Page 1

RCEP trade deal - no big gains. PAGE 6


MILKING GOATS Healthy liver, more milk PAGE 20

NOVEMBER 24, 2020 ISSUE 460 // www.dairynews.co.nz

BATTLING BOVIS Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer Duncan Barr says the mental anguish of dealing with MPI is the hard part of surviving a Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. PAGE 3





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NEWS  // 3

Bovis nightmare! NIGEL MALTHUS

More stockfood options on the menu. PG.09

LIC invests in start-ups. PG.13

Lely’s offerings for the future. PG.22

NEWS�������������������������������������������������������3-9 OPINION�����������������������������������������������10-11 AGRIBUSINESS������������������������������������ 12 MANAGEMENT�������������������������������� 13-15 ANIMAL HEALTH���������������������������� 16-17 DAIRY GOATS����������������������������������� 18-21 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS���������������������������������������22-23

THE MENTAL anguish of dealing with bureaucracy is the hard part of managing a Mycoplasma bovis infection, says Mid-Canterbury farmer and self-appointed advocate for the victims, Duncan Barr. Barr, whose farm was hit with M.bovis in 2018, said he recognised early on that he was up against a bureaucratic process very similar to that he had experienced with his involvement with a North Island school board at the time of school closures about 17 years ago – when the strain on the principal ended with him taking his own life. “This bovis is just like the school closures and it’s a bureaucratic process done poorly through insufficient information and lies,” says Barr. He says bureaucrats put the blame for their own poor processes onto affected individuals and isolate them. “Those people feel isolated, blamed, and take it personally… and that’s when people do some silly things and take permanent solutions to temporary problems.” Barr started the ‘Mbovis Affected Farmers’ group on Facebook to connect with other victims, and support them so they could understand their problems were not with themselves but with the processes they were being put through. Barr runs three properties, just north of the Rangitata – his dairy farm, a leased block running replacement heifers, and a third block used for a calf rearing busi-

ness, which was the one hit by the disease, from bought-in calves. “We were trading a lot of stock, buying calves, rearing them and onselling them. “That’s basically how I got bovis, and how I spread it around the country.” When the diagnosis came, Barr expected it because he had bought from a neighbour who had since gone positive. “It was about May 2018 when the nightmare started.” He had to cull about 550 animals, losing calves, two-year-old beef animals, and two years’ worth of genetic improvement in his replacement calves. Barr says the Ministry of Primary Industries’ handling of infected farms initially was “absolutely diabolical”. “Then it got worse.” Many frontline staff had little idea about farming,

Mid-Canterbury farmer Duncan Barr recounts his M. bovis nightmare.

and he says he was asked about the incidence of mastitis in bulls, when steers would be calving, and whether newborn calves had been in contact with cows. All three of his properties were put under Notices of Direction when he believed there was no need, since no trace stock had been on the dairy block. “It

was just arrogant – no listening, no understanding, everything’s in lockdown.” Then it came to testing. “I said okay, what do you want to test? And you’d get someone from Wellington say one thing, your case managers say something else, and the testers turn up and want something else. It’s like, what do you clowns want?” Barr was speaking in response to a recent increase in the number of confirmed Mycoplasma bovis infections, particularly in Canterbury. MPI’s official figures show seven active confirmed properties as at November 12 – following a long period during winter when there was only one, week on week. • MPI comment – page 4


4 //  NEWS



Ministry for Primary Industries Mycoplasma Bovis Programme Director, is assuring farmers that a recent increase in confirmed infected farms is only to be expected at this time of year. “It’s an increase but it’s within what we were expecting we would find. We had always expected that this spring was when we would pick up a few more,” he told Dairy News. As of the November 13 update, seven farms nationally were listed as

confirmed active properties, after the figure dropped to as little as one in August and September. All seven are in Canterbury and six are in the Mid-Canterbury district. The two most recent detections were a MidCanterbury property directly linked by animal movements to an infected property detected from the Programme’s August bulk tank milk screening, and one in the Selwyn district, confirmed following a detect result from the September bulk tank milk screening. MPI says it is “not an outbreak” but shows the surveillance programme is

working as it should. “Nor is it widespread — no additional farms in the Mid Canterbury/Ashburton district other than those three dairies originally detected in August were found in September or October bulk tank milk screening, giving confidence this is an isolated cluster connected by animal movements.” Anderson said spring is when the disease is most easily detectable as cows are under stress from recent calving, and 2018 heifers which may not have been picked up in the early days of the eradication programme are milking now for the first

Stuart Anderson

time. At least one of the current cases is understood to be on a farm

which had stock culled just last year. Anderson acknowledged rumours

that infected animals may have been missed but there was no evidence to

support that. “We are still deep in the process of going through the connections, movements, linkages, the genomic analysis, etc, but at the moment there isn’t any evidence to support that something was missed last year.” Meanwhile, the beef herd survey, which aims to discover whether Mycoplasma bovis has spread into the country’s beef industry, has now tested 86,600 animals from over 4000 farms. The survey has uncovered no confirmed infection to date. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews



water regulations are creating a few headaches for West Coast dairy farmers, according to DairyNZ South Island head Tony Finch. He told Dairy News that West Coast is by far the most diverse region in New Zealand. Dairy farms are scattered over 600 kilometres and the climate in the north around Karamea is dry and vastly different to the south Tony Finch near Franz Josef, which can get up to three metres of a rain a year.

Some parts of the West Coast can get up to three metres of rain per year.

He says the wintering rules are a real battle for some farmers because of how wet it can get. “There are issues with the pugging rules, slope and stock exclusion. They are all very challenging for

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that environment not mention the nitrogen cap. On the West Coast it’s very hard to effectively apply N and get an immediate response when you have the rainfall you can get. “The N cap will be real challenge over there as well,” he says.

Finch says dairy farmers on the West Coast are challenged at the best of times without the new regulations and he’s concerned at the level of support they are getting from local councils. He says they realise that despite the protests, the Government is not

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going to make major changes to the new rules. “Rather it will just be tinkering with them. As for the dates when farmers can sow crops, that is simply dictated by the weather,” he told Dairy News. “The other week we saw a lot of cultivation going on, so they are all in breach of the November rule. No farmer wants to see their paddocks lie fallow. They don’t make any money by leaving it like that and they know it doesn’t help the environment. It’s a nonsense rule and should state that farmers should sow crops when it is practical to do so, or words to that effect,” he says. Finch says up until recently the weather on much of the coast has been cold and wet, but says lately there has been a lovely spell of weather, the grass is growing and some farmers are cutting silage.

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NEWS  // 5

Dairy demand tipped to firm SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz


will firm over the next two years as countries gradually get on top of Covid and the global economy rebounds, says Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny. He notes that the trend has already started in China and East Asia

taurants and other venues that milk fat consumption relies on,” says Penny. He expects moderate growth in the key exporting countries over the next two years. “Over recent years, annual growth has averaged in the vicinity of 1%. “This relatively modest growth is another reason why prices have held up well during the global Covid recession.

Currently, milk fat prices are soft as consumers eat less cream and other milk fat products. where demand has rebounded from its lows earlier in the year. Westpac has announced a 2021-22 initial opening forecast of $7/kgMS. The forecast is equal to its forecast for 2020-21 and close to the $7.14/kgMS final price achieved in 2019-20. “Our forecast is higher than the long-run average milk price, although the difference is smaller when the prices are adjusted for inflation,” says Penny. A key change that Penny expects is that demand and prices for milk fat will begin to normalise. Currently, milk fat prices are soft as consumers eat less cream and other milk fat products in settings such as restaurants. “In particular, we expect that the rollout globally of Covid vaccines will gradually allow more people to return to res-

“Moreover, we see a low probability that global supply will deviate materially from these trends by enough to offset the impact on prices from rising demand.” However, there are a few “forecast risks”, including the New Zealand dollar and the possibility that dairy buyers run down stocks after having built them up during Covid to protect against supply disruptions. “We note that there is a risk that, if the New Zealand economy’s resilience continues to surprise and local interest rates rise, then the NZD/ USD could rise beyond what we have assumed. “In this event, the milk price would be lower.” There is also uncertainty around global agricultural trade policy. Penny says Joe Biden’s US presidency may take a more trade and China-

friendly stance, thus allowing the US more access to China’s market and thus more competition for New Zealand dairy exports.

“Finally, we assume normal weather conditions going forward. In the case of a NZ drought, global dairy prices are likely rise.”

As countries gradually get on top of Covid and the global economy rebounds in the coming years, dairy demand will firm up, says Nathan Penny, Westpac.


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PRICES RISE DAIRY PRICES lifted last week effectively erasing the fall at the previous Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction. Whole milk powder price rose 1.8%. ASB economist Nat Keall says the result was broadly in line with what was seen at other recent auctions – prices moving less dramatically than earlier in the year, volumes down modestly on year-ago levels, and a relatively flat contract curve. “In aggregate, the results continue to suggest a more settled market than we had earlier in the year, when sharp falls and steep lifts were the order of the day and Covid-driven uncertainty was at its peak.”

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6 //  NEWS

RCEP trade deal – no big gains for dairying PETER BURKE



WHILE THE signing of

the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement last week is being hailed as a positive move, the reality is that its benefit to the dairy sector is limited. Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey described the direct market access gains for the NZ dairy industry as “modest”. There are 15 countries involved in RCEP: the 10 members of ASEAN – Brunei-Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; plus five of the countries with which ASEAN has free trade agreements, namely Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. In trading terms, RCEP countries

MALCOLM BAILEY says he’s hoping that the new Biden administration will be more constructive around some of the international institutions that NZ places a high value on, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). But he says, beyond that, it is uncertain just what will be the priorities for the new US president. “Both campaigns appeared to be run on the basis of ‘America first’ and what that translates into in terms of trade policy is uncertain,” he says. Bailey believes that Biden faces the dilemma that 70 million Americans voted for Trump who was almost “nakedly anti-trade”. Bailey says dealing with this and Covid will be high on the priority list if Biden gets to the point of talking about trade deals.

take over half of NZ’s exports. Bailey says DCANZ welcomes something positive on the international trade front and says it’s been a tough time and is a good signal that countries are prepared to do trade deals, which will help aid the recovery from Covid-19. “We believe that a more open market

approach is part of the solution for economic recovery. But having said that, we are disappointed that India withdrew from RCEP,” he told Dairy News. “We believe that was an area where there was real potential for improved market access for NZ and that India was the only country in the original RCEP group that

Dairy processors say direct market access gains from RCEP will be “modest”.

we didn’t have a trade agreement with,” he says. The official reason that India gave from withdrawing from the agreement was that it had concerns about the impact any trade agreements may have on its own agricultural sector. Malcolm Bailey says there appears to be some political concerns within India about the agreement, but he notes that there is a pathway for India to come

back in to RCEP. “All the projections relating to India show that with population growth, milk production and consumption, they will have a structural deficit and they will require more dairy imports over time. Interestingly, NZ doesn’t have a lot to spare given our commitments to many other markets, but as we look to the future, we think there is a place for NZ dairy in

HAPPY TRADE MINISTER MINISTER Damien O’Connor says he’s absolutely happy with the RCEP agreement. He says it’s a really important agreement because it sets the rules for trade across 15 countries who take more than half of our exports. O’Connor says the consistency of those rules is absolutely paramount to give security to people who are exporting, otherwise you would have ad-hoc, non-tariff trade barrier intervention. “Being able to move perishable goods from the wharf into market




India. “I say dairy – not just dairy exports – because there is the opportunity for cooperating on many fronts and the knowhow and technology can be shared,” he says. Bailey says Covid doesn’t appear to have played any part in the conclusion of the RCEP agreement, as much of the negotiations took place before Covid became a factor. He says there is

within six hours, which is part of this agreement, is really important for dairy,” he told Dairy News. “Dairy is a part of a multitude of things we export and, as part of this, we have better access to Indonesia, in particular. But it also means if people come up with innovative dairy products…they can get them directly into market because they know what the rules are,” he says. O’Connor says the rules agreed to in RCEP apply between all the countries and across all

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the countries. He says it’s the consistency of trade rules that is of real value. He says while India has pulled out of RCEP, NZ and other nations have made a commitment to engage and work with them, and he points out that the door is open for them to return to the fold. “I think that as India grows its export economy then they will be seeking rules to protect their economy. I don’t think they appreciate that point but I think they will into the future,” he says.


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an active Indian Business Council in NZ and many companies do business with India. “Earlier this year I was part of a trade mission to India, led by Winston Peters and David Parker, and so things are certainly going on there from a trade perspective. We have just got to continue engaging there at the right levels and look to see what we might do going forward,” he says. Bailey says the RCEP agreement will result in some tariff reductions with Indonesia that were additional, which was good. But he says elsewhere the dairy industry is relying more on some of the streamlined process that will make the trade easier and will address some of NZ’s concerns around non-tariff barriers.

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NEWS  // 7

Wyeth ready for new challenge PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

THE CHIEF execu-

tive-elect of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products Richard Wyeth says he’s looking forward to the challenge of running the company. For the past eleven years Wyeth has headed up Miraka, the highly successful Maori-owned dairy company based in Taupo. He says he wasn’t actively

looking for a change but says the opportunity to move was timely and a chance to advance his career. Wyeth says Westland is a really iconic company and when he went down to Hokitika for the 75th celebrations of company, he was suitably impressed. “I was really impressed with the people on that visit. It’s a good sized business with 700 staff and it’s a real challenge

to get involved. The operation is unusual in that the milk collection area extends over 600 kilometres and that is a challenge in itself. It’s phenomenal when you think of the distance that milk has to be collected and the different climatic conditions within that area,” he says.

Wyeth says his experience in dealing with China in his present role at Miraka was probably a factor in being headhunted for the role at Westland. He says he’s been travelling to China for 13 years now and he finds it quite ironic that the first dairy company he visited

when he went to Mongolia was Yili. “I have always been super impressed with Yili as a company. Their attention to detail in China is second to none,” he says. Wyeth is under no illusions that West Coast dairy farmers have high expectations about what

he might do for the company, which has struggled over the years. His first task is to look at the strategy of the company and get a good understanding of the business before thinking about making changes. He says Westland has had challenges with capital structure, but this has

now been resolved. He says the milk price is also locked in. “So I am looking forward to the opportunity to execute the new strategy and see how I can build the business,” he says. Wyeth will start with Westland at the end of February.

Protected or infected? Get 12 months fetal protection. Miraka general manager milk supply Grant Jackson (left) and outgoing chief executive Richard Wyeth with the awards.


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TAUPO-BASED MAORI dairy company Miraka took the top honours at this year’s Biosecurity Awards. The company scooped both the industry award and the supreme award in the competition for its Te Ara Miraka programme, which boosted biosecurity awareness and culture change with its farmer suppliers. Close to 200 people attended the awards ceremony held in Parliament’s banquet hall and hosted by the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor. The awards are designed to recognise organisations, volunteers, businesses, iwi, hapū and tamariki around the country who are contributing to biosecurity. In the case of Miraka it was Te Ara Miraka, their excellence programme which incentivises farmers by way of an increase in their annual milk pay-out to improve a whole range of practices on their farms. These include environmental, milk quality, food safety, animal welfare, health and safety and biosecurity. Both the industry award and the supreme award recognised the fact that Miraka identified that biosecurity was missing from the programme and set about working with external parties to develop a special training course. Each farmer was trained in biosecurity risk assessment, risk mitigation and how to create and implement a biosecurity plan within their business. It was a special night for Miraka milk supply manager, Grant Jackson who is responsible for the Te Ara Miraka programme. He says the programme has been operating for about five years and says they are starting to see some significant behavioural changes back on farm, which benefits the individual businesses, the industry and the community. Jackson says like any project of this nature there are always the early adopters and they bring along the others over time. – Peter Burke

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8 //  NEWS

There’s always hope MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

DAVE (NOT his real name) is a 26-year old from the Northern Waikato, brought up in a family of 11 siblings who were fed a daily diet of violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse and a mother that was actively involved in gangs. Needing to feed himself and his eight younger brothers and sisters, Dave took to petty crime to survive. By the age of ten, he aspired to be a gangster. Petty theft eventually led to shoplifting, car crime and drug use and, as he puts it, “a life with no boundaries in place.” Eventually, running wild led to a murder charge at 15, later reduced to man-

slaughter, and his eventual arrival at Waikeria at age 16, with no literacy skills. During his six years in incarceration, three at Waikeria, Dave set about going to school, and signing up to as many courses as possible, to make the time pass more quickly and to get out onto the Waikeria dairy farm. Once on the farm, Dave learnt the skill of fencing, along the way picking up a sense of achievement, and one of a little freedom. Post-release, he found work at a bull farming operation, so had plenty of chances to put his newfound fencing skills to the test. Staying at that placement for around a year, Dave moved to a dairy farm, along the way, learning to be truthful about his previous


Waikeria Prison’s dairy farm has helped some inmates embark on a dairying career after release from incarceration.

life. During that time, his employer spent a great deal of time coaching Dave and resulted in them both earning the respect of each other. So much so, that when an indiscretion saw Dave being recalled to prison, that employer visited and told him the job would still be there on his release. Moving forward, his

commitment to farming resulted in Dave taking a Dairy Industry Award for the Most Promising Trainee in one of the North Islands key dairying regions. “This is something I could never have dreamed of, without the support of my wife and a very supportive employer,” says Dave.

Today Dave continues to work in the dairy industry in the Central North Island, where he aspires to set up a transitional farming operation to help ex-offenders get into the industry. For more information contact employerpartners@ corrections.govt.nz Waikeria Prison dairy farm - p15

AS PART of the transitioning of offenders back into the general community, research shows that a regular job can have a marked effect on a person’s risk of reoffending. Waikeria operates a return to work (RTW) programme that places suitable candidates into paid employment in the community before their release. The scheme allows potential workers to develop or reinstate work skills and habits, alongside re-engaging with the general community prior to their release. The initiative is driven by ensuring there is plenty of support for those individuals, looking at key areas such as relationships, accommodation, finances and managing any risks. Return to Work broker, John Siemelink, says the scheme is subject to a very rigorous selection process, with offenders very much having to earn the right to be considered. “We need to ensure that their placements work for them and the employer. We are always on the lookout for potential employers who are prepared to take a risk or a chance, have time to invest in people who show potential and hopefully end up with an employee who becomes a valuable member of a team.”


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NEWS  // 9

More stockfood options on menu SWAP STOCKFOODS

has operated in the South Island for a while now but has opened a new site in Christchurch that will give more stockfood options to farmers in Canterbury, the West Coast and further north. This site complements J Swaps’ existing operations in Mt Maunganui, New Plymouth, Matamata and Bluff and has the same advantages, including MPI certification, on-site weighbridge, and strategic location ensuring quick delivery to the farm. Dean Weastell has joined the Swap Stockfoods sales team to help expand the company’s footprint. He previously worked in the renewable energy industry, then spent six years selling oil and meal to the stockfood industry. He has also been involved in the racing industry as an ownerbreeder. He will operate out of Swap Stockfoods’ recently opened store in Prebbleton, selling direct to farmers in all regions

of Canterbury, the West Coast and further north. “We’ll establish a similar model to what J Swap runs in the North Island,” he says. “My main role is to sell to the end user – farmers. “The new store is strategically placed in Prebbleton, near the new motorway, so we can easily load out, either straight ingredients or blends, direct to farmers. “Farming is a bit different here in Canterbury compared to the Waikato where Swaps are based; there is more access to water and local cereals. Even for guys growing their own cereals down here, we can complement that with our range of products. “The customer base will grow over time now the service is available here in Christchurch. Customers will see value in our products and service, and the benefit of working with a family-owned New Zealand business. “J Swap has robust, proven systems and pro-

cesses, and they have good flexibility in their supply channel with full traceability.” The company sees room for growth in the South Island. While about

28% of the country’s dairy herds reside in the South Island, bigger herd sizes mean about 42% of NZ’s dairy cows are located there. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

Swap Stockfoods has opened a new site in Christchurch. Inset: Dean Weastell

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AWARD ENTRIES NOW OPEN THE SEARCH is on for the 2021 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year. Organisers of the award, celebrating its 10th year, want leaders from beyond the farm gate to apply. Nominations close February next year and a group of finalists will be chosen to go before a judging panel. Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton is encouraging people who support to the wider dairy industry and its people, and who are committed to giving back to their communities, to also apply. Nominees may be involved in industry organisations. Benton hopes the award will open up to young women who haven’t had the same level of on-farm experience as previous recipients but are committed to the industry through other avenues. “One of our core values as an organisation is about seizing opportunities, and this year’s recipient Ash-Leigh Campbell demonstrates this in both her work and her attitude. “We hope that her success will encourage other young women in the industry to nominate their peers, and remember that there is no age limit for this award.”


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The long shadow of M.bovis

MILKING IT... Nice speech, but… PUBLISHER STUFF and lobby group Federated Farmers both like to preach about their respective high-minded virtues – Stuff, about “funding journalism”, Feds about “supporting our farming communities”. How ironic then that these two have teamed up to do the exact opposite of their respective virtue signalling. Rural publishers invest a lot of dough funding rural journalism. Stuff plans to undercut this business model by investing – wait for it – absolutely nothing in rural journalism. How? Because Feds have enabled them, letting Stuff undercut the market, in return for a glorified newsletter – a vanity soapbox project cooked up in a plush Wellington office paid for by the same farmers that proper rural publishers serve, week-in, week-out. So much for “funding journalism” and “supporting rural communities”!

Quiet offload FONTERRA HAS quietly offloaded its 50% stake in Agrifeeds, a major importer of palm kernel expeller into New Zealand. In an email to farmers, the co-operative revealed that it pocketed $27 million from the deal with JV partner Wilmar International. Fonterra’s involvement in PKE importation has been on the receiving end of protests by environment lobbyists like Greenpeace, who claim PKE is a by-product of the palm oil industry, which is the leading cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Fonterra’s PR machine has been quiet on the sale and so has Greenpeace, who would be hoping that this could be the start of the end of PKE trading in NZ. Fonterra hasn’t completely folded though and will still sell PKE through its Farm Source stores.

Greenpeace seeing red

Avoiding listeria

STILL WITH Greenpeace, the organisation’s push for a price on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is gaining momentum since the swearing in of the new Labour Government. Former Greens leader and Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman says a price needs to be put on agricultural emissions. “You’ve got to start that in this term – none of this nonsense about kicking the can two elections down to 2025.” What he’s talking about is a climate action plan announced by the Government last year that would see livestock emissions enter the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2025. Ministers at the announcement, including Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, agreed to allow farmers to manage their own methane emissions until then. Norman, however, wrongly thinks that with the strong mandate, Labour and Greens have the right to trample on agreements made last term.

THE COMPANY that makes dairy products under “The Collective” brand, and which copped a nearly $500,000 fine for failing to report positive listeria results, is turning to plant-based products as it makes a comeback. The Auckland-based company claims to be making its own “plantbased milk” for the new product. We all know that to make the best tasting yoghurt you need the finest milk, it says on its website. “And, that’s what we do. We make our own using a blend of oats, coconut and rice (right here in our purpose-built Avondale ‘plant’). We then blend our milk with coconut cream and hundreds of millions of live cultures to create a thick ‘n’ creamy yoghurt, with a taste and texture that’ll leave your jaw on the floor.” With plant milk yogurt the company won’t have to worry about listeria on the floor!

Head Office: Top Floor, 29 Northcroft St, Takapuna, Auckland 0622 Phone 09-307 0399. Fax 09-307 0122 Postal Address: Published by: Printed by: Contacts: Advertising material: Rural News on-line: Subscriptions:

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ISSN 1175-463X

MORE THAN three years on, Mycoplasma bovis continues to cast a shadow over some farms. While a lot of effort has gone into eradicating the disease, and there have been some major achievements, new cases show there is still some way to go before we see off M. bovis. And judging by sentiments expressed by mid-Canterbury farmer Duncan Barr (our cover story), farmers are being left with deep mental scars, thanks in some part to the bureaucratic process. For the Government, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, it will be worth taking note of Duncan Barr’s comments. Many frontline staff had little idea about farming, and he says he was asked about the incidence of mastitis in bulls, when steers would be calving, and whether newborn calves had been in contact with cows. Is this another example of how far Wellington remains from farmers? Another organisation that should take note of Duncan Barr’s comments is DairyNZ. It has been working closely with MPI and in its latest update says there has been significant progress made in driving down the number of farms affected by M. bovis. However, clearly more needs to be done. Providing more assistance to farmers who have been through the harrowing experience of dealing with M. bovis on their farms would be a good start. Farmers support the Government’s plan to eradicate M. bovis; they are forking out $272 million for the 10-year programme to attempt a world-first eradication of the disease. To date, $349.6 million has been spent on operational costs from the start of the response (July 2017), including programme operational costs like testing, on-farm operational costs, building leases, transport, capital expenditure, contractors, staff salaries, and technology and information management systems. This also includes $94.3 million spent on the response prior to the decision to eradicate. Farmers have received $184.9 million in compensation to date. Everyone deserves kudos for the eradication effort, which has not been without substantial challenges and the impact on affected farmers could not be under-estimated. Allowing the disease to spread would have caused lost productivity in our vital cattle sectors and affected the economy. The next 12 months would be about ensuring that all infected herds had been found. It will also require stakeholders working closely with farmers as well to minimise effect on their mental health.

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OPINION  // 11

Strategies at play SIMON COUPER

THIS IS the second of

five articles aiming to demonstrate dairy industry strategies in NZ and provide a perspective for viewing Fonterra’s strategy. The last article looked at the three strategic positions taken by leading firms in the NZ dairy industry: cost leader, customer intimacy or product leadership. It is not clear to me that Fonterra has considered its position within this strategic framework. It is clear that some of Fonterra’s more nimble competitors can utilise their capital more efficiently by requiring their suppliers to supply milk throughout the season, and they enjoy a transport advantage as they cherry pick their suppliers. But surely Fonterra’s economies of scale and expertise should counteract this. Therefore the strategic positions Fonterra’s competitors take is a key factor in their success. The aim of this article is to describe further how leading dairy firms in New Zealand defend their competitive advantage and then secondly, to examine why this is important. The three firms – OCD, Tatua and a2 Milk – have very different strategic positions. These three strategic positions can best be described as points on a triangle (see image above right). Since the three points on the triangle represent the three distinct strategic positions that can be taken in the market, the lines of the triangle that connect the three strategic positions represent the efficient frontier between distinct strategic positions. In other words, a firm can find and maintain its competitive advantage if it focuses on doing business at any one corner or on the line between two corners, but not all three corners. It is not possible within this strategic framework to operate in all three areas and be at the efficient frontier; a firm that tries to do everything for everybody will lose its com-

petitive advantage. It will be “stuck in the middle” and over time fall behind its competitors, or provide opportunities for new competitors to enter the market at one of the points on the triangle where its concentrated efforts can achieve an advantage. Why can’t you operate successfully in all three strategic positions? Simply put, these three different strategic positions require different operational cultures to maintain their efficient competitive edge. Trying to maintain all three strategic positions, for a large firm (at scale) is too confusing. Why not stay in one strategic position? Staying in any extreme strategic point could leave a firm vulnerable to competition from the arrival of a new and better competitor. For example, OCD is now more efficient as a cost leader than Fonterra in the production of the commodities it produces, but could be vulnerable to another entity with newer more efficient processes. Or perhaps another firm from a higher returning strategic position will choose to grow in their geographic region. Working across two strategic positions allows firms to more easily adapt to changing market conditions while avoiding too great a dilution of effort. How does a firm strengthen its strategic position? This might occur where a firm which starts as a cost leader decides to differentiate their offering, looking for some leverage in product leadership. This is the case with OCD, which pushes NZ provenance and quality, and is now processing organic milk. Another example is the way Tatua, which has a strong emphasis on its quality and unique provenance (creating a point of difference), has moved to enhance its focus on customer intimacy. This enables it to carve out niches as it capitalises on its values of responding with agility and exceeding customer expectations, therefore aiming to differentiate Tatua’s customer service and prod-

uct as being better than other specialty ingredient firms. Demonstration of this is Tatua’s offshore offices in Japan, which for a small firm is a considerable investment. OCD and Tatua both aim to give their firms a point of difference that other firms will find it harder to emulate.

What strategic position should Fonterra be competing in? In the next article we will look at basic strategic choices firms have when operating in international markets. • Simon Couper is a Waipu farmer and former chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council.




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China’s largest rotary parlour SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

CHINA’S DOMESTIC milk production has

received a boost with the installation of the country’s largest milking rotary parlour. The 80-bail GEA DairyRotor T8900 will milk 10,000 cows at Lvyuan Animal Husbandry farm in Jiangsu Province. Lvyuan is China’s leading producer of raw milk; around 70% of milk consumed in the country is ultra-heat-treated (UHT). Demand for quality fresh milk is rising. In a statement GEA says the milking carousel is also the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region. It says the 10,000 cows will milked in multiple shifts, three times a day. GEA’s head of ser-

GEA has installed its DairyRotor T8900 on a Chinese farm milking 10,000 cows.

vice in China, Bright Xiong, says it was contacted by the farm owner Lu Guangqun when he decided to expand in Jiangsu Province. “We suggested they consider the GEA Dairy-

Rotor T8900 rotary parlor. Even though it had not yet been released in China, Lvyuan agreed to become the first farm there to install one,” says Xiong. Lvyuan ordered the

T8900 at the end of 2019 and began production by the Chinese New Year in mid-January this year. “A lot of communication was required. So much was happening in parallel and then during

Why are we sorting our waterways? For these little rugrats From fencing off waterways to riparian planting, we’re cleaning up our waterways. Why? Because we’re dairy farmers, and we rise to a challenge. And it’s in these moments we shine.


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the holiday season as well, which made it challenging,” says Xiong. “That said, all of the GEA teams worked extremely well together. To achieve what was in effect a turnkey installa-

tion in one month was extremely satisfying for all parties.” GEA says farm owner Lu Guangqun reports that all basic milking functions are stable and the T8900 is working efficiently. Domestic milk production is booming in China. Since 70% of the milk consumed in China is UHT, it can last for months on supermarket shelves. However, there is increasing demand for fresh milk in China, therefore, manufacturers and processors are looking for local dairy farms that can provide high quality fresh milk rather than relying on fresh milk from overseas, including New Zealand. Mark Smyth, head of country support, Greater China at GEA, says that a product like the T8900

fits the growing market perfectly. “With up to 120 milking stalls this milking rotary parlour is especially developed for medium sized to large commercial farms. It is capable of operating effectively and reliably for up to 22 hours a day. “Because the number of cows on these farms is so large and they’re milking the cows three times a day, the rotary needs to deliver uncompromising reliability – the T8900 does that.” Smyth says there are many customers in Europe and North America who are already successfully milking with the T8900. “Now, GEA is beginning to roll out this parlour in Asia in the upcoming months, to meet the demands of the market.”



LIC AgCelerator Fund manager Eleshea D’Souza toasts to a new investment partnership with CEO David McDonald from Trackback with a cold glass of milk.

LIC invests in start-ups FARMER COOPERATIVE LIC is investing in two agritech businesses working to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers. The investment, through LIC’s AgCelerator Fund, goes to local companies, TrackBack and Mastaplex. Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to “provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance”. Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers, says LIC. The data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers. LIC is also investing in Dunedinbased Mastaplex, which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest. The device provides faster and more precise mastitis diagnosis on farm. A cloud-based IT solution, Mastaplex is able to advise a farmer which cow has which bug within 24 hours, helping decrease antibiotic use. LIC’s AgCelerator Fund, launched

in August, is a fund for individuals and entities growing and scaling innovations value to the dairy industry: generating higher yields, improving animal health, diagnostic tools and improved traceability to sustainability, advancements in breeding techniques and leveraging big data for improvements to farm management. LIC chief executive Wayne McNee says he is excited about the first investments being made through the fund. “We have been impressed with both businesses through our due diligence process and pleased that both have a strong focus for our industry. “Mastitis is a real problem for dairy farmers and having greater visibility of the supply chain is critical as more consumers seek to understand the paddock to plate journey and each step in between.” Dr Olaf Bork, chief executive of Mastaplex, says he is excited to have the support of LIC as mastitis costs the New Zealand dairy industry $180 million annually and is one of the biggest issues on farm today. “Our product Mastatest guides

antibiotic treatment decisions for mastitis and supports disease management, improves milk quality and combats against antimicrobial resistance. “We are delighted that our impact gets recognised by key dairy players in New Zealand.” David McDonald, chief executive of TrackBack, says the support of LIC means it will enable the business to expand its world class platform and develop more tools to make leading edge innovations more accessible to primary industries and enhance data interoperability across the value chain. The LIC AgCelerator Fund remains opens to other applications, says manager Eleshea D’Souza. “We’re continuing to receive a lot of strong applications for funding which is why we have increased the pool available. “LIC recognises that partnering is important for new product development in the industry and it’s exciting to be advocating for our shareholders through investment into products and services we believe will deliver further value on farm.”


Rethink cups on If you could cut cupping times by 1-2 seconds per cow, how much time would you save during milking?

For Waikato dairy farmer Dries Verrycken who’s milking 500 cows, he can now save around 16 minutes at cups-on alone thanks to the new iCR+ with EasyStart simple lift or pull vacuum activation. That’s over 30 minutes a day and over 3.5 hours a week in this 50-bail iFLOW rotary. Meaning his cows can be back out to pasture quicker, and he can get on with other jobs. Time to rethink how you put the cups on? We can help. gea.com/new-zealand

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Don’t run out of water DARREN SUTTON

WATER IS something we

often take for granted but over recent years, through the droughts inflicted on us, I have seen many farms whose water systems have been lacking. As we head towards summer, now is a good time to think about how last summer went and ask, have you made

the necessary changes to reduce the impact of a substandard water system? Last summer, when Te Awamutu recorded 14mm of rain for January and February combined, there were many days when cows went thirsty and bores dried up. Some bores were lowered, and some new ones were drilled. There were plenty of accounts like, “that

spring has never dried up before…” Another cause for more farms having issues is the amalgamation of farms over recent years. If a water system was previously weak, and improvements not invested in, systems often can’t deliver when two are combined, often through larger herd sizes. Usually it is not a lack of trough access or size, but the




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and a combined supply of 4,800 L/hr. Quality matters The other area that often gets overlooked is the quality of the water. I see some pretty average looking water in some troughs. A cow’s sense of smell is much better than ours. If you want cows to not hesitate and drink freely, then clean the troughs out at least every second year or more regularly depending on the water source (bore verses surface water). The levels of sediment can build up and remain in troughs decreasing voluntary intakes over time. Some solutions Stocking up on brass ball-cock arms is not a good permanent solution! So where is your weak point? What part of your water system is the weakest, or lets you down the




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tion systems as well to alert you to issues early. Install isolating taps to help reduce losses and speed the process of finding that annoying water leak. If you cannot afford to upgrade the main and lateral water lines in one year, start doing a section each year. Other tricks Some other ways to help reduce the pressure of troughs in the paddocks is to install water troughs along races at strategic points. Yes, this can slow walking speed, but a rectangular trough beside a main water line can help take the pressure off on the way to the cowshed and after milking. Water troughs on feed pads are a common solution, as is adding water to any mixer wagon feeds just prior to feeding out. Don’t delay too long from mixing to feeding and eating the ration as some mixtures can start to deteriorate quickly once water and heat is combined. Some farms just need some more reserve capacity to fall back on. Installing another tank by the cow shed or on top of a hill can help increase pressure and reserves. With the forecast milk payout strong, take the opportunity this season to see if you can reduce the effects of another hot summer by supplying your hard-working cows the water they need. They will repay you. • Darren Sutton is a FarmWise consultant

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most? Seek advice from an expert in water systems. They will have ideas and solutions you may not have thought of, and will get the specifications right for any upgrades. I often see the first solution is to throw in some more troughs in paddocks, or upgrade the size of troughs. Often it is not the trough size that will solve the issue. Increasing trough size can alleviate the issue, but really what is most critical is the ability to deliver large volumes quickly to the trough. The two critical links are pump capacity and water pipe size. Typically, a new farm conversion will have 60mm main lines with 40mm laterals. Does that make your ¾” pipes seem small? Install leak detec-


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diameter of the main and lateral water lines that is the issue. Another cause of water restrictions is loss in the system. One study has shown that 26% of stock drinking water is lost as leakage. What do my cows need? Studies have shown milk production can decrease by 10-20% if sufficient water is not supplied. Cows have a natural response to reduce feed intakes if they cannot access all the water they need. In summer and autumn as we introduce higher DM feeds such as PKE and maize, these low moisture feeds have the effect of increasing cows’ water demands massively. A lactating cow at peak milk production needs about 72 litres per cow per day to drink. The other key number to know is that each cow will need 15-20 litres per hour at the trough soon after entering the paddock. So multiply that number by the herd size to work out how much water is needed. Cows will typically eat for one to two hours after being milked, and then look to drink. So it is easy to have 300 cows all looking for a large portion of their 70L all within two hours. A herd of 300 cows therefore will need to have a system that can supply 3,600 L/hr to the trough. The trough size should be 1,800L. Herds of 400 should have two troughs of 1,200L in size,


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Waikeria Prison manager of industries Stuart Morgan (right) and head of farm operations Pete Watson.

Milking cows behind the barbed wire MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

A RECENT field day at the Waik-

and fattened to 24 months. In addition to the farming operations, two horticultural nurseries are also located within the secure area of the prison, producing up to 70,000 trees, shrubs and flaxes per annum, that under the guidance of Premier Rivercare are used for riparian planting projects throughout the

eria Prison Farm near Te Awamutu offered farmers the chance to see what goes on “behind the wire”, alongside introducing the idea of farmers employing offenders near the end or after the term of their As part of the day-tosentences. day operations, 19 staff/ Organised with the support of DairyNZ, the visit included a tour instructors are actively of the rolling 1200ha property, led involved in engaging by manager of industries Stuart and training prisoners Morgan and head of farm operawho show an interest in tions Pete Watson. Relying on a system one opera- agriculture. tion and once-a-day (OAD) milking, two mobs of 800 and 1000 cows farm. Plants are also made available are milking through older 40 bail and to the Department of Conservation 60 bail rotaries respectively, achiev- and local councils for local projects. As part of the day-to-day operaing 305kgMS per annum. Largely a grass-based operation, with no tions, 19 staff/instructors are actively bought-in supplements, a small area involved in engaging and training of maize for winter feed and turnips prisoners who show an interest in for summer feeding is grown to com- agriculture. From a prison population of 740, around 30 prisoners are plement the grass. In 2019, when the farm ran three available for farm work, usually with dairy mobs, a decision was made to about 10 people out on the farm at earmark 400 older and lower produc- any one time. A nuance of the system means ing animals to create the foundation stock for a new beef suckler oper- that “workers” don’t start until they ation, inseminating cows to Here- are released each morning at 7.00am, ford sires. Heifer calves from this meaning milking finishes around beef herd will be retained to become 11.00am and they are back inside the future breeding stock, while year- secure facilities by 4.00pm. This restriction prompted the ling steers will be moved up to the Springhill facility in North Waikato move to OAD milking, but in doing so

delivered several benefits. Milk production stayed largely in line with the twice daily format, but cell counts dropped by 25%, alongside a major reduction in incidences of lameness. Additionally, there was a major reduction in leave liability by around $1.2m, giving better conditions for staff and even allowing leave to be taken during the calving season. Seen as a coveted privilege, to qualify for farm work, inmates must have been “inside” for at least three months, be approved by an advisory panel and show high levels of commitment. As part of their on-farm duties, inmates receive ongoing training towards recognised industry standards from the instructors, with support from local primary ITO’s. Watson, a stalwart of nearly two decades at the farm, says it is rewarding to see the changes that occur with some of these guys. “Many will have come from extremely challenging backgrounds, but given a position of trust and responsibility, often for the first time, will take to the experience very positively. “We often see some of the toughest, streetwise guys, whose “normal” is very different to our own, respond to these new opportunities with appreciation. It might be a task such as rearing calves, but they do so, with a remarkable deal of kindness and care – and woe betide anyone who dares to mess with their animals.”

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TB fight goes on SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

THE TOTAL number

of TB-infected herds in Hawke’s Bay has risen to 20, following the recent reclassification of a new herd in the Waitara Valley. Animal disease man-

agement agency OSPRI, which runs the national TB-free programme, says 17 of the 20 herds classified as TB-infected have completed a first clear whole herd test. “Of these herds with clear first tests, at least half are expected to achieve confirmed clear

status at their next test, which will be carried out between October and March,” it says. For infected status herds to return to a clear status, two clear whole herd tests are required no less than six months apart. These tests may include an additional

OSPRI says 17 of the 20 herds classified as TB-infected have completed a first clear whole herd test.

blood test for part or all of the herd. Cattle or deer over the age of three months being moved from a property within the Movement Control Area require a clear TB test within 60 days prior to movement. OSPRI says investigations into three herds



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have closed this month and one other investigation has resulted in an infected herd. The disease was first detected in April 2019. Wildlife surveillance and DNA strain-typing indicates the source of infection is from wildlife north of the area. OSPRI chief executive Stephen Stuart says it will manage this cluster of infection and return Hawke’s Bay to TB-free status. “The success of the TB programme is based on identifying disease, containing it with stock movement controls and removing the disease from herds.” Meanwhile, 37 ‘vector control zones’ representing more than 441,000 hectares were declared TB free in the year to June 30. A vector control zone is an area where operations have been successfully carried out. A zone is declared TB free only after a process that includes analysis of the operation and TB testing data, a submission to an external panel, and endorsement by the OSPRI board. Stuart says the 2011 TB Plan set a target of clearing 2.5 million hectares by 2026 and the recent

stats meant that target had already been surpassed, with 2.73 million hectares cleared. That left 7,000,000 hectares remaining to be cleared up until 2040. “It’s a great achievement that we are in front of those targets, but we are not getting too far ahead of ourselves. We are really focused on continuing our push to achieve our goal of TB freedom in all cattle and deer herds by 2026. “There are some challenges ahead, including some tricky land access issues to be resolved, that we know it will take a collective effort and potentially different ways of thinking and working. With our progress in what we call ‘buffer’ areas – operations around a known area of TB infection to protect farms – our focus is moving to tackle infection ‘source’ areas. “Leaving these areas uncontrolled poses risks if we are going to achieve TB freedom. “These areas may require control for a number of years and that is why we have a real focus on building longterm partnerships with all landowners, so we have the best chance of doing that.”



*Compared to DeLaval Harmony clusters with round liners, under the same conditions and settings on pilot farms. Results may vary and are not guaranteed.


All the latest stories and more at www.dairynews.co.nz



Lowering empty rate with quality feed CHRIS BALEMI

ON MANY farms the level of mating success achieved is very much based on the quality of the feed. This varies considerably and is largely affected by the weather conditions experienced. Excessive spring growth can impact the quality of feed available at this critical time. Fluctuations in the nutrient quality, lack of energy in the feed particularly when related to the crude protein levels, can be one of the biggest factors impacting the reproductive outcomes of dairy cattle. Adequate and consistent feed is crucial to achieving good rates of conception, and more importantly, maintaining viable pregnancies. If the rumen is receiving the right balance of energy, fiber, and protein, reasonable reproductive outcomes should be achievable. A wellfunctioning rumen, when receiving the correct balance of feed will provide the animal a basic level of essential nutrients. The rumen bacteria will be digesting, synthesizing, and then providing a combination of reasonably well-formed essential amino acids (in the form of bypass protein), minerals, and vitamins, to be absorbed further down the digestive tract. The body requires a good balance of minerals, many of the essential amino acids, vitamins,

Adequate feed is crucial to achieving good rates of conception and maintaining viable pregnancies.

enzymes, and hormones cannot be correctly synthesized without these essential minerals. A mineral blend designed for mating should be formulated based on robust science. The focus is to supply the essential minerals in the correct form and adequate levels to fill the likely gaps in the diet, without risking toxicity or negatively impacting rumen performance. There are some basic minerals that are recognised as essential to dairy cattle. Essential macro elements are phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, chloride and sulphur. Micro elements, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine. Selenium, cobalt, chromium and boron. Minerals that affect the empty rate include: Calcium Deficiency is well recognised as an issue for dairy cattle. What has changed more recently is our approach to managing this deficiency. In the past it has all been about stopping clinical milk fever, yet for every clinical case there is estimated to

be up to four sub-clinical cases. Sub-clinical deficiency of calcium is now recognised as a cause in the development of many of the problems experienced during lactation, including poor reproductive outcomes. Phosphorous Clinical phosphorous deficiency is now common across many of the country’s dairy herds. In the past, New Zealand pastures delivered good levels of phosphorous. However, in many areas even pasture grasses are now becoming marginal for phosphorous. Almost every metabolic function in the body relies on phosphorous particularly in energy metabolism. Higher levels of energy, particularly soluble sugars in the diet, increase the phosphorous requirement. Phosphorous is also closely tied to calcium; a deficiency in either element can impact the other. Magnesium This is a key catalyst to so many reactions in the body. Without magnesium both calcium and phosphorous utilisation will be limited.

Whilst important, there is a tendency for farmers to over focus on magnesium at the expense of some of the other key elements. Balance is the key; it is important to maintain adequate magnesium levels, but not excessive levels which risks upsetting other key essential minerals. At times when cows are critically low in calcium, blood levels can often test excessively high in magnesium; excessive levels of magnesium can cause real mineral balance issues. Sodium This element is key to good rumen efficiency and needs more attention. Saliva production alone creates significant demand; large amounts are constantly being digested and excreted. Increasing salt to cows in most cases will have a direct effect on production. Sodium is also beneficial to the absorption and utilisation of most minerals in the diet. Many of the mineral absorption processes within the intestine require sodium. • Chris Balemi is managing director of Agvance Marketing

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT THE FORM of mineral used is of key importance; in many cases form is more important than dose level. Minerals seldom appear in nature in their pure form. More commonly they are either combined with other mineral ions such as sulphur (e.g. copper sulphate), or with amino acids and sugars. These various forms all have different attributes, different levels of solubility, along with different routes to absorption. These factors hugely influence how readily minerals can be

absorbed and where and how these minerals are taken up, circulated, and stored, within the body. Mineral form can also have a large influence on how the mineral reacts when in the body. Many of the common inorganic forms, ones that are tied to other minerals, are absorbed and stored in very different ways to the plant forms that are more commonly tied into the protein (amino acid) matrix of the plant. While many inorganic mineral forms are relatively benign, others have been shown to

actively promote inflammation of the body tissues. These mineral forms can also store in such a way as to increase the risk of toxicity. In ruminants they have even been shown to negatively affect rumen function. It is imperative that all minerals are in a correct state of balance. This applies equally to the macro elements as it does to the trace elements. When considering minerals, careful consideration should be given to form, in many cases mineral form will be more important than dose level.

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Goat farming on the rise DAIRY GOAT milk processors, looking to increase their supplier numbers, are helping to drive interest among farmers in New Zealand’s growing goat milk industry. Public awareness of the nutritional benefits of goat milk and the lower environmental footprint of dairy goat farming are also providing an attractive proposition for farmers to enter or expand in the market. Waikato Milking Systems small ruminants specialist Andy Geissmann said increased interest in dairy goat farming had in turn increased demand for new milking parlour

technology. “The demand is growing and based on a number of factors: I think the Dairy Goat Co-operative’s decision to take on new suppliers definitely prompted new farmers to enter the market. Also, we are seeing customers expand their taste pallet and there’s more interest in goat cheese and goat milk being sold than before.” In 2020, Waikato Milking Systems installed three new parlours for dairy goat farmers in New Zealand, one in the US and 14 in China. The New Zealand projects included an 80-bail Optima External Goat

Waikato Milking Systems small ruminants specialist Andy Geissmann.

Rotary for Oete Goat Farm near Pukekohe. “Oete was looking for a state-of-the-art milking system with high throughput, with animal and operator comfort. “They were also looking for something that was visually appealing because they wanted to set the farm up as a visitor centre too, and be able to have tour groups through.” The Oete project was a greenfields build. The farm had an old converted cow shed next door which it continued to use, along with the new rotary. “We also installed almost a replica of the Oete rotary, for New Zea-

Increased interest in dairy goat farming has in turn increased demand for new milking parlour technology.

land Dairy Goats (NZDG), on their property near Matamata,” Andy said. “It’s a new business but with a lot of background in dairy farming and goat farming as well as milk processing. That was a greenfield development too, and NZDG was also looking for a system that could handle large throughput.” Both rotaries featured a unique automatic cluster presentation arm for rapid cluster attachment and best possible cup alignment. Rubber mats were also fitted to the deck of the rotaries, to ensure animal comfort as the goats stand during milking time.

The third goat shed installation was for Goasir in Te Awamutu, a 2 x 32 double-up, in-line milking system. “It was converted from a cow herringbone where all of the milk room equipment was able to be reused and only the milking equipment in the shed had to be replaced.” Andy said both rotary parlours had ID equipment which focused on milk yields so the operator could make better decisions about high producing animals for breeding. “The double-up shed already had automation tech that can be upgraded to a herd management

system later on.” A report into the development of the dairy goat industry, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, was released in July 2020. It said New Zealand’s dairy goat sector was a mix of small commercial farms, between 60 and 150 goats, and large commercial operations, 700 and 6000 goats. Four companies dominated the landscape for export products, the report said. It included Central Dairy Goat and NZ Nutritional Foods, which uses the facilities of FoodWaikato in Hamilton and the Dairy Goat Co-oper-

ative and NIG Nutritionals, both of which process milk at their own factories. All are in the central North Island, although Andy believes there is scope for a processor to set up in Canterbury where there is ample opportunity for dairy goat farms. “Personally, I’m not surprised by the large interest in dairy goat farming,” Andy said. “New Zealand’s goat milk is highly regarded globally and that’s got a lot to do with our highly regarded image as a farming nation.” @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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Contact us or your local DeLaval dealer to find out how we can support the profitable management of your farm. delaval.com 0800 222 228



Keep goats happy, healthy by feeding fresh pasture Goats have a relatively high requirement for iodine and in some areas iodine supplementation is needed to prevent goitre in kids. Iodised salt



good feed. If they are pregnant or lactating, or both, they need up to three times their basic maintenance ration.  Yet they are fussy eaters and if they are to be healthy, happy and productive, it’s important to know what to feed them and how much. Pasture is the main source of feed for goats in New Zealand, and the general principles of grazing management for livestock apply: Make efficient use of pasture by reducing wastage. Improve pasture quality by managing pasture growth properly. Some farmers use controlled grazing systems such as break feeding and rotational grazing so that they can ration pasture to allow all goats to get their daily feed requirement.  Where the available pasture isn’t enough, appropriate supplementary feed must be provided. The belief that goats will eat anything is totally wrong.  They like a wide variety of plants and are good at eating down young thistles and dock weeds in pasture (and also expensive plants and trees!), but they won’t eat food that isn’t clean and fresh. Feed requirements

licks may be sufficient in marginal areas, but where soils are deficient your vet can give does iodine injections to prevent deficiency diseases.

• This article was written by Dr Marjorie Orr for lifestyleblock.co.nz and is reprinted with permission. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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Pasture is the main source of feed for goats in New Zealand.

The “maintenance ration” is the amount of feed needed by a non-productive goat to keep it in stable body condition. Goats that are growing, lactating or pregnant, thin goats and all goats in cold conditions need more than maintenance rations as follows: ■■ Pregnant does need up to three times their maintenance ration in late pregnancy and when they are producing milk. ■■ Growing goats need up to twice maintenance. When it’s wet, cold and windy, goats’ feed requirements increase markedly so that they can produce more heat to maintain their body temperature. If thin goats are to

put on weight they need up to twice maintenance rations. Supplementary feed In winter, goats need supplementary feed particularly if they are producing milk, and this means hay, silage or concentrates. Any supplementary feed must be introduced gradually over a period of 7 to 10 days, taking care that individuals don’t gorge on carbohydraterich food such as grain or sheep nuts.  Good supervision is needed to make sure no goats are being bullied and kept away from the feed. It’s important to ensure that goats have water available at all times, particularly if they are on dry supplemen-

tary feed and or producing milk. Beware of poisonous garden plants such as rhododendron, yew, laurel and privet, poisonous native plants such as tutu and ngaio. While goats can handle small amounts of ragwort, too much will cause damage to the liver. Selenium supplementation is usually wise for goats, and there are various ways of adding it to the diet, for example, in prills on pasture, added to the worming drench or in mineral supplement added to the food.  Many of the treatments available for sheep and cattle are not licensed for use in goats, so it’s important to consult a vet to get it right.  Selenium is toxic if too much is given.

BCS IS THE KEY RATHER THAN simply following a regime of feeding pre-determined levels of feed, feeding levels can be adjusted according to body condition score (BCS) or liveweight. Condition scoring is generally a more useful measure because it takes into account variations in size and build.  It involves using the fingers to feel the amount of fat and muscle over the ribs, spine, pelvis and rump, and allocating a score to indicate how much tissue there is over the bones at these sites. A common scoring system used for goats ranges from 1 (emaciated) to 5 (obese): ■■ Score 1  Emaciated


No fat and minimal muscle cover


Rump flat


Pelvis, ribs and spine well covered by tissue


Pelvis and spine prominent and sharp


Score 5 Over-fat


Ribs outlines visible



Score 2 - Minimal fat cover

Pelvis, ribs and spine covered by tissue, hard to feel


Pelvis and spine prominent but some tissue over them so they feel rounded rather than sharp


Rump convex (gutter over spine)


Ribs outlines easily felt


Score 3 Ideal


Pelvis and spine covered by tissue and bone surfaces not easily felt


Ribs covered by tissue


Rump area almost flat


Score 4 Fat

Lactating does of the dairy breeds, like lactating dairy cows, tend to be lean, but they shouldn’t be allowed to fall below score 2. It is rare to see fat dairy goats but dairy goats that are too thin are all too common.  Any goat that is too thin should be given better feed, better husbandry or veterinary attention as appropriate.

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Liver function – key to yield ammonia to urea (a major issue in ruminant digestion) ■■ Clears toxins from the blood (think feed toxins, aflatoxins, mycotoxins, ergot toxins) ■■ Important in the immune response in that the liver detects and clears bacteria and viruses arriving from the gut. ■■ Regulates blood clotting. ■■ Clears bilirubin (broken down red blood cells) from the blood. These are just a few of the key processes involving the liver. You can see from the list that these


PRIOR TO the 1600’s

the liver was considered to be the most important organ in the body, much more so than the heart and the brain. Throughout the ages, this organ has been steeped in myth. In the case of the Romans, the liver held a key place in their religious rituals. Roman priests closely studied the livers of sacrificed animals. These signs could indicate such things as, prosperity, famine, wars, or curses. Today, the heart and the brain are often seen as more important. However, the ancients may have known more than we give them credit for. We should not be too quick to dismiss the liver. Regardless of the heart and brain, without a functional liver most living creatures would not survive for very long. The liver is fascinating, and in many ways, I find it to be the most complex of all the bodies’ organs. It is a single organ with a

A common issue with goats is over-conditioning during the previous lactation, and during the period leading up to kidding.

massive number of functions. Below are just a few of the key functions. Key functions of the liver ■■ The production of bile – bile clears waste products. ■■ Produces many blood proteins, e.g. albumin, ferritin, cholesterol etc. ■■ Produces lipoproteins that carry different fats throughout the body. ■■ Controls energy – rap-




idly converts glucose to glycogen (storage) and then rapidly converts glycogen back to glucose as the body calls for more energy. Regulates amino acids, the building blocks of protein within the blood. Regulates (storing and releasing) hemoglobin levels of minerals such as iron, copper. Converts excess

are all very essential processes. They are all reliant on a healthy liver, with enough capacity to consistently carry out every single function. The gatekeeper The liver could be considered as the chief gatekeeper between the body and the environment. Even with the best diet, this organ will need to work constantly to ensure the body has sufficient energy. At the same time, it ensures toxins are excluded as much as possible from other key organs and tissues. The liver constantly suffers the stress connected to its job of detoxifying and eliminating toxins,

free radicals produced as a byproduct of energy production, feed-based toxins, as well as manmade chemical toxins. Liver function and health As this organ plays such a key role in energy production, it is no surprise that metabolic diseases such as ketosis in ruminants can be so affected by poor liver function. Commonly the issue with goats is overconditioning during the previous lactation, and during the period leading up to kidding. Over conditioning in dairy cattle is easy to identify, but goats are more difficult to condition score accurately.

METHYL DONORS THE AMINO acids (Methionine, Choline and Betaine), along with vitamins B12 and folate have been shown to have a positive effect on fatty liver disease in both humans and animals. Several studies have shown that feeding higher levels of methionine, choline, betaine, and B12 can increase energy levels, support reproduction, and help mediate the effects of fatty liver disease in ruminants. Because these amino acids and vitamins can affect DNA activity and can interchange and work in combination, they are commonly called methyl donors. In the body, these amino acids are normally supplied and absorbed from bypass protein.

Basically, bacteria that have digested crude protein within the rumen, and then themselves destroyed by the abomasum and digested in the intestinal system. Simply supplying additional amino acids to the rumen won’t work. Rumen bacteria tend to convert them to ammonia, hence they seldom reach the intestine intact. When supplementing a ruminant with amino acids, to ensure they reach the intestine intact they must be fed in a protected form. The best form of protection is to encapsulate the amino acids in fat, a coating that is sufficiently robust to withstand the harsh rumen environment

to deliver the amino acids to the intestine intact. Once in the intestine, the fat coating is quickly broken down and the amino acid is absorbed to the blood and carried to the liver. Much trial work has been carried out to perfect this process. The technology is at a point where these supplements are now becoming a very important tool in optimising liver function in all classes of ruminants. Understanding liver function a little better hopefully emphasises the importance of this essential organ to maintaining the health and productive capacity of these most productive of ruminants.

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and health

A goat’s liver could be considered as the chief gatekeeper between its body and the environment.

Issues leading to fatty liver disease can often go unnoticed in goats until it is too late. Over conditioning of goats has become such

an issue that some goat farmers abroad have even resorted to milking their goats right through to the next kidding. This is simply to keep condition

levels in check, and of course can lead to other issues. • Chris Balemi is the managing director of Agvance Marketing Ltd.

ALL ABOUT BALANCE THE LIVER is no different to any other organ in the body; it requires a correct balance of nutrients to function at an optimal level and remain healthy. The liver is unique among body organs in that it has a tremendous capacity to regenerate cells, particularly when it is most under load. Invariably some liver cell damage will take place, however, the liver has the ability to increase its rate of regeneration of new cells ( provided the liver is being supplied with the key minerals, vitamins, and amino acids in order to allow regeneration). Key minerals that may be required by the milking goat to support liver function and health: Magnesium – helps with the release of toxins in the blood allowing the liver to do its job more effectively. Copper – involved in antioxidation, reducing byproducts of energy metabolism (free radicals), one of the

most important functions of the liver. Zinc – plays a role in liver health through the regeneration of cells, as well as in antioxidation. Selenium – along with iodine, is involved in thyroid hormone production, as well as cell regeneration. Iodine – production of thyroid hormones, the liver is important in further synthesising these hormones. Key vitamins to support liver function Vitamin B12 – important in methionine synthesis, which is important for liver health. Of course, many other vitamins and minerals will be important, but most should be present in the diet in sufficient quantity. Key amino acids in liver function ■■ Methionine ■■ Choline ■■ Betaine



Lely offerings for the future MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz


cialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020. Designed to connect data from a range of onfarm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely. Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management

system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way. Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists. Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual

data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data. To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020. The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021. Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

Lely Exos, an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

Lely says fresh grass fed to cows has more nutritional value than grass silage.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh� has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding. Lely suggests that feed-

ing fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and boughtin feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced. Based around an allelectric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is

light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews


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Flowtast glide bar delivers clean forage, protects soil MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

FIRST SEEN as an option in its linkage mounted rotary swathers, Pottinger has now released the Flowtast glide bar as an option for its TOP 842 C centredelivery rake. The rake offers a working width of 7.7 to 8.4 metres. Replacing the conventional jockey wheels, Flowtast creates a larger area of contact to improve load-bearing capacity on wet, peaty soils, it says. Working in conjunction with a hydraulic cylinder to alleviates the weight of the TOP 842

Pöttinger engineers tested various materials and selected a special plastic (PE 1000) for the glide bar.

C rotor unit, results in a low ground pressure of

about 200kg, protects soil and the glide bar as well

as wear and tear on the machine’s frame.

Pöttinger engineers tested various materi-

als and selected a special plastic (PE 1000) for this application. It says this synthetic material possesses an enormous resistance to wear and abrasion. Each glide bar consists of five individually exchangeable 15mm thick plates. To provide perfect ground tracking and tine guidance, the glide bar is installed close to the tines. It tracks the ground along the full raking length of the tine arc. The sickle shape bar also offers the best gliding properties during sideways movements. The Floatast is wear and abrasion resistance with each bar consisting of five, individually

exchangeable 15mm thick plates. To aid ground tracking and tine guidance, the glide bar is installed close to the tines, offering ground tracking along the full raking length of the tine arc. The sickle shape bar also offers the best gliding properties during sideways movements First presented at Agritechnica 2019 in Hanover, Germany last year, the option is said to take over when wheeled assemblies reach their limits, for example, on wet, peaty soils with deep wheel marks, or when working with whole crop forage in fields where the sward does not provide full surface cover.

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Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 24 November 2020  

Dairy News 24 November 2020

Dairy News 24 November 2020  

Dairy News 24 November 2020