NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

20 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Dean & Suzanne Alexander Sharpening the focus Kim Newth Southland dairy farmers Dean and Suzanne Alexander still see huge opportunities ahead for New Zealand’s dairy sector, even as farmers grapple with a welter of regulatory and environmental challenges. Dean says New Zealand’s average production per cow – 398kgMS for 2021/21 (DairyNZ’s National DairyBase data) – is “quite low” but he sees opportunity for this to improve with more industry emphasis on improved cow genetics. “There is plenty of scope for us as a national industry to really look at what we’re breeding from and working on the productive potential of our cows,” he says. “If we’re going to have limits imposed on the number of cows, then the ones we have left will need to be able to produce to the max. “We talk about climate change and what tools we can use. I don’t think there’s any silver bullet, but I do see cow genetics as an easy one to focus on right now. If we can produce the same milk solids with less kilos of input that has to be a positive. Right now, though, with a team that has grown to 10 full-time staff, people management is Dean and Suzanne’s biggest priority. Along with that, they realise there is a need to become more efficient as they deal with rapidly increasing costs across all parts of the business. • to page 22 Dean (left) with his three farm managers Edward Justiniano, Mathew Kane and Elmer Maglaqui. “We have been able to soak these up currently due to the high milk price, but this bubble will likely burst at some stage.” Dean and Suzanne’s dairy operation is comprised of four main blocks, five kilometres south of Winton, giving a total dairy platform of 720ha. As well, the operation includes 200ha of nearby run-off land. They have a self-contained operation milking 1800 cows, producing 900,000kgMS. The couple started their farm career in the Waikato, working on Dean’s family sheep and beef farm. The family bought into a 147ha Southland dairy farm in 1994. Dean and Suzanne took over the operation of this business in 2010 and bought their second Southland dairy property in June 2016. In June 2020, they acquired another two adjoining blocks. They farm it all as one operation with four sheds, moving cows between them at times as required. “To be honest, we haven’t achieved what we have wanted to in the last period with our genetics because we’ve had such rapid growth and haven’t been able to do the selective culling we would like.” In their earlier years in Southland, Dean says they put a big emphasis on traits such as udder strength and capacity. “Within five or six years, we could really see the impact of selectively picking for “We talk about climate change and what tools we can use. I don’t think there’s any silver bullet, but I do see cow genetics as an easy one to focus on right now.” Novaflow • Tiles & Tile Cleaning • Culverts • Drain Locations Repair & Maintaining Drains • Waterline • Cowshed Drains 2.7 Tonne & 2.5 Tonne Diggers for Small Digger Jobs Proudly supporting Dean & Suzanne Alexander 027 226 5019 Your hole is our goal! BF Anderson Ltd T/a Waianiwa Hedge Cutting 2x Hedge Cutters Hi Torque Cutting Heads Faster Cutting Time Top Operators Own Gravel Beach Rotten Rock Silage Trucks - D Thompson Contracting Phone Brent Anderson 03 236 8495 or 0274 373 746 Excavation & Cartage P. 027 220 4204 e. Contracting MAKAREWA