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Ready for new bobby calf rules. PAGE 5



Battery-operated ride-on mower PAGE 38

JULY 11, 2017 ISSUE 382 //

CHINA BACK IN PLAY “The supply chain is further stretched and China will need to import more from the global market, starting from the second half of the year.” – Sandy Chen, Rabobank PAGE 3



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NEWS  // 3

Maintain, build on NZ image in China PAM TIPA

ECan plan change uproar. PG.8-9

Arable set to lead. PG.16

Squishy bag of effluent. PG.36

NEWS������������������������������������������������������3-16 OPINION����������������������������������������������18-19 AGRIBUSINESS�����������������������������22-23 MANAGEMENT������������������������������ 24-26 ANIMAL HEALTH���������������������������27-28 CALVING��������������������������������������������29-34 MACHINERY &   PRODUCTS��������������������������������������36-38

NEVER TAKE your eye off the food safety ‘ball’, and maintain and build on the New Zealand image, a Shanghai dairy analyst advises. And NZ must respond more to the structural change seen in Chinese consumers trading up to premium, higher added-value products, says Sandy Chen, Rabobank’s senior dairy and beverages analyst for Asia. “Strategies need also to be increasingly formulated around product innovation, value addition and category expansion, for example, to supply the Chinese market,” he told Dairy News during a visit to NZ last week. “It is more about developing an approach to grow more value rather than just through volume. “We are aware that NZ has been a pretty successful supplier of milk commodities into China, but going forward more value added consumer dairy products would be good. “Also, while China will continue to grow and remain very important to the NZ dairy industry as an export market, we should be mindful that China will be slow in terms of growth.” Some other markets, particularly the South East Asia region, will present higher market growth than China because of their young demographic profile, a solid economic growth outlook and an apparently low per capita consumption of

dairy, he says. With these South East Asia countries, particularly Indonesia and Vietnam, per capita consumption is half of where China is now, so dairy self-sufficiency is only 20%. “They rely a lot on imports to meet domestic demand and that is growing. So while maintaining a presence in China, NZ should not under-invest in those faster growing markets,” he advises. Chen says China is back in the market for dairy imports, but this is tempered by sluggish consumer demand growth, a trend since 2013. They expect low single-digit consumer growth; last year it was about 2%. Nevertheless he expects increased demand for dairy imports in the second half of the year. Last year already there was a 17% year-on-year increase in liquid milk equivalent imports. China was away from the market from secondhalf 2014 to the end of 2015. But the appetite started to return in 2016. “The destocking has progressed pretty well since the second half of 2015, and last year China had a 4% decline in production -- a loss of 1.5 billion litres of milk. That helped further destocking. “We estimate the open-

Sandy Chen, Rabobank

ing inventory in 2017 was actually at below normal level. What we are seeing now is consumption remaining lacklustre, with low single digit growth in the first half. “But domestic production continues to struggle. We don’t have a lot of transparency on the production data for the first half but the anecdotal evidence from leading dairy provinces suggests at least these three dairy provinces will have a drag of at least three percentage points plus in dairy production growth. “So this potentially is a large number and could hinder production growth in China. At the same time in the first few months – January to May – import performance in growth year-on-year was quite disappointing. “This means the supply chain is further stretched and for China to balance the market it will need to import more from the global market, starting from the second half.” He says the appetite will be stronger in the second half, partic-

ularly as China goes through the summer. “There are patches of heat in the northern part of China that may have already impacted production. As we move into the late third quarter, and the fourth quarter, we will start to see seasonal strength of demand coming back more strongly due to a few national holidays in the run-up to the new year. “We expect in the second half the domestic raw milk price will improve and we will likely see imports coming in more strongly. The growth yearon-year will be much higher than in the first half.”


4 //  NEWS

WMP stands out in auction PAM TIPA


week’s GDT price index eased 0.4%, the dairy auction was generally positive, especially the 2.6% lift for whole milk powder

(WMP), says ANZ rural economist Con Williams. “There were aggressive price increases (6-11%) for near-term delivered WMP, which highlights that some buyers are currently short of product, having been sitting on their hands awaiting higher sea-

sonal volumes from New Zealand,” he says. “If peak NZ seasonal flows disappoint in any way, then there could well be further gains to come, especially with low carryover inventory from 201617 and the market already primed for a circa 3% lift

in 2017-18 supply.” Elsewhere, things were a touch softer, with skim milk powder (-4.5%), anhydrous milk fat (-3.5%) and cheese (-3.2%) all declining. SMP prices have been pressured by offshore dynamics, with the European Commis-

sion trying to move some of its large stockpile at lower prices and previously quarantined US product being released, Williams says. BNZ senior economist says Doug Steel says the second consecutive marginal fall was within


– the gap between demand and domestic production – is expected to widen from about 20% last year to 25% in 2022, says Sandy Chen, Rabobank. The bank estimates the gap in 2020 will be 24%. “The significance of this is


mate of 24% is still within the government’s tolerance range.” This should more or less remove the concern that China will strive to be 100% self-sufficient. “Indeed there are a lot of challenges in growing the domestic production quickly,” says Chen.

seen in the recent round of fiveyear dairy development plans drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture: they set China’s self-sufficiency target in dairy by 2020 at no lower than 70%. “This means there is a tolerance of up to 30% which can be satisfied by imports. Our esti-

“From a New Zealand processor industry perspective, I think you will continue to see the trade growth potential of China; consumer confidence in NZ dairy products remains positive and NZ has the FTA arrangement with China that ensures market access.”

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improving New Zealand’s waterways. Chief executive Theo Spierings last week said the co-op aims to restore 50 freshwater catchments. “We acknowledge we have an important role to play in addressing water quality in NZ,” Spierings says. “Kiwis want swimmable waterways and we share that aspiration. We’ll work with local communities to improve the quality of streams and rivers.” Fonterra launched its 10 year Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation in 2013, aiming for sustainable dairying in healthy freshwater ecosystems. Five catchments are in view, and the aim is to improve natural habitats and freshwater. “Living Water has taught us a huge amount and we are making a significant impact on the initial regions. Now we want to amplify those results with the launch of a new initiative that will target 50 catchments.”

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nothing here to change anyone’s views on the dairy market overall.” Current product prices are tracking higher than required to achieve the bank’s $6/kgMS milk price forecast for the 2017-18 so there remains upside risk to that, Steel says.

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the bounds of the bank’s expectations. Most product prices fell by a few percent, with butter and wholemilk powder the main exceptions. Butter was steady (at a very high level) and WMP rose 2.6% to an average price of $US3111/t.  “WMP prices remain close to the RBNZ’s US$3000/t medium term view, but the strength of milkfat prices (butter prices have doubled over the past 12 months) adds a positive hue.  “GDT volumes are seasonally starting to rise, but the 28,574 mt sold at this auction was still 12% lower than a year ago.  “Overall, there seems

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NEWS  // 5

MILK NEEDS PROMOTION MILK AND dairy products need ongoing promotion in New Zealand, says a nutritional physiology professor at Massey University. Marlena Kruger, who specialises in bone growth, has just completed a study of the effects of milk on children in the Fonterra milk-for-schools programme, and those who do not. The milk drinkers had significantly better bone health than those who did not. The year-long research involved children aged five to ten. As the children’s diets were not controlled during the study, the data could indiMarlena Kruger cate that the children drinking milk at school are also milk drinkers at home, so getting the full benefit of milk and dairy. In general terms, Kruger says, drinking milk which supplies calcium, other minerals and protein is critical in life’s two big growth spurts – from birth to age five and later in adolescence to about 18; by this age a human has reached up to 80% of their adult skeleton, although bone accrual will continue for about 10 more years. “In females bone mineral remains stable between ages 25-45 depending on lifestyle, until they reach menopause at about 55, then they can become susceptible to osteoporosis. In males this doesn’t happen until 70 plus years depending on lifestyle.” Kruger stresses milk is important during adolescence; at about the age 13 - 14 girls may become self-conscious about their bodies, worrying that milk and dairy products will make them fat. The irony is that those who turn to soft drinks will likely suffer more harm. While not drinking milk can affect a child’s health, other factors are also emerging, Kruger says. With NZ children being so protected from the sun, they may not get enough vitamin D, a major problem also in Asia. Studies show that children not playing outside, not getting enough physical exercise and not drinking milk are more susceptible to bone fractures. “It is useful to promote milk as a health drink, perhaps broadening it to include dairy, Kruger says. – Peter Burke

Farmers seen ready for new bobby calf rules PETER BURKE

THE MINISTRY for Primary

Industries (MPI) says it’s happy with the way farmers are preparing for the new bobby calf regulations to be enforced from August 1. These require farmers to provide a covered pen with water, built so that calves can walk onto the truck rather than be manhandled. Graphic video footage of this helped change the regulations. Paul Dansted, of MPI, told Dairy News they have seen industry groups and farmers getting busy to have the correct facilities meet the new regulations. “We are hearing that farmers know what to do and how to do it and are onto it. We are conscious of the pressure on farmers, but as we see it they are making this a priority.” Dansted says MPI knows that farmers in traditional dairying areas such as Northland, Waikato

Farmers are required to provide a covered pen for bobby calves.

and Taranaki are having to do more work to bring older facilities up to standard or install new facilities, whereas farmers in newer dairying areas with newer facilities are having to do less work. “There are many ways farmers can meet the shelter and loading facility regulations; we intention-

ally did not give building requirements so people can find a solution that works for them. “We have seen some great examples out there, from DIY jobs through to store-bought solutions,” he says. MPI staff have been working A&P shows and got good feedback

at Fieldays. “A number of farmers told us they already had their facilities in place and that’s positive.” Dansted says everyone is responsible for treating bobby calves properly, including people directly in the supply chain -truckers and meat processors, and member of the public. He says the onus is on farmers to comply with the new regulations, and truckers have the right to refuse to pick up animals if they are in poor condition or not housed in proper pens. “We have many MPI staff across the country who routinely interact with farmers, transporters, processors and industry groups who all play a compliance role. “We also have over 200 vets stationed at slaughter premises, and vets and other verifiers who carry out audits at saleyards and on farms. MPI will be “pro-active” this season to ensure compliance. Staff who come across any issues will refer them compliance officers for action if necessary.

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6 //  NEWS

Horizons’ One Plan still in limbo PETER BURKE


wanting new consents from Horizons Regional Council (HRC) look set to

Horizons Regional Council is struggling to implement its One Plan.

struggle to meet the new criteria for these. Earlier this year Fish and Game and Environmental Defence Society (EDS) challenged the way HRC was implementing

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the One Plan and the Environment Court agreed, criticising the council’s implementation of the plan. For the last three months the council has been trying to find ways to implement the One Plan in its present form and to the criteria set out by the court. Given this decision by the court, HRC has been working on new guidance notes for new consent applicants which they are required to do by law. But whether these requirements can be met by new applicants or will attract them to even apply for a consent, remains to be seen. HRC’s strategy and regulation manager, Dr Nick Peet, says the court decision makes the complexity of the consent process even more challenging than it was. Preparing the new guidance notes – essentially the criteria on which a consent can be granted – has thrown up thorny issues, he says. These relate to the ability of farmers to prepare an assessment of the cumulative effects of their operation on the environment. These guidance notes are expected to be completed by August. Peet also says HRC is working on modelling the impact on farm businesses of the requirement for farms to meet the N leaching minima in the One Plan. “If dairy farmers apply now for a consent we will have to consider it and process their application; there is no formal moratorium to stop people applying for a consent. But the guidance notes intended to help farmers is going to be useful, and I think most farmers will wait for it to come out.” In addition, Peet and colleagues have been preparing policy options for the council, including how the council will give effect to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. Also on councillors’ minds is whether the One

Plan should be changed; calls have arisen for a ‘plan change’ which would in effect start the eleven year process of One Plan all over again. “While governance can’t get involved in the design of the guidance documents, they have a role in stating whether the plan is fit for purpose. “There are options to work through including a plan change, but even if a plan change was to be an option, the present plan as directed by the Environment Court remains operative and we have to give effect to it,” says Peet. Given that Fish and Game and EDS have won a ‘victory’ in the Environment Court, any plan change could be lengthy and costly. The present status of One Plan affects horticulturalists as much as dairy farmers. This week DairyNZ is running a forum on One Plan for dairy farmers in Dannevirke, but with only a slight hope of getting certainty. Says Peet, “The message from us to farmers is that we understand and appreciate they are thrown back into uncertainty and want to know what’s going to happen so that they can move forward with certainty. “We are working to give them a clear pathway and guidance through the consent process. We are taking time to design that and test it with external planners.... That may take a few more weeks but will be worth it. “We don’t want farmers [having to endure] an unnecessarily long consent processes because something in the guidance material isn’t correct.” Despite the council’s best efforts, the impression is that it feels hamstrung by the court decision it now must work under, yet a return to the past is all but impossible. Also, any long term solution could be several years and several million dollars away.


NEWS  // 7

Fonterra wins top export award FONTERRA’S WINNING the Supreme Award at the 2017 ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato is recognition that the co-op’s product innovation is meeting customer expectations, says chairman John Wilson. ExportNZ Auckland and Waikato (divisions of the Employers and Manufacturers Association) gave their top award to Fonterra Foodservice after the co-op earlier won the Westpac Exporter of the Year (total sales over $25 million) category. There were 25 finalists in seven awards categories, sponsored by Air New Zealand Cargo. Fonterra entered the award for the performance of its foodservice business, which has grown aggressively, especially in Asia, in recent years to cater for out-of-home outlets such as

All of Anchor Food Professionals products are exported out of New Zealand.

bakeries, cafes, restaurants, hotels and fast food chains. “Everyone at Fonterra shares in this award: our farmers who produce the highest quality milk through to our people who develop new products and

deliver them to customers worldwide,” Wilson says. “Through innovation and new product development, Fonterra is adapting to rapid change in our key export markets.

EU RULING ON FAKE MILK AN EU court has ruled that purely plant-based products cannot, in principle, be marketed with labels such as ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’. EU law reserves these for animal products. The same is true if those labels carry clarifying or descriptive terms indicating the plant origin of the product concerned. But there is a list of exceptions. The Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) told Dairy News it shares concerns with other dairy organisations internationally about the creep in the use of dairy terms to label or describe non-milk products. “This issue specifically arises where other products not only use milk or dairy terms, but are also marketed as providing a dietary equivalent/or substitute to milk or dairy products,” says executive director Kimberly Crewther. “The use of milk terminology has a high value because milk is a natural, highly function and nutrient dense food source which plays an important role in global nutrition. As a food milk not only supplies energy, but also significant amounts of protein and micro nutrients including calcium, magnesium, selenium, riboflavin, and vitamins B5 and B12.  Most countries with dietary guidelines recommend dairy as a component in a balanced diet.”

“A fundamental part of our co-op’s strategy is to grow value by converting more of our milk into higher value consumer and foodservice products; to achieve this we have grown our foodservice business in line with our goal of $5 billion sales by 2023. “Our foodservice business and R&D teams are creating products and technologies that go straight to... bakers, chefs and restaurant owners.” In Asia particularly, Fonterra has seen rapid growth in its foodservice business as the urbanised middle class adopts a more western diet.  Forty per cent of people in urban China now eat in a western fast food outlet once a week. China is a very competitive dairy foodservice market where the world leaders are battling for commercial

success, says Grant Watson, Fonterra’s global foodservice director. “We are proud as a New Zealand exporter to be winning this fight. China is our fastest growing foodservice market and we hold a 40% share of the imported dairy foodservice business there. “We are China’s leading dairy foodservice provider and have grown at 30% year-on-year. We have people located in 76 cities across China.” In 2016 Fonterra rebranded its foodservice business Anchor Food Professionals. It works in 50 countries with customers in bakeries, Italian kitchens, quick service restaurants, cafes and tea houses. @dairy_news


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8 //  NEWS

ECan farming plan change ‘ NIGEL MALTHUS


Plan Change 5 (PC5) is unworkable, says Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury chairman Michael Salvesen. PC5, the nutrient management and Waitaki plan change, was publicly notified on June 24 and is due to take effect progressively in various zones from now to January 2019.

ECan says it seeks to deal with the effects of land uses -- particularly farming -- on water quality region-wide, and ensure the effective management of water quality in the Waitaki catchment. It will apply in catchments not currently the subject of sub-region plans (such as Selwyn Waihora) but is expected to impact about 5000 farms. ECan councillor Professor Peter Skelton says

ECan councillor Peter Skelton.

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standard for all farming. Resource consents, including audited farm environment plans, will be required if the area of winter grazing or irrigation on a property exceeds permitted limits. “The nutrient management rules are intended to address the effects of changing land use and promote improved water quality outcomes throughout the region. We need to be clear about what constitutes good management practice on farms; industry groups have now described what this means for their sector.” All farmers should have, as a starting point, a baseline nitrogen leaching rate that reflects GMP.

Farmers say irrigation doesn’t run at 100% efficiency as warranted under Plan Change 5.

ECan has developed a Farm Portal website to collate and calculate information and the plan change requires farmers to register their farming activities on the portal. However, Salvesen says while some parts are

“quite good” there is also a lot wrong with the plan. Some of the fertiliser and irrigation proxies (calculation models) are unworkable. But he says ECan will have to discover for itself how it will not actually

work onfarm. “We’ve told them it’s unworkable and we’ve said we’re not going to appeal because you’ve made it too difficult in law -- you’ve written it in such a way. So it’s unworkable and you can sort your

DAIRYNZ READY TO COOPERATE DAIRYNZ CHIEF executive Dr Tim Mackle said in a statement that DairyNZ acknowledges the significant water quality and quantity issues facing Canterbury dairy farmers and supports the basic approach of using GMPs and FEPs to monitor farm performance. Mackle says DNZ will work with ECan to support farmers implementing the changes, and is pleased the hearings panel has accepted its concerns over the timeframe and extended compliance deadlines by 12 months.

DairyNZ also supports, “at the conceptual level,” the development of the farm portal system but has concerns that some of the equations used to model GMPs may lead to significant differences between a farm’s nitrogen losses when estimated by Overseer and the estimated nitrogen losses when the farm is operating at GMP. DairyNZ will help resolve issues as they arise and says farmers should contact them for help if the numbers produced by the farm portal model “don’t

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make sense.” DNZ also has concerns about the irrigation model within the portal. “We consider that for irrigating dairy farmers the compliance requirements under PC5 may be unachievable with the current irrigation infrastructure. We believe farmers may have to fund considerable costs over a short time to comply with the plan change requirements.” PC5 was publicly notified on June 24 and any appeals must be lodged by July 21.


NEWS  // 9

e ‘unworkable’ own mess out.” “It says irrigation’s got to run at 100% efficiency and there is to be no drainage below the root zone, both of which are impossible in a natural system. Irrigation does not run at 100% efficiency, it doesn’t matter how good you are. We can’t comply, full stop.” Salvesen says if ECan asked farmers a few more questions they “wouldn’t get it so wrong”. Farmers thought they were consulting in good faith. We thought we were but it transpires they weren’t actually listening.” He points out the

expense to farmers of trying to comply with the plan: 4000 applications for consents, lodged at a minimum cost of $1700 each, plus farm environment plans, would cost at least $20 million for paperwork; better to spend that on mitigation factors such as fencing and planting. Salvesen, who raises beef and deer in hill country in the upper Hinds catchment, says that while most of the impact would be on the plains the plan change was not all good for the hills either. “Some of the fencing requirements they’re putting in

are completely impractical.” Outspoken Ashburton dairy farmer Willy Leferink is warning that some debt-laden farmers could face bankruptcy if the plan change forces them to cut cow numbers to comply with the new environmental limits. He says farmers understand they need to do something, but fear they will be regulated by a tool that is unreliable. Leferink says the portal is “not easy, the farmers don’t understand it, and [some of] the scientists don’t understand it”.

“We don’t know if it’s all true because some of the science is in its infancy. Then on top of that we have all the calculations. It looks like some wizard is pulling it out of his hat.” In some cases the calculations made “no sense at all,” says Leferink. “You’re going to be judged against this hypothetical ideal model of your farm, where in a lot of cases it doesn’t make any sense to the current state of your property.” Leferink also refers to the impossibility of requiring 100% efficient irrigation. “They’ve set


themselves up to fail.” He says farmers would have to spend $2000 $5000 every two years just to get audits done because it would become too complicated to do it themselves.

FEDS SPOKESMAN Michael Salvesen says Feds sees appeals as being ineffective, or expensive for small gains, but will consider joining any appeal lodged by another party. He says PC5 is a large, complicated document. “I definitely think that’s part of the problem. Then there’s the language it’s written in: unless you’re qualified you can’t understand it anyway, and then you can’t challenge it on a legal basis.”

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10 //  NEWS

Wider view for former industry chairman PETER BURKE

FEDERATED FARMERS’ new vice-president,

Andrew Hoggard, says in his new role he’ll take a

much wider view of agriculture -- not just dairy. The Manawatu dairy farmer previously chaired the dairy section, a role taken over by Waikato dairy farmer Chris Lewis. The Feds board is yet to

meet and only then will Hoggard find out his portfolios. He says farming now faces the particular difficulty of having too many areas and catchments where dairy and sheep








and beef farmers are pitted against each other. This is particularly so in Waikato, and tensions exist elsewhere between livestock farmers and horticulturalists. Hoggard says this needs to be resolved and by working together to get the best outcome. “Who knows what the future holds? Today I may be wearing blue overalls and gumboots, but it’s the farm I am tied to, not the clothing. “There may come a time when dairy no longer gives us the best return for our land and we may be looking at other things. We must look for sensible solutions in the long-term interests of people who own the land, rather than short-term industry-type solutions.” Hoggard knows of

Andrew Hoggard

people who have planted 10ha of kiwifruit on their dairy farms. On his own farm he may, one day, wind back the dairy and probably do a bit more beef . If his daughters take over the farm they may have other ideas as well. The main thing is to think longterm, he says. He promises as vicepresident to be the straight-talker he has always been, especially to fellow farmers. “I’m not afraid to tell

people what they need to hear. I could do the popular things for people and jump up and down, but by doing this I would be on a hiding to nothing because I want to tell them what I am going to do on my own farm – preparing for what’s coming. The most sensible thing is for me to tell my fellow farmers that this is reality.” This requires a mixture of leadership and advocacy, and presenting the situation to make sure sensible, practical, afford-

able, smart and commonsense outcomes are achieved. NZ dairy farmers face the same problems as dairy farmers worldwide, Hoggard says. The antidairy vegan lobby and animal rights groups are strong worldwide and not unique to NZ. Environmental issues are also common to dairy farmers worldwide. “In NZ it is water quality, overseas it’s more climate change and biodiversity,” he says.



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IN HIS final speech as head of Feds dairy group, Andrew Hoggard noted the problems facing the whole sector in connecting with the wider public; and in his new role this will be on his agenda. He notes that lawmakers respond to public opinion, hence connecting with the public to give them understanding of complex farming issues is

important. Telling the public a ‘good story’ is not the way forward. “We must inform the public who may not know as much about farming as they used to. “The public by and large may not know all those nuances and details, so we must make sure they understand the challenges, the difficulties, the realities onfarm, and what works, and why a solution may seem simple

but in reality isn’t.” Hoggard says he understands why the public get confused – because they are getting different messages from groups such as Greenpeace, Feds and other farming organisations. So the farming sector as a whole needs to step up and state the problems in farming, what’s being done to rectify these and the overall trends.




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NEWS  // 13

Milk processors see promise in trade talks THE DAIRY Compa-

nies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the news of FTA talks with countries in the Pacific Alliance.   “The NZ dairy industry has a long history of trade with Pacific Alliance countries,” says DCANZ executive director Kimberly Crewther.  “It’s good news to have a deal on the horizon that will support a further deepening of these trade relationships and put NZ on an equal footing with other dairy exporters.”  The Pacific Alliance countries -- Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia – in total imported $3.5 billion of dairy products (from all origins) in 2016.  The launch of this negotiation is in line with NZ’s ‘Trade Agenda 2030’ strategy and looks good for improved trade in the Pacific region, says DCANZ.

“We look forward to an FTA agreement on high quality, comprehensive outcomes for dairy and other sectors,” says Crewther. “A deal can be negotiated quickly and to mutual benefit.” DCANZ is pleased the Labour Party is showing support for the deal.  Trade Minister Todd McClay says better market access and lower tariffs to these regions will help NZ exporters “in the fight for better access for NZers to important overseas markets”. They worked hard for trade talks with the Pacific Alliance over the last two years, he says. “A high-quality FTA will open the door for NZ companies to do more business with the Pacific Alliance countries and increase the $1.1b of twoway trade we have with them.” McClay spoke from the

Pacific Alliance Summit in Colombia following a meeting with the presidents of Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. “The Pacific Alliance is a grouping of fast-growing, like-minded econ-

omies committed to liberalising trade. Between them they have 221 million consumers and a combined GDP of US$3.85 trillion, equivalent to the world’s sixth largest economy,” McClay says.

Kimberly Crewther, DCANZ.

“Negotiating a highquality FTA with the Pacific Alliance will also help the Government reach its Trade Agenda 2030 target of covering 90% of our goods traded under FTAs by 2030.”

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FEDS WELCOME PACIFIC ALLIANCE FEDERATED FARMERS says it’s excellent news that New Zealand is underway with FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia. This important step in the NZ Trade Agenda 2030 strategy also cements agreement by the four members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to improving trade in the Pacific region. This two-way trade is now worth $1.1 billion annually and there is scope for more. Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru together imported $3.5b of dairy products in 2016 and the removal of trade barriers with NZ could see us win a bigger slice of that, “especially dairy trade with Mexico,” says Feds vice-president Andrew Hoggard. NZ’s dairy exports to Mexico (pop. 127m) were curtailed when the US settled a deal with them under NAFTA in the 1990s. “If we could get back to an even playing field on trade with Mexico it could benefit NZ dairy, sheep and beef,” Hoggard says. Free trade is a step forward wherever it happens, he says, and the Pacific Alliance is equal to the world’s sixth largest economy. “We look forward to smooth and speedy negotiations of a high quality agreement”.

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14 //  NEWS

Moving from bobby to beef calves DAIRY FARMERS are moving away from breeding bobby calves in favour of producing the quality dairy/beef calves needed by beef farmers. Breeding companies LIC and CRV AmBreed

Chris Boom, AgFirst, says about 70% of beef processed in NZ comes from the dairy industry.

say they are seeing a spike in orders for beef straws. Doug Lineham, project manager for the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) dairy beef integration programme, says demand for proven beef






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Ellis, says an increasing number of dairy farmers are capitalising on the demand for quality beef calves through an all AI breeding strategy. “Orders for beef straws are up 53% on last year, confirming that farmers are looking to diversify their spring income streams. We are seeing an increased trend to mate poorer quality cows to SGL Hereford from day one. “The resulting dairy beef calf will add income diversification and will allow only the superior cows to produce the next generation of the dairy herd. This increased selection pressure has a positive effect on the rate of genetic gain,” says Ellis. CRV Ambreed’s sales and marketing manager, Mathew Macfie, reports a similar trend in demand for proven beef genetics. “There has been a tremendous upsurge in demand this year; we had sold the same volume as the previous year mid-way through September and orders are flooding in.” Macfie says CRV is seeing a change in approach by farmers and huge potential for genetics to improve the longterm sustainability of farming in NZ.





genetics was at record levels during the 2016 dairy mating season. “Traditionally dairy farmer focus is on producing milk, not calves; but the potential to treble their calf cheque by breeding calves in demand by the beef industry is prompting many more dairy farmers to breed cows, after replacements, to proven short-gestation beef genetics. “The figures speak for themselves: $20 - $40 for a bobby calf versus $150 to $275. Over the average herd this equates to an increased calf cheque of $15,000 plus. “Dairy farmers wanting to take advantage of the demand for good dairy/ beef calves can choose between going all AI -high BW bulls to produce replacements with the remainder of the herd to short gestation beef genetics, or buy-in naturally proven beef bulls.” But Lineham emphasises that ‘proven’ is at the heart of the value proposition. “Just because a bull has the looks doesn’t mean it is fertile or capable of siring the type of calf that’s in demand by rearers and finishers.” LIC’s general manager NZ markets, Malcolm

8/06/17 3:33 PM

THE TYPE of dairy/beef calf in demand by rearers and finishers is one that will grow out within 20 months. This was seen in a three-year project by BLNZ (with the MPI Sustainable Farming Fund and the Hine Rangi Trust) which set out to improve the profitability and sustainability of beef farmers by growing cattle faster and finishing them younger. A ‘finished-by-20-months’ project involved seven Northland beef farmers. The region was chosen because its farmers tend to rely heavily on beef, and regional soils illustrate some of the extremes experienced by farmers nationwide – pugging during winter and drought in summer. Project manager Chris Boom says the scheme enabled farmers to generate maximum growth rates over 20 months, avoiding taking cattle through a second or third winter. “Achieving this on beef farms nationwide relies on a supply of quality well grown calves,” Boom says. “About 70% of the beef processed in NZ originates from the dairy industry. There is a strong case for dairy farmers and beef farmers to work together to benefit both industries: an increased calf cheque for dairy farmers, and an animal which will grow faster and finish earlier for beef farmers,” Boom says.


NEWS  // 15


Northland hub will mine farms’ potential PAM TIPA

TWO DAIRY clusters are kicking off this year as part of the Northland Extension 350 programme. The overall project will have seven dairy clusters, with two starting this year. Next year another three will start and the final two in the third year. “We are at the front end of rolling out the overall project,” Chris Neill, DairyNZ regional leader, Northland told Dairy News. “Within each cluster you have five target farms – the guys who will go on a journey of change – and matched with each of those target farms we have a mentor. “They sit at the hub of each of those clusters which are geographically positioned. Each combination of target farmers with a mentor has five associated farmers with them. They agree to go on the journey and follow more closely what is happening with, and for, the target farmer as they go through their three years with the project. “Each target farmer has a mentor and each has five farmers with them. So with each cluster you have 35 farmers – a broad reach which is the aim of the project.” Each cluster on the dairy side has a consultant and a DairyNZ consulting officer assigned to the project. The two clusters kicking off this year are one north and one south of Whangarei with farms ranging from 100 to 400 cows; the Northland average dairy herd is just over 300. “For each target farm we do a whole farm assessment which means the team goes in – the consultant, the DairyNZ consulting officer and the mentor,” says Neill. “They look at all aspects of the business and talk to the target farmer about their vision, goals and what they want to achieve. Then in comparing where the business is today to where the farmer wants to go, the team come up with a plan with the target farmer as to what they can do to help them get to that point. “What we generally find is that most things come down to making sure the business is more profitable or as profitable as it can be, which

then allows the target farmer to achieve their goals and aspirations. “It comes down to understanding with each one of these target farms where they want to go. So we are not coming in and saying ‘this what you have to do; it is understanding where you want to go and let’s help you get there’.” The project is funded and supported by MPI, Northland Regional Council, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ. “The reason we backed it is we believe there is opportunity here to improve profitability – we expect that will be the farmers’ goals – but the flow-on from that will benefit the whole region. “Extension 350 sits under the economic development strategy for Northland. “It is early Chris Neil, DairyNZ days for these target farmers; they are coming to grips with what they put their hand up for. There will be an annual public field day for each cluster.” The participants in each cluster will also privately get together and talk about where they are at, what they are doing and will support each other as the project progresses. The three aspects of Extension 350 are profitability, sustainability and farmer wellbeing. MPI says Extension 350 is an innovative farmer-led and farmerfocused mentoring and extension programme that aims to work with 350 Northland farms within five years to improve their onfarm performance and environmental sustainability. A sheep and beef cluster has also been set up this year in addition to the two dairy. Overall four more clusters are planned for 2018, and another three in 2019. Ben Dalton, head of the regional growth programme at MPI, says Extension 350 will influence local pastoral farmers to perform better. Any improvement in profitability has the scale to greatly improve the

HITS HARD. HITS FAST & TACKLES MASTITIS HEAD ON! Northland community’s economy. “Research shows farmers accept advice much more readily from successful farmers and Extension 350 builds on previous similar initiatives aimed at farm transformation,” Dalton says. “Being profitable allows farmers the flexibility to make decisions that support longer-term goals for onfarm improvements, debt repayment, managing succession and improving their livelihood.” Ken Hames, Extension 350 steering group chairman, says pastoral farming is a billion dollar industry in Northland. “The region has about 2000 pastoral farmers, however studies and industry benchmarking have shown there’s room for Northland’s pastoral sector to improve, based on the levels of resources and the high numbers employed in the sector there.” Extension 350 is part of the government’s Regional Growth Programme, co-led by MPI and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; it aims to increase jobs, income and investment in regional NZ.


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16 //  NEWS

Arable set to lead food supply change NIGEL MALTHUS

BIG CHANGES loom in FAR chairman David Birkett addresses attendees on a field trip to Lake Ellesmere.

world food supply, says Foundation for Arable Research chairman David Birkett.

With growing interest in synthetic foods replacing traditional protein sources, the arable industry is well-placed because most of the opportunities are in plant-based material, he says.




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“Plant-based material has a pretty good footprint in environmental losses and that’s where a lot of the drive will come from – the public’s demand for sustainable and efficient food production. “The question for us is how does the New Zealand arable farmer fit into that, because a lot of the production will come from the big commodity growers around the world. We can’t compete with them so we’ve got to find NZ’s point of difference in that area.” FAR recently held its two-day national conference at Lincoln University, on the theme ‘Growing Sustainable Futures’. Birkett says that over its 20-year history FAR has moved from its beginnings as being concerned with simple crop agronomy. Fivesix years ago it started looking at the whole farm system, rotations and how they interlinked. Looking at that big picture brought big gains, he says, and the strategy for the next few years will be to look wider still. “We’re now starting to shift to the next area of the whole farm business, because there are components outside the farm gate which are having a big influence on how we operate. “We need to integrate those issues into the farming business and address them.” Opening the conference, Birkett said FAR’s “front-footing” of the issues will put arable farmers in a position to deliver answers and have proof at hand when questions are asked of them. The issues facing the industry have become much broader, he says. “As we’ve seen over the last 10 years, climate seems to be changing whether we believe in climate change or not. The fact is the distribution of rainfall is changing. “We need to understand what those changes mean, how we manage them and whether they give us an opportunity

-- maybe new crops that may be grown in areas where they previously weren’t. And how do we maximise those crops to get the most out of them? “Markets are also changing. We’ve got to understand the demands of the markets we’re selling into. If we don’t we’re not going to hit those markets correctly. “There’s now a lot of talk about proteins replacing meat and milk in the marketplace. What is our role there?” Birkett said protein replacement is a “really interesting” development because of arable farming’s environmental footprint. “We must try to understand what those advantages are and front-foot wherever we can. “Our international collaborations allow us to do that, and through FAR Australia we are able to get access to research we would never get done here because of the scale of our industry.” He predicted further gains from agronomy improvements of 1-2%, but 5-10% gains from market opportunities. Birkett, a Leeston cropping farmer with a recent but unofficial world record wheat yield to his name, also spoke to conference attendees during a field trip to the nearby shore of Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora. He recommended farmers form community groups to deal with issues in their areas, explaining how he and his neighbours formed a group to liaise with ECan. Among other achievements, their lobbying had helped simplify ECan’s environmental compliance paperwork. Meanwhile, the country’s 2500 arable farmers are being urged to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming referendum to confirm FAR’s mandate to levy its members for the next few years. Birkett expects the referendum to pass but says it isn’t just a rubber stamp. “It’s always good to check the pulse.”

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Ahead of the rules on welfare

MILKING IT... Taking it out to put it back PERMEATE HAS reignited competition between the country’s top two fresh milk suppliers. Fonterra is changing its labels as rival food producer Goodman Fielder pitches its Meadowfresh blue top milk as containing “no added permeate”. GF is on a big marketing offensive; shoppers at a major mall were recently offered free bottles of milk by marketers wheeling blue bins. Permeate is a dairy byproduct commonly used to dilute whole milk, an aspect of standardisation that also includes skimming off some fat. Fonterra is dismissive of its major rival’s permeatefree push. Goodman Fielder says it’s about offering choice and doing less to the milk.

Big like a bus A THIRD of children in London have no idea milk comes from cows, new research has revealed. With more families living in cities, a disconnect has occurred between supermarket produce and its origins, with one in five kids saying they think milk comes straight from a fridge or supermarket. About 40% of fouryear-olds think cows drink milk rather than produce it, and one in eight children from London don’t know that cows moo. The research has been revealed as Cadbury launches an eight foot ‘animatronic’ cow to educate families on what cows are really like. The research also revealed that one in ten children believe a cow is the size of a double decker bus. And 10% think they’re as small as cats.

Drink up, grow taller

Is this wheelie Camembert?

DRINKING ALMOND or soy ‘milk’ instead of cow milk could stunt your child’s growth, a June 2017 study has discovered. Researchers from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, discovered threeyear-olds who drank three cups of cow milk a day averaged 1.5cm taller than children given cow milk substitutes. Study author Dr Jonathon Maguire says cow milk and alternative products vary in nutritional content, particularly in the amount of protein and fat, which could be leading to the height differences. “Height is an important indicator of children’s overall health and development…. Cow milk has been a reliable source of dietary protein and fat for children.”

EUROPE MAY be facing a Camembert cheese shortage, but Kiwi cheese lovers need not worry; worthy substitutes are available.  Bloomberg reports France’s second most-popular cheese -- gooey, fuzz-covered Camembert -- is on the brink of extinction, threatened by strict production rules increasingly difficult to obey. True Camembert is from a village so named in Normandy. It bears an ‘AOC stamp guaranteeing where it is made by historically accurate processes.  Camembert de Normandie should be made with unfiltered raw milk with a fat content of at least 38% sourced from grass-fed Normandy cows. The milk cannot be transported further than the distance a cow ambles in search of fresh grass. “Finding a cheese made the way the original farmer did it in 1791 (supposedly when Camembert was created) is increasingly impossible even in Franc,” it says.

IT IS nearly two years since the animal welfare group Farmwatch released shocking video of bobby calves being thrown onto trucks. The footage was allegedly taken on farms in Taranaki and Waikato; the finger was unfairly pointed at all dairy farmers for failing the welfare of bobby calves Understandably there was a public outcry, prompting many, especially DairyNZ and the Ministry of Primary Industries, to swing into action. Dairy farmers take animal welfare seriously. The shocking video called into question the integrity of the trucking companies and their workers who load bobby calves onto trucks. However, it was clear farmers needed to do more; bobby calf facilities on farms were not up to scratch. New regulations announced by MPI come into force from August 1. These require suitable shelter for young calves before and during trucking, and at points of sale or slaughter; and provision and use of loading and unloading facilities when young calves are trucked for sale or for slaughter after sale. Last year MPI reported that figures from the previous year’s calving season reflect a big improvement in bobby calf welfare. The mortality rate of bobby calves between farm and processing has halved from 0.25% to 0.12% in 2016. Impressive effort by government and industry in education, information and regulation has made a real difference.   With August 1 just under 20 days away, MPI is again reporting that many farmers already have facilities in place. MPI staff have been working A&P shows and got good feedback at Fieldays. MPI correctly says everyone is responsible for treating bobby calves properly, including people directly in the supply chain -truckers, meat processors and the public. The onus is on farmers to comply with the new regulations, and truckers have the right to refuse to collect animals in poor condition or not housed in proper pens. MPI has staff nationwide routinely interacting with farmers, truckers, processors and industry groups who all play a compliance role. It also has at least 200 vets at slaughter premises, and vets and other verifiers who do audits at saleyards and on farms.  MPI says it will be pro-active this season in ensuring compliance. Meanwhile it’s pleasing to note that farmers seem to be ahead of the rules on animal welfare.

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OPINION  // 19

Doing well for a small outfit PRIME MINISTER Bill English recently spoke at the NZ Institute of International Affairs annual dinner and touched on trade. Here are excerpts from his speech. THE VEIN of commen-

tary that says the whole world is turning protectionist may be true; there’s some evidence for it. But it’s no evidence to hold New Zealand back in our goals, which are to have by 2030 some 90% of our export trade covered by FTAs, as we announced two or three months ago. Naïve Kiwi optimism has been helpful in this. Because while we hear rhetoric about growing protectionism, we are now moving into the serious stages of a trade agreement with the EU and the upgrade of the Chinese FTA, and we have good prospects on Pacific Alliance horizon. And we were close to the Gulf States before the Qatar crisis blew up. So in a world where protectionism is apparently growing, we are making more progress than for some time on a wider portfolio of agreements than has been possible to entertain in the past. And that’s before you get to TPP11. And the progress there is certainly the product of naïve Kiwi optimism. When the US left the agreement, ignoring our strategic arguments for the role they could play in leadership in the AsiaPacific region, NZ decided we’d try to make what we could of the remaining 11 countries getting together, despite recent public statements, earlier this year, that TPP was dead. Due to excellent work by Todd McClay, who has been on the road virtually full-time since then, there is now a realistic prospect – though no guarantee – that the remaining 11 countries will come to agreement late this year. And we are seeing among those countries something of the same dynamic we’re seeing in Europe -- meaning as the US has pulled back from its interest in trade, and as Britain has headed down the Brexit route, the groupings of remaining countries have if anything

strengthened their resolve and commitment. It was clear to me in Europe in January that European Union President Juncker wanted to show the British that the EU could execute an FTA with a nice friendly easy country like NZ (well, if

Bill English

you take out the agricultural bit). And much the same with the TPP where, with the withdrawal of the US, notably Japan is now, incredibly, showing leadership on open trade. I also take the view, partly because of my experience as a minister of finance, that while politics is more volatile, economies are not. Surely a reason for optimism. It’s certainly a much better economic outlook than it was in 2009-10 when, at the time, politics looked predictable and stable. But in the long run, economics drives political change as much as politics drives economics, and we are a principal beneficiary of greater economic stability. The fact is that the EU for instance has muddled its way through an economic crisis probably more successfully than anyone expected just fivesix years ago. They still have problems: the Italian banking system, for example. They still haven’t worked out how to do EU fiscal management and how to fit that in with their central banking, which is done transnationally. But nevertheless, they are more stable. And even the US economy is growing: it has low unemployment -- around 5 or 6%, it’s creating some of the dynamism now pulling Asia-Pacific along,

including ourselves, and that is to be welcomed. So for NZ, now among the better economic performers in the OECD, it helps our credibility when we are talking about for-

eign affairs issues; they simply take more notice because we’re doing rather better than we were. Another key to the success of NZ and to our ongoing relevance in making our way in the world is the relationships

we’ve set up. My coming into this role behind John Key sets the bar rather high; by that I mean the quality of the personal relationships he’s enjoyed with leaders of much larger countries -not that he always found it easy.

Occasionally he’d come home and complain he was the only one who didn’t have a jet and how his colleagues were horrified to find that he as a world leader had to travel on commercial aircraft. But I assured him it was character building and

kept him in touch with normal people. But there’s no doubt that he and before him Helen Clark, as just two prime ministers in 17 years, have built a set of relationships we have benefited from and need to follow up on.

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ready to tackle environmental concerns, including its contribution to greenhouse gasses, says an independent report. International consultants Coutts J&R

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Justine Gililand, director of investment programmes, MPI.

targets and regulations”. This “would not have been possible without the PGP’s intervention”, the review said. It noted a “proactive approach to addressing greenhouse gas concerns” and that the dairy industry was “ready to provide the resources and rapidly roll out training in dairy regions”. Justine Gilliland, director of investment programmes at MPI, says the review showed the PGP scheme is good for the environment and for increasing sustainability. “The PGP aims to drive the future success of our primary industries,” she says, “ensuring they have the necessary tools and support to improve environmental outcomes.” “The dairy PGP programme has done a lot of work on projects making a tangible difference for the dairy industry”. Progress included upskilling rural professionals, developing training and certification schemes, beefing up the role of universities and giving farmers more advice and resources. The review noted the Nutrient Management Advisor Certification Programme (NMACP) fills “a critical need in the industry”, so do Sustainable Milk Plans (SMP). The NMACP had certified about 140 rural professionals to advise farmers on how to use nutrients efficiently and minimise their impact on the environment. The advisors had helped

9500 farmers (83% of the industry) to produce a nutrient budget showing how much nitrogen may be lost into their soils and leached into waterways. Dairy companies and regional councils were using these tools to monitor farmer inputs and keep them up to their environmental obligations. About 640 Waikato farms are in the SMP scheme. Farmers worked with rural consultants on nutrient and effluent management, land and water use and their environmental impact. Nutrient loss was “reduced by 5% for nitrogen and 12% for phosphorous” through the SMP project. “The PGP funding set the framework, processes and tools for extension to other catchment areas, and is now working to produce 3000 plans in seven regions,” the report said. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the report shows that farming will lower its environmental footprint by using science. “We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – with the wider agricultural sector, industry and [cities] – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target. “Reducing onfarm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together.”



Forage grasses to be bred locally NIGEL MALTHUS

INTERNATIONAL SEED business Germinal is increasing its presence in New Zealand, appointing Sarah Gard, of North Canterbury, as its trials and product development manager. Gard will manage the development of Germinal’s new Aber High Sugar Grass (AberHSG) and clover varieties specifically for NZ conditions, working from a 4ha trial site at Yaldhurst, near Christchurch. Germinal Holdings Ltd was founded in Northern Ireland in 1825, and is now the largest family-owned British and Irish forage and amenity seed company, active in 25 countries. It has the worldwide production and marketing rights to all varieties of grass and clover bred by the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Science (IBERS), at Aberystwyth University in Wales. It is owned by the Gilbert family, with John Gilbert as chairman and his son William managing director. Until recently, Genetic Technologies acted as Germinal’s agent in NZ, with Gard as its product development

Sarah Gard, newlyappointed Trials and Product Development Manager for Germinal NZ with Germinal managing director William Gilbert.

agronomist. Then came an amicable split under which Genetic Technologies will concentrate on crop seeds, while Germinal manages its own NZ pasture seed marketing and development led by Gard. She has just returned from a trip to Germinal’s headquarters in Belfast and to IBERS in Wales. “It was great to meet the breeding team at IBERS and get a firsthand view of the R&D they do for Germinal that

eventually benefits NZ dairy farmers. “In NZ I’ll be doing practical selection work to help improve future results of Germinal’s AberHSG varieties on the Dairy New Zealand Forage Variety Index and in other measurements, so sheep, beef and dairy farmers can make informed, confident and profitable decisions.” Gard, BAgSc (Hons) from Lincoln University, was raised on a sheep and beef farm. She and her husband Will

manage a 1400-milking cow dairy farm at Swannanoa, North Canterbury. Gard said all Germinal’s seed breeding was done in Britain in the past but under the new set-up she will be able to develop varieties especially to suit the NZ climate. “There are many climatic differences between Wales and NZ, and they breed their grasses to shut down a lot more over winter in the United Kingdom.”


Growing seed in isolation blocks at Yaldhurst, she will be selecting for traits like more early spring growth. “It’s important that we’re doing those selections in NZ now, which is not something we’ve done in the past.” She says Germinal’s AberHSG strains are bred for a high level of water-soluble carbohydrate content, with all the benefits that go with that. “The high sugar in the grass works by giving more energy to the microbes in the rumen and they’re able to utilise more of the protein from the grass. Therefore they excrete less of it out the back end.” Germinal’s ryegrasses tend to have dense and prostrate habits for less pugging on dairy pastures, but also suit all farm systems. “Some farmers say our ryegrasses have a bit more drought tolerance than some other ryegrasses. So there’s a lot of use on North Canterbury sheep farms as well.” Another product is AberLasting clover -- a cross between white and Caucasian clovers -- which Gard says many breeders had been trying for decades to achieve before IBERS achieved it.





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Agro-forestry convert turns ‘ SUDESH KISSUN

MILKING 80 cows,

taking timber orders online, collecting duck eggs and hosting tourists are all in a day’s work for Te Awamutu farmer Graham Smith.

The 62-year-old dairy farmer says his philosophy is all about maximising farm assets. When he bought the 37ha farm in 1988 the banks were reluctant to lend him money; his neighbours thought planting trees on a dairy farm was a crazy idea.

“The banks said ‘it’s an uneconomic unit and you’ll go broke’. The dairy company guaranteed my loan and backed me to the hilt and I managed to buy the farm,” he told Dairy News. When his marriage ended, Smith had to refinance the farm to pay

out his first wife and the banks again refused to lend to him; he had to borrow from a finance company and the high mortgage interest rate got him thinking. “How could I pay off the loan quickly? The cows were my baseline; they had to keep making

money. “I started looking at what other businesses could be added to the farm that wouldn’t distract me from the cows. I have so far found three.” Paulownia trees are the most common grown on the property; Smith plants about 100 trees per year




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and harvests 50 - 60 trees per year for sale. He sells the timber nationwide to surf board makers. The farm has about 40 ducks laying about 2000 eggs per year; Smith sells the eggs for $7/dozen. And he has developed accommodation for tourists who come to fish for trout in a waterway crossing the farm. His revenue from selling timber last season was equivalent to $1/ kgMS; the duck egg business breaks even. Smith says importantly none of the businesses detract from the cow income stream at all. “I have added layers on layers while keeping my costs in check.” He is the sole employee and mates “come around to give me a hand from time to time”. “I live off what I live off; I don’t pay myself $50,000 a year. It’s a deliberate choice to go small; at 62 I still enjoy milking.” Despite the low milk price over the last two years, Smith has not incurred a loss. “It was tough but not a killer. I didn’t go to the bank for more money or to increase my overdraft.” There is nothing unusual about Smith’s dairy operation; he targets 30,000kgMS/year. Cows are milked twice a day until mid January and then once-a day. Calving is around July 15. The Paulownia provide steady income on top of the milk cheque, and Smith sees his agri-forestry business as uncommon on dairy farms. “I may be the only dairy farmer in the world who practices agri-forestry; it’s common with

cropping farmers and some drystock farmers.” His foray into agri-forestry was accidental, after he bought the farm. “I was a dairy farmer and most dairy farmers cut trees down because they are a pain: they drop branches, smash fences and the cows chew them. “When I came to this farm, it was eroding quite badly -- the hills and along the river.” Waikato local authority advisors suggested a farm erosion control plan, agreeing to pay for pine and Mexican Cyprus trees for Smith to plant; he was to fence off waterways. After planting these trees Smith realised it would be 28 years before he made money selling them. He then saw an advertisement urging farmers to plant Paulownia to sell for milling after only 10 years. He paid $250 for the seedlings and “planted them in my nursery and they bolted away. I thought ‘these things can


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THE IDEA to build tourist accommodation came to Smith after an Asian man turned up at his gate seeking permission to fish for trout in the river. “I asked him where he was from; he said ‘I flew in from Singapore yesterday just for trout fishing and fly back home tomorrow’. “That blew me away; they are rich people and I thought ‘should I be milking them like I milk cows?’ ” The farm has a two bedroom unit with its own cooking and toilet facilities. Plans are underway to expand the business.



s ‘preacher’

Farmer Graham Smith believes in maxmising his farm assets.

HOOVERING THE PADDOCKS GRAHAM SMITH says he decided to raise free-range ducks after noticing a demand for duck eggs. He sells the eggs to locals “who like eating them and for baking”. One of his clients – in Kawhia – buys five dozen every week and on-sells them. Raising ducks isn’t costly or time consuming. “You let them out in the morning and call them back for feeding at night; you know where they are because they lay eggs in the early hours of the morning”.

grow’ and planted more by the end of the year.” But before he could harvest the Paulownia the sawmiller went bust, leaving him with trees to sell. Later, at a forestry conference, he found a man willing to buy the Paulownia after Smith felled it but he later withdrew his offer. “This left me with no choice but to go out and do my own marketing; sales have doubled year on year since

Smith says the ducks ‘vacuum clean’ the 10ha of flat land, eating insects and slugs. “Slugs, snails, crickets… anything that moves basically they gobble them up. They know where the cows have been the night before; you see the 40 ducks up and down the paddock like a vacuum cleaner, eating up all insects.” The farm also has about 100 wild turkeys; they also keep slug and pest numbers down in the paddocks.

then. “It forced me to take a path for which I had no experience -- looking after trees and marketing. Now I’m doing all that.” Smith, who supplies Fonterra, says he now appreciates what the co-op does for its farmers outside the farmgate. “I just send milk out the gate and they do all that stuff for us…. Now I run my own website, deal with customers, make sure I get paid, quality control… the whole shooting box. I am doing everything.”

Wild turkeys on the farm help keep pest and slug numbers down.

Smith says other farmers discouraged him from planting trees. “My neighbours called me nuts, saying “you’ll go broke planting those trees; they will shade the grass and you won’t be able to milk cows”. But his success has made him an agri-forestry convert. “I am a preacher now, going around telling others.” Smith hosted a Small Milking and Supply Herds (SMASH) event on his farm in March. @dairy_news



Shining with big help from robots SOUTHERN STAR

Farms Ltd, an 85ha mixed farm near Waituna Lagoon, Southland, runs 300 Jersey cows and 2500 breeding ewes – a farm run seamlessly by Darrin and Joanne Crack.

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fit of this concept an environment like the Cracks’ enables their cows to be milked at least twice a day and to graze when they like via the farm’s 100% pasture system. Joanne says the most

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attractive aspect of converting to robots was her being able to look after 300 cows by herself, without any staffing issues. “Fewer staff was among the most attractive aspects of a robotic system: I can look after my 300 cows by myself; I run our robotic dairy unit virtually on my own. I don’t need every second weekend off as it’s not physically demanding. “I recently broke a bone and wrecked the ligaments in my knee but I was still able to run the robotic dairy unit, albeit much more slowly. I wouldn’t have been able to milk in a conventional system. “I have help for calving and have someone to help with feeding the calves. Once the calves are trained I don’t need help with these as I have a Lely Calm automatic calf feeder.” Discussing the benefits of their robots, Joanne says, “I don’t have to strip the colostrum cows. Of the 300 cows we calve down each season, not one is stripped unless the robot draws attention to the cow for mastitis or high somatic cell count. “Of course if I have a

cow that is not milking out in one quarter I will put her aside and check her. This season I checked or stripped about five colostrum cows. And I don’t use teat seal.” The cows are always milked out properly, Joanne says. “This was always the biggest issue of the herringbone; nobody wants to wait for a slow cow. Robots don’t mind and they take the cups off each quarter as it is milked out. This is impossible in a conventional system.” Mastitis is lower in the herd, and so is drug use. There is no need for changing milk lines between cows, fewer problems arise with sore feet, and the herd lifespan is longer due to the gentle treatment of the cows. And the animals are all in one herd, Joanne says. “I find the heifers are able to compete with the cows in the robotic system far better than they did in the conventional system.” With no ambition to milk more than 400 cows on their present platform, Joanne aims instead to improve milking times and the cows’ frequency of robot visits.

‘IF THEY NEED ME, THEY RING’ SPENDING JUST one hour in the shed each day, plus about 20 minutes setting up the four feed breaks for the day, Joanne now has the flexibility to get her jobs done when she wants to. “I don’t have to do my jobs at the robot shed at 4am or any other regular time. If I’ve got plans for the day I do my jobs at a time that suits me. I’m often here at 7pm at night, but that suits me. It’s rare for me to be at my robot shed before 9am unless I’m going to be away for the day. “There’s no need for someone to be there monitoring the robots. If they need me, they ring.” Joanne is kept informed about the herd and individual cow performance by the Lely T4C management system which keeps track of each cow’s health and feed intake.



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mastitis and infertility, lameness is one of the big three problems on many farms, says vet Neil Chesterton. In pasture-based systems only four lameness conditions account for almost 90% of the lameness: white-line separation (WL), sole injury (SI), footrot (FR) and axial wall crack between the toes (AWC). Chesterton told the Smaller Milking and Supply Herds (SMASH) conference in Hamilton recently that each condition has a different set of risk factors. “So it is important to know what lameness conditions your cows have if you want to identify the risk factors on your farm,” he says. “To know what is happening, you will need at least the following records for each lame cow: date treated, cow ID, lesion causing the pain (WL, SI, FR or AWC). “Most farmers only record the cows receiving antibiotic because of milk withholding. You must start to record.” Chesterton also stresses there are risk factors for lameness, not causes. “In the past we used the word ‘cause’ of lameness; so we might say, for example, ‘lameness is caused by wet weather’. It is true that every time it rains for extended periods, lameness prevalence in a district will increase; but not every cow gets lame. “So it is more accurate to say ‘wet weather increases the risk of lameness’.” Each lameness condition has a different set of risk factors. Risk factors for white-line injury are separation of sole and wall of the hoof, long walking distances, thin soles, damaging walking surfaces, yard size too small for the herd, backing gate/top gate moves too fast, people/dogs causing pressure herding on

Vet Neil Chesterton speaking at SMASH conference in Waikato.

the track and/or yard and feet slipping or twisting on concrete. Risk factors for sole injury (bruising, penetrations) are long walking distances, thin soles, poor walking surface on tracks, sharp gravel, gravel on concrete surface, and people/dogs causing pressure herding on track. Risk factors for footrot are injury and then infection of inter-digital skin by the bacteria Fusobacterium necrophorum in faeces of cows; also excessive crowning of tracks resulting in cows walking in side drains, and track surface breakdown. Risk factors for axial cracks are stone injury of the coronet between claws; or genetic -- the same risk factors as for footrot when stones about 1cm diameter lodge

between the claws. Chesterton says a look at the list of risk factors will show immediately why long periods of rainfall may increase the likelihood of each problem occurring. “Rain can damage track surfaces, exposing base materials which then can be carried onto concrete on muddy feet,” he says. “Cows are likely to walk slower on rain soaked surfaces of tracks. People are more likely to get impatient at slow cow flow. Early studies identified the two important success factors that would reduce lameness : maintenance of the track and patient handling of the herd.” Chesterton also spoke about some basic rules of treatment for lameness.

It’s important to remove all under-run wall or sole. Lift the foot off the ground with a block on the healthy claw and do not give antibiotic injections unless there is swelling above the hooves. The second important risk factor for lameness is the management of the herd. On many farms the tracks are well designed and maintained, but a farmer may have too many lame cows with white-line injuries. On the track and/or milking yard you can see the cows are under pressure from the way they are managed. “Very often the pressure put on the cows is not done because the farmer is angry, but because his/her impression is that the herd is not flowing very well and needs a push,” he says. “So they use the gate behind the herd to encourage the rear cows to walk forward. “The problem is that from the pit it is difficult to recognise the signs of pressure. Many farmers come out of the pit to encourage the cows to move into the milking bails. “This can be done well, but if a milker doesn’t recognise the signs of pressure or understand cow behaviour it is easy to overdo the ‘encouragement’.”


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To cull or not to cull? JOE McGRATH


ditions in many places -despite record autumn rains – have delayed cow culls, allowing some herd managers to optimise their herds for next season.

Latest data from processors show cull cow numbers were well down on last year; Meat Board data showed the national cow kill was 28% behind a year ago from October to early April. Last year processors reported about 1.1 million cull cows, driven in part

by a national ‘cleanout’ of poor performing dairy cows because of cost cutting pressure in the dairy sector. Exceptional late autumn growth in many places prompted farmers to milk empty cows for longer, hence the lower kill numbers to early

April. However DairyNZ research from 2003 analysed production from 154 identical twin cows -- one twin pregnant and the other empty. Milk yield in the pregnant cows was not less than the empty twin until 250 days into lactation, by

which time the pregnant twin was only yielding 0.1kg MS per day less than the empty one. But the heavy early autumn rain may have forced many farmers in the upper North Island to cull sooner; uncertainty remains about how many more cows are to yet be

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processed. Two factors are likely to be in play here, the most obvious being farmers getting rid of any cow that even ‘looked sideways’ last season. But the more worrying issue is carry-overs’. My concern is that the reported decline in fertility (through some high empty rates reported in herds) may result in farmers getting into a position where they have to carry over cows to have enough for next season. This raises the issue of ‘voluntary’ versus ‘involuntary’ culls -- the difference between a dollar-sapping event and a happy, profitable one. The question is, how can we separate these two very distinct outcomes from a single decision? They so often get rolled into one. The result is that any interpretation of farm data on culling becomes pretty meaningless: if every cull is ‘involuntary’, you can be sure you will be making negligible genetic gain in your herd, particularly if you are selecting for production. On a recent trip to the US, I saw the importance to farmers there of avoiding involuntary culling; they are focused on total farm productivity gains. Their interest is not on longevity, but on maintaining genetic gain in each generation. At the core of involuntary culling in NZ often sits metabolic issues of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous. DairyNZ data indicates that for every downer

cow, two more cows have milk fever and 16 more have subclinical milk fever. Problems arising from this will contribute to involuntary cull decisions, e.g. conditions like metritis, ketosis and mastitis can be caused or exacerbated when a cow has depleted mineral levels. The really disheartening part is that your high producing cows are more likely to get these diseases. However, the good part is they are completely avoidable, even in a grass based system and in cows with high levels of production. Effective transition feeding can help reduce the slide in nutrients that can occur prior to calving where deficiencies can culminate in impaired immune function, causing problems including retained placenta and ketosis, post calving. The additional effect of taking in high levels of potassium, nitrates and ammonia in young spring grass can further reduce cows’ ability to intake calcium. Improving the health of your herd is a yearround task, but the next four months are the most critical. Over the next few months we will aim to demonstrate the linkages between nutrition and involuntary culling in your herd. We will focus on why these issues occur in your herd, the good ways to spot problems and how to analyse your own system. • Dr Joe McGrath is Sollus NZ’s head nutritionist.



CALVING  // 29

Signs of milk fever in cows DR MARJORIE ORR

MILK FEVER (hypocal-

caemia) in beef and dairy cows occurs most often in high producing older cows within 48 hours of calving, but it can occur several weeks before or after calving. Ironically, predisposing factors include high

calcium or phosphorus in the diet in late pregnancy. Feeding acid or anionic salts in the weeks before calving can help prevent the disease. Affected cows are often found down, typically with the head swung round beside the body. Early signs can include lower appetite with a preference for roughage, a

drop in milk production, reluctance to move and after a few days ‘drunken’ behaviour, walking in circles aimlessly, with vigorous licking, anxiety and trembling. Commonly, dairy cows develop a mild form of the disease, in which the only signs are a drop in milk production and infertility problems. This

has recently been called the ‘sad cow syndrome’. Treatment of milk fever is by injection of calcium solutions at the first sign of problems. • Dr Marjorie Orr is a lifestyle farmer and retired veterinarian. Story sourced from www. @dairy_news

DOWNER COWS WHEN COWS with metabolic disease go down, it may be difficult to get them on their feet again; they become ‘downer cows’. Usually the initial cause is milk fever, then either grass staggers or acetonaemia can develop as well. All three can occur together. Sometimes calving injuries can cause cows to go down (e.g.

paralysis because of nerve damage in the pelvis). Once the cow has been down for a while, her body weight crushes her muscles and she may not be able to get back on her feet unaided, especially if she is heavily pregnant or very thin. Once a cow has gone down and can’t get up, it very is important to get veterinary attention

right away. If hip clamps are used to get the cow on her feet, take care to prevent damage to the cow. Hip clamps should be padded if necessary and they should not be left on for more than 5 - 10 minutes at a time. Slings can be used for longer periods of time to help the cow recover. The longer the cow is down, the poorer her chances of getting up again.

LIFT YOUR BIRTHING SUCCESS KNOWING THE signs and stages of labour, how to calf a cow and the immediate care needed after calving, will increase the number of successful births. Cows close to calving (springers) must be checked at least twice every 24 hours. If calving is not proceeding normally, remedial action must be taken and a moving vehicle must not be used to provide traction to assist calving. Check springers for signs of labour regularly, quietly and thoroughly and record what you observe. ■■ Walk quietly through the springer mob – when cows are feeding is best. Don’t walk through the mob when cows are hungry and are waiting to be moved to fresh grass or a new break. ■■ Look for cows that are showing signs of labour. Check cows at least four times a day. Your manager will set a routine for springer checks. ■■ Check all areas of the

paddock and depending how good the fencing is, check the paddocks next door as well. Check drains, hollows, long grass, hedges – anywhere a calf could be sleeping. ■■ Note the number of any cow or heifer that has started to show signs of calving, or has calved, and report to your manager so you can keep an eye on her progress. Early signs of labour ■■ Swelling of udder can happen up to a month before calving. ■■ Milk dripping from teats. ■■ Mucus string from vulva (from plug of mucus that seals the vulva). ■■ Restless. Calving will progress at different rates for different cows. Some may show all the signs whereas others may show very few signs. Generally labour can be broken into two stages; preparation for labour and delivery. The preparation phase can take up to six hours in cows and 72

hours in heifers. Look for these signs when observing springers: ■■ Away from herd and


reduced appetite Pelvic ligaments relaxed - vulva looks swollen and flabby




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Dip between tailhead and pin-bones Tummy less full as calf moves into birth canal/



birthing position Mothering other cows’ calves Discomfort – swishing

tail, arched back, restless, peeing, kicking and nosing at her side, tail raising – DairyNZ


30 //  CALVING

Aiming for a standard delivery COWS SHOULD take

30 - 60 minutes calf – no more than two hours. Heifers should take twothree hours to calf – no more than four hours. During a standard delivery the following process will occur: ■■ The cow starts straining and pushing – two feet are visible within the water sack. ■■ Once the feet are 10cm clear of the vulva the head has cleared the pelvis. The chest of the calf has not passed through the pelvis

at this stage and the umbilical cord is still attached so the cow is still providing oxygen to the calf. ■■ Once the head has cleared the pelvis, the cow may rest for a minute or two. Once the calf’s shoulders have cleared the pelvis, the birth will continue fairly quickly. The umbilical cord will have likely broken by this point and the calf will start to breathe on its own. Cleaning




After a normal birth, the cow will stand, sniff and start to lick the newborn calf. Licking will help dry the calf, stimulate blood flow and prevent the calf from getting too cold. The placenta comes out within six hours of birth and the uterus begins to shrink back to its normal size. Cows usually eat some or the entire placenta. Make sure you know what an entire placenta looks like. If only

a small part of the placenta comes away, record this and let your manager know. Calving presentation ■■ Normal presentation is head first. The two front feet and head of the calf create a wedge which assists in opening the birthing canal to allow the calf to pass through. ■■ Feet and nose entering the birthing canal is one trigger that causes the cow to start straining. If a calf is presented breech (tail

first) the cow may not go into full labour. ■■ Even if a calf is in the right position, help may be needed if the calf is too big for the cow. Abnormal presentation ■■ A calf which is abnormally presented is likely to need help calving. How to correct abnormal presentation If you are unsure how to correct an abnormal presentation, call your manager or vet for help. Watch and learn from

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Tag within 6 months or before moving off-farm.

Exceptions: Calves less than 30 days old going directly to slaughter, with a direct-toslaughter tag issued by the meat processor, don’t need a NAIT tag.

NAIT is an OSPRI programme


After a normal birth the cow will stand, sniff and start to lick the newborn calf.

anyone who is experienced in calving cows and take opportunities to feel for abnormal presentation and to assist with difficult calvings. Look at the way in which the joints move. Front leg fetlock and knee bend in the same direction. The back leg fetlock and hock bend in opposite directions. Use this to help identify if the calf is presented headfirst (normal presentation) or backwards (abnormal presentation). If calf presentation is wrong or other issues are occurring and you are not confident and experienced in dealing with them, call your manager or vet for help. Signs a cow has calved ■■ Hollow looking or slab sided ■■ Appetite returned ■■ Red, stretched/floppy vulva, might be bruised

or torn Blood/mucus in tail/ udder/hocks ■■ Dirty flanks if in a muddy paddock ■■ Teats clean/suckled by calf ■■ Has a calf with her ■■ Looking for a calf or murmuring to calf ■■ Afterbirth may be hanging out of vulva or already ejected – she may be eating it. Treating navels To prevent navel infection, spray navels of newborn calves in the paddock and on arrival at the shed. Completely spray or dip the navel with iodine. Don’t use teat spray. Failure to properly treat navels can result in infection leading to navel illness. • Article sourced from DairyNZ ■■




Register in the NAIT system within 7 days of tagging or before moving off-farm.

Registration activates the tags in the NAIT system to distinguish them from those left sitting in the shed. This enables lifetime traceability of each animal.

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CALVING  // 31

Do the groundwork before calving PLANNING AND preparation make for a good calving season, says DairyNZ. Farmers can help their farm team set up early for smooth calving. Supplies of metabolics, electrolytes and navel spray must be on hand or ordered; new team members have to be up to date on farm policies and what to expect during calving. A calf trailer and feeding equipment, clean and disinfected, should be on standby; the calf shed must be clean and disinfected, repaired as needed and well maintained. A designated sick calf area must be ready, fresh bedding laid in the calf

shed and a calving kit prepared. DairyNZ says a wellstocked calving kit will save trips between the paddock and the shed. “Keep your calving kit at the gate of the springer paddock. Have a team member in charge of making sure it is restocked regularly. “Planning and preparing for calving with your farm team will reduce stress when calving is in full swing and help it run smoothly. “Hold a team meeting prior to calving and decide who will do what and when. Record the plan where everyone can see it. Introduce new staff

to systems and processes so everyone is on the same page when calving starts. Set up a roster and make sure staff know how to fill out timesheets.” Eating well is important; some owners pro-

Planning and preparing for calving will reduce stress when calving is in full swing.

vide staff with slow cookers; keep nutritious snacks at the shed or eat breakfast together after milking. Watch for signs of stress, meet regularly and talk often.





■■ ■■



s ■■ ■■ ■■


■■ ■■

Bucket with a lid to contain kit (tape a checklist of contents inside the lid) Metabolics (clearly labelled milk fever treatments and starter drench) Three calving ropes or chains (strong, supple and cleaned after each use). 2L container of lube (a plunger pump is an easy way to dispense lube if hands are busy) Towel and soap for cleaning hands Notebook and pencil (a pencil will write in the wet, a pen will not) Ear tags or other calf identification system (prenumbered tags with corresponding numbers on a record sheet will save time and cut the risk of recording mistakes) Spray paint -- red plus another colour (red can be used as a warning colour; e.g. withhold milk. Communicate this with staff) Gloves -- for rectal or other exam Head torch and spare batteries Iodine spray -- pre-mixed with water (do not use teat dip as an alternative) Key contact numbers (vet, manager) on laminated sheet. Save numbers in phone) Calving intervention guide Food/energy bars.

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32 //  CALVING

Your safety comes first WHEN MOVING cows

and calves, stay safe and don’t turn your back on a newly calved cow. Even cows that are usually placid can become aggressive after calving. Keep the calf between you and the cow and don’t take dogs or children into the calving paddock.

When lifting calves, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Get assistance if needed. Good practice is to pick up newborn calves from the paddock twice daily to ensure they get enough gold colostrum in the first hours of life. The trailer used for

picking up calves should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. To make transport safer for calves, AstroTurf or another easily cleaned, non-slip material can be used in the bottom of the trailer. Ensure the trailer is large enough so calves can lie down comfortably. Don’t

overload the trailer – make two trips if there is not enough room. Calves move around easily so travel at walking pace. Cows post-calving Recently calved cows are fragile and need close monitoring. Keep a close eye on the colostrum cows and report any showing signs of being unwell. Use of hip lifters Hip lifters should only be used to help a cow into a standing position and not to suspend a cow that is unable to stand without the additional support of a breast strap or sling.

Padded hip clamps should be applied firmly then raised slowly using a frontloader or hoist to help the cow to stand. Using a breast strap under the brisket together with hip clamps is recommended good practice as it helps the cow up onto its front legs as the hips are raised. The extra support also minimises discomfort for the cow and provides

Correct placement of hip lifters and brisket.

some additional restraint, making the process safer for you and the cow. Using a full sling to stand a cow up is not recommended as the pressure on the cow’s abdomen causes the muscles in the hind leg to relax. It is okay to move a cow a short distance using a sling or breast strap, with a correctly applied hip clamp, as long as it doesn’t cause the cow any undue discomfort or distress. If you need to move a cow longer distances,

use a transtray, trailer loader

port tandem or frontbucket. Regardless of the method of transport, the cow must be adequately restrained to prevent any extra harm, pain or distress. If the cow cannot stand on her own within 48 hours of going down, seek veterinary advice. • Article sourced from DairyNZ

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CALVING  // 33

Good start yields long productivity TO SET a dairy cow up for a long, productive life you must give her the best possible start, says DairyNZ. Extra effort now will pay dividends throughout her milking life. Heifers that reach target weights make successful milking cows and growing them well starts from day one. All calves, including bobbies, must receive adequate fresh colostrum within the first 24 hours of life and should be fed colostrum, or a colostrum substitute, for at least their first four days. Always handle calves gently and with care. Do not allow anyone to throw, hit or drag a calf at any time; electric prodders must not be used on calves. Calves not with their mothers must have shelter to stay warm and dry. Calf pens must be fit for purpose and well maintained. Bedding areas must be comfort-

able, clean and dry, with adequate ventilation but draft free at the calf level. Exposed concrete, bare earth and mud are not acceptable. Calves should be fed at the same times each day to minimise stress; always ensure calves have access to plenty of fresh water. Feed calves adequate quantities of good quality feed to rapidly achieve weaning weight with a well-developed rumen. The calf should drink at least 2L of fresh colostrum during the first six hours of life to get protective antibodies. To achieve this, pick up calves twice a day and give them gold colostrum. Gold colostrum is valuable even if it has blood or with clotty mastitis milk. It is best fed fresh but may be frozen for up to six months. Thaw/heat in warm water; do not microwave. Test the level of antibodies in a batch of colostrum using a Brix refractometer, avail-

able from your vet, farm supply store or a home brew shop. Brix higher than 22% is best for newborns. Store colostrum in several drums (to reduce risk of loss), in a cool place

and out of direct sunlight; stir twice a day. A colostrum keeper or yoghurt starter, available from supermarkets, can be added to each drum to preserve it; or preserve it with potassium sorbate.

Calf pens must be well maintained.

Their favourite feed is also New Zealand’s



HYGIENE, HEALTH PARAMOUNT Good routine hygiene and health practices ■■ Scrub all feeding equipment well with hot water and detergent ■■ Remove sick calves promptly to a designated sick pen ■■ Frequently clean and disinfect pens where sick calves are treated; disinfect hard surfaces, ensure bedding is regularly refreshed ■■ Control the spread of disease by minimising movement between pens. Calves of the same age should stay in the same pen, but small or unthrifty calves may be better off with a healthy younger group ■■ Vaccinate, treat for parasites and provide access to shelter. Dairy animal handlers in New Zealand may get the diseases leptospirosis, cryptosporidiosis, campylobacter, salmonellosis and ringworm. Keep humans and animals healthy by high cleanliness and hygiene; vaccinate your herd where possible, with advice from your veterinarian.

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34 //  CALVING

Wrangler a safe way at calving WITH DIFFICULT calving affecting about 5% of herds each season, farmers need assistance, says agricultural engineering firm The Wrangler, of Whakatane. It is essential for

Wrangler’s new calving attachment.

animal welfare and farm profitability that a farmer has the knowledge and equipment to help a calving cow, the company says. The Wrangler is best known for its flagship

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veterinary assistance is necessary, but once a farmer has determined he can proceed with an assisted delivery without veterinary assistance, best practice is for calving jacks or pulleys to be used with ropes or chains to help a calving cow,” the company says. Using the Wrangler calving attachment gives the farmer both hands free for calving assistance, with no equipment on the cow to get in the way. The calving attachment is also ideal used on the Premier Wrangler as a mobile calving crush in the paddock. With cases of dystocia putting cow and calf health at risk -- and consequently farm profitability -- the Wrangler calving attachment gives cows having calving difficulties the best possible chance to make a full recovery, with a healthy calf.


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Careful management and selection of genetics by using an appropriate sire to ensure heifers do not calve an oversized calf


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cow handler and calving attachment. The attachment is easily connected to the Wrangler frame and swivels so the cow can enter the crush. Once she is loaded and secure, the calving rope is attached to the calf’s front legs and, working with the cow and her contractions and the Wrangler winches, the calf is gently but firmly pulled from the cow. The company says cases of calving difficulties (or dystocia) can be reduced in a herd by carefully managing genetics and animal condition, but occasional calving problems are inevitable. To give cow and calf the best chance of health and survival the farmer must first assess the situation and decide on the best course of action. “There are obvious circumstances in which

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E100 helps milkers lift their game MARK DANIEL


try giant De Laval set out to develop rotary milking technology with New Zealand dairy cows and farmers in mind, it saw the need for a system to provide more relevant information, automation and functionality than seen previously. The company’s aim was to allow one person to easily operate the system safely from a central control point. The E100 Rotary, globally premiered at Fieldays, hits the mark with features embodying that design brief; it will find favour with NZ and overseas farmers looking to lift their game. The De Laval Cockpit allows one person to

take charge of all operations in the shed within arms-length of the cupson position. This is helped by look-through bails giving high visibility of the whole platform to enable quick decisionmaking leading to high outputs. A large, high-definition touch screen control panel allows swift implementation of those decisions, based on information displayed and personal preferences. With a 360-degree view of the shed, the control panel offers information such as milk production and recording, allows easy control of the platform (such as speeds chosen to suit different herds or groups), auto start-up after cupping, and cow back-off control, all designed to maintain output.

The De Laval cockpit allows one person to take charge of all operations in the shed.

Also, the panel can control one-touch start/ stop of the backing gate in the holding area and take live feeds from cameras around the milking shed, such as the exit area, backing gate or hold-

ing yards. The often-seen bottleneck -- getting cows onto and off the platform quickly without noise of stress -- gets due attention. The De Laval FastLane system allows the

E100 series to be set for individual conditions or types of dairy cow: these choices include single, or 1.5 cow entry, on-deck feeding, variable speed rotation and integrated retention.

Cows get more incentive to enter for milking: the De Laval ComfortBail offers an inviting, openplan area where wires, pipework and technology are hidden, encouraging the cow to enter, get milked and exit. The option of rubber floor matting reduces hoof damage, noise and stress to animals. Looking at milking details, the new MC53 cluster has stainless steel teat cups fitted with nipple-less liners that mimic the action of a suckling calf, encouraging early let-down and complete milking out. The cluster is ergonomically designed for good balance, allowing easy attachment and reducing repetitive strain injuries. After milking is completed, automatic cup removers act in a horizon-

tal plane, keeping them away from the floor to prolong their service life and keep them cleaner during milking. After cup removal an automatic teat-spray system with four individual nozzles allows accurate product placement and minimises waste. The E100 Rotary can be specified as a base system, and upgraded as conditions change, including fitting the DelPro Farm manager element which automates and combines all the systems found under the De Laval banner. This includes production data, somatic cell counts, controlling in-parlour feeding, sorting gates for quarantine purposes, auto-weighing systems and body condition scoring cameras.

The Flex Tank is the largest slurry applicator on the market.


super-size effluent tankers, has a recent offering, the VT 7028-3, whose patented Flex Tank system makes it a standout. The Flex Tank increases the flexibility of this, the largest slurry applicator in the market, the company says. Aimed at getting around Germany’s severe road transport regulations, the ‘inflatable’ slurry tanker concept uses a 6m3 slurry bag mounted on top of the original

26m3 polyester tank; this has the effect of reducing the overall width of the rig. The ‘flex’ portion of the tank measures just 2.1m wide, which brings the overall transport width down to 3.0m, even with a 30m trailing shoe or dribble bar applicator folded along the sides of the machine. Power is delivered by a 16L V8 Deutz engine pushing out 690hp at a miserly 1800 rpm; it provides motive power and runs a 12,000L/min pump which fills the 32,000L tanks in just

three minutes. CVT transmission in turn powers the three axles. The company claims the drive layout gives maximum traction force, steplessly variable speed adjustment and low fuel use. A macerator can be fitted to the inlet side of the pump to deal with solids, and the unit can also have Trimble RTK automated steering, on-the-move tyre pressure adjustment and a turbo-filler with a 10-inch intake pipe.




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tems are available, such as blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning or active cruise; but keep in mind the price. Further safety is assured by seven airbags, located at the front, side curtain and around the driver’s knee areas. On the road the Triton displays some of the ‘springiness’ of all vehicles of this type, but it’s nothing intrusive and easily cured by a light load in the well-deck. Body roll is well controlled, and turning circle is up with the best. Overall the Triton is quiet and well balanced, and front and rear passengers enjoy comfortable seats; the front pair are leather and wouldn’t look out of place in a high-spec saloon. The other nice touch is the seats’ heating, which scored points with the domestic manager on a cold, damp Waikato morning. What’s not to like? Not a lot. Some testers will moan about the hard grey plastics and the lack of soft-touch finishes, but if you live on a lifestyle block and have an oversize permanently damp Labrador, this is no problem. Did I mention the price? You’d be barking not to look.


THE UTE market’s red-hot run suggests the former ‘humble hack’ is now for many drivers the vehicle of choice. A big chunk of these sales will be for effect rather than purpose: many are 2WD, whose only off-roading will be mounting the kerb on the daily school run. With this in mind, Dairy News decided to live with a Mitsubishi Triton VRX 2WD double cab for a week, and we were pleasantly surprised at its capabilities. First up, you either love or hate this vehicle’s looks. If you want to blend with the crowd and drive a big, box-shaped American style ‘truck’, then the Triton’s not for you. The many sweeping lines on the first model at first seemed unconnected, but this latest version has seen a re-design: panel joins are softened and it has a big smiley chrome grille up front. This appears... well, normal; either that or Mitsubishi’s sticking with this look means we must now accept the Triton looks a little different.

One thing you wouldn’t overlook is the 10-year warranty; that combines with a starting price of about $52,000 that settles down to about $40,000 when you get the chequebook out at the dealership. Looking at the basics, the latest Euro 5, 2.4L, 4-cyl motor churns out a useful 135kW and 437Nm torque at 2500rpm, burning about 7.6L/100km and only rising to 10L/100km when we hitched up the 2-tonne family boat. Towing capacity is rated at 3t braked and load capacity on the welldeck is 985kg. A 5-speed auto transmission with sports mode and paddle shifters under the steering wheel make everything work smoothly on the open road, but can be hurried-up if required, depending on how you use the shifters. This flagship of the Mitsubishi XX 2WDs, the VRX is well equipped: auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, dualzone climate air conditioning, keyless entry, push-button starting, daytime running lights, cruise control and rear-view camera. Safety features abound: ABS, EBD, stability control, traction control and trailer sway control, although none of the more sought-after active sys-

Made from high quality UV stabilised polymer, the Activator Strap has no protruding parts or steel plates. This means there is nothing for stock to damage compared with common activator plate systems, and it poses less injury to animals as a result. Highly functional, the Activator Strap also offers farmers time saving on installation; only the strap needs to be installed, and it is less likely to be broken by stock. Strainrite Fencing Systems products are 100% New Zealand designed and made.


Mitsubishi Triton

THE STRAINRITE Activator Strap was the winner of the International Innovation Award 2017 at Fieldays. The Activator Strap is a gate break activator with important advantages over traditional products – notably lower cost. This single-component multi-function post insulator needs no auxiliary components such as an ‘egg’ insulator, pinlock insulator, activator plate and separate electrical lead. It is said to be easy to install and needs no additional wiring. Its multiple hook points allow easy use even in the dark.

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World record in maize planting BACK IN April, the Väderstad

Tempo set a world record by planting 502.05ha in 24 hours at 20-22km/h. Two months later this is showing a strong crop and impressive planting precision statistics. At Enyingi Agrár Zrt, in western Hungary, where the record was set, the 7000ha farm has 4000ha dedicated to maize. After the planting in April, conditions were very dry but the crop persisted, says farm manager Gábor Sava. “I am impressed with the results the Väderstad Tempo accomplished. And though the weather has been tough, the world record crop has the strongest looking fields in this region.” “Normally those same world-

record fields are planted with another brand of two 12-row planters that need four-five days to complete the job, and still don’t reach as high planting precision as Väderstad Tempo has achieved this year.” Following emergence, the University of Gödöllő measured plant spacing and seeding depth in the rows, looking at 6808 plants. The researchers found 24 doubles and 16 skips (a double means the distance between two plants is less than half the average spacing, and a skip means the distance between two plants is at least 1.5 times the average spacing). Likewise, the overall seed depth only varied by 0.5cm from the selected seed depth of 6cm; both factors are said to have resulted in an

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even and strong emergence over the entire field. Meanwhile, in New Zealand similar results are being seen by maize and fodder beet growers, the Tempo being the benchmark planter in the market. “Considering many planters on the market operate at only half the speed of Tempo and still cannot achieve the same precision, our customers are thrilled with its performance,” says Jamie Hanna, NZ Vaderstad product manager. The Vaderstad Tempo is available in various configurations from 6 - 16 rows, with and without fertiliser, trailed and mounted, and in various row spacing to suit maize and fodder beet.





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Vaderstad Tempo delivered a strong crop and impressing planting precision statistics.


appear on the brink of acceptance, which is likely to rise as local government addresses the need for more charging points. Meanwhile advances in battery technology underpin the ouput of cordless power tools -- drills, staplers, portable vacuum cleaners, etc.

And now there looms an attack on that bastion of Sunday morning manhood -- the lawnmower. Distributor Carbon South has released the Mean Green mower range in New Zealand: machines range from 20-inch push types up to 60-inch, zeroturn ride-on machines powered by 36V or 48V lithium batteries. Looking at running costs, battery power makes a compelling argu-

ment, says Bruce Scott, of Carbon South. He says “a commercial user typically clocks up 1000 hours a year and is likely to spend about $10,000 a year on fuel and $2000 on repairs and maintenance”. “By comparison, a contractor running our 60-inch self-propelled machine will spend about $1600 on charging”. There are no belts, gearboxes or oils to deal with; the only common maintenance is to the blades. Noise is about half that of petrol-powered machines of comparable size. Made from 7-gauge steel in the chassis and deck areas, the machines appear robust and simple,



with just a few grease nipples on wheels or pivots. Their lithium batteries will give about seven hours running time on the larger units. The batteries are good for 60009000 hours, after which they will keep running at 80-90% efficiency, and can be re-cycled by the solar power industry, says the distributor. Optional equipment includes a sun roof with in-built photo-voltaic charging panels. Wop-wop dwellers plagued by power outages might find other uses for this kind of mower: hook it up via an inverter to a fridge, freezer, computer, lights and mobile phones.


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If you’re thinking of upgrading your milking platform we’ve developed a system planning guide to help you get the most out of the process, regardless of which company’s milking system you choose to work with. To get your copy just visit or text “rotary” to 244. Standard text costs apply.

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Dairy News 11 July 2017  
Dairy News 11 July 2017  

Dairy News 11 July 2017