NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

| 69 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Mark Meyer Checking out the herd testing results are daughters Emma, Jessica and Carla. Mark says hello to cow Max. Milker, Sharon Campbell with farm manager Logan Williams. Son Daniel likes nothing more than working on the tractor. Profitability trumps production on farm Richard Loader Creating farm/life balance, and understanding there is a big life to be had outside the farm gates is what has enabled Northland dairy owner Mark Meyer to reap the benefits of the hard work and sacrifice that goes into progressing in the sector. Mark owns and operates a dairy unit, milking 400 cows once a day on 190ha at Tangiteroria, between Whangarei and Dargaville . When he bought the farm 11 seasons ago Mark recalls it had ‘good bones’, with infrastructure in good condition. Helping on the farm is manager Logan Williams who has been with Mark eight seasons now. Mark describes him as an excellent farmer who has a good future ahead of him. “I am trying to put some future thinking into him about progressing in the sector. He loves farming and is a real asset for my business. I also have Sharon Campbell who has lived on the property longer than I have. She milks every morning for me and just started this season.” Farming in Northland can be tough, with floods and then droughts becoming a reoccurring theme, milk production can fluctuate. However Mark says, how much he produces is not the key-driver. “It’s about profitability not production. I am all grass-based but will use supplements if I have to. I’ve made 40 bales of silage this year to just have available when needed and bought in another 120.” And prioritising profit means attention to detail is a strong component of the management systems, particularly those relating to the herd. “We mate for nine weeks, doing all AB and using LIC genetics. The target empty rate for a nine week mating is 15%. We pregnancy tested two weeks ago and we achieved an 8% empty rate.” I have to fit in with my cows for 365 days of the year and so they have to fit in with my system. By having a condensed mating and subsequent condensed calving window it gets the dead-wood or unproductive cows out of the business sooner. “What comes out of those four tits is the most important part, so by milking the best cows and most profitable cows for me is a no-brainer.” Herd-testing occurs four times each year to really get a clear picture of the cows that are performing. A strong practice of culling is also employed. “Anything that causes me grief, anything not producing we get rid of.” The six-week in-calf rate is also very high at about 83-85% and because of this the bulk of the calves reared are all growing within the same timeframe. With such a quick calving Logan and Mark need to ensure we grazing management is accurate to good feed for the cows post calving. “Really its about trying to close a 360° loop in the business, so there are no weak points.” Mark says there’s a wider team that are fully part of the success of the business. They include vet Brian Low, from Dargaville. Mark spends 80-85% of costs on preventative measures, rather than fixing problems and this has been integral to the strong balance sheet. Other members of Mark’s team he’s in regular contact with are Alanah Vinson from BNZ Agri in Whangare, accountant Charmaine O’Shea from COS chartered accountant, Mark Bradley from PGG Wrightsons and Jo Guest who was his LIC rep. Since purchasing the farm production has been boosted by using selected paddocks for cropping. Kikuyu was dominant when he purchased the farm. “I have cropped about 100ha so far and the remainder is mulched in the autumn with annuals broadcast.” Of the total farm footprint Mark says 140ha is so flat ‘you could play bowls on it’. The philosophy of farm/life balance has given Mark opportunities to get involved in farming governance and in sports, something he says has been such a positive in his life. The philosophy can be articulated in three statements: • The farm will be there tomorrow • Control what you can control • Be flexible enough to change and adapt Mark says if farmer’s followed simple principles there would be a lot less stress. “It’s my goal not just to look after my four children to help support their own aspirations and directions in life, but also to assist Logan and his partner to progress.” “I am very lucky with Logan and we work well as a team. I have full confidence in Logan doing the job.” Mark encourages Logan to engage on an equal footing with fertiliser, seed and LIC reps, as a way to support his own career and confidence. Sport has been a big part of Mark’s life and being involved in LIC, as Chairman of the Shareholder’s Council was a great experience. Mark is also driven by a very human approach to caring for others. “I read an article one time where a guy said you are given two hands. One hand is to look after yourself and family and the other hand is for helping someone else. It’s a pretty simple philosophy but very important I feel.” The biggest impact on genetic improvement is you. The decisions you make on the farm have the greatest ability to impact on the rates of genetic improvement. By making good calls and using higher breeding worth sires, you can create gains that benefit not just your bottom line, but through the HoofPrint® index, the future of our planet. Our Premier Sires® teams have been selected to do just that, giving you the option to pick a team backed by our experts. The Sexed team is one worth considering, delivering non-return rates within 5 per cent of our conventional teams, so you can get more heifer replacements from your best cows. Call your Agri Manager today to lock in your Premier Sires team, or learn more about our team options at