOWN receive an adequate supplement as well as a plan for going to nutritional stress. This is best*EMERGENCY Pregnant cows are aSERVICE valuable of magnesium before and after winter grazing. done on a grazed out paddock*FARM asset and are worth looking REPAIRS & MODIFICATIONS the journey.” New feed should be or stand-off pad rather than on after properly. *TRANSPORT REPAIRS & MODIFICATIONS Twelve to 20 grams per day introduced into the diet concrete. More information is available *PIRTEK HOSE AND FITTINGS of magnesium supplement over seven to 10 days before “It is recommended that cows at www.dairynz.co.nz/ should also be provided to the journey, by gradually should not be stood off on *EARTHMOVING transportingstock. REPAIRS

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Gypsy Day

www.guardianonline.co.nz

13

Farmers get their say on milk levy John Luxton

DAIRY NZ CHAIRMAN

T

his month dairy farmers will be asked to vote on whether they wish to continue paying the levy on milksolids. I have found that most farmers understand and value the DairyNZ work that the levy funds. We have a history of co-operation and collective activity in our industry that goes back generations. It is part of our heritage as dairy Dairy farmers are voting on whether to continue the milksolds levy that part funds DairyNZ. farmers. We know there are where the levy helps us, too. volume of milk for export the capability of the western things that we need to do as Late last year DairyNZ’s markets within the next 18 states in particular to rapidly dairy farmers for the good general manager of months at a competitive price expand production. of the industry. It makes UGUST 2013—HANHAM 1/2PG ADVERT development and extension, to New Zealand. The capital cost per cow of sense to pool our resources, This milk coming out of establishing a dairy appears through the levy, to fund those David McCall visited the United States. the US will possibly set up much lower in the western US activities. He found that parts of another cycle of short-term than in New Zealand. These There is also value ATS in being NEWS AUGUST 2013—HANHAM 1/2PG ADVERT the US will easily gear up to milk-price volatility. vary depending on the system ahead of the game and our produce a large increase in Mr McCall was struck with employed and the amount of competitors – and that is

ENDURATANK PERMASTORE

cropland owned. Dairy owners there are capably managing enterprises with up to 200 staff and possess highly developed trading skills, including use of futures markets. Management capability matches their systems. What Mr McCall’s travel report has brought home to me is that New Zealand’s future is in efficient use of our pasture resource, regardless of the supplementary feed systems we put around it. To maintain our competitiveness we need to focus on grazing management skill and practice, and eliminate the waste and loss of potential pasture growth and quality that occurs when a strict discipline is not maintained in spring. I am keen to see more debate and discussion among New Zealand’s dairy farmers on these issues. It is also important that dairy farmers have their say on the levy too. • Voter packs go out on April 24 and farmers have until May 31 to vote.

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Education

www.guardianonline.co.nz

15

Exciting times for agriculture A

commitment to providing quality tertiary education coupled with answering the needs of primary industry has signalled a new phase in the history of Aoraki Polytechnic. Whether you are a rural family with tertiary age children, or a farm owner or farm worker looking to expand your knowledge and skills, Aoraki has relevant

options to suit. “Primary industry is the backbone of the New Zealand economy, and locally it is one of our largest employers, so from that perspective, it makes total sense,” says Aoraki Polytechnic Primary Industry Portfolio Manager Andrea Leslie. Recently Aoraki signed a new Collaborative Relationship Agreement

From left to right - Kevin Cosgrove (Council Chairman, Aoraki Polytechnic), Tom Lambie (Chancellor, Lincoln University) on the occasion of the signing of an agreement between Lincoln University and Aoraki Polytechnic.

with the country’s primary land-based tertiary provider, Lincoln University, following similar agreements with CPIT and Primary ITO, bringing together its facilities, funding and resources to create more opportunities for students and better meet the needs of employers and industry. In practical terms, the agreement will open the doors to a more seamless educational experience for students, from Aoraki’s entry level programmes all the way through to Lincoln’s postgraduate qualifications. The arrangement has given Aoraki the confidence to press on with introducing a range of new courses designed specifically to meet the needs of industry, following a number of well-established pre-employment programmes. The first of these new programmes is the New Zealand Diploma in AgriBusiness Management, which has been designed specifically with farmers in mind. Using a cutting-edge delivery method, the course is tailor-made to each individual allowing them

to stay on farm, study on farm for the benefit of their farming business and the industry as a whole, explains Andrea. It is the first course of its kind that affirms and awards credits for what is already known, demonstrated and evidenced through experience. The remainder of the learning in based on an on-farm project. “It’s just the first in a number of new courses. Our point of difference is that we have listened to industry and we understand what they need, and we are doing it differently.” Through the relationship with Lincoln, the Diploma of Agriculture (Dip Ag) is also available through Aoraki’s Timaru and Ashburton campuses, but run over parttime over two-years using a blended delivery model making it more accessible. She says creating exciting new courses is only the beginning. One of its greatest challenges is getting school leavers to open their eyes to the world of opportunities

within the primary sector. While agriculture offers the opportunity to work outside doing physical work, it’s no longer just about growing crops and animal husbandry. Nowadays, it involves everything from business, geography, sociology and conservation. The world of horticulture is also diverse with employment in landscaping to viticulture, nurseries and orchards. “The employment options are endless, but like with many things, people don’t know what they want to do until they see it. Our challenge is to create programmes that are exciting.” Aside from the new course options, students will also undoubtedly benefit greatly from the band of qualified tutors who bring with them years of professional experience and industry connections, real world practical experience, and the smaller class sizes and greater flexibility that Aoraki has developed a reputation for at any one of its five campuses. Advertising feature


2 16

Farming Dairy Focus

Education

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Adams House – boarding at Christchurch Boys’ High School We could tell you all about why Adams House has built a reputation as one of this country’s premier boarding houses, but why not get it straight from source? Here is what the students have to say ... By Duncan WooD, ex aDams House stuDent

F

or me, it goes without saying that Christchurch Boys’ High School is one of the best secondary schools in the country and after being a part of its boarding school for the past five years I can say the same for Adams House. It was a huge decision for me, and my family, coming to the boarding house after growing up in a small town on the West Coast. Living away from home in the big city of Christchurch

Looking back, being put out of my comfort zone and making the move to boys’ high has benefited me greatly, allowing me to mature more quickly, make life-long friends, and become a lot more independent

seemed daunting at the time. The routine of hostel life helped me to settle in along with the friendly staff and prefects who were all extremely welcoming. Adams House itself is an exciting place to live in, with facilities second to none. The swimming pool, tennis

His home... Adams House is a superb Boys’ boarding facility with exemplary standards. We provide a structured, well supervised and disciplined environment which fosters high achievement. Students enjoy outstanding modern facilities and are supported in all aspects of school and boarding life by caring, friendly staff in a family environment.

Registrations of interest now being taken

courts, cricket nets, weights room, dedicated music room and great food make the “hostels” the envy of the rest of the school. The boarding house has a strong academic focus and I have found the structures and staff to be extremely supportive towards my

education. No favour is ever too much to ask of them. Although having to do homework each night may at first seem like a chore, it has certainly helped me develop good work habits which I will take into the future. Also, the convenience of living with others doing the

same assignments and courses is a huge advantage come exam time. Looking back, being put out of my comfort zone and making the move to boys’ high has benefited me greatly, allowing me to mature more quickly, make life-long friends, and become a lot more independent. I have no regrets whatsoever, and I cannot emphasise enough the opportunities which lie ahead when you are fortunate enough to board at Adams House. Advertising feature

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...away from home


www.guardianonline.co.nz

17

Risking all your eggs with property Grant Davies

T

A BROKER’S VIEW

his article will focus on property as an asset class and ways of obtaining exposure to this sector via the sharemarket. Many investors have been attracted to the listed property sector due to the relatively high dividend yields on offer and the predictability of dividend payments. Traditionally, New Zealanders have a fascination with direct property investment. Home ownership is the Kiwi dream, with the majority aiming to own a home at some stage in their lifetime. However, over the past 10 years we have experienced a large flurry in rental/ investment property investment resulting in a

significant surge in the total value (or total cost, depending on your perspective) of the country’s housing stock. The reasons for investing in property are clear, people like the tangible nature and many believe that property will always increase in value. However, of late we have also seen some property markets face head winds worldwide, shattering the notion of everlastingly house price increases (Ireland, Spain and even the United States have all suffered property crashes to some degree). This reiterates the importance of diversifying between asset classes. Our fixation with housing creates a number of issues. For one, it means that we have all our eggs in one proverbial basket, meaning our investment is subject to the whims of the housing market and the housing market alone (or the whims of Mother Nature). Also, after allowing for maintenance expenses, time spent managing the rental property or fees paid to an

Spreading your investment portfolio to include commercial property instead of relying on the housing market is a sensible option.

agency, the after tax yield is often less than what the investor had originally thought. An alternative to direct property investment is the Listed Property Trust (LPT) sector, which offers investors exposure to commercial property. LPT’s operate similarly to a managed fund where investors’ funds are

FIND OUT HOW TO EARN A HIGHER RETURN THAN BANK DEPOSITS GROW YOUR INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO CONFIDENCE John Moore of WITH Hamilton Hindin Greene is running a

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pooled together and used to purchase investments which the trust then manages like a property manager. The types of properties acquired include, commercial, industrial, retail and medical. The benefits of using LPTs over other vehicles include, liquidity (you can buy and sell on demand at relatively low cost), diversification (you own

a small piece of a number of different buildings in different locations exposed to different market forces), and income (you receive consistent, relatively high dividends). Most portfolios should include some degree of exposure to the property sector, be it residential and/or commercial. However, many Kiwis are overexposed to this sector due to the desire to own their own home (with many adding rental properties to their suite). This overexposure could leave investors high and dry if markets retract or Mother Nature intervenes. • Written by Grant Davies, Authorised Financial Adviser 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 through www.hhg.co.nz

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Farming Dairy Focus

2 18

Feed feature

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Bale feeders help reduce hay wastage

N

o matter how hay is packaged, if you waste it, you lose money. Below are some general rules that can help minimise waste during feeding.

Feed hay in small amounts or in a feeder to reduce waste When fed a limited amount of hay at a time, cattle have less opportunity to trample and soil the hay.

Cattle will waste a greater percentage of poor-quality hay than they will of goodquality hay

Feeding hay in a rack or a “hay ring” also limits the opportunity that animals have

to trample or soil hay, and will reduce waste substantially if you intend to provide more than a day’s worth of hay at one time.

Feed hay in welldrained areas If you intend to feed hay in a single location all winter, then providing a footing such as crushed gravel or even concrete can help minimise problems with mud. Perhaps more cost effective is to move hay-feeding areas around the farm to minimise the damage to any one area of the pasture.

Feed hay stored outside before hay stored inside Hay stored outside usually has more spoilage during storage and lower palatability than hay stored inside. Cattle will waste a greater percentage of poor-quality hay than they will of goodquality hay. Animals fed highquality hay early in the season will often refuse poor-quality hay when it is offered later.

Large square bales Large square bales (about 4 foot x 4 foot x 8 foot) are increasing in popularity, especially with commercial hay growers. These bales are popular because: • Large square bales are densely packed (18 to 30 pounds of hay per cubic foot), which minimises

A good way to feed these bales is to place them in specially designed highdensity feeder

As with big round bales, allowing cattle free access to these bales will increase waste, because it usually provides too much forage at once and excess hay is trampled, soiled and left uneaten. A good way to feed these bales is to place them in specially designed highdensity feeder that will limit access to the hay. A second alternative is to “flake” and scatter the hay on the pasture, although feeding losses can be excessive if too much hay is

fed at one time.

Summary No matter what size hay package or feeding style you use, some hay will be lost or wasted. Proper feeding management minimises these losses. Since hay is some of the most expensive feed used on beef operations, it makes sense to try to keep waste as low as possible through good management practices. Advertising feature

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Feed feature

www.guardianonline.co.nz

19

Winter feeding tips for your stock A

lthough it may be more comfortable for you, indoor feeding is usually not advisable. Ammonia concentrations in poorly ventilated buildings can be exorbitantly high, causing pneumonia and other breathing problems and high humidity will decrease the insulating capabilities of a cow’s coat. Outdoor feeding will be perfectly comfortable for your cow, and often much cleaner. High-moisture rations will likely freeze in the feed bunks. If this occurs, intake will be reduced and more energy will be required to digest the feed. If you have issues with frozen feed, increase your number of feedings to three times a day. It is tempting to feed earlier and earlier as daylight decreases and evening temperatures drop, but your cow will be more comfortable if you delay feeding time in the cold. The activity involved in eating and the fermentation in the rumen will increase heat production during the evening. If you cannot afford high-quality hay, do not fret. Simply work out a dietary plan with your vet to make up for any nutritional short comings. Cows will consume highquality hay with enthusiasm, but they are more likely to scatter low-quality hay. This scattering will reduce your bedding costs and will save you work. Although you will need more hay, you will need far less straw. Advertising feature

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Farming Dairy Focus

Feed feature

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Body condition – decisions to be by James & son, animal Feed suppliers

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and, second, what the cow requires (depending on stage of lactation). As the days get shorter and nights get longer thoughts start to change from milking to duck-shooting opening weekend and the possible winter dry off. It’s now that you really need to take a step back and have a very good look at the condition of your cows.

Feeding now for condition is the cheapest form of weight gain, and the key to this is milk

larger range of feeds and feed options, PKE being one of the most used and available, and grain being another. As farm land values continue to increase and milk becomes more valuable we need to all be considering how can I get more milk out of my cows. The easiest option is to feed more. However, it’s not as easy as that. We need to ensure what the cow is getting is, first, economic

Ask yourself the question “Would I be happy to have her calve in that condition?” Winter feeding is the most expensive type of feeding you can do. During this time we have no physical income coming from the cows, so in practice everything we do and feed is a direct cost. This is why we need to assess our cows now and have a real look at condition. Feeding now for condition

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Feed feature

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21

made about winter feeding rates is the cheapest form of weight gain, and the key to this is milk. If we assume our cow is doing 15 litres of milk per day and is about five months in calf.

Winter feeding is essential to be done correctly

Her daily energy requirement to do this and maintain her weight is about 160 mjME. If we are able to offer an extra 20 to 30mjME (depending on what feed you look at around 2 to 2.6kg DM) we give the animal a surplus of energy. This energy then has the potential to either be converted into weight (body condition) or into extra milk. The key that makes this the most economic time to try and get the extra weight is when the cow is still milking. We can expect a slight milk increase, however often this is

very low compared to feeding extra feeds in spring or early lactation, which in a rough way subsidises a large part or all of the included feed. Let’s assume a feed is $0.40/ kgDM. Feeding 2.5kg will cost you $1 per day. If milk goes up even 1 litre per cow it equates to about 0.1g of milk solids. At $8.30 this is around 83c. So the extra feed going into the system now only owes 9c. When we expand this further, her energy requirement to produce this Barley grass. milk is only about four to six mjME therefore we have (depending on the feed being fed) around 15mjME surplus to requirement that has the greatest potential of being stored or adding to body condition. Winter feeding is essential to be done correctly, however having a look and planning for drying off condition during the season will allow the greatest economic benefit and will also allow the cow to be in the best possible position for the next season. Happy farming. Advertising feature Palm kernel.

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23

Animal welfare and your staff Matt Jones

STAFF MATTERS

A

re you protecting your assets? Not only do we need to take good care of our staff, but also our farm animals to ensure a smoothly operating and profitable farming business. The media frequently covers disturbing animal welfare issues, and as we want to create a safe and professional workplace for all, livestock need to be well looked after too. Are your employees aware from the recruitment process that cruelty to animals is intolerable on your farm? We’ve all heard the “shockers”, for example recently when many cows had their tails broken by just one person. It’s hard to forget when the story was all over

the media, and the offence was so unacceptable. To help prevent any of these potential and avoidable issues happening on your farm I’d advise that you communicate clear animal husbandry guidelines to your workers from day one. Lay the rules down early on to keep your animals happier and more productive, while you spend less time in mediation or in court. Also be sensitive to any behavioural changes with workers. The ongoing presence of stress, anger, alcohol or drug abuse could make them particularly short tempered at work putting livestock at increased risk. How can you manage misconduct issues that arise? To protect an animal’s safety you can ask your employee to leave your farm immediately and pay out their notice period in lieu. Where your staff member doesn’t quite reach the level of serious misconduct, (general misconduct), a warning can be issued. If the offending behaviour is repeated – you

Let prospective employees know your animal welfare expectations in interviews, that way there can be no surprises.

can dismiss the employee on notice. For animal safety reasons where urgent dismissal is required, do make sure you have a suspension clause in your employee’s contract so this can be facilitated instantly and legally without any hitches. Please note there are processes to follow and any alleged misconduct warrants proper investigation to cover

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all of your bases. This must be arranged with the staff member in question via a formal meeting. Give at least two days notice and all allegations must be in writing. You will then need to highlight your concerns and back them up with credible facts from other staff or witnesses and veterinary visits/reports if applicable. It’s imperative to cover animal welfare standards

when hiring staff, and again throughout the orientation process. Remember that the abuse of any animal can be easily prevented on your farm. Do your due diligence and phone past employers, doing your homework can also increase the likelihood of hiring top workers for your farming operation. Interestingly, some university studies with dairy cows suggest genuine measurable differences in welfare, behaviour and milk yield with regular positive interaction with humans. Studies with other animals also found a correlation where reducing fear could improve fertility, growth rates, disease resistance and improved handling. As farmers we have duty of care to our livestock, we wouldn’t have a business without them. Phone us at Agstaff if you have any concerns with your employees about this serious matter. • Matt Jones is the managing director of Agstaff.

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2 24

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Lame cows – the truth’s out there Fred Hoekstra

VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES

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am in the North Island at the moment teaching hoof care. During the workshops we talk about the causes of lameness. When I ask different groups what they think the main causes of lameness are: stone bruises, sole penetration and white line separation from twisting on concrete are the most common reasons given. Trainees are usually quite adamant about these causes, but when I ask them to give me evidence of their claims, it usually goes quiet. There are some attempts with answers like “we find the stones in the hoof ” and “if I walk over stones on bare feet, I get sore feet”. This is not conclusive evidence. I get stones stuck in

the bottom of my gumboot but that doesn’t mean those stones created the patterns in the sole of my gumboot, rather it is the case that the patterns already existed in the gumboot allowing the stone to get stuck, and because you get sore feet when you walk with bare feet on stones doesn’t mean that the cow is experiencing stones in the same way. Remember, cows don’t walk on bare feet – they have hooves. Also, you may be sore if you try walking over stones for just one day, but if you walk on stones every day for the next few weeks you will soon be able to run on them. Why then are so many people convinced about stones being the main cause of lameness? I have not yet seen any convincing evidence to support these claims. I know that several of you will think that I have no idea what I am talking about because trainees tell me that on the hooftrimming workshops. We are told by advisers, veterinarians and colleges that stones and twisting or pushing

Searching for the causes of lameness in cows.

cows on concrete causes stone bruises, sole penetration and white-line separation and I guess that if we say it often enough we really believe it, even to the point that we are

not questioning our beliefs anymore. I challenge anyone to show me some real evidence. Give me something undisputable with which to back up these

claims and I will write in my next article that I am wrong. If you are not sure about the whole thing but somebody else is making those claims, I would like you to challenge that person to write to me. This is about working out the truth. The reason why it is so important to know the truth about the causes of lameness is because it will influence the way we combat it and the effectiveness of our efforts. I strongly believe that the physical forces of stones and twisting on concrete have little or no effect on bruises or white-line separation. If it did then none of you would have a valid reason for having lame cows and there would not be any difference between making cows walk on stony tracks and breaking cow’s tails. Both of them would be animal abuse, and therefore, both should be punished in the same way. Interested in further discussion? • Email me at info@veehof. co.nz or visit www.veehof. co.nz to register for a hooftrimming workshop.

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25

Ngai Tahu farm’s water quality tops N gai Tahu Farming’s 380 hectare dairy farm near Oxford – Dairy Farm One – is this year’s winner of the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award. The announcement was made at the regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Christchurch. The farm, which has 1300 cows on a flat-contoured milking platform, is in its second year of production after forestry land was cleared between 2007 and 2011. The award judges described the property as an impressive large-scale dairy conversion with a clearly developed strategy and the impressive use of technology for monitoring. They also noted there had been extensive efforts to understand and minimise the impact of the farm business on water quality. Andrew Clayton, general manager of Ngai Tahu Farming, said local runanga have been involved throughout the development of the farm. “Before the conversion concept could be embraced

Ngai Tahu Farming general manager Andrew Clayton, Dairy Farm One farm manager Phillip Colombus and group managers Jo and Shaun Back.

local runanga approval was sought and we went through the process of defining what farming meant to Ngai Tahu.” Mr Clayton said the farm’s close relationship with Lincoln University has also contributed to its success. “Our relationship with Lincoln is a symbiotic one. They take an absolute approach to best-practice farm-management systems

so are able to give us a good steer.” The farm is in the process of having 40 lysimeter barrels installed – the largest number on any farm in New Zealand. The barrels contain cross sections of soil which allow water to percolate, which is analysed for nutrient leaching and leads to improved decision-making around efficient water use.

The Whenua Kura education programme, involving Ngai Tahu Property, Lincoln University and Te Tapuae o Rehua, is another example of the relationship between Lincoln and the farms. Whenua Kura is designed to support more Maori into agriculture, and will prepare students with the appropriate skills and value set. Other Lincoln students,

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studying environmental issues, are also working at the farm. These students take an active role in monitoring biodiversity enhancements and undertaking biological surveys. Entrants had to show they were aware of the impact their operation had on water quality, and to have taken deliberate steps to manage this. “Ngai Tahu Farming has demonstrated that good and innovative farm management can also be good for business,” ECan chairwoman Dame Margaret Bazley said. “By adopting and investing in the best available technology, farmers can often improve productive capacity while at the same time reducing environmental effects.” “Environment Canterbury congratulates all entrants in these awards, and particularly Ngai Tahu Farming, and for their vision and leadership to put new ideas into practice,” said Dame Margaret. The Dairy Farm One also won the Ballance Agrinutrients Soil Management Award.

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Farming Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

A

side effect of the growth of irrigated dairy farms in the dry Canterbury Plains is that in order to facilitate large-scale central pivot irrigation, many of the region’s traditional pine and macrocarpa shelterbelts have been removed. The dairy industry is aware that this is not desirable, particularly because it raises issues of animal access to shelter and the impact of irrigated intensive farming on an alluvial plains ecosystem. But now there is a potential solution in sight and one that will meet the needs of animal welfare, the environment and irrigators. PhD student at Lincoln University Chris Littlejohn, with sponsorship from Westland Milk Products and DairyNZ, has been conducting a study, Miscanthus Grass on Dairy farms: multiple benefits, which looks at the use of giant (up to four metre tall) bamboo-like perennial grass as a shelter plant on Canterbury dairy farms. Westland supplier Mark Williams has hosted the trial on his Kirwee property near Burnham Military Camp. It is the first known study specifically looking at the value of miscanthus as a

Grass of the future

Exploring the viability of miscanthus grass on the Canterbury Plains are Professor Steve Wratten (left) and Chris Littlejohn, a Lincoln University PhD student.

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shelterbelt plant. While the trial is still under way, initial results are promising. They indicate that miscanthus is not only an effective shelter plant for animals, it also shelters pasture – promoting grass growth and reducing moisture loss and therefore reducing the amount of irrigation needed. An extra benefit is that miscanthus can be harvested to provide a cheap and easily extracted renewable diesel fuel. Steve Wratten, Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University, who is supervising Mr Littlejohn’s PhD, says there is potential for miscanthus to revolutionise dairy farming on the Canterbury Plains. “No other product seems capable of providing these three key benefits,” Prof Wratten says. “Effective animal shelter, effective pasture shelter and a cash return in the form of renewable diesel. Plus it can be used as fodder, as a superior bedding material in calf sheds, and, dried, as fuel for boilers to reduce dependence on diesel, coal and electricity.” Westland Milk Products environmental manager Chris Pullen says it was this multi-purpose potential that

attracted Westland to the research project as principal sponsor. “Our customers frequently ask how we ensure that the products they are buying are ethically produced from an animal welfare, sustainability and environmental point of view. We can’t just say we are concerned about these issues, we have to be able to demonstrate it.” It’s not just Canterbury’s cold southerlies that cows appreciate shelter from, Mr Pullen says. “Miscanthus can equally shelter stock from the summer’s hot and dry nor’westers, which can be as stressful for cows as they are to humans, with a resulting impact on production. “Farmers naturally want to do their best by their animals, and are always looking for ways to increase production. Therefore a shelter plant that can improve pasture growth and reduce stock stress is of real interest.” Mr Pullen says that water management is also a critical issue, especially for Westland’s Canterbury suppliers, so anything that contributes to irrigation efficiency is worth investigating. One of the key benefits of miscanthus is that irrigation

27

Miscanthus not only provides cattle with shelter, it provides pasture protection.

pivots can roll right over it, Mr Littlejohn says. “The traditional tree shelter belts met a need at the time but they are inflexible and not multi-use. Gorse was also introduced as a shelter plant but became a major plant pest. The great thing about the miscanthus we use is that it is a sterile hybrid (technically it is Miscanthus x giganteus or Mxg) so it cannot reproduce itself by seed. It is spread by creeping rhizomes, but this is a slow process as the plant is not vigorous, so any spread outside of the desired area is easily controlled by grazing or spray. As a perennial that regrows from its underground rhizomes, miscanthus can last

for many years, and grows back quickly after an annual harvest to use the foliage for renewable diesel, fodder, or its many other uses. “Under centre pivot irrigation, yields of 30 tonnes of dry matter a hectare are achievable,” Mr Littlejohn says. “That produces about 9000 litres of renewable diesel a hectare at a cost of about $1.10 a litre (compared with around $1.50 at a fuel station). In Rome, a fleet of city buses is powered by the renewable diesel produced from miscanthus. “Overseas, the machinery used to extract renewable diesel from miscanthus is quite large, even though the process itself is quite simple compared to the

production of biodiesel from used plant oils such as fishand-chip cooking oil, which is an intensive and complex process. Our hope is that someone in the agricultural industry in New Zealand can be encouraged to import the technology, but in the form of a smaller mobile plant that can go from farm to farm to extract the diesel.” Prof Wratten says that miscanthus needs to be watered but that is what makes it ideal as a shelter plant on Canterbury’s irrigated farms. “Better still,” he says, “Chris’ studies show that the shelter from a line of miscanthus produces an eight to 10 per cent increase in grass growth. That’s real return for the farmer right there!” Westland Milk Products and Lincoln University will host a by-invitation field day on the test site property on May 14 this year to demonstrate the potential of miscanthus to the likes of dairy companies and agricultural service providers. Next year, when the trial plots will be at their best, a full field day for farmers will be held. The miscanthus used in Mr Littlejohn’s trials comes from Japan and is a sterile hybrid of M. sacchariflorus x M.


Farming Dairy Focus

2 28

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Plonk and pampering to create the F

rench livestock farmer Francois-Xavier Craquelin believes a little pampering goes a long way when it comes to producing meat prized for its melt-in-the mouth tenderness. Cattle at his farm in northeastern France enjoy classical music, a special massage machine and even regular tipples of Normandy cider. In Japan, kobe cattle – one of the wagyu breeds recognised worldwide for its quality – are treated to sake or beer. But in Normandy, cider is king. So, in his quest to produce ever better meat, this farmer and organic cider producer has been putting the Japanese technique into practice at his farm not far from the banks of the River Seine at Villequier, between Rouen and Le Havre. Six animals get extra-special special treatment with music, massages, organic food and plenty of fresh air. When Craquelin, 40, fills up a bucket with about 15 litres of cider for his cattle, there is never a drop left.

“I give them 150 litres four months before slaughter,” he says. “For an animal of nearly a tonne that represents the equivalent of 1.5 litres for a human.” The alcohol is said to help create highly marbled meat with the muscle finely interspersed with

monosaturated fat, giving the meat moisture and tenderness. Meat with marbling – or intramuscular fat – is especially high in oleic acid, a monosaturated fat also prevalent in olive oil, and commands the highest prices. Experts say the lower melting point also gives the

meat a distinctive flavour that tastes better to most people. Mr Craquelin, who took over the family farm a decade ago after studying at business school, has about 100 normandy cattle of which six have recently had the “cider treatment”. Fed on organic food and

put out to graze on pasture for seven months of the year, the farmer sends the cattle for slaughter after three years. Then from March onwards the meat from his “cider beef ” cattle starts to find its way onto the plates of some Normandy and Parisian restaurants.

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tenderest of beef

Left: Francois-Xavier Craquelin looks after his normandy cattle with classical music, massages and cider (above).

Two animals are slaughtered each month with everything consumed by the end of May. Some restaurateurs like Christophe Mauduit, from Jumieges in Normandy, reserve early to avoid missing out. “This is a good product, with beautiful marbling,” Mr Mauduit says.

But it’s not just this beef that Mr Craquelin feels passionate about. As well as promoting this niche product, he also wants to promote the normandy breed from which the region’s famous butter and Camembert cheese is made. The breed won a blind test organised by Gault Millau, one of the most influential

A happy Normandy cow like the stock Francois-Xavier Craquelin farms.

French restaurant guides, said Cindy Lebas, quality manager for the Rouenbased firm Grosdoit, a meat wholesaler that promotes the breed. And now, backed by the region’s Pays de Caux-Vallee de Seine tourism office, Mr Craquelin would like to see it get its own “appellation d’origine controlee (AOC)”

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label, of the sort awarded to wine certifying its geographical origin. Despite being famed for its other produce, Normandy has yet to be recognised for its beef. It won’t be an easy task, admits Mr Craquelin, adding however that he is determined to work towards his goal over the “long term”.

This is a good product, with beautiful marbling. Christophe Mauduit, restaurateur

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Farming Dairy Focus

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Co-ordinated plan for N

Challenges for dairy farmers include increased environmental regulation and restrictions on land-use change.

ew Zealand risks missing “a golden opportunity” to grow its agricultural sector, and addressing this will require a co-ordinated, joint approach from across the sector, a new report on the competitiveness of New Zealand agribusiness has warned. Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges, by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank, says New Zealand agribusiness is facing mounting competitive threats throughout the supply chain, which require concerted and aligned action from industry and government. The report, which examines New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness sectors, identifies six challenges affecting the competitiveness of the countries’ food and agribusiness industries, which are increasingly coming under threat from a growing group of highly resourceful international competitors, including countries in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. The report says the critical

Luke Chandler, of Rabobank.

areas, which need to be addressed are: • rising production costs both on-farm and beyond farmgate • international market access • logistics infrastructure (in) efficiencies • regulatory pressures • capital constraints and • product innovation and development. Rabobank food and agribusiness research and advisory general manager Luke Chandler says that while the rising demand for food from Asia remains a golden

opportunity, New Zealand and Australia both risk missing the boat without a more coordinated effort from industry and government – to address the factors which threaten to impact both countries’ future competitiveness in world export markets. “While the competitiveness of New Zealand’s food and agricultural sectors has generally compared favourably in a global context in the past, this situation is far from static,” he says. “Many of New Zealand’s competitors in agricultural markets around the world are investing heavily and becoming much more productive, and this is very much raising the bar for New Zealand’s agricultural industries.” Mr Chandler says food and agriculture is becoming the subject of increased focus from governments around the world as the challenge of meeting the food needs of a growing and wealthier global population places pressure on farming enterprises. “However, we need to realise

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31

growth needed in agribusiness that New Zealand is not the only agricultural exporter looking to capture this increasing demand,” he says. “Over the past decade highly resourceful developing countries have begun to assume a greater role in the global export trade of food and agriculture products. “The potential of countries in South America and Eastern Europe is obvious, but even some major food-importing countries and regions, such as China and the ASEAN-5 nations are playing a greater role in shaping the export landscape.” As opportunities to boost direct on-farm cost competitiveness become harder to realise for New Zealand, the report says, the nation’s food and agribusiness sector must look to broader factors to maintain its edge.

Regulatory pressures – dairy

The report notes other determinants of growth and prosperity for agriculture include the sector’s ability to deal with regulatory pressures.

The need for new capital to retivalise the sheep meat industry is causing concern.

As a case in point, it says, New Zealand’s dairy industry needs to deal with significantly heightened environmental regulation, both current and pending. “New Zealand’s milk production growth is likely to be constrained over the next five years relative to the 2008 to 2013 growth period as the ability to change land use will become more difficult and expensive,” the report says. “The future growth of the New Zealand dairy industry will partly depend on how efficiently producers adapt production systems to meet

heightened environmental controls. This will require even closer engagement with regulators and the wider community, alongside a rigorous programme of measuring, monitoring and mitigating environmental impacts.”

Capital constraints – sheep meat

The growing need for new capital to rationalise and revitalise industry supply chains is another priority in lifting the competitiveness of New Zealand’s agricultural sector, the report says.

Ready access to efficient investment capital is critical to driving the pursuit of scale, infrastructure investment and the adoption of new technologies which act to support competitiveness across the agribusiness sector, it says. “In recent times a lack of investment capital has been a particularly pressing issue affecting the competitiveness of the New Zealand sheep meat sector,” Mr Chandler says. “Investment, whether local and/or foreign, is clearly required to improve efficiencies and productivity downstream in the supply chain. With the sheep flock halving since 1990, the adjustment of both processing capacity and capability has not kept pace and is consequently impacting returns.”

Road map forward Mr Chandler says that while the solution to the competitive challenges to New Zealand agriculture does not lie in any one direction, there is a “road map” that can guide industries

to build a more competitive and sustainable base for the sector into the future. “While some competitive factors such as exchange rates and wage costs are beyond the sector’s control, many other issues can be successfully addressed through the concerted and co-ordinated action of industry and government institutions,” he says. “There is no question that a food and agriculture sector that has better access to global markets, ready access to capital, more efficient logistics infrastructure, higher value product and processes, a highly sustainable environmental impact, and more affordable production inputs will be better placed to capture the “Asian dining boom”. • Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges is the first in a series of reports Rabobank will release examining the issues impacting the agricultural sector along the supply chain.

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Farming Dairy Focus

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New drier planned for Westland W

estland Milk Products’ board has approved funding for a new nutritionals drier to be built at the dairy cooperative’s site in Hokitika. A resource consent application to build the $102 million purpose-built spray drier, referred to as D7 – which also includes new batching equipment, high-specification mixing equipment, additional warehousing, another laboratory and a 25kg packing line – is under way with the Westland District Council following a hearing in Hokitika last month. Chief executive Rod Quin says the company is confident the consent will be granted with conditions to meet any local concerns around noise, traffic and air discharge. “Westland has a strong history of producing highquality milk powders and butter,” Mr Quin says, “but we have made a strategic decision to shift the balance of our production toward high-end nutritional products, such as infant formula.

An aerial photograph of Hokitika, with the Westland Milk Products’ new drier (left) superimposed.

“Nutritionals consistently deliver higher margins than milk powders and will lead to relatively higher payouts for our shareholders as well as placing Westland on pathway to a more secure and sustainable future.” Mr Quin says the D7 investment will create up to 36

new jobs in Hokitika, and local contractors will be used as much as possible in the build. “The project equates to a significant investment in the West Coast economy,” he says. “Not just from work that will go to local firms, but also long term because of the increase in permanent jobs

and the anticipated additional income it will generate for our suppliers.” The investment in D7 will build on the capability and commercial success of the upgrade to Drier Six (D6) last season, Mr Quin says. “The demand for nutritional products continues to grow;

and, while China is a key market for these products, we also have significant contracts in South East Asian markets and Australasia that broaden our customer base. Many of our current customers are expected to increase their purchases as a result of this project.” D7 will allow Westland to produce an additional 23,000 metric tonnes of nutritional product per season. Westland’s board has approved funding for the project from a combination of debt and retentions. The company has engaged the expert services of Babbage Engineers as project managers and the plant will be built by Tetra Pak. It is expected to be commissioned in August next year and generate sales of $115 million per year when at full capacity. The approval for D7 comes on top of a series of investments by Westland including the D6 drier last season, a new boiler at Hokitika and investigations into a possible milk processing plant at its Rolleston site.

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Winter minerals ... have you got it covered? By Rensinus schippeR, DaiRy Business centRe (nZ) LimiteD

T

raditionally, in New Zealand dairy farms, mineral feeding is reduced over late lactation and not used during the dry period. When reducing the minerals offered in the diet of the lactating cow, you reduce the cow”s ability to build up her mineral reserves. These reserves are important as the cow needs a high level of minerals from a few days pre-calving to several weeks post-calving. Fodder-beets are becoming more popular as a dry cow feed due to their high yields and subsequent low cost per hectare. Unfortunately, when compared with more traditional dry cow crops such as kale, fodderbeets have a low mineral content. Therefore, without supplementing adequate levels of minerals there is an increased risk of health issues prior and post calving The more minerals the cow can release from her

own reserves, the more milk the cow can produce in early lactation without causing health issues such as retained membranes, mastitis or hypocalcaemia. Another tradition in New Zealand dairy management is to increase body condition over the dry period. This increase can range between 0.5 to 1.0 points in body condition. However, we have to recognise that not all condition gain is the same. There are three types of body condition gain a cow experiences after mating, or 90 days in milk: • Gain in muscle from protein – gradually over time • Gain in “inner” fat from starch and sugar – gradually over time • Gain in “puppy” fat from starch and sugar – quickly over time This last form of body condition gain occurs when the starch and/or sugar content in the diet exceeds the daily requirement at high levels. The problem in the quick

gain of the so called “puppy” fat is that this source of energy is easily put on the cow as body condition, and subsequently easily taken off at high rate. This high rate of body condition mobilisation causes issues in the cow”s liver, which is unable to process these quantities of released fat. This in turn causes the liver to build up fat to what is known as “fatty liver” syndrome. When feeding fodder or sugar beets to either lactating or dry cows, the diet contains high levels of sugar. For a dry cow with limited feed sources in the winter diet, we can”t properly balance the diet to reduce these levels of sugar and a fast condition gain is the result. When the animal is under stress due to weather changes or irregular feed quantities being offered, the cows will mobilise their body reserves and the “puppy” fat is the first in line to provide energy. This quick release of fat can cause issues during the dry period such as a lack of appetite or even downer cows. By ensuring you are

supplementing any dietary mineral deficiencies correctly, you will provide the cows with adequate levels of minerals and allow the animal to cope with any release of “puppy” fat during and after the dry period. The fat will not be accumulating in the liver, reducing the risk of fatty liver

post calving. The rate of body condition loss post calving is dependent on the increase of body condition achieved over the dry period. We advise not to gain any more than 0.3 points of body condition, on average, over 60 to 80-day dry period. Advertising feature

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2 34

Farming Dairy Focus

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Calf vaccination a must

Dave Letham, of Lauriston, now vaccinates his calves to prevent outbreaks of rotavirus.

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to prevent scours and related stress C

alf scours is a major cause of productivity loss and stress on dairy farms each spring. Vaccination of cows pre-calving can provide a means of protecting calves once born, and the launch of ScourGuard 4(K) vaccine from Zoetis in 2011 provides the only protection against both strains of the disease. In addition, protection is offered against other common causes of neo-natal calf scours, E.coli and coronavirus infection. Three-quarters of dairy farmers are choosing not to use a scours vaccine on their herd, despite the stresses and costs scours inevitably bring over spring time. A survey conducted last year by Zoetis revealed the level of vaccination use, a figure that has surprised Zoetis technical veterinary adviser Dr Clive Bingham. Rotavirus in particular is a problematic scour disease on farm, accounting for 40 per cent of all scouring cases on an annual basis. (Reference: NZ Veterinary Pathology data.) Research by Zoetis has revealed there are two strains of rotavirus particular to New Zealand, the G6 and G10, with G6 being the most common and occurring in 100 per cent of scour cases that were typed for rotavirus last year while G10 was also identified in 14 per cent of the cases. Despite the proven effectiveness of ScourGuard 4(K), Dr Bingham cautions any dam-administered vaccine requires calves to receive a timely intake of quality colostrum for antibodies to be effective. “If you do not get the colostrum into the calf, no vaccine will be effective.” Dr Bingham stresses the best way to ensure that happens is to collect calves twice a day during calving. “Ensure new-born calves receive at least two litres of quality colostrum from the cow’s first milking within the first six hours of birth, and four litres within 12 hours.” Vaccination timing is also important. First-calving heifers require two vaccinations with ScourGuard. These should be given a minimum of three weeks apart with the second vaccination being given two to four

Healthy calves in a calf-rearing shed.

weeks before calving. The interval between the initial vaccinations can be up to nine weeks apart to fit in with the management of heifers on farm. Lauriston farmer Dave Letham knows first-hand about the stresses of calves contracting rotavirus over spring time, and the benefits of a good vaccination programme to avoid it happening again. Two seasons ago Mr Letham experienced the sharp effects of a rotavirus outbreak in his calf-rearing facilities. With 250 replacement calves affected, it was a major distraction during the busy calving period, and required significant work from his staff to save the sick calves and get them on the road to recovery. “To be honest it was something you would not wish on anyone. To go down there and see calves that only the day before were fine, all laid out like that was not a pretty sight.” Mr Letham attributes the fact they ultimately only lost one calf to the excellent skills of his calf-rearing team who spent time administering fluids and electrolytes to calves across three rearing sheds. “Once you have had it, it is a scary disease you do not want to have to go through it again.”

That experience prompted Mr Letham to seek out a rotavirus vaccine. On recommendation from his vet he opted for ScourGuard 4(K) to vaccinate all first-calving heifers and mixed-age cows in the 1200 cow herd. “Vaccination was really our best option, we did not want to have to deal with an outbreak again.” “All in all we had a very good run

with it, easily administered, well priced and of course no rotavirus in the calves this season.” Dr Bingham says vaccinating with ScourGuard is a well-spent precaution in the process of rearing good calves to become excellent cows. Calves affected by scours can recover, however it can be debilitating to their growth rates.

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Dairy Focus April 2014  

Dairy Focus April 2014 Ashburton Guardian

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