Page 1

$3m bonus for top suppliers. PAGE 3 FROM TASSIE TO JAPAN Fonterra nourishes the elderly PAGE 17


JULY 25, 2017 ISSUE 383 //

FEWER COWS, MORE MILK “The challenge is to revise farming systems for this new era.” – John Schouten, chief executive World Wide Sires. PAGE 5

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NEWS  // 3

$3m bonus for top farmer suppliers PETER BURKE

TAUPO DAIRY company Miraka Southern Dairy Hub launch. PG.09

Bolus technology. PG.27

Lie-down pedicure. PG.36

will pay an extra $3 million to its suppliers as part of an incentive scheme for good farming practices. The scheme is voluntary. The company 12 months ago launched Te Ara Miraka which rewards its suppliers for meeting five criteria -- people, environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity. Within these are 31 criteria, of which farmers must meet 13. They get points for meeting the criteria -- possible total 100. A supplier who meets the mandatory criteria gets some incentive, but achieving 100 points will earn him an extra 20c/kgMS at the end of the season, says Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth. This year Peter and Sarah Walton,

OPINION����������������������������������������������18-19 AGRIBUSINESS����������������������������� 20-21 MANAGEMENT�������������������������������22-25 ANIMAL HEALTH�������������������������� 26-28 CALVING�������������������������������������������� 29-35 MACHINERY &   PRODUCTS��������������������������������������36-38

farming at Whakamaru, south Waikato, were the first to win the Te Ara Miraka award, scoring 98 out of the possible 100 points. The top ten suppliers each get a certificate and the Waltons got a special trophy at Miraka’s celebration awards evening. “I am absolutely happy with the results,” Wyeth says. “It’s great that the Waltons came on board and in

getting close to 100 showed the top score was achievable.” Suppliers who join the scheme get regular visits from an external auditor who tracks their progress. Among the mandatory criteria is one on health and safety: the farm must have a health and safety policy for all staff and visitors. Wyeth says Miraka wants its farmers to be the best producers


NEWS������������������������������������������������������ 3-17

Top Miraka suppliers Peter and Sarah Walton with company chairman Kingi Smiler (left) and CEO Richard Wyeth.

of quality milk and by meeting the criteria set in the Te Ara Miraka scheme they will help enhance the value of the company’s key brand Whai Ora. “It sets a benchmark that ensures our farmers are the best in the class. Miraka is showing the way we support and encourage a culture of excellence across the entire supply chain. It means we can tell our customers our farmers are world class and that adds to our story as well.” Some aspects of Te Ara Miraka resemble the Irish farming excellence scheme Origen Green which incentivises farmers who meet various criteria, with emphasis on the environment. Wyeth acknowledges similarities to Origen Green, but says the criteria are different in being aligned to Miraka’s corporate values which have a special link to whanau.

vote for three new directors this year. Nominations have opened and all candidates will be announced on September 25. Shareholders voted last year to reduce the number of farmerelected directors to seven, down from nine. Last year three farmer-elected directors retired by rotation and

only two vacancies were filled. This year three farmer-elected directors – John Monaghan, Leonie Guiney and David McLeod -- retire by rotation. But a casual vacancy arose when Michael Spaans resigned for health reasons. Ian Farrelly was recalled to fill that vacancy until the election. No sitting director is allowed to publicly announce their candidacy until the independent selec-

tion process is complete. Independent nominations will come first; nominees’ names are due with the returning officer, Warwick Lampp, of, by August 7. He will name those candidates in early September. Self-nominations close on September 21 (farmers can nominate themselves for a directorship without having to go through the inde-

pendent nomination process). The returning officer will confirm all farmer-directors candidates on September 25. Fonterra has confirmed the three members of its independent selection panel for the 2017 director elections: Dame Alison Paterson (chair); John Spencer (board appointee); and Tony Carter (shareholders council appointee). – Sudesh Kissun


4 //  NEWS

The proof is in the pasture above average from a pasture first, low feed input philosophy. Armer and his wife Dale own 15 large scale farms in the North Island, milking 12,000 cows and budgeting to produce 3.7 million kgMS. They are also the sole remaining founding shareholders of Dairy Holdings Ltd, with 59 dairy farms in the South Island. Dairy Holdings is a separately-run company owned by the Armers and two other prominent farming families. It is run by a board of five- two independents including ❱❱ Founded in 2001 by Colin Armer, the late the chairman and Alan Hubbard and other investors a representa❱❱ Changed in 2012 to shareholding by three tive from each farming families; Armers own 37% along shareholding with fellow shareholders JD & RD Walfamily. lace Ltd, and Murray and Margaret Turley Dairy ❱❱ Board headed by independent chairman Holdings Greg Gent chief exec❱❱ 59 dairy farms covering 14,330ha utive Colin ❱❱ 54 farms supply Fonterra and five farms Glass also supply Westland Dairy spoke at the ❱❱ Milking 49,000 cows: 35,748 are owned SIDE by the company, the balance of producArmer told tion comes from sharemilkers and conDairy News that tract milkers. pasture is the “first, ❱❱ Directors’ responsibilities are to the comsecond and third pany, not necessarily to the shareholders option” on all their

Colin and Dale Armer.

CORPORATE FARMER Colin Armer, among New Zealand’s most prominent, says dairying will prosper more by greater pasture utilisation than by supplementary feeds that incur many direct expenses and associated costs. Speaking about ‘Cost control in a large scale dairy business’, he told the South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Christchurch how their farms profit

Dairy Holdings Ltd

GREEN STAYS ON THE FOCUS on environment is here to stay, says Colin Armer. The Armers’ farms in Taupo catchment have been operating under a nitrogen leaching cap for several years. The business has adapted to the change, he says. “Our business model is that the cap is the cap so we will drive our EBIT up by driving our costs down; the N leaching cap is an output cap so we drive our costs down.”

farms. “We resist having a whole lot of feed coming into the business and the expense attached to that and its associated costs; those things have given us above average profit levels and we’ve been able to grow our business.” He acknowledges that the industry uses a lot of supplementary feed but it incurs two costs. First is the “hidden cost” of pasture substitution, the second is associated costs -- machinery, equipment and labour. Armer says housing farm staff adds to costs, and depreciation is a big issue. “As an industry we tend to forget some of these costs,” he says. Armers’ farms and Dairy Holdings feed out a little palm kernel expeller, some silage in the North Island and winter crops kale, swede and fodder beet in the South Island. Colin and Dale joined the industry as sharemilkers about 30 years ago, starting with 140 cows and zero capital -- a norm for “young broke farmers,” he says. The industry was a fraction of it present size and getting a farm was as tough as it is today, he says. Not all sharemilkers got to own those farms and “the challenges facing the people at the time were just as great as now”.

A guiding principle for the Armers and Dairy Holdings has been paying their staff fair wages and giving them opportunity to grow. While the sharemilker route to farm ownership is shrinking, Armer believes disciplined sharemilkers still end up owning farms. “We’ve had a wonderful succession of people who have come to work for us and ended up buying their own farms through the normal sharemilking route. “Even this year we have had three farms purchased by sharemilkers; if they are motivated it is still possible. “As an industry we have to evolve

THREE RULES FOR SURVIVAL THE ARMERS have three golden rules when facing a downturn in dairying. “Don’t cut maintenance fertiliser, don’t cut into capital livestock and don’t borrow any money for losses,” Colin Armer says. “With these three rules we go into a downturn; everything else is fair and you have to cut your cloth.

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our sharemilkng contracts but the opportunity still exists; we have sharemilkers and it’s still profitable for us and them if they have the right discipline.” The Armers have full confidence in the dairy industry; they bought a farm two years ago and Dairy Holdings is converting a farm in the South Island this year. Colin Armer says farmers need to make “disciplined investment”. “Don’t buy a farm just for the sake of buying it; you must be able to drive good EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) out of a block and it must make sense to all stakeholders.”

“You keep putting on fertiliser, you hold your livestock numbers and you don’t lose any money.” Armer sees “headwinds” facing the industry but says changes need to be made at farm level. “We have been quick adaptors to changing circumstances; if regulations put us on the back foot we will find ways of adjusting but it will still be very much around the pasture model.”


NEWS  // 5

Greater yield from fewer cows FARMERS MUST start

figuring how to reduce cow numbers without losing farm production or profit. So says the chief executive of the world’s largest dairy farmer genetics co-op. Currently, herd numbers are down by 16% worldwide while cow numbers remain unchanged, says John Schouten, World Wide Sires. He told Dairy News that Netherlands farmers, facing growing social and environmental concerns, are being asked to cut their herds by 10%. “It seems a frightening prospect but Dutch farmers are facing it head-on, thinking over every aspect of their operations; they must still produce a certain amount of milk and need genetics that will enable them to reduce the head count but not the milk output,” Schouten says. “And once they have those genetics, they need a farming and feeding system that will enable

the herd to express their genetic potential.” Schouten has headed World Wide Sires for 30 years, each year visiting 60 countries with colleagues to talk to farmers. “Whether you’re on a farm in Turkey, Russia, Holland, China or New Zealand the challenges remain the same – to efficiently produce quality food for which demand is growing worldwide. “But we need to do that in socially and environmentally conscious ways, and so the challenge is to revise farming systems for this new era. “The focus in the last few decades has been growth – a numbers game with herd size growing worldwide. But our industry relies on synergy with nature and... we are at, or approaching, a crossroads which requires change on a significant scale, on every farm around the world. “The demand for milk protein will only increase so the challenge for everyone in the global dairy

World Wide Sires chief executive John Schouten on a Canterbury farm last week.

industry is to produce the most from the least or, in other words, turn the ‘numbers game’ on its head so every cow in a herd has the genetic potential to deliver consistently high milk solids.” World Wide Sires, in NZ about 30 years, has this year increased sales by 46%, Schouten says. Much of that demand is driven by the co-op’s animal databases being the largest in the world,

FARMER TURNED CHIEF WORLD WIDE Sires chief executive John Schouten understands commercial dairy farming. His father and two brothers in the 1980s developed a California farm then considered very large -2000 cows. Schouten graduated in dairy science from California Polytech-

nic University then returned home to manage the farm for four years before joining World Wide Sires. He says in the last 30 years he has held almost every role in the marketing arm of the world’s largest dairy farmer owned cooperative. He became chief executive 17 years ago.

he says. “World Wide Sires is the number one supplier of bovine semen -- 90 million inseminations in 2016 in at least 90 countries. We were among the

first to launch a successful commercial genomic product.” Schouten says the bull team is made up of 421 genomic and 355 proven bulls selected from a database of nearly 1000 elite sires. “Demand for genomically selected sires is increasing: in the US demand is 55% genomic and 45% proven, whereas globally it is 63% proven and 37% genomic. “The success of our genomic offering – and farmer confidence – comes down to the predictor group database we use which includes 35,000 proven bulls and 1.3 million females. No other company in the world can match that or the reliability it enables. The correlation between the genomic

prediction and what the daughter actually produces is very high and consistent. “Each week in the US we’re doing 10,000 - 12,000 SNP tests -50,000 a month; a year ago it was half that.” Schouten says “it’s not our job to tell farmers what they should select for; it is our job, however, to listen to what they want to achieve, to look at their farming system, do a genetic audit and come up with a list of sires which will enable them to reduce numbers and increase production. “One size doesn’t fit all so we work with the farmer onfarm to tailor a solution to help them achieve their business and lifestyle goals. “We understand that

BW is the currency most farmers understand in this country but that often comes with a lack of engagement with the genetics being used on the herd. Many farmers I’ve talked to in NZ admit they get ‘bull of the day’ without really knowing or anticipating anything other than a repeat of the mother. “A lot of farmers are replicating the herd, not improving it or setting the farm up for the new environment which is around the corner. “We’re simply saying there is an alternative: it is possible to milk fewer, higher producing cows. Sure they may not have BW against their number but their currency will show where it counts – in the vat and in the bank.”

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6 //  NEWS

Fined for second spill SUDESH KISSUN


done their peers knowingly spilling effluent, says Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven. He is disappointed to see a farmer prosecuted

again for breaching effluent management rules. Fernaig Farms (2006) Ltd was fined $33,750 for unlawfully discharging effluent at its Litchfield property. Waikato Regional Council says a concerning aspect of the case was the “obstructive behaviour” aimed at council

staff needing to inspect the property. Police had to be called to escort the inspectors to the farm. The farm’s effluent pond pump was relocated to another property for a month, leading to the effluent pond overflowing. The council’s investigations manager Patrick Lynch says it was rela-

tively rare for someone to be prosecuted a second time for an effluent management breach. In his 12 years in the job this was only the second time he had seen police help needed for a property inspection. “Generally people learn from the first experience and ensure it does

not happen again. It is particularly disappointing to [see these breaches] by a leading farming entity that owns a number of farms and should be setting an example of how to do things right,” says Lynch. McGiven agreed that repeat offending was rare in effluent management

Beat the seasons!

Waikato Feds president Andrew McGiven.

breaches. “And having to call the police so that the inspection could be completed is something I haven’t heard of before; it sounds to me like contempt for the council and the dairy industry as a whole. “Waikato Federated Farmers cannot condone any farmer who knowing spills effluent, and those who do cast the rest of the industry in a bad light at a time when we are now starting to get back

some measure of public trust.” Justice Craig Thompson held a sentencing indication hearing on July 3; the company pleaded guilty on July 14. Fernaig Farms (2006) Ltd owns farms in Waikato, including four dairy farms. A prosecution in 2013 also resulted in convictions and a fine of $30,000 for effluent mismanagement on its Mangakino property.

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FARMER-OWNED LIC has reported “a modest level of profit” in the 2016-17 year. In its annual results released last week, the co-op announced net profit after tax of $20.8 million versus a $4m loss the previous year. The net profit includes the annual revaluation after tax of the biological bull team, which recorded a $17.7m profit versus a write-down of $3.7m the year before. Revenue from ordinary activities including other income from grants was $203.5m, down $7.2m (-3.4%) on the previous year. Strong performance in its core services of artificial breeding and herd testing, and a business-wide reduction in operating costs all contributed to the positive result and a return in value to shareholders. Chairman Murray King says the cooperative is back on track with farmers maintaining spending on LIC’s services and solutions. “Our increase in underlying net earnings reflects our strong commitment to farmers, and the increasing importance of onfarm products and services that improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. “With continued volatility in milk prices and environmental constraints, farmers are more aware of the need to optimise production in a sustainable way. “While we are pleased to be back in the black, we are still working to minimise our operating costs to weather future challenges.” Big cost reductions came by cutting expenses and making best use of existing resources, for example by spending capital on information technology only in key areas, and extending the working life of assets. King says LIC’s bull teams get better every year and their presence on the industry’s Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list remains strong across all breeds. On December 1, 2016 LIC separated into two businesses -- a herd improvement company (LIC) and an agritechnology subsidiary (LIC Agritechnology Co Ltd). LIC’s core products Minda, AB and herd testing remain with the co-op. Minda is owned by the co-op but operated by the subsidiary.


NEWS  // 7

Winter woes piling up PETER BURKE

DAIRY FARMERS in the Hauraki Plains and northern Waikato region will struggle with calving, says DairyNZ’s general manager of extension, Andrew Reid. Autumn flooding in the region and ongoing rain have prevented pastures from drying, he says. Both regions, and Northland, have relatively early calving dates and farmers there are struggling with waterlogged pastures. They need to get stock off pastures for good utilisation of the feed they have. Reid says all New Zealand – except possibly Canterbury – is variously affected by the wet winter; new calves will be vulnerable if this persists. “Pugging will always be an issue in early spring. The important thing is not to get too distracted by the unsightliness of pugged pastures and set up a spring rotation plan and stick to it as best you can so that pasture will recover from pugging, which it will do if it is not severe; generally it is better to restrict pugging to small areas of the farm and have sacrifice pad-

docks. If farmers don’t do this they could get into a real pickle in the second rotation,” he says. Reid says the problems facing many farmers now is a combination of factors – not just the weather. “The better milk price at the end of last season tempted some farmers to milk on longer than they normally would have, so pasture covers at drying off time might have been lower than ideal. “That coupled with lower pasture growth rates during the winter has left some farms not well set up for the new season – a compounding effect of low pasture covers at drying off, wet winter and calving at a time when pastures are waterlogged.” The West Coast is also badly affected by the rain, most farmers having been under pressure for almost a year. “But this season a little different from last in that feed supplements are more affordable than at this time last year. So there is a temptation for farmers whose onfarm feed situation is tight to buy in feed.” Reid says farmers who cut staff when the milk payout was lower will

have existing staff pressured by a bigger workload. He hopes the improved milk price will prompt farmers to employ more staff and train them better, so helping build the industry’s talent pool. He encourages farmers to look after themselves and their staff by talking to neighbours, attending DairyNZ discussion groups and getting off farm when they can.

A flooded maize paddock in the Hauraki Plains earlier this year. Inset: Andrew Reid.

A FARMER’S STRUGGLE IN MANAWATU FEDERATED FARMERS dairy section president in Manawatu says the rain in his region doesn’t seem to have stopped for twelve months. Murray Holdaway’s Tararua farm normally gets about 1200mm of rain a year, but in the last 12 months it has had 2000m. And these has been no wind to dry it out. “We could have a week without rain but the pastures don’t dry out

because we haven’t had a lot of wind,” he says. It’s been hard trying to maximise pasture utilisation and avoid pugging, requiring the extra work of moving cows on and off the feed pad. “During calving it is even more difficult because you have extra mobs of cows – a calving mob, a colostrum mob, milkers and a lame mob – and you need to keep them all separate. So can’t just put them

all on the feed pad. “You can only have one mob on there and then of course you are looking to feed cows more when they are milking and you can’t stand them on concrete to calve unless you have stand-on pads with sawdust on them.” Holdaway says the wet makes for extra work in terrible conditions and it gets depressing having to deal with this daily.

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8 //  NEWS

Russia’s reentry will boost global prices - report PAM TIPA

RUSSIA’S BAN on imported agricultural products, including dairy products, is due to end in December 2017, boosting global dairy prices, says an industry report. Dairy farmers and processors in the European Union are expected to meet the bulk of Russia’s fresh demand, which will reduce competition in New Zealand’s key markets such as China, says the report, NZ’s Dairy Cattle Farming, by the global business research company IBISWorld. “Additionally, stockpiles of dairy products built up over the past five years will likely diminish over the next two years, placing further upward pressure on global dairy prices,” the report says. “Rising global dairy product prices and improved export earnings for processors will likely encourage local processors to increase farmgate milk prices, boding well for the industry. “ However the report says the dairy cattle farming industry will remain volatile over the next five years, due to its links with downstream export markets. Conditions are expected to largely improve as global pricing issues are resolved; output at the farm level is projected to increase over the next five

years, assisting industry growth. Industry revenue is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 1.3% over the five years to 2022-23, to total $14 billion, with favourable weather conditions. “Industry participation is forecast to rise at a slower rate over the five years to 2022-23 compared with the previous five years,” the report says. “Another global dairy boom similar to 2013-14 is not likely, which will limit the number of new entrants joining the industry.” Industry employment is projected to rise at a similar rate to the previous five-year period. Improving farmgate milk prices are likely to encourage farmers to expand their dairy cattle herds over the next five years, due to the prospects of higher returns per cow. “This projected expansion will increase national milk production, which should assist industry revenue growth. “Additionally, the volume and quality of raw milk produced by each cow is forecast to rise over the period. Higher farmgate milk prices should encourage farmers to purchase greater quantities of stockfeed, which will help improve milk yields and milk solid content for raw milk due to improved cattle nutrition.” However, these forecasts are based on average seasonal conditions. Any

Cheese on sale at a grocery store in St Petersburg.

extreme weather, including drought, flooding or earthquakes, would likely constrain milk production over the next five years. Industry profitability is projected to trend upwards over the next five years. “The anticipated recovery of global dairy prices, particularly over the next two years, should help boost the bottom line of dairy cattle farmers who have struggled over the past five years.” The IBIS World report says the vast majority of dairy cattle farmers supply

Fonterra, which collects about 87% of national milk production. However, some dairy cattle farmers have moved away from Fonterra over the past five years, shifting towards other processors to gain better farmgate prices and contract terms. This trend will likely continue over the next five years, as farmers seek to improve their bottom line and ability to remain profitable. This move may help increase average profitability across the industry.

“However, this shift by some dairy cattle farmers is unlikely to significantly affect industry-wide profit as these processors compete with Fonterra in most markets.” The dairy Cattle Industry report is one of 200 dedicated industry reports on the NZ economy by IBISWorld. This is its first foray into the NZ market. It has been operating in Australia since 1971. @dairy_news

IN A MATURE PHASE OF LIFE CYCLE THE DAIRY cattle farming industry in New Zealand is in a mature phase of its life cycle, the IBISWorld report says. “Industry value added, which measures the industry’s contribution to the economy, is forecast to increase at a compound annual rate of 0.1% over the years through to 2022-23,” the report says. “This is an underperformance compared with the overall economy, with real GDP forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.8% over the same period.

y’know stu, that ketosis is really sucking the energy out of my cows this spring.

Slower industry value-add growth is typical of mature industries, which have a slowing but positive contribution to the economy.” Industry participation has increased modestly over the past five years. High prices and strong profitability encouraged many players to enter the industry over the two years through 2014-15, before prices crashed. “Despite lower prices since then, most players have remained in the industry as establishing or

purchasing a dairy cattle farm is expensive. “The long-standing nature of the dairy sector in NZ, coupled with the staple nature of many dairy products, means the industry’s products are wholeheartedly accepted by the market. “And technological innovations throughout the industry over the past five years have largely been targeting operational efficiencies. “These are all are common traits of a mature industry,” the report states.

yep a costly disease that one, our vet put us onto rumenox. herd’s bounced back, you wouldn’t recognise the girls.


NEWS  // 9

Twice-launched hub gets going NIGEL MALTHUS


research and demonstration dairy farm, the Southern Dairy Hub, is decidedly up and running – twice! Calving has begun and a commemorative plaque was unveiled twice on an eventful official opening day, July 14. A plane carrying Prime Minister Bill English was first weather-delayed in Wellington then diverted to Dunedin because Invercargill was fog-bound. English eventually made it by car, unveiling the plaque about 3.30pm, by which time Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell had already stepped up to do the honours, joking about his promotion to PM. About 300 dairy farmers and supporters had gathered to celebrate the opening of the 349ha farm near Makarewa, just north of Invercargill. Southland and South Otago farmers and businesses invested $1.25 million in the hub through the Southern Dairy Development Trust, and principal shareholders DairyNZ and AgResearch invested $5 million each. Debt covered the rest of the $19.5 million project. Conversion of the property began in Novem-

Prime Minister Bill English and Southern Dairy Hub chairman Maurice Hardie at the opening.

ber last year. English congratulated the partners on the project’s rapid coming together. “What I like is that the industry has done it itself, rather than waiting around for the Government to be too much a part of it -- apart from supplying some money -and that it’s localised so you’re going to be dealing with things that matter to us, here.” English said the hub will address the particular challenges facing farming in the south, with its “bit of a gap in the research footprint” particularly since Invermay’s contraction. Southern Dairy Hub chair Maurice Hardie said the opening is an important milestone for the region and NZ. “Research on the southern region’s climate and soil types will be

invaluable. We’re excited that research is now underway to drive better farming practices, environmental initiatives and increased efficiency on farms.” The first research is comparing the feed regimes of cows on fodder beet with those on kale. Another study will seek to validate DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index (FVI), a ranking system for ryegrass cultivars, by comparing the performance of high- and low FVI-ranked cultivars under realistic conditions. The pastures have been sown and measurements will begin in spring. The hub’s business manager, Guy Michaels, said the farm is now up and running, with calving having started the weekend of the official opening. The stock includes 100 R2 heifers and 340

The 60-bail DeLaval rotary platform at the hub. Inset below: A drone shot of the new Southern Dairy Hub, Invercargill.

mixed-age cows from the North Island, with early North Island calving dates. The rest of the 700 cows are due to start calving on August 8. Michaels said Southland’s weather tends to be settled in winter so the early calving is not expected to be a problem, except for the need to be careful to avoid pugging because 80% of the farm went into new grass when it was converted. DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle missed the opening because of flight disruption but sent a message on Southland and Otago’s importance to dairying. “DairyNZ is investing

i hear you get good milk protein gains too. Struth, best get onto it.

in the hub to help dairy farmers and communities identify the best options for profitable, competitive and sustainable dairying. The future is in fixing real challenges with real solutions, and that’s where the science at the Southern Dairy Hub is crucial.” AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson said the Hub will be part of a national network of high quality new science

facilities supporting land-based industries. AgResearch is also investing in new joint facilities with partners at Lincoln and Palmerston North, and keeping a presence at its Invermay campus near Mosgiel. “We looked at the map and saw a gap in our capability in the deep south, and the huge benefits that permanent, purpose-built research facilities in southern con-

ditions could provide. Working alongside local farmers also makes good sense -the scientists researching what is relevant to local needs.” “With the challenge of growing the value of NZ’s agricultural exports, while preserving and enhancing the environments we farm in, there has never been a greater need to invest in quality science. “That’s what we will see here at the Southern Dairy Hub and other new facilities.” The Hub will next develop an agri-business centre for training, education and farmer events, and office spaces. A sponsor is being sought.

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10 //  NEWS

Refresh call is to help re-shape sector strategy PETER BURKE

DAIRY FARMERS are being urged to help shape the future of the dairy sector.

Tim Mackle

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says a refresh of the sector’s strategy is now on and while he acknowledges this is a busy time for farmers he’s hoping they will make time to give

feedback. They can do it on a purpose-built website, Mackle says, and via Federated Farmers dairy group, Dairy Companies Association of NZ and Dairy Woman’s Network.


He says it’s four years since the present strategy was put in place and a lot has changed since then. “On the farm it’s been one of the toughest economic challenges in recent memory. Public scrutiny of how we farm has increased -- especially about the environment and animal welfare -- and challenges are greater in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest people in the industry.” Overseas the milk quota is gone in the EU, consumer aspirations and tastes have changed and consumers are concerned about farm practices

including animal welfare. So a refresh of the dairy strategy is timely, Mackle says. DairyNZ has a big role in developing the strategy but it requires ownership by all the partners. The goal is to complete the strategy by late 2017. “Our board will consider the implications for DairyNZ and how it can play its part in the strategy,” Mackle says. “Down the track it will influence how levies are [spent].” The need is rising for NZ to compete globally and it will get tougher, so a good strategy is essential.

IN BRIEF LIC appointment LIC HAS appointed Roz Urbahn its chief people officer, from August 7, reporting to the chief executive and some senior leaders. She will enhance LIC’s culture and people capability, advise on people related matters and develop learning solutions for employees and customers. She will lead the co-op’s human resources and organisational development, aimed at building and sustaining the performance of 600-odd staff. LIC is now working to get more value from the business, says chief executive Wayne McNee. Urbahn has experience in people management -- ten years in senior roles at Fletcher Building, Lion and Hudson Global Services.

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SNACKS SUCH as Sandwich Danish Carbonara and Chocolate Toasties sold by 7-Eleven stores are hugely popular in Thailand, says Fonterra. Made by Anchor Food Professionals using dairy products from Fonterra’s Waitoa plant, these products are sold in Thailand’s 13,000 convenience stores, a big opportunity for the co-op. Thai households have more discretionary money and are smaller, rural areas are turning into industrial clusters, and consumers are buying more takeaway food. The convenience store channel now accounts for a quarter of FMCG sales. Fonterra Brands Thailand managing director Paul Richards says almost 10 million customers shop in convenience stores in Thailand daily. Co the co-op is linking with key stores to develop new consumer dairy products. For 7-Eleven it developed Sandwich Danish Carbonara, Chocolate Toasties, Vanilla roll cake and butterfly-shaped butter snacks. The consumer business in Thailand also recently launched Anlene Gold UHT and Anmum UHT in 7-Eleven. Anmum UHT sales grew by 48% this year versus last year.

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NEWS  // 13

No worries about prices PAM TIPA

BUYERS APPEAR comfortable with

the current whole milk powder (WMP) prices despite predictions of higher production in New Zealand, says Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins. Last week’s GDT Event was marked by a “sideways shift of the index needle,” says Higgins.

“Prices inched upwards by 0.2% to land at an average price of US$3387/ tonne. As usual there were mixed results across the dairy complex.” The whole milk powder average price rose by a bare 0.3% to US$3114/t, she says. “Results for delivery during much of the remainder of 2017 were in positive territory, signalling buyer comfort despite an anticipated increase in production during NZ’s spring peak.  

“Buyers are largely comfortable with where WMP prices are sitting and they know that despite NZ milk producEmma Higgins tion increasing over the coming season and during our spring peak they are happy to continue

BIG BURST BY BUTTER BUTTER PRICES last week burst through the US$6000/tonne mark for the first time in GDT Event history, hitting US$6004/t for the tenth time this year. Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says supply is short, thanks to strong demand from consumers riding the trend to dairy fat. “This started when the European milk pool slowed towards the end of 2016 so there was less milk to churn into butter,” she told

Dairy News. “At the same time demand was bubbling away, so now we have high demand for fat and low available supply. That’s why prices have been skyrocketing. “European milk production has now come back on line but it will take some time to correct the structural change and the record change between butter and skim milk powder, or fat and protein.” ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says while butter

prices will eventually fall, generally higher butter or milk fat prices are here to stay. “Demand has fundamentally shifted higher as consumers now accept that butter is no longer bad for you. “This is good news for dairy producers globally, NZ included.  In particular Fonterra is now spoilt for choice.  Its recent added production flexibility means it can more easily optimise its production mix. 

paying -- from what we are seeing -- in the low US$3000/t mark,” Higgins told Dairy News. “Delving into GDT numbers, the periods for delivery [later in the year] are still in positive territory; prices are still increasing.” Skim milk powder (SMP) was down 3.2% at US$2024/tonne. “Debate continues on the European Commission’s proposal to remove intervention stocks and this will continue to overhang offshore SMP prices and NZ product.” EU exports of SMP for May 2017 year on year lifted 96%, placing EU SMP exports for the year to date at 26% year-on-year. “The EU is locking and loading the low prices for skim milk powder and shipping it offshore,” says Higgins. “We are seeing less product trickle into intervention over the last [few] weeks. Manufacturers have opted to ship it offshore, albeit at lower prices.” Higgins says there is risk to anhydrous milk fat (AMF): the latest GDT Event saw a marginal decline. But prices are still very high for AMF. “But we can see buyers for contract deliveries further out wanting

more normal prices. There is a risk that buyers for AMF are looking to substitute vegetable oil where possible. So short term demand is fuelling the higher prices for AMF but the risk is that further out we will see the price decreasing as buyers turn towards alternative vegetable fats.” Overall Higgins says the market is relatively well balanced and Rabobank anticipates that WMP, for example, will maintain largely its present range for the coming months. Dairy fat prices will stay high but it will take a while for SMP to improve. Westpac says milk production rose strongly in the early part of this year, but has slowed again in the last two months, especially in Europe. “That’s helped to ease our concerns that a renewed supply glut could push down world prices over the course of this season. “At the same time though, the persistent strength of the NZ dollar is likely to undermine local currency returns. Our farmgate milk price forecast remains at $6.50/kg for this season. @dairy_news


14 //  NEWS

No ceiling to fresh milk for China PAM TIPA

GREEN VALLEY’S Green Valley Dairy chief executive Corrie den Haring.

exports of fresh milk to China over five years have gone from “strength to

strength to strength,” says general manager Corrie den Haring. The company, located just south of Auckland, is exporting at least 20 tonnes a week to China. “We are just upgrading

some lines at the moment to be able to significantly increase that area,” he told Dairy News. The milk is flown direct and marketed in the clear PET bottles (similar to the Lewis Rd bottles Green Valley packs). “It showcases the product…. It looks like a glass bottle and the product really shines.” In China consumers pay about the equivalent of $10 for a 1L bottle or $20 for 2L. While the product tends to be bought by more affluent Chinese, den Haring says imported fresh milk is increasingly becoming mainstream. “There is still a lot of mistrust of food products and a high degree of authenticity and trust is required within that supply,” he explains. The main consumers of fresh milk are children, and because there are many adults per child “much activity goes into making sure that child gets the best; nutrition is

high on the agenda”. “Milk... is fundamentally understood by parents as a good product, nutritious product.” den Haring says because Chinese distrust their local product they happily buy New Zealand product and, “dare I say it, not just NZ product; Australia is big in this area, sending a lot of fresh milk into China, and [so does] Korea. It is not just NZers.” Green Valley’s fresh milk goes to about five destinations in China assisted by the number of airlines now flying from China to Auckland, bringing tourists and trade. “All those planes take people back to China and many products into China… and a lot will have fresh milk on them.” Green Valley works with well-connected Chinese partners already established in NZ with interests in the dairy industry and/or food products. “That seems to be a good model.”


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GREEN VALLEY has found itself a loyal following among café goers by offering a milk specifically for barista-made coffee. Green Valley general manager Corrie den Haring says they supply both organic and nonorganic Barista milk. “We started doing it about three to four years ago and they are doing extremely well in the marketplace,” he told Dairy News. “Most consumers would not know about it because it is not a product sold in retail or sold to consumers. It is a food service product exclusive to cafes. “It was made specifically for them because they had some issues with the frothing of milk at various times of the year. There was much inconsistency in trying to make a really good cup of coffee or latte or flat white. “There are also a lot of competitions in barista art. And if you don’t have the right milk, you can’t make all those wonderful little pictures on the top of the coffee. “So Barista is the product of choice for all the best baristas in New Zealand when they are entering competitions.” They send the product all around the North Island. “The baristas help us sell it because they are the ones that say, ‘no I want that milk’. We do a lot of supporting in and around the industry and that has rewarded us with an extremely loyal following.” They service about 500-600 cafes.


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16 //  NEWS

Watch out for the Aussies PAM TIPA

CHINA IS likely to remain the largest export market for New Zealand dairy products – but watch out for competition from Australia, a new report warns. The immense size of the Chinese market and increasing westernisation of consumer diets means it will remain our largest market.

“However, NZ dairy producers are likely to endure increasing competition from other dairy-producing nations attempting to expand their share of the Chinese market,” says a report on the NZ ‘Cheese, butter and milk powder manufacturing industry’ by business research company IBIS World. “For example, dairy producers in Australia are likely to increase their focus on the Chinese market over the next five years, as tariffs are gradually reduced as part of a free-trade agree-

CHEESE THE RISING STAR THE IBISWorld report says some operators have shifted their focus away from milk powders towards high-value cheeses over the past five years due to their higher perceived growth and profit margin potential. Consequently, the milk and milk concentrates segment has decreased as a share of industry revenue over the past five years. The butter and dairy spreads segment has increased slightly

as a share of industry revenue over the past five years, largely due to greater sales of bulk commercial AMF to foodservice establishments in export markets. Traditionally the cheese industry has derived most of its revenue from cheddar, followed by cottage and cream cheeses. However, products like Brie, Camembert and goat cheese are also in demand.

ment signed between Australia and China in 2015. “Given Australia’s reputation as a producer of high-quality agricultural products, Chinese consumers are likely to view products exported from Australia similarly to those produced in NZ, which may increase competition and constrain industry revenue growth from this market over the period.” Annual revenue for the NZ cheese, butter and milk powder industry stands at a yearly $17.2 billion. Annual growth from 2018-23 is forecast at 1.5% versus annual growth from 201318 of 0.5%. Profit margins in the cheese, butter and milk powder industry are projected to rise over the next five years. “Recovering prices in export markets should allow processors to lift their margins, particularly on noncommodity products like premium cheeses and specialty butters. “However, margins on some products, such as bulk-packaged milk powder, are likely to remain fairly stable over the period. The high volumes of stockpiled milk powder in

Australian UHT milk on sale in China.

key markets will likely take years to depleted, meaning prices for these products are likely to take longer to recover than other dairy product prices.” Fonterra is likely to remain the dominant player in the industry, given its immense size compared with other players, the IBISWorld report says. “However, a small proportion of dairy cattle farmers are likely to sell their interests in the co-op in pursuit of better prices and contract terms.

“This will reduce the supply of raw milk to Fonterra and is expected to constrain the co-op’s growth over the next five years. The trend of dairy farmers turning away from Fonterra is likely to continue to entice potential players to enter the industry. Consequently, enterprise numbers are forecast to increase over the five years to 2022-23, although at a slower rate than over the past five years.” Industry employment is also forecast to rise slowly.


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NEWS  // 17

Oz milk nourishing Japan’s elderly A TASMANIAN dairy farmer’s milk is going into high-nutrition foods for ageing Japanese, Fonterra reports. Leigh Schuuring and his wife Kellie and family farm at Smithton on the north-west coast of Tasmania beside Bass Strait. Schuuring had never expected his farm’s milk to become a key ingredient in nourishing ageing Japanese, the co-op says. But it will be, via product made at its Wynyard factory, a 45-minute drive from the farm, starting next month (August). Fonterra Australia’s ingredients business and a large Japanese food maker will use the milk-derived product in a whey protein concentrate (WPC) for dairy beverages, yoghurt and snack bars for the Japan market. Fonterra Australia managing director Rene Dedoncker says the WPC made from cheese whey was developed for the Japanese customer in about a year with input

from the co-op’s Australian research and operations teams. “It’s an example of how we are getting higher value out of Australian farmers’ milk and taking it to the world,” he says. “Health-conscious Japanese consumers are turning to protein food and beverages for better health and longer life.” The Japanese know nutrition can influence good health, he says. They have the highest life expectancy of any country, research suggesting this is largely due to healthy diet. Dedoncker says Australia is seen as a trusted and safe source of dairy due to its clean, green reputation for food safety and quality. “We have access to over 100 markets and 30% of the milk we collect in Australia is exported as nutritional powders, milk and protein powders and cheese. Growth prospects for dairy protein ingredients in Asia are strong.” The global protein

ingredients market is forecast to grow by at least 7% to US$43.3 billion by 2024. Milk from Schuuring’s farm recently won Dairy Australia’s 2017 Gold Milk Quality Award, putting it

Tasmanian farmer Leigh Schuuring on his farm.

in the country’s top 100 for quality. “You don’t always think about what happens to the milk once it leaves the farm. Knowing where it goes gives us a sense of accomplishment,” he says.


Fonterra collects 450m litres milk from 230 Tasmanian farmers


Milk is processed at two sites -- Wynyard (near Burnie) and Spreyton (near Devonport)


Wynyard plant, which makes WPC, has run at full capacity since fire destroyed Fonterra’s Victoria cheese plant at Stanhope


Fonterra is the leading supplier of dairy ingredients in Australia


About 30% of milk it collects in Australia is exported as nutritional powders, milk powders and cheese.

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RURAL RECYCLING programme, Agrecovery says other industries should follow its lead in clearing more of New Zealand’s plastic waste.  The programme will this year recover and recycle over 300 tonnes of plastic that might otherwise be burnt, buried or dumped- enough plastic to cover a rugby field six feet high, says Agrecovery general manager, Simon Andrew.  “Agrecovery is a great example of how manufacturers, industry, government and consumers can work together to reduce the harmful impacts of plastic waste on our environment,” he says.  “It would be exciting to see other industries adopt a similar approach to tackling their waste issues.”




Time to refresh our aim

MILKING IT... Pellets from heaven

Jump to bovine light speed

DURING THE recent snowstorm in the central North Island, Horizons Regional Council signalled survival and comfort tips to people trapped on farms and ski lodges and said their food shortages would be alleviated by ‘pellets’ of food trucked in. We wonder whether the ‘pellets’ were of the chook, sheep or cattle variety, and whether tourists may have rushed to try the unique NZ emergency cuisine. Roast sheep nuts for dinner, perhaps? (OK, we assume someone at Horizons forgot their spell check. ‘Pallets’ not ‘pellets’, huh?)

A RECENT story on preventing lameness in dairy cows quoted a vet saying cows should not be rushed. “They should walk at 2.7km/h; that’s 45m/ second,” the story read. Cows walking at 45m/ sec? You could sell tickets to see that. Obviously, the vet was referring to cows walking 45m/minute.

Irish singer puts squeeze on herd IRISH MUSICIAN Sharon Shannon has found a whole new audience in Dungarvan, Waterford: a herd of cows mesmerised by her accordion playing. Her Facebook page shows the adoring fans neglecting their pasture and gathering closer for her impromptu performance. The post got lots of ‘likes’, one viewer saying it shows cows have feelings and love music.

These cows do fly AS THE standoff between Qatar and the other Gulf Co-operation Countries (GCC) fades, a Qatar businessman has plans to airlift 4000 cows there to boost milk supplies and partially wean the country off the Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) teat. The cows will help Qatar meet 30% of its dairy demand; it now imports 80% of its food from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbours. Qatar Airways Cargo has flown the first two shipments of 330 Holstein cows from Europe on a Boeing 777 freighter.

THE DAIRY industry has made great strides in sustainable farming, from producing safe and top grade milk to being good stewards of the environment. Farmers’ noteworthy progress, year after year, has been achieved under the Industry Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming 2013 - 2020 ‘Making dairy farming work for everyone’. Developed and adopted by DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of NZ, Federated Farmers and the Dairy Women’s Network, the strategy set ten objectives for achieving a competitive and responsible dairy industry. Now comes a ‘refresh’ of that strategy; 2020 is not far off, and after several years of effort now is the time for the industry to take stock of how we are tracking, what has been achieved and what more we need do. Much has changed, even since 2013, and the refresh is an opportunity to consider what new approaches might be needed. DairyNZ says the strategy is a great foundation, and now it wants to build on that with new ideas and knowledge. The refresh will also examine opportunities and challenges and envision how we should prepare for them. The refresh involves all industry strategy partners, meaning farmers especially must have their say. A website - www. provides a gathering place for all observations and opinions. DairyNZ wants all stakeholders to say their piece, then a working group will consider all the inputs, plus its own research and analysis, and develop the refresh. A steering group will have strategy and governance oversight. The main thing about the refresh is sustainable dairy farming -- looking at the many factors that influence the dairy value chain. The outcomes of the refresh are likely to extend beyond the current strategy’s 2020 horizon. It should be finished by October, then the action will start towards achieving the strategy’s objectives. Dairy farmers have played a key role in the strategy’s success to date; now it’s time to take it to a new level. We urge farmers to have their say.

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OPINION  // 19

What’s your future in dairying aged 20-odd? BRENT LOVE

SO YOU’VE got yourself

here. Well done. With a bit of luck you’ve worked hard at secondary school, and may even have advanced to tertiary study or got started on some Primary ITO development. You may have found out, through early mornings and time in a cowshed, that dairy farming is your future. Congratulations, you will do well. Many have been before you, but to be fair to you they haven’t actually been where you stand today. You are the new generation to whom the career pathway isn’t as clear as it was 10-15 years ago. Back then you could start where you are at now, realistically with a little luck, and by doing a tonne of hard work you could achieve the success of land ownership as the ultimate goal. Things have changed: the capital-hungry dairy industry and the rollercoaster ride of commodity prices have changed the game-plan for many. At times you can become disoriented, and wonder why you are perhaps doing what you are doing, and you may start to consider what success

looks like. So let’s develop a plan to span the next 2-5 years; that’s more than enough. Make the plan robust and include financial and personal plans. Your plan will need action points to help achieve shortmedium term goals or achievements. Make sure the plan is heading in the general direction of what your ‘dream’ outcome looks like. Be flexible and be realistic in your plan. If you have no capital today and you are earning a $50,000 salary, and you are paying off your car and student debt, a plan to own a 1000-cow dairy farm in Canterbury within the next 10 years may not be realistic. Understand the financial and personal demands imposed by your present commitments, and how that works with your plan. Be committed; realise that what you’re doing today might be a reasonable outcome for you. I have successful contract milkers who have generated significant wealth over the last few years by saving hard, investing long term in assets like property, shares or Kiwisaver schemes and using debt sensibly. Buying cows to lease

Brent Love

out for nothing to start a herd and maybe going 50/50 share milking at Temuka is not really a plan. This has a significant risk to it that you can’t control or mitigate. Be successful at being counter-cyclical; sometimes that means you have to stick to your knitting, take a calculated risk with at least a B plan attached to it and don’t be greedy on entry or exit. Understand that the management jobs in the dairy industry, compared with a lot of other jobs or careers, are relatively well paid in monetary and lifestyle terms, and while it may not allow you to purchase a farm, it does allow you to plan for a successful financial outcome for you and your family. Value what you do today. I see a lot of people in the industry spending time day-dreaming about the future but failing to make a good job

of what they are supposed to be doing. This is an extremely important point, when you have little capital and few relationships; what you offer in raw physical and mental ability become extremely important to your future success. If you blow through jobs, especially at management and share milking level, eventually this will catch up with you; your reputation in this industry is paramount. Be kind to those around you and remember that your solar system doesn’t control the universe. This means that you asking your employer for a pay rise isn’t a right: negotiating by ultimatum can be extremely

dangerous to your future relationship and opportunities. Understand that your brand is something you establish: how good you are at building that brand is your responsibility. The future is bright for people who are well skilled and financially secure in their own right to take up those opportunities. Remember, get a plan, take responsibility and ownership for the plan, be realistic and do what you are doing now as well as you possibly can. • Brent Love is director farm enterprise at KPMG, based in Timaru. This is his address to the South Island Dairy Event 2017 at Lincoln University.



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The next ‘big thing’ in breeding HOLSTEIN FRIESIAN

New Zealand (HFNZ) believes the next big thing in the bull industry has arrived. Maire IG Gauntlet-ET beat 17 of the country’s top registered Holstein

Friesian sires to win the Mahoe Trophy at an awards evening in Cromwell this month. Bred by Craig and Chantelle Rowe of Maire Farms Ltd, Palmerston North, and marketed by

LIC, Gauntlet scored 587 points. HFNZ says this puts Gauntlet in good company as the Mahoe Trophy winners have typically succeeded in the industry.

The Rowes have had their eyes on the Mahoe Trophy for a while. Craig says they’re proud to have won. “We see the Mahoe Trophy as the pinnacle of bull breeding recogni-

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tion and have aimed for years to breed a bull good enough to win this trophy. “Gauntlet optimises what we are trying to breed for ourselves and the industry, and he’ll be of interest to most people, no matter what their farming system.” The Rowes were unable to receive the award in person because “the opportunity to watch our daughter play in the Cricket World Cup in England was too good to miss,” he says. Simon Worth, LIC livestock selection manager, says Gauntlet is one to watch. “This guy is outstanding. Bulls such as Gauntlet do not come along often. “He offers so much in one package – outcross, index, protein, udders and all-round dairy conformation. I have seen

a number of the Gauntlet daughters and they are special. We will be talking about Gauntlet for many years.” A sire can only win the Mahoe Trophy once. The award is calculated from a formula including breeding worth, longevity, protein, fat, overall opinion, udder overall and dairy conformation breeding values. The Mahoe Trophy was first awarded in 1971; it was donated by the late Mrs Hilary Haylock, MBE. Eligible entrants are automatically entered. Previous winners of the Mahoe Trophy include Fairmont MintEdition, Telesis Euon Firenze, Top Deck KO Pierre, SRC Hibi Secret Skelton, Valden Curious Paladium, Athol Famous Prefect, Gunn Sovereign Baron and Manuka Brabazon Royal.

Ex-rugby pro lands test role A FORMER semi-pro rugby player has joined the management of a testing lab business that serves farmers. Jay Wilkinson is the new operations manager for Hill Laboratories, looking after the South Island and Auckland. This is the firm’s first non-scientist in the role, his background in operations and logistics appealing as useful. Says Wilkinson, “I make things happen and bring an element of speed and efficiency to ensure quick turnaround.” He grew up in rural Taranaki and graduated from Massey University a Bachelor of Resource and Environmental Planning. He then joined the army to learn to cook, qualified as a chef, quit all that and played professional rugby -- two years in Sydney with Manly. “I also worked part-time in logistics with a company that asked me to take on a couple of fill-in management roles. That’s when my management career started.” Wilkinson then lived in Amsterdam for five years, playing rugby and working in logistics roles. Then he moved to London where he coached and played rugby, and worked for Menzies Aviation at Gatwick Airport. Now he and wife Chloe, a Kiwi, with William (2) are settled in Christchurch. He says his rugby career gave him a pathway into his working life.



FOR HAPPY Humility, experience in HEALTHY award nominees COWS TWO DAIRY women – “humble

and leading from the heart” – are among nominees in the Westpac ‘Women of Influence’ awards scheme. Dairy Womens Network trustees Pamela Storey and Tracy Brown are contesting the Women of Influence award in the rural category. Storey, an electrical engineer, has been in governance in the Energy Management Association of NZ, Waikato Environmental Centre, the Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership and most recently Primary ITO. Brown, formerly an economist, chairs the Dairy Environment Leaders Programme and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Alumni. She is involved in the dairy industry’s strategy refresh and the dairy environment leadership group which oversees the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord initiative.

Pamela Storey

Tracy Brown

DWN chair Cathy Brown says the two ambassadors for dairy women are “humble, lead from the heart and have a roll-up-theirsleeves attitude”. “They give a lot of time to the rural sector and are doing amazing things in environmental sustainability. “These nominations recognise the hard work dairy women put into the industry -- often behind the scenes and not immediately

recognisable.” Storey says it’s “empowering to see dairy women being profiled at this level”. And Tracey Brown sees this as “an opportunity to show an urban audience the meaningful work -most of it voluntary -- women in the rural sector do so well”. Storey and her husband own and run a 500 cow farm in Te Hoe, in North Waikato, with her husband. They breed high BW ani-

mals and have a flexible approach to farming systems to suit changes in the economy. Tracey Brown and her husband own a 700 cow farm, ‘Tiroroa’, near Matamata. They won the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment award in 2010. Cathy Brown says DWN members are more involved in farm management and operation than when she joined in 2009, when it had 2500 members. “Now it’s closer to 10,000 and we’re catering… to dairy women in the business side of farming. As the business of dairy becomes more complex, our members are [learning] how to run a farming business in today’s economic, environmental and compliance-driven climate.” The Westpac Women of Influence Awards will be announced on September 7 at a dinner at SkyCity, Auckland.




Hurunui River in North Canterbury. PHOTO: RICHARD COSGROVE.

Below: Trios nitrogen sensor similar to the one being installed in the Hurunui River.


it is putting its money where its mouth is by going halves with Environment Canterbury to buy a real-time nitrogen level monitor for the Hurunui River. The two will buy a $14,000 NICO nitrogen data logger capable of recording the river’s nitrogen levels every 15 minutes. The fixed position device – a first for Canterbury and among the first in New Zealand – will enable precise monitoring of the river 24/7 for the first time. Nitrogen recordings are now taken only monthly, by ECan and NIWA under their state of the environment monitoring scheme. North Canterbury Fish & Game chairman Trevor Isitt says the realtime logger is a big step in collecting accurate data because daily and weekly variations will be recorded.

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“Fish & Game staff work with rural communities almost daily, and it came to our attention that we needed to help the community [clarify] water quality issues. “Because the Hurunui River has nationally significant recreation, tourism and amenity values, Fish & Game is happy to… fund half the cost of this device.” Isitt hopes the data

logger will promote better monitoring of other contaminants such as phosphorus to “ensure the Hurunui River gets the attention it deserves so all fish species including natives can thrive.” Fish & Game says the Hurunui River can be classed as “moderately polluted” for an alpine river, and the group wants more monitoring of both contaminants. Meanwhile, Isitt is welcoming the apparent suc-

cess of a winter fishing ban on some North Canterbury rivers imposed in 2016 because deteriorating water quality had brought fisheries to near-collapse. The Rural Advocacy Network notes the closure may have succeeded: trout have been seen preparing to head to their spawning streams. “Most of these fish would have migrated up the river from lower reaches from May onwards; their spawn timing is in line with

other catchments in North Canterbury at present,” said Isitt. “I wonder if there would have been as many in this pod if we had continued to allow angler harvest of these pregnant trout, laden with thousands of eggs, to be taken out of the catchment over the past two winters.” Their progeny is imperative to the regeneration of the Hurunui River trout populations and probably other East Coast sea-run and lowland brown trout populations, he said.

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Reducing mud will bring better grass growth rates Move stock at daybreak Stand cows off on cowshed yard and/or feed pad ■■ Draft out springers and calving R2s that can be moved on in area in the evening if necessary. The lates stood off ■■ Put cows to the back of paddocks first so if standing cows off they walk over the pasture, reducing soil damage (yes, some pasture will be sacrificed) ■■ Accept body condition score as it is now, and focus on conserving pasture with the correct round length and by feeding supplements. In the first 90 days of the new season it is vital to feed all the different mobs so as to maximise the production and profitability of the farm.  If this is not done properly, underfeeding can lead to poor milk production, high rates of body condition loss and poorer reproduction results. To help avoid this, a spring rotation ■■



MANY FARMS are not where they

should be in average pasture cover for this time of year. Growth rates have dropped back this winter to perhaps more normal long-term averages, catching a few out: this and sodden soils make grass hard to utilise. Soils are saturated and so it is hard not to make mud during rain. As hard as it feels, all efforts made to reduce mud will ultimately be rewarded with better pasture growth rates for the rest of the season.  Here are a few basic pointers for reducing mud: ■■ Make pasture breaks square ■■ Set up supplements and breaks in advance ■■ Have bail-out options to drier paddocks where possible; be prepared to change halfway through a paddock to start a new paddock

Darren Sutton, FarmWise.

planner SRP) can help to keep you on the right track through the eight hectic weeks of calving. By using this simple

tool you can relax knowing that you are in step with where you need to be at any given date from the planned start of calving to when feed supply matches feed demand. The SRP does not get used to the same extent as in the past due to the steady intensification of farm systems where supplements are more often being fed through spring than they were 20 years ago. For these farm systems, where no supplements are fed through the spring, if you manage your pasture poorly then you can quickly fall into a hole of low covers and underfed cows.  Though greater use is now made of supplements in spring, the accurate management and allocation of pasture through the spring is still better practice as this helps ensure your cheapest source of feed (pasture) is not wasted. A SRP allocates more area each day to be grazed from the start of calving from a winter round length (e.g. 90-100 days), through to when feed

supply (pasture growth rate and supplements fed) matches cow demand. In the King Country this is usually midlate September. At this stage you want to be on the round length that suits your stocking rate to maintain this round through October and November, which is usually about the 21-25-day mark. At FarmWise we have a more detailed version of the SRP that puts in your calving rate and supplements available for feeding. This therefore allocates pasture and supplements more accurately to your dry and milking cow mobs, to ensure each mob is being fed at the correct rate. If you haven’t used a SRP before, try one this year to get the best use of pasture and feed on farm, and enjoy the benefits of a more relaxed spring, and better feed management. • Darren Sutton is a FarmWise consultant. @dairy_news









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FOR HAPPY Do what you do well HEALTHY COWS 2. Grow large amounts of feed on land they control: for high input farms, feed other than pasture becomes a critical component of their success, as does feeding it at the lowest cost possible. Many successful high input farmers grow large amounts of maize silage on land they either own or lease for about 15-20c/ kgDM. They then use this low-cost feed to average down any higher

LAST MONTH I summarised

some fascinating data from the 2015-16 Economic Farm Survey (EFS) released by DairyNZ. Table 1 shows that during the last 11 years the average higherinput farm has made more profit per hectare, has had better return on assets and equity and higher equity growth, and has had a risk profile similar to medium- and low-input farms. While profit per hectare differed little between the systems in last year’s survey (about $400/ ha between the high and low input system in favour of the low system), there was a big difference between the best and poorest performing farmers – about $3000 - $4000. I regularly get asked, “what are the best performing farmers doing that make them so good?” Over the years I have seen four basic things that set good and poor farmers apart. 1. Attention to detail: high performing farmers do what they do well: they are very good at the things that drive dairy production, and they tend to do the little things to a high standard. They are well aware of what drives profit on their farms and while everyone makes mistakes, successful farmers seek to ensure they don’t stuff up too often in the areas which matter the most. Take maize stack management: good farmers manage their stacks very well to avoid wastage, while lower performing farmers tend to have stacks with loose faces and lots of feed lying around wasting.

priced supplements they buy in. 3. They tend to have very good cost control: for many years the EFS has shown a strong relationship between cost/kgMS and profit. However, how farmers achieve this low cost is not by always cutting costs. It is important to think about productive costs and non-productive costs: note that in Table 2 the most profitable farms had the highest cost per hectare. However, because they were producing more

milk per hectare they could dilute these costs over more milk solids. 4. High performing farmers surround themselves with good advisors: there is an old proverb, “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety”. High performing farmers have a team of people around them who understand them and what they are trying to achieve, and who give the right advice. Good farmers can distinguish good advice from rubbish, and use advisors who can back their advice up with statistically valid data. • Ian Williams is a Pioneer forage specialist. Contact him at

Table 1: Average Profitability of Owner-Operator Production Systems from 2005-06 to 2015-16





Operating profit ($/ha)




Total return on assets %




Total return on equity %




Growth in equity1%




Closing term liability/kg milksolids





Growth in equity and return on equity figures are from 2006/7 to 2015/16


Table 2: Profit/ha by quartile (Econ. Farm Survey 2014/15)





Stocking rate





Milksolids kg/cow





Milksolids kg/ha





Gross farm revenue $/ha





Operating expenses $/ha





Operating expense $/kMGS





Operating profit/ha





Weed whack exceeds $1b estimate THE TRUE cost of

weeds to New Zealand’s agricultural economy is likely far higher than previous research suggests, according to a new study funded by AgResearch. AgResearch and Scion scientists and economists from Lincoln University’s agribusiness and economics research unit reviewed available published research on the costs of weeds to NZ’s productive land (pastoral, arable and forestry). That review conservatively estimates the cost at $1.658 billion a year (based on 2014 costs). “The research on weed costs done previously used differing approaches and the numbers were some-


Giant buttercup in dairy pasture cost the industry $600m every year.

times outdated or contained guesswork,” says AgResearch principal scientist Dr Graeme Bourdôt. “Also, the estimate of $1.658b only covers the few weed species -- 10 of the 187 pasture weeds, some arable land weeds and forestry weeds -previously researched for their impacts. “The focus has largely

been on the loss of production. “Not always considered was the hefty cost of herbicides. So the true cost of the weeds to the agricultural sector is likely much higher than the $1.658b estimate.” The study looked at the economic impact of some of the more widespread and destructive weed species gorse,

broom, yellow bristle grass and Californian thistle. “We also developed a dynamic approach for estimating the potential costs of weeds [still developing here], taking account of possible rates of spread, maximum geographic extent and changes in consumer prices for agricultural products.”

For example, giant buttercup weed in dairy pastures would alone cost the dairy industry $592 million per year in lost milk solids revenue if it were to spread across its entire range over the next 20 years, Bourdot says. “NZ has one of the highest levels of invasion by introduced plant species in the world, and information has always been scarce about their economic cost on productive land. “Knowing more about these costs is important to developing costeffective ways to tackle weeds, and in quantifying the benefits of research aimed at keeping us ahead of the game.”


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‘Barriers’ help keep streams clean BALA TIKKISETTY

Well-built riparian margins keep contaminants out of waterways.

THE AGE-OLD practice of building barriers is useful in the modern context of protecting Waikato’s waterways, especially

as we collectively move to beef up our guardianship of lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and related moves to change



Trials show that Multimin® + Cu supports and improves the health of calves during stressful times, from birth through to weaning. Injectable combination of copper, selenium, zinc and manganese. Aids in the prevention of scours and pneumonia.1 Optimises immune response.2,3

Improved growth rates.4


ACVM No. A9374. 1. Teixeira et al, (2014), Effect of an injectable trace mineral supplement containing selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese on immunity, health, and growth of dairy calves. JDS 97, 4216–26. doi:10.3168/jds.2013-7625. 2. Arthington J, Havenga L (2012) Effect of injectable trace minerals on the humoral immune response to multivalent vaccine administration in beef calves. Journal of Animal Science 90, 1966–1971. 3. Arthington J, et al, (2014), Effects of trace mineral injections on measures of performance and trace mineral status of pre- and postweaned beef calves. Journal of Animal Science 92, 2630–2640. doi:10.2527/jas2013-7164. 4. Virbac data on file.

the regional plan also underpin other moves to further protect the waterways from contamination and degradation. Well-built and planted riparian margins beside water bodies form a barrier that can help keep contaminants out. These margins -- strips of land adjacent to the waterbodies – can for example filter out sediments, bacteria and nutrients from farm run-off, especially those contained in animal dung and urine, and agricultural chemicals. Pathogens like giardia and cryptosporidium can cause water-borne diseases, which in turn can cause serious health problems, while nitrates and phosphates can also create health disorders for people and stock, and contribute to algal growth. Besides cleaner water generally, an important benefit of good riparian management is improved stock health because stock no longer get their drinking water from contaminated streams. And maintenance work may be lessened for water systems that draw from surface water. Winter weather can place increased strain on the banks of farm waterways, increasing the risk of stream bank erosion threatening paddocks and affecting water quality. So its timely to look at the issues involved in erosion generally and land management practices that can contribute to contamination of waterways. Some of our rivers, lakes and streams have eroding banks, silted beds, water weed infestation and reduced water quality as a result of the way the land is used. Land management practices – whether related to farming, forestry, roading or horticulture – can cause soil erosion and a buildup of contaminants in watercourses. They include stock wading in water, poor cowshed effluent treatment, overgrazing, inappropriate fertiliser use, pugging and poor runoff control on cultivated land, and the building and use

of roads and tracks: all these contribute to the contamination of water bodies, and all can be managed to reduce the risk of generating contaminants. In addition to reducing the risks at source, good management of the banks of waterways -- with an appropriate and well-planted riparian margin -- can create a barrier between the farm system and the water body to help reduce negative effects by stabilising the banks and providing a filter for contaminants washing off the land. Besides filtering out contaminants, riparian strips can increase farm biodiversity. Careful selection of the mix of species planted within riparian areas makes it possible to beneficially modify what’s happening with light, temperature, nutrient and sediment loads, channel and bank stability, carbon inputs and habitat for terrestrial species. Shrubs and trees with extensive root systems, which tolerate moist soil conditions and frequent silt deposits, are ideal for stream bank erosion control. They physically hold the stream banks together and some tree roots also protect the streambed, limiting the scouring effect of running water. Streamside vegetation provides shade which cools the water, improves dissolved oxygen levels, helps aquatic life and reduces the risk of algal blooms. Improved milk grades are documented where dairy sheds no longer draw water from contaminated streams. On sheep and beef properties, stock are in better health and have faster weight gain when water sources are no longer contaminated. The regional council’s catchment management officers are available to provide advice on good riparian management. • Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture advisor at Waikato Regional Council. Contact him on 0800 800401 or email



Give up farming, generate power A 30kW solar installation on a rotary milking shed near Rakaia.


INSTALLING solar power can now get a better return from it than from farming itself, a solar power installer claims. Electrical contractor Andrew Wells, of ABW Electric, Christchurch, recently set up Sunergy Solar to market solar photovoltaic systems. His company specialises in farm installations, marketed at farming field days and A&P shows; it also does residential systems. Wells sees huge potential for solar power on farms: electricity charges for a dairy shed average $5000 - $6000 a month and solar panels now cost only about 8% of what they did 10 years ago. Sunergy in March commissioned a 30kW installation on a dairy shed near Rakaia; its performance data show it should pay for itself in four years and three months, Wells says. “We tell farmers this is a good investment [giving] a better return than farming. It’s going to lower your overheads so that if things turn down again you’re running a lower cost structure; you’re going to be more sustainable.” FARMERS

Best returns are expected in the good story if it can pay its way, and it Farm manager Gary McGregor says that he -- as the sharemilker who pays spring and summer peak of milk pro- appears it will. Everything Andrew said about it, it has delivered, in the shed bills -- and the farm what’s got to be described as owner, a big conglomerate “We tell farmers this is a good a below-average season,” said with at least 50 South Island McGregor. dairy farms, are interested to investment, giving a better Wells says that before see how the installation per- return than farming.” they design a system for a forms. The owner will treat it customer, Sunergy installs as a pilot for its other farms. a data logger to measure the actual Despite an overcast autumn it is duction and sunshine hours. “It’s environmentally a good thing power usage throughout the day and performing as promised, exporting to do for our carbon footprint. It’s a compare it to NIWA figures for local power to Meridian Energy.

sunshine. They have done analyses for dairy sheds, pig farms, cropping farm coolstores and service stations. In a dairy shed the big loads usually come during milking at each end of the day. Though this doesn’t match peak sunshine time, middle-of-theday unwanted power can usually be sold back to the power supplier. The Rakaia installation took three days, Wells says. “There’s no infrastructure, no resource consent. We bolt it onto an existing roof.” The payback time for a residential installation (not depreciable) is reckoned about six years, but the company conservatively tells customers seven or eight years. A calculator on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) website suggests a payback period of 20 years for residential systems, but Wells says this is misleading because it factors in the ‘opportunity cost’ of withholding money from investments. But solar energy is itself an investment, he says. “The numbers speak for themselves.” Wells says electric cars “suddenly everywhere” show the energy revolution is coming.

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Autumn / Winter HerdHomes® shelters users throughout New Zealand continue to talk to us about the benefits they get throughout the autumn and winter. It allows for users to manage pasture residuals and round lengths with ease. Drying off is based on calving date as all stock are wintered at home where putting on a condition score is simple 

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Pain relief before disbudding calves Vets welcome new regulations, including cattle disbudding only with pain relief.

VETS ARE throwing their support behind a raft of new animal welfare regulations proposed by the Government. The New Zealand Veterinary Association is applauding 46 proposed

rules as a win for animal wellbeing that further reinforces NZ’s world recognised standards. The vets favour the new regulations that include cattle disbudding only with pain relief --

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“long signalled as important”. “The NZVA views pain relief for disbudding as accessible, practical, effective, and affordable,” a spokesman says. On rules for trucking livestock, the NZVA says the proposed regulations will make enforceable the already existing restrictions on transporting lame, diseased or sick animals. “This reinforces vets’ critical role in protecting animal welfare by ensuring that only animals fit and sound are transported.” Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says changes to the Animal Welfare Act in 2015 allow the ministry to draft directly enforceable regulations. This gives the act more teeth, more tools to deal with mistreatment of animals. The new rules follow the young calf and live animal export regulations MPI fast-tracked and introduced last year, helping cut by 50% the mortality rates for bobby calves in the 2016 season, says Guy. Last year, MPI went public on 91 animal

welfare rules, getting feedback from 1400 individuals and organisations, all with differing views on animal welfare. MPI will now get ready 46 more regulations to take effect by October 2018. The delay is to allow farmers, processors, truckers and others to get ready. Remaining rules consulted on in 2016 will be worked on next year and enforced in 2019. “In 2014, NZ’s animal welfare was ranked 1st equal in 50 countries assessed by World Animal Protection,” says Guy. “We take good care of our animals but one bad incident can damage our reputation, so these new regulations are important for greater enforcement and helping protect animals.” NZVA head of veterinary services Dr Callum Irvine says they “applaud MPI’s commitment to animal welfare seen in the rules”. He says Kiwi vets have a vital advocacy role in animal welfare and NZVA supports all means to bring “greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws”.

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OSPRI HAS drafted a plan of TB management areas (TMAs) in which local’s activities will be aimed at eradicating bovine tuberculosis. It recently communicated the plan to farmers and interested landowners and occupiers nationally. Pest kills will go ahead in at least 100 TMAs nationally, according to disease patterns, geographical features, kill history and the needs for future kills. This will enable possum kills and wildlife disease surveys to be planned and contracted efficiently, and give local focus for consulting land occupiers, communities and groups interested in or affected by the operations, Ospri says. Each TMA has a target date for eradicating TB. Each year OSPRI will update and publish the plan for each TMA, which will describe pest kills or wildlife surveys planned for the coming year, and a preview of further work needed.




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Cambridge farm manager Cam Forbes.

Bolus technology gives daily reports of cow health A SNAPSHOT of a dairy herd’s tec-bolused sub-group of 2-year-olds: cows earlier. First thing each morning he vitals just by clicking on a phone one third of them indicated metritis checks the phone app’s health alert app or website is giving Kiwi farm- or other infections. Being able to detect and treat for an update on cows whose temperers insight into cow health problems, says a New Zealand company market- metritis after calving boosts an ani- atures have been consistently high in mal’s welfare and productivity during the last three reporting periods. ing Austrian bolus technology. Smaxtec gives Forbes a simple Smart Farm Data Ltd has adapted the transition to peak lactation, Smart Smaxtec bolus technology for NZ Farm Data comments. A field study way to tell his staff about health use. It alerts a farmer to cows’ inter- reported by DairyNZ found 40% of issues and the reasoning behind nal temperatures, activity includ- herds had one or both types of endo- treatment decisions. And it told him about cow coming oestrus alerts, and even pH data metritis; its presence can lower three fort during hot humid from the rumen -- all indisummer-autumn weather. cators of whether cows are “I now have a clear picture From a temperatureas healthy as they could be. of how healthy they are and index algorithm The boluses gave one whether they are cycling as they humidity he got alerts when cows farmer client an early were facing growing disalert to cows’ reproductive should.” comfort. He then included health well before mating a low-cost feed additive in was due. the cows’ diet to maintain their appeCam Forbes, a Cambridge dairy week in-calf rates by 34%. “So detecting problems early tites and production. farm manager, oversees 600 cows The pH boluses are inserted in averaging 695kgMS/cow on mixed brings benefits going into next rations -- grass, grass/maize silage, season,” Forbes says. “We can find only 5% of the cows in the herd to soy feed, brewers grain and palm the problem earlier in our pre-mat- give a sample indication of feeding ing lead up, and deal with it so that efficiency, which Forbes says has kernel. He is concerned to maintain cow more cows get in calf sooner for the good potential to yield better understanding. health and keep them “happy and following season.” “We are only just learning more Metri-checking of the herd focuses producing well,” he says. “We put boluses in all the autumn on the group that will truly benefit about managing pH; we aim to try to manage the pH to a steady consistent calving herd and I now have a clear during the busy lead-up, he says. “We also had a cow that calved line. We have had five vets and nutripicture of how healthy they are and whether they are cycling as they and had a prolapse, and the vet tionists looking at this information, warned us she may get an infection and we are all learning a lot about should.” diet composition, feeding routines He knows that health problems he in a couple of weeks. “Sure enough, two weeks later she and their impact on pH.” can’t see, e.g. acidosis and metritis, are likely to be serious; the boluses had an elevated temperature, indicatRecently the Smaxtec alerts ing an infection. can help detect them early. showed a big shift in herd tempera“We were able to treat her straight ture and a decline in oestrus activity, Acidosis problems are seen in sudden changes in rumen pH, and away with antibiotics before she was linked by a nutritionist to elevated metritis infections can show up via fully infected and showed clinical mycotoxins in the maize silage the increased temperature alerts over signs.” cows were eating. He says he finds the temperature time. Those alerts also gave Forbes The farm added buffers to the useful data in the lead-up to mating alerts posted by the boluses help him diet, reducing toxin levels, improvlast year. The health report pointed to get onto herd health issues much ear- ing cow health and increasing their elevated temperatures in the Smax- lier, with better outcomes by treating reproduction activity.




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Watching the currency that counts BREEDING WORTH

(BW) has been the currency for dairy genetics in New Zealand but times

are changing as more farmers watch the currency that counts – in the bank.

Farmers are seeking genetics that are high producing and fertile, says World Wide Sires.

Hank Lina, general manager of World Wide Sires NZ, says the new era of dairying, with vol-


Treating mastitis with Metacam® also improved fertility

We’ve come to expect therapeutic efficacy and productivity benefits from Metacam®. What we didn’t expect, until recently, were fertility benefits too. Our new large-scale (n = over 500) landmark study found that the addition of Metacam® to standard antibiotic therapy for mastitis was associated with a greater first-service conception rate, fewer inseminations and a higher probability of pregnancy by 120 days post-calving.1

“We learned from that experience. Our 30,000 farmer shareholders told us they wanted medium-size cows that get in calf every year and produce high milk solids.”

Expectations of Metacam® treatment are changing accordingly. Are yours?

Longer reproductive life

Reference 1. Addition of meloxicam to the treatment of clinical mastitis improves subsequent reproductive performance. S. McDougall et al. Journal of Dairy Science. Volume 99, Issue 3, March 2016, Pages 2026–2042. New Zealand: Boehringer Ingelheim (NZ) Limited, Animal Health Division, Level 1, Unit 9, 42 Ormiston Road, East Tamaki, Manukau 2016. Toll free: 0800 802 461. Restricted Veterinary Medicine. Access is only through a veterinary authorisation. Australia: Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Limited ABN 52 000 452 308. Animal Health Division, 78 Waterloo Road, North Ryde NSW 2113. Toll free: 1800 038 037. Metacam® is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, 55216 Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany. BIV/9633

atile dairy payouts and an increased focus on the environment, is leading many farmers to take a critical look at the size and production of their herds. “BW is a great ranking tool but, as farmers know, it doesn’t always translate to milk. “We are finding more and more farmers are coming to World Wide Sires wanting genetics that are high producing, fertile and last for years in the herd. “We’re finding our genetics perform in all farming systems. I was recently talking to a system 2/3 client in Canterbury who changed to World Wide Sires some years back and is now averaging at least 500kgMS/cow... the sort of improvement we are seeing as farmers take up a genetic offering which gives them options to grow their incomes, not the size of their herds. “In 2017 alone sales increased by 43% and we are getting steady and increasing growth in enquiry from new clients, all wanting the same things – cows that milk and get in calf, from a company which provides personal service, on-farm. “We do all of those things. I’ve had to take on additional field staff as a result of the increased

Hank Lina

demand but this, fortunately, isn’t a problem as the phone is ringing with experienced people wanting to come and work for us.” Lina said service, or lack of it, is a factor in World Wide Sires’ growing customer base. “We have representatives all over NZ and provide on-farm sales and service. It’s what most farmers want. They don’t want to talk to someone they don’t know or trust on the phone; relationships and trust are built by spending time to get to know farmers, their business and lifestyle objectives and then helping them achieve that.” Hank Lina concedes that like most genetics companies in the 1990s, World Wide Sires’ genetics erred in favour of size, production and conformation at the cost of fertility. “We learned from that experience. Our 30,000 farmer shareholders told us they wanted mediumsize cows that get in calf every year and produce high milk solids. And we’ve done that, thanks to the largest database of elite dairy sires in the world. “The sires on offer in NZ have been specifically selected for the traits wanted by Kiwi farmers – moderately sized, well conformed cows that are fertile and high producing. Most if not all sires also have outcross bloodlines, which makes mating time much easier to manage.”


CALVING  // 29

Cows need increasing levels of feed leading up to birth MARJORIE ORR

IN LATE pregnancy and early lactation cows are under great metabolic stress. Their foetuses grow fast in late pregnancy, and after giving birth they have to produce a lot of milk. If their feeding is interrupted, for example by bad weather or by yarding, they can easily be tipped into fatal metabolic imbalance. The result may be hypomagnesaemia (called grass staggers in cows), acetonaemia (ketosis in cows) or hypocalcaemia (milk fever in cows). In these diseases the first signs are usually a change of behaviour: dullness progressing to the stage where the animals go down and cannot rise, or agitation with trembling and nervousness leading to convulsions. It is wise to discuss treatment options with a veterinarian before cases develop. It is very important to call a vet at the first sign of trouble. Emergency treatment is vital if the animal is to survive. Many cows have residual liver damage caused by facial eczema in autumn and this could predispose them to metabolic disease. Other predisposing

factors include poor body condition, a check in feed supply, cold wet windy weather and the stress of yarding or trucking. To prevent metabolic diseases, farmers should try to keep their feed supply steady or increasing, provide sheltered paddocks in bad weather and minimise the time stock spend in yards. Acetonaemia (or ketosis) Acetonaemia in cows is fairly common, especially in high-producing cows in early lactation; the best cows are most at risk. The disease develops when milk production demands more of the cow’s energy resources than can be met by her intake, in other words, when she is not getting enough to eat. The signs include dullness, not eating, staggering or aimless wandering, twitching of the face and ears, blindness, recumbency, coma and death within a few days. Sometimes the only signs are a drop in milk production and weight loss. Diagnosis Ketones are excreted in the urine and in the breath. Ketones have a characteristic sweet smell (nail polish remover) which about 50% of people can detect around affected


Good feeding up to birth prevents ketosis in cows.

MILK FEVER IN COWS MILK FEVER 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, characteristically with the head swung round beside the body. Early signs can include smaller 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, great anxiety and trembling. Treatment of milk fever is by injection of calcium solutions at the first sign of problems.

animals. The blood concentrations of ketones rise before signs develop, so blood tests can be used by a vet to predict problems. Prevention The key to prevention is good feeding. Cows should have an increasing level of feed leading up to birth. Concentrate feed may be necessary. Treatment Acetonaemia in animals that have been

underfed for some time is generally difficult to treat because of liver damage. There are various energy supplements – some with electrolytes that can be given by mouth – and they can be helpful if given early in the course of the disease. • Dr Marjorie Orr is a lifestyle farmer and veterinarian (retired). This article first appeared in


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30 //  CALVING

Calving critical time to prevent lameness ANNA IRWIN

COWS ARE more susceptible to lameness at calving than any other time of year. International studies

have found that during calving a cow’s ligaments relax to aid calving. This relaxation occurs across the whole body, including the ligaments that support the hoof. For up to eight weeks post-

calving, the bones in the cow’s hoof are not held in place as tightly as normally and the bones can move. This movement puts pressure on the corium (the tissue that produces

healthy hooves) and makes the cow vulnerable to lameness, including white line disease and sole injury. The new research has also found that if lameness is treated incorrectly

or not quickly enough, then the bones in the hoof of a lame cow can be irreversibly changed. These bony changes can increase the likelihood of the cow becoming lame in future.

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Preventing lameness starts before calving and continues for the entire season.

The risk of lameness is unavoidable, so it is critical to minimise hoof trauma to prevent it, particularly at calving time. Year-round stockmanship and herd management should be aimed at reducing: ■■ long periods spent on concrete ■■ walking long distances ■■ underfeeding ■■ inappropriate transition management ■■ pushing cows on races or in yards ■■ poorly maintained races and yards. Preventing lameness starts before calving and continues for the entire season. Damage caused to the hoof structure at calving may result in lameness

two to four months later, when the compromised layer of the hoof contacts the ground. So a cow with white line disease or a sole injury in late spring/early summer may have damaged her corium at calving. Keeping records of lameness treatment allows you to look at types of lameness and seasonal patterns. This is helpful when you or your advisor are figuring out what the risk factors are on your farm. This could include reviewing management practices at calving. • Anna Irwin is a DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist. This article first appeared in Inside Dairy July issue.

Key points 1 Cows are more vulnerable to diseases at calving.

2 Monitor levels of disease and issues at ACVM Act Numbers. Calol, No. A7044 and Calsafe, No. A8110, See for registration conditions. Calstart is exempt from registration being an oral nutritional compound compliant with Schedule 4 of the ACVM regulations 2001. All are available, without consultation, from veterinary clinics nationwide.

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calving and act early if you see problems.

3 Caring for the transition cow sets her up for a great season.

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CALVING  // 31

Hunt for best bull calves CRV AMBREED is in the market

for New Zealand’s best bull calves that will produce the next generation of high performing dairy cows. Breeding manager Aaron Parker says it’s time for farmers to tell the herd improvement firm if they have a top-notch bull calf. “Year-on-year we’re building genetics to suit a broad range of environments, conditions and farming systems,” Parker says. “If a bull is nominated for our breeding programme, and is successful, it’s a lucrative source of income. The farmer joins an influential group of breeders contributing to genetic diversity and the advancement of the national herd.” If a bull calf is selected for CRV Ambreed’s sire-providing programme, farmers have two options for sellin git: $1250 + GST, plus a royalty of 5% of the gross amount of the

bull’s semen sales received by CRV Ambreed, excluding semen sold for progeny test; or $4000 + GST purchase price, $2000 + GST additional payment if the bull is an InSire graduate, and $5000 + GST additional payment if the bull is a proven graduate. An additional $500 + GST bonus payment is awarded if the bull results from an embryo transfer, and $1000 + GST bonus is awarded if the bull is ranked in the top 1% in the NZ Merit Index (NZMI). Parker says elite bull calves are usually sourced through the firm’s contract mating programme. But the yearly contract-free bull calf nomination process discovers more unique bulls. “We look for bulls whose daughters will be efficient producers and easy to manage for farmers. ‘Outcross’ or uncommon bloodlines are also preferred.”

Southland farmer owners Lyall and Jan Hopcroft and contract milkers Nick Templer and Anieka Venekamp tried their luck in 2015 with a son of one of their favourite cows, Jassie. Anieka Venekamp says Jassie was only three years old when she had son Jasper, but she remembered Jassie as a heifer and she had an outstanding udder and temperament. “She would catch my eye every time I was in the paddock, then when her herd test results came in we knew we were onto a winner. “We breed for udder, protein, temperament and capacity and she ticked all the boxes. She was the cow I was hoping to get a heifer out of, so when Jasper was born I thought I would try him with CRV.” They have five cows lined up this calving season and will nominate their calves if they are bulls.

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Great mum: Jassie’s son Jasper was nominated for the CRV Ambreed sire-proving programme.


32 //  CALVING

Ensure a good start to calving JAMES THOMAS

AT THIS stage of the

The recent wet weather will make the calving season more challenging

season most spring calving farms are – as well as enjoying time off milking – now starting to organise for the start of calving.

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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


This is always a time of great optimism, heading into a new season with expectations of a positive start. Obviously more than optimism is needed to get off to a good start and now is the time to see if targets have been reached during the dry period. Firstly, cow condition score (BCS): are your mixed age cows at BCS 5 and R2 and R3 heifers at BCS 5.5? If not, why not and what could be done differently next season? Secondly, what is the average pasture cover (APC) and how does it relate to the feed budget targets that will determine feeding levels and supplement use for the start of calving? Thirdly, use this information to set up a first round planner that will guide you from the start of calving until balance date when grass growth exceeds demand. Doing, monitoring and implementing a feed budget will allow time for any inputs that may be needed or management changes that may be required to meet farm

targets. Information is the key. And to the farm itself: repair and maintenance work should be well underway by now. Fix fences and ensure power levels are adequate; there is nothing worse than free-ranging stock. Calf sheds should be clean and new bobby calf loading facilities ready to go. Make sure machine checks have been done and any recommendations followed. And for those of you with new staff, make sure they are up to date in farm policy and procedures and any upskilling is done before the pressure comes on. Communication is the key here: knowing what to do or who to contact can save a lot of time and money in the long run. And most importantly, make the most of the dry period with some welldeserved time off. Starting the calving period relaxed and refreshed will best ensure a positive start. • James Thomas is a FarmWise consultant.



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  // 33

New rules kick in NEW REGULATIONS

for young calves are now in force by the Ministry for Primary Industries. They apply to any farmer sending calves off farm for sale or slaughter, and to truckers and processors of young calves for meat. A team effort is needed to treat all calves with care and respect, from birth to beyond the farm gate, DairyNZ says. Noncompliant farmers could risk fines or be banned from trucking calves away. Regulations taking effect in 2017 ■■ Maximum time off feed before slaughter ■■ Young calves must be slaughtered promptly after arrival at slaughter premises. The maximum time a calf can be off feed before slaughter is 24 hours. A calf not killed within that time must be fed by the processor. ■■ Farmers must record the time of last feed for every consignment of calves on a calf pick-up docket. Truckers collect calves without the pick-up docket. ■■ If the truck is late the calves may be trucked and the processor must adhere to the 24 hour maximum feed wait. If calves remain onfarm the farmer must feed the calves according to the welfare code, as above. Requirements for loading and unloading ■■ Loading and unloading facilities must be provided for young calves trucked for sale or slaughter. These must allow calves to walk on and off vehicles without human intervention. Truckers must take all reasonable steps to use these facilities. It is up to the farmer to decide how the calves will be loaded or unloaded, e.g. a raised platform, a loading ramp or embankment. The loading facility is to enable calves to get on or off the truck at trailer deck height. Truckers are forbidden to collect calves

if there are no loading facilities. Farmers should talk with their trucker before finalising a design or location, to ensure they are fit for purpose, accessible and safe for people and calves. Not every calf will choose to walk even when it can. If it must be lifted on or off a truck it must be handled with care. All calves, regardless of their destination or fate, must be handled with respect and care -- no excessive force or electric prodders. The code of practice for design and operation of farm dairies (NZCP1) has no stipulations about loading facilities and proximity of the farm dairy. Calves must not be housed within 20m of the farm dairy, but a farmer may temporarily hold calves within 20m of a farm dairy before pickup (e.g. on the same day while awaiting collection, but for a short time only). All mandatory standards for surfaces and drainage apply, as do rules on shelter. A calf holding area must be appropriately hygienic and be cleaned immediately after calf collection Shelter requirements before and during trucking Suitable shelter must be provided for young calves before, during and after trucking. Young calves are more vulnerable to cold, wind and rain than are older livestock. Poor or no shelter puts them at risk of heat or cold stress. A waiting pen must be sheltered from the weather, ventilated and clean and allow calves to stand up and lie down in comfort. A ramp or race for loading calves need not be covered if the calves use the ramp only during loading. A farm may have an existing structure (holding pen or vehicle) that complies as is or after small changes.

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CALVING  // 35

Keep constant watch on calf health CALVES MUST be checked twice daily for signs of ill health and treatment given when needed, says DairyNZ. Check that noses are clear of discharge and are moist and cool and that calves are alert and have responsive ears with no infection around the ear tag. Ensure navels are clear of infection, mouths are clear of ulcers and that calves can stand and walk normally. All calves must be feeding and have shiny, supple coats; if you lightly pinch a calf’s skin and it is slow to return to normal it may be dehydrated and need electrolytes immediately. Good routine hygiene and health practices are also essential. Scrub all feeding equipment well with hot water and detergent and remove sick calves

promptly to a designated sick pen. Frequently clean and disinfect pens where sick calves are treated; disinfect hard surfaces and regularly refresh bedding. 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 with a healthy younger group. Vaccinate, treat for parasites and provide access to shelter. Diseases contractable by humans when handling dairy animals include leptospirosis, cryptosporidiosis, campylobacter, salmonellosis and ringworm. To keep humans and animals healthy, maintain high cleanliness and hygiene standards and vaccinate your herd where possible after






The calf should drink at least 2 litres 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. You can test the level of antibodies in a batch of colostrum using a Brix refractometer, available from your vet, farm supply store or a home brew shop. Brix higher than 22% are best for newborns. Store colostrum in multiple 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. Alternatively, preserve colostrum with potassium sorbate.

discussing this with your veterinarian.

High cleanliness and hygiene standards are essential during calf rearing.


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Lie-down pedicure work wonders for stock, farmer MARK DANIEL


feet may affect up to 20% of a dairy herd at any time, cutting production and fertility by about $385 per animal in one season. Likewise, beef animals with sore feet will have poor feed conversion rates and so lag in production. Regular hoof care demands safe, easy animal

handling, i.e. a good crush, so the Cow Tipper shown at Fieldays by the Irish company Northern Engineering is noteworthy. Its different concept has no belly girths, instead using a hydraulically actuated side that ‘clamps’ the animal where it stands. It can work as a static component in a handling system, or as a mobile unit -- ideal for professional trimmers, vets, or

farmers working several locations. Easy use is a key feature, and animals don’t have to step onto a platform as required by conventional designs. In operation, the animal is driven into the crush, encouraged by a hydraulically powered rump rail. Once its head is through the bail this is also clamped, then the left side of the crush is moved towards the animal, gently squeezing the beast

against the opposing padded side-wall. The machine’s key difference then comes into play: the whole assembly rotates hydraulically 90 degrees, to lay the animal on its side and present the feet to the operator at a convenient working height. The animal stays calm and relaxed, and there’s none of the danger that comes with applying straps or hooks to an animal’s feet for lifting. And

Regular hoof care demands safe, easy animal handling.

it saves a lot of time. Once horizontal, the animal’s hooves can be tied individually for safety. For handling a big animal, such as a Charolais bull (pictured), an optional neck extension makes for safety, and a removable side can be specified – prompted by vets’ requests for a means of safely doing caesarean

sections. Joystick control includes release of the front gate. Company spokesman Joe Quinn says competing manufacturers who doubt the practice of ‘flipping’ stock to the horizontal should note cows’ night-time habit of lying on their sides in the paddock.

Made from heavy galvanised steel, the machine has evolved over six years; about 100 have been made. The tipper won an Innovation Award at the 2017 LAMMA show in the UK. @dairy_news



applicators using a rotary feed mechanism to meter seeds, granules or slug

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pellets can now be controlled by the ISOBUS terminal of a tractor. StocksAG makes a range a 12V applicators including seeders such as the Turbo Jet pneumatic and Micro Meter gravity




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for grass and cover crops, etc; granular applicators such as the Rotor Meter and Maxi Meter for micro and full sized fertiliser; and slug pellet broadcasters such as the Fan Jet Mini, Pro Plus, Twin Plus and Duo Plus. All machines use a rotary feed mechanism powered by an electric motor and control system. A GPS based, speed proportionate, precision farming control is for stand-alone use on each machine. All are available as ISOBUS compatible, allowing control with a tractor’s own in-cab ter-

minal. In operation this means plugging into the tractor system, from where information is loaded onto the tractor terminal from the StocksAG unit, allowing complete control via the tractor terminal including speed input. The ISOBUS option allows the use of familiar controls, reduces cab clutter and allows the units to be used on several ISOBUS enabled tractors. And it allows variable-rate application from field maps, with auto shut-off and start-up at headlands.


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Vaderstad Temp even more precise MARK DANIEL

Floating row cleaner.

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holding Väderstad Tempo planter is precise at high speed, and its several new features will enhance results even further. With differing field conditions requiring a change of settings to maintain optimum row unit pressure and seed depth, the Tempo models can now be equipped with a hydraulic weight transfer option. This, on each row unit, allows the driver to precisely adjust the pressure

applied to ensure the best start for a wide range of seed types and field conditions,

using the iPadbased Väderstad E-Control from the tractor cab. For excellent cleaning

results in individual field conditions, all Tempo models can also be fitted with a new Väderstad floating row cleaner. Mounted on a parallel linkage, to allow precise ground following, working intensity is adjusted by spring pressure for a greater or lesser action. A self-cleaning rubber wheel controls the depth setting of the spiked row cleaner disc, and optimised working angle adjustment enables the operator to precisely maintain maximum output.

FARM machinery maker Claas, intent on more R&D, is building a new test centre at its HQ in Harsewinkel, Germany. It will be cosy as. The 8000m2 building – equal to 40 tennis courts – will cost €15 million and will merge several of the site’s test laboratories in a single complex to be opened next year. There Claas will test components for


its combine harvesters, forage harvesters and tractors in a wide range of operating and climatic conditions. Energy-saving innovations will include 300kW electric drive units – instead of diesel engines -- to test transmission components. Heat recovery will warm the occupants in winter, and heat exchangers connected to underfloor radiators will cool them in summer.

Rust-free fuel


RUSTY FUEL tanks, the result of condensation caused by hot days and cool nights, can pollute diesel and cause problems should the tank leak and contaminate nearby land or waterways. Sebco Fuel Storage Systems, Ashburton, makes a range of bunded, self-contained and leakproof tanks from high-impact polyethylene-plastic; they are EPA compliant, safe for all environs and condensation-free. Launched in 2007, the design won innovation awards at South Island field days and the Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Ten years on Sebco remains the only NZ maker of EPA compliant plastic-bund tanks. The extended range now includes storage for other than diesel, e.g. DEF/Ad Blue liquids and waste oil. They conform to all the rules, says Sebco managing director Ed Harrison. “Our company’s simple philosophy is that the tanks do what we say they will: keep customers’ fuel clean and rust-free, with no leaks or spills.” – Mark Daniel



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from the motor industry on hybrid/alternative power, the German engine giant Deutz, of Cologne, has developed a tractor engine powered by natural gas. First shown in prototype at Agritechnica 2015 in Hanover, the engine is a joint project of Deutz, the University of Rostock and the Thunen Institute. They set out to develop an engine that reduced pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions without reducing performance, while also ensuring the protection and sustainable use of natural resources. Installed in a Same Deutz Fahr tractor, the project’s Deutz TCD

3.6L 4-cylinder engine typically delivers 70 - 120hp and up to 480Nm torque in a diesel configuration. Converting the unit to run on natural gas required exchanging the standard injection system for spark ignition, and modifications to the pistons and cylinder head, then detailed study of the combustion process. The rig was tested for 500 hours at the Thunen Institute’s

Kioti’s latest offering.

organic farm at Trenthorst and found to burn more cleanly than petrol or diesel equivalents;

it produced much less nitrogen oxide and particulate matter and 24% less carbon dioxide. – Mark Daniel

Kioti RX series worth a look MARK DANIEL

THE KIOTI tractor brand has carved a niche for itself with good engineering at an extremely competitive price. Its production dates back about 60 years and in New Zealand and Australia it has sold for at least 16 years. The latest models from distributor/ retailer Power Farming are the new RX 7030 ROPS and the RX 8030 ROPS and cab units At the heart of each machine is a 4-cyl Daedong common-rail diesel with turbo-charging, fuel injection and 2500cc displacement. Delivering 70 and 80hp respectively, the engines are lively and responsive yet economical on fuel. They are mated to a wet clutch power shuttle transmission giving clutchless forward and reverse shifting; the operator gets the choice of 24 forward or 24 reverse speeds, all synchronised and easily accessed via a de-clutch button on the main gearshift lever. Speed charts show that in the important range 4-12km/h there is plenty of overlap that should make these units capable in the paddock. 4WD is available on demand and

easily selected on the move by a dashboard mounted rocker switch which actuates the system hydraulically and combines with the rear diff lock to ensure tough conditions are easily met. A 2-speed PTO system offers 540 or 540E speeds with auto mode which switches out the PTO as the implement is lifted; the rear linkage has telescopic arms and a healthy 2256kg lift capacity. Hydraulic flow is by an open-centre gear pump moving about 70L/min; a separate power steering pump brings total flow to 100L/min. The ROPS machines have a flat platform layout which allows easy access to and from the seat, ideal for livestock work with its many movements each day. For more creature comforts, the RX 8030 cabin model has a revised mounting layout said to improve driver comfort; excellent visibility helped by a new, sloping hood profile; and new design detailing around the door seals that combats noise. In the cab itself, air conditioning keeps temperatures under control, a deluxe suspension seat makes for a comfortable day, and controls fall easily to hand for logical and intuitive operation. Worth a closer look.



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Calol is registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No. A7044

Researched and manufactured by:


Contact details: Phone: 0800 800 624 Email: Web:


Dairy News 25 July 2017  

Dairy News 25 July 2017