NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 39 nz dairy into the future’ couple’s farm philosophy Jasmine, Katrine, Sarah, Massing, Douglas, Harrie and Jason Flavall-Nicholson. DAIRY PEOPLE » Flavall Farm & Doug Courtman New database system will improve performance Richard Loader T he breed society solution allowing for the submission of data directly into the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD) went live on August 2, marking the culmination of a two year project. President of Holstein Friesian New Zealand Doug Courtman says the association has been heavily involved in the project, which will result in better information, ultimately lifting the performance of dairy cows in New Zealand. DIGAD holds pedigree and performance data for every recorded dairy cow in the country. It is one of the most substantial database projects undertaken since herd records were first computerised in the mid-1980s and was initiated following recommen- dations in the Anderson Report in 2008, which pro- vided a review of the New Zealand herd improve- ment industry. A key outcome of the project has been to transition the operation and maintenance of New Zealand’s dairy cattle animal evaluation system from LIC’s Animal Evaluation Unit to NZAEL, a wholly owned subsidiary of DairyNZ. Given the complexity of the data and systems involved in the project Doug says industry col- laboration has played a big part and he is proud of the contribution that Holstein Friesian New Zealand made. “You have to have a voice in the industry. We are always working on a number of things on behalf of our members.” Considering genetic gain is a key factor in the competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farmers the project is significant. It has already generated results including in a better method of processing Doug Courtman, President of Holstein Friesian New Zealand. “We’re a low input system. We don’t bring in palm kernel unless it’s an emergency and we don’t bring in maize. So it’s about making best use of the grass based system that we have here and maximising that. Bringing in more feed brings in more nutrients, which has a cumulative environ- mental impact. We also looked at whether or not to use chicory and the Farmax model confirmed that was a good thing to do over the summer.” While Sarah and Doug were not placed in the awards, Sarah says the affirmation of their current farming practice and constructive advice on how to improve on what they were doing was the reward they were looking for. “There is an evolution in the way we farm that we need to make to keep farming going in the future. We have a lot to learn from our pioneering ancestors and the past.” fertility and body condition score data, which in- creases the accuracy of the corresponding breeding values. DIGAD has been a project of personal signifi- cance to Doug as he relies on the information for his own dairy farming operation and Holstein Friesian stud Carse-o-Fern. Doug and wife Lor- raine run a 56ha effective unit on the main road between Otorohanga and Te Awamutu. They milk 140 pedigree Holstein Friesians through a 14-aside herringbone shed. The only luxury in the shed is meal feeders, which were put in to reduce workload rather than feeding out in the paddock. The Court- mans feed four kilograms of meal per day to the herd during milking season. They use contractors where necessary but apart from that do everything on the farm themselves. Doug mainly uses CRV proven sires and overseas genetics with all bulls genomically selected. He aims for a high producing cow bred for protein, udders and capacity among other traits. His herd averages around 450 kilograms of milk solids per cow. Last season the farm produced 500 kilograms of milk solids per cow and Doug would like to see this become the norm. He doesn’t sell to overseas buyers and says he’d rather sell to the local market and have the stock in this country supporting the breed in New Zealand. He used to sell in a public sale each year but mycoplasma bovis made him reassess and now he sells by private treaty to safeguard his herd. The other big issue facing the Courtman’s farm is regulation, namely paperwork, meaning more time in the office. The couple fenced off their waterways a long time ago so are well ahead of the new envi- ronmental compliance, he says. “We have a lot to learn from our pioneering ancestors and the past.” HarrisTaylor Ltd Positive Action Positive Results We Specialise in… • Accounting • Succession Planning • Taxation • Feasibility Studies • Budgeting and Forecasting • Honest Appraisal and Advice • Ownership and Business Structures • Share Valuations • Secretarial Services www Ph: 06 278 5058 67 High Street PO Box 141 Hawera 4640 83 Kio Kio Station Rd, RD4, Otorohanga Ph: 07 873 1800 Mob: 029 833 0011 Email: