SUMMER 2021 www.waterfordpress.co.nz Reporoa Engineering’s Herdflow Backing Gates have been redesigned to increase the strength of the drive system - page 91 Continuously evolving
2 | nzdairy Page | 4 Page | 49 Page | 62 Page | 40 Page | 54 Family proud of SPCA certification ‘Humble beginnings’ to 19 farms Popular milk brand now in supermarkets Asia offers huge potential for sheep milk Fernglen Farm produces plain and avoured sheep milk drinks and is SPCA Animal Welfare certi ed, a recognition that the whole family is very proud of. From its genesis as a true ‘humble beginnings’ story, the Fortuna group today operates 19 dairy farms throughout Southland, milking more than 13,500 cows. If you enjoy a at white in one of Nelson’s many cafes it’s likely that you’re drinking the Raine family’s popular Oaklands Milk. There is strong demand from Chinese consumers for milk products derived from sheep and goats, demand which opens up huge potential future markets in Asia. Page | 18 CONTENTS >> Index | Page 120 These conditions are prescribed for the sake of understanding between the Company and its clients. Advertising is charged for on the basis of space taken up using a standard tabloid page. Actual space may be reduced during the printing process but this will effect all advertisers equally so no credit will be given for any reduction in size due to processing. The Company reserves the right to alter, change or omit entirely any advertisement or article that it considers to be objectionable or which may contravene any law. In the event of a failure on the part of the Company to insert advertising as instructed the Company may publish the advertisement at the first available subsequent reasonable date unless the advertisement features date sensitive material. Every care shall be taken to publish the advertisement in accordance with the advertisers instructions as to page and position but the Company reserves the right for whatever reason to place advertising in a different position and in doing so shall incur no liability whatsoever. Advertisers must advise New Zealand Dairy immediately of any error or omission in advertisements and shall work constructively to remedy the situation which in the first instance shall be a rerun of the corrected advertisement in the next available issue of New Zealand Dairy. Where advertisement proofs have been faxed or mailed to the client 48 hours prior to the nominated printing cutoff time acquiesce shall be taken as confirmation and acceptance. Corrections made by telephone shall be accepted but the Company reserves the right to decide whether a further proof should be faxed or mailed to the client. Accounts for advertising are due for payment within seven days of publication of the newspaper. Accounts not paid within this time may incur a penalty of 3% per month until the account is paid. Any debt collection costs incurred by the Company will be added to the account of the debtor. Views and opinions expressed in New Zealand Dairy are not necessarily those of the editors, Waterford Press Ltd or publisher. New Zealand Dairy welcomes contributions from freelance writers & journalists. All articles published at editors discretion. New Zealand Dairy accepts no responsibilty for loss of photos or manuscripts. Infrastructure investments paying off Chippie to cows a steep learning curve Prudent investment in infrastructure and technology is paying off for the Martin family. It’s been a hard and fast learning curve for former builder Jason Brock after he returned to manage the home dairy farm. Printed by: Published by: nzdairy 16,453 printed copies Christchurch Office 112 Wrights Road, Addington, Christchurch Phone 03-983 5500 PO Box 37 346 www.waterfordpress.co.nz Queenstown Office 70 Glenda Drive, Queenstown 9300 PO Box 2581, Wakatipu MANAGING DIRECTOR James Lynch email@example.com EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Randall Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Mein email@example.com Journalists Kelly Deeks, Russell Fredric, Hugh de Lacy, Richard Loader, Dianna Malcolm, Kim Newth, Karen Phelps, Sue Russell, Virginia Wright SALES ROOM Adam Feaver, Chris Graves, Megan Hawkins Mandi King, Allan J Knowles, Chris McPhee, Lisa Moffat, Colin Morais, Chris Pearce, Alasdair Thomson firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT General Manager Luke Lynch email@example.com Graphic Artists Connor Gosnell, Anton Gray, Nick King, Sophie McCleary, Liki Udam. firstname.lastname@example.org CONTENT COORDINATORS Alissa Crosby, Ann-Marie Frentz OFFICE AND ACCOUNTS Manager Helen Bourne email@example.com Jill Holland firstname.lastname@example.org
| 3 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Ferdon Genetics: Warren & Michelle Ferguson Cows, to this family, mean everything Dianna Malcolm A Waikato herd with a Breeding Worth (BW) of – 52 includes Jerseys producing up to 700kg Milk Solids, who often stay in the herd until they are 10 years old, and who sell for (on average) almost $6000 a head? Ferdon Genetics is owned by Warren and Michelle Ferguson at Otorohanga. They milk 220 predominately registered Jerseys with a smattering of Holsteins and even fewer Ayrshires on 92 hectares. One of their sons, Corey, who is blazing his own trail in the industry, recently returned home to the family operation. This is a herd that bucks the system because it includes qualities and philosophies that rail against the Kiwi rank and file. For the dairymen who like numbers, here’s some more. Ferdon cattle which were sold in two sales last year – the Autumn Harvest sale and A Taste of Waipiri – averaged $5703 for 12 head (11 yearlings and one in-milk animal). Ferdon earns up to $1.25kg Milk Solids on cattle sales (compared to an industry benchmark of 56c kg MS). The reason Ferdon is profitable is simple. To Ferdon cows are not “just cows”. They are family, and those cow families and the individuals within them have formed the foundation of Ferdon’s success. Warren was recently named to judge the Holsteins at the biggest show in the southern hemisphere – International Dairy Week (IDW) – in Victoria, Australia. He has already stood in the main ring at IDW – judging the Jerseys in 2012 (when the Jersey won Supreme Champion) and the Ayrshires in 2017 (when his Intermediate Ayrshire Champion went on to win Supreme Intermediate). He is well-versed in competing, having won Premier Jersey Exhibitor every time Ferdon has entered the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) at Feilding. Warren was awarded Jersey NZ’s inaugural George Henry Dawick Memorial Cup in 2020, which recognises national or international achievement within the breed. One of Ferdon’s cow families almost as well-known as Ferdon itself is Ferdon Comerica Viyella, who was Grand Champion Jersey at the NZDE for five successive years – winning Supreme in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Her dam, Ferdon Follys Viyalla still resides at Ferdon, aged 17 years. In addition to her own NZDE Champion titles, she has left 11 EX daughters at Ferdon (seven natural and four born from embryo Michelle and Warren Ferguson dance to their own tune on their Waikato dairy farm, Ferdon Genetics, which is famous for owning cows with Queen Elizabeth II. transfer). She is backed by 10 generations of EX cows. Ferdon Genetics was established in 1949 by Warren’s late father, Don, who famously shared ownership on cows with the UK’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Don showed cattle at the Waikato Show for seven decades and Warren and Michelle have exhibited for 55 years at the same event. Warren acknowledges that herds which include show cows are often misunderstood by their commercial peers. He says it’s an industry divide which doesn’t need to exist. “People often think all we’re doing is trying to breed a show cow,” Warren said. “That’s not true. As I say to anyone who asks, we’re trying to breed a functional cow the best we can get her, and if we get to show her that’s the icing on the cake. But, to be honest, a show cow and a profitable herd cow should be one and the same. “It’s 4km from our front gate to the river flats at the back of our farm. So, our cows have to do a fair bit of walking and they have to be functionally correct to do that. If they have good legs, and if their udders are correct and well-attached they will last. That’s what we want. Even though we’re Jersey people, we have always appreciated a good cow in any breed and – for us – when you buy into a good cow family those maternal traits come through generation after generation.” Warren says cows have taken them all over the world and introduced them to some of their closest friends. So, cows to this family are not “just cows”. They’re everything. ww engineers | surveyors | planners 1180 Amohia Street, Rotorua 3010 Ph: +64 7 349 8470 Proudly supporting the rural community since Napier, Ohakune and Taumarunui, we are your experts in: • Subdivision • Land Use Compatibility • Soil Contamination • Resource Consents · SILAGE · HAY · DIGGER · TRACKS · RACE ROCK · GENERAL CARTAGE WALTERS Agricultural Contractors i l l p. 07 873 2828 m. 0274 947 684 RD2, Otorohanga Robert Walters • Round Bale Hay and Silage • Undersowing 021 189 4871 07 873 7595 A/H Otorohanga - Te Kuiti - Piopio
4 | nzdairy For all your livestock cartage needs Proud to be associated with Fernglen Farm DAIRY PEOPLE » Fernglen Farm: Ravenwood family Family proud of farm’s SPCA certification Sue Russell When Jeff and Shirley Ravenwood were approached by their children to consider taking the family’s farming business into a new direction, the timing couldn’t have been better. Jeff and Shirley were nearing the stage where they needed to either step back from farming or realise a new potential from the property; they chose the latter, in the form of converting to a sheep milking enterprise 3 years ago. Fernglen Farm is located on Wairarapa’s East Coast and it’s 372 ha footprint is an idyllic potpourri of flat, terraced and hill country land. Then just 4km’s down the road is a separate farm of 420 ha; a mix of flat and hill country and a substantial block of retired native bush. Their two sons and daughter, Ben, Cameron and Baeley are right behind the departure to this new ‘adventure’ which has required navigating steep learning curves and a pioneering spirit. Cameron holds a Masters in Global-Agribusiness and Food Marketing from Lincoln University and, when completing his final study, based his research paper on the farm’s move to this new way of operating. Now back on the farm Cameron says the experience has injected a new enthusiasm into farming from the whole family. Fernglen Farm produces plain and flavoured homogenised/pasteurised sheep milk drinks and in the trialling phase of production when everything was very new, Cameron used his rugby teammates as pioneering consumer-testers. “We know there are many benefits that come from consuming sheep milk but there are also barriers to break down in the market about what the milk will taste and feel like, so I used to take bottles down to the rugby games for an after-match refresher for the team. Feedback was really good,” Cameron says. The wider-world got a sneak peak of Fernglen Farm’s sheep milk production when Country Calendar featured an episode late 2019 of the enterprise. “I have to say that my parents have been pretty good at seeing the potential turning to sheep milk production would add to the business. They had worked hard and got the farm to the place where there were few meaningful ways to add value from existing activity on the farm. These days diversification is really important.” While the sheep milking plant was relatively easy to procure Cameron says in the early days meeting compliance rules occupied a lot of his time. Ben is mainly involved in business development and the milk processing plant which is not far from the farm near Masterton, while sister Baeley helps on the farm and also helps with processing. Keen to get the message out about the benefits that come from drinking sheep milk the family like to present their offering at local food markets to give people a taste. Fernglen Farm Sheep Milk is also marketed through some New World Supermarkets and speciality health stores. While many find drinking cow’s milk irritating and unsatisfactory, Cameron says sheep milk’s natural composition of fats and proteins is far more palatable. “We’re even finding that some who have turned to plant-based milk products because of their intolerance to cows milk are turning to sheep milk and enjoying it.” Cameron says the sheep were for the most part very co-operative learning the new milking regime. When lambs are born they are kept with Mum until old enough to wean. Milk processed through the milking shed is only the surplus left over after the lambs have had their fill. While the ewes are being milked the lambs are in a holding paddock, waiting for milking to be over and ewe/lamb families to be reunited. Driving the move to sheep milk has been the whole family’s interest in producing products of high nutritional merit. To supply milk all year round, the flock of 1200 milking sheep is split into two groups, with lambing at spring and autumn. “For us it’s such a really neat thing to be delivering a high quality product that consumers gain real health benefits from.” Fernglen Farm is SPCA Animal Welfare certified, a recognition that the whole family is very proud of. “To gain that status it’s about demonstrating in all aspects of your farming practice that you are working holistically, with care of the animals and their environment. We are regularly audited to maintain this certification.” Jeff Ravenwood in the milking shed. Ben Ravenwood, Cameron Ravenwood and Baeley Butler. Fernglen is SPCA Animal Welfare certified .
| 5 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Hayden Ussher & Gillian Dalley Virginia Wright Hayden Ussher and Gillian Dally met over 20 years ago when they were both working in Cust, just north of Christchurch. Hayden was on a dairy farm while Gillian was working on a sheep and beef farm. They were taking a year off together and travelling overseas in 2000 when Hayden’s parents contacted them to offer them the opportunity to take up a 50/50 sharemilking position on Hayden’s third-generation family farm in Fernside, just out of Rangiora. “They’d had a manager on the farm for fifteen years but they wanted to free up some capital from the business, so we had the opportunity to buy the herd and the machinery and so on which meant they could go and do what they wanted to do,” says Hayden. Hayden and Gillian always knew that they wanted to expand and knew there were other blocks neighbouring the homestead farm that were likely to eventually come up for sale. When the first of these came available only two years later in 2002 they were able to buy it with Hayden’s parents, Chris and Dave, coming in as guarantors to help secure the loan they needed from the bank. They ran the new 40 hectare dairy farm in conjunction with the 64 hectare homestead farm they were already 50/50 sharemilking. By then Hayden and Gillian had already initiated significant changes in line with their wish to farm in an environmentally sustainable way. The original 64 hectares of heavy, peaty ground had been townmilking 220 cows, running two herds and calving twice a year, not least as a means of sustaining winter revenue. Hayden and Gillian switched immediately to seasonal milking and started the soil and herbage testing regime that accompanied their decision to move away from using conventional solid fertiliser. “What the testing showed us was that our soils have about 150 years worth of phosphate in reserve in the soils so we looked at how we can unlock that reserve and start using it,” says Hayden. “We reduced our usage of nitrogen and phosphates by around 90%.” Hayden doesn’t believe that the phosphate his parents and grandparents put on was excessive, but the 10% or so that wasn’t taken up by the plants each year remains available to be used and that’s what they plan to do. Hayden and Gillian have now been working closely with Magnify New Zealand and their local rep Scott Hobson to manage their use of fertilizer for 20 or so years, and while they always wanted to be environmentally responsible it was their financial situation that kicked their decision-making along. “There was a huge dairy downturn after we bought that first block of land and we ended up in a financial predicament,” explains Hayden. “We had to reduce costs and increase our profit to keep the bank happy and one of our biggest costs was we had huge lameness, huge mastitis problems and quite high empty rates. We looked at why that was happening and felt that a lot of it was coming from excessive usage of nitrogen and high potassium levels in our soils.” They didn’t simply trust their instincts though. Biological fertiliser regime nets results With the pressing twin need to increase productivity and improve animal health to significantly reduce costs they trialed various liquid biological fertiliser regimes on 25% or 30% of their land until they settled on Magnify. “We trialed them against each other and against conventional forms of fertiliser so we didn’t just blanket the farm. We measured growth rates and did pasture herbage tests measuring protein, and energy and everything else that was in the pasture as well.” After a couple of years working with Scott they were also able to meaningfully compare their somatic cell rates, lameness and empty rates with what they’d been under their previous conventional approach. All three indicators were significantly reduced and the cost of animal health went down with them. “We’ve adapted to Scott’s way of thinking which is less conventional, and even though we’ve got a stocking rate of only 2.7 or 2.8 which is considered extremely low we’re still making more net profit than we used to with more cows. “ I grew up conventionally farming and when I was studying that’s what you learnt to use was urea and super-phosphate so it wasn’t until we had to reduce our costs and did our research that we questioned things. Like yes, you put urea on the grass and the grass grows but that grass isn’t always the best for cows.” Hayden and Gillian now farm 130 effective from 145 hectares of a mixture of heavy and light lands having purchased more blocks as they came up. They use a standard rotational grazing system but they pay a lot of attention to the protein levels in their pasture and use nitrogen as a finely calibrated tool rather than a blanket application. “Protein reflects the amount of urea or nitrogen used, and high protein causes problems in the stock,” says Hayden. “We put on between 35 and 45kg per hectare of nitrogen a year and Canterbury now has a limit of 190kgs per hectare per year, while in the past there were high-use farmers putting on up to 300 kgs per hectare per year.” It’s safe to say that in this case less is more when you look at what’s happening to their bottom line. “What the testing showed us was that our soils have about 150 years worth of phosphate in reserve in the soils so we looked at how we can unlock that reserve and start using it.” SPECIALISING IN: • Pump – Sales, Breakdowns, Repairs & Servicing • Plumbing, Upgrades, Spouting & Maintenance • Drainlaying, Soak Holes & Stormwater • Irrigation – Farming, Lifestyle, Residential, Golf Courses • Effluent Solutions – Dairy Farms, Septic Tanks & Drainage Fields • Water Purification – Filters, Softeners, Reverse Osmosis & Ultra-Violet • Blocked or Broken Drains, CCTV Inspections & Insurance Work • Gas – Hot Water Systems & Electrical Works Pump Services has been serving the Canterbury and West Coast communities for over 15 years GET IN TOUCH 24 hour breakdown service: 0800 786 793 • 332 Flaxton Road, Rangiora, 7400 Rangiora & Canterbury: 03 313 3444 • West Coast - Buller: 03 732 3678 www.pumpservices.co.nz WE HAVE A FULLY QUALIFIED TEAM OF: • Pump Technicians • Drainlayers • Plumbers • Electricians • Gas Fitters Available 24hrs a Day The cost of animal health reduced significantly when Canterbury couple Hayden Ussher and Gillian Dally switched to liquid biological fertiliser. Reduce nitrogen fert + leaching We have rebranded Visit our new home www.magnifynz.co.nz formerly Biohelp Enhancing soil, plant & animal health Stan Winter 0800 66 88 100 email@example.com 1000 to 3200 kgDM 3 cents/kgDM extra 12-22% "I'm drawn back to the videos on nitrogen, leaching & soil biology" D Taylor. Landcare NZ
6 | nzdairy Better data use and genomics testing needed Kim Newth Tararua dairy farmer Hennie Verwaayen, a Holstein Friesian New Zealand past president and current board member, is frustrated that New Zealand’s dairy sector is still largely missing out on the potential benefits of genomic testing. Such testing enables breeders and commercial farmers to get a full genetic picture of each individual calf, making it easy to identify the animals with the greatest potential to drive superior efficiency on farm. Holstein Friesian New Zealand offers a genomic testing service to its member famers but Hennie says a big stumbling block is that New Zealand-based genetics can’t be tested with the same reliability as animals related to overseas genetic populations. The service is currently most useful for overseas genetics. “We’re hanging out for a good reliable genomic test that will be available to all NZ farmers rather than those using overseas genetics. It’s very unfortunate that New Zealand has painted itself into a corner, with our dairy cow reference population only a fraction of the European or North American populations.” He cites recent DairyNZ research that shows New Zealand’s genetic progress has stagnated compared to that of all major dairying nations around the world, after the introduction of genomic technologies 10 years ago. He suggests this is of even more concern, as environmental markers are developed for feed, methane and nitrogen efficiency. “If you can measure something like that through genomic testing your calves, then you know straight away which ones are the more efficient feed converters into milk solids and also identify your least efficient animals that could be sold or mated to beef.” With more and more data now going directly into the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database managed by DairyNZ subsidiary NZ Animal Evaluation Ltd, it is vitally important that New Zealand herd improvement is driven from this independent database that should capture and share data from as many corners of the industry as possible, says Hennie, even more so in a post-Covid New Zealand that relies on primary industry to pull the country out of an economic hole. As an example, Hennie notes that calves get identified at birth and sell at 10 days old for beef. “That calf arrives 18 months later at the works and is followed all the way. At the moment, that data is not collated or used so there’s no value proposition we can put to beef producers to show our calves have superior growth rates over that period. Instead, we go by coat markings to make purchase decisions without making use of the information. We have to do better with our industry good information.” DAIRY PEOPLE » Hennie Verwaayen Hennie and wife Kerri farm 360 cows at Oringi, south of Dannevirke on a 145ha property, with an additional 97ha block used for cropping and dairy support, and are running a beef herd, as well as finishing some of their own beef calves. Having genomically tested animals since 2016, their ongoing goal is to have an efficient herd of cows that have good conformation, health and environmental traits enabling them to last in the herd. The couple’s two children have also pursued dairy careers. Their son, Harvey, is running the home farm at Oringi while daughter Lucy is contract milking nearby. DairyNZ research that shows New Zealand’s rate of genetic gain in the genomic era is trailing some of our competitors can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/639737951/9b3feb40a5. Proud to be associated with Hennie Verwaayen Call Arron Cook on 027 498 7104 Phone: 06 374 7090 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.dannevirkehonda.co.nz Proud to Support Hennie Verwaayen Tararua farmer Hennie Verwaayen is frustrated the NZ dairy sector is missing out on the benefits of genomic testing.
| 7 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Kiwitahi Pastoral Succession planning lures brothers back Virginia Wright While Jason and Carrigan Trower both grew up on the home farm in Kiwitahi, a small district between Morrinsville and Matamata, they were both in their forties, with well-established careers off-farm, when the family succession plan drew them back. Five years ago the decision was made that Chris and Liz Trower, now in their 70’s, would continue to live on the home farm while leasing it to the boys, while at the same time the large-scale dairy-farming business they had built up over the years would move into Jason and Carrigan’s ownership under the name Kiwitahi Pastoral. Carrigan is Director and Head of Finance while Jason is Executive Chairman. Jason’s the first to admit that after decades working outside farming he and his brother had a lot of upskilling to do. They brought in a farm consultant and a team from PWC to analyse all the different components of the farming business from a straight profitability point of view, and with an eye to sustainability. “It was a great opportunity to analyse without emotion what we thought was the right model for a business of this size, before we made decisions about the company structure” says Jason. It was a multi-million dollar transaction with a lot of involvement from the bank and they wanted to bring a modern lens to a long-standing family business. With the help of their business advisers they rationalized every aspect of what they were doing. For example, instead of money being spent on the repairs and maintenance of existing farm machinery they put it all on the market and bought new, including eight tractors and four feed-outs; stocking ratios went down as did the use of supplements and, perhaps most significantly, the dairy farm down in Mahia on the East Coast which wasn’t producing enough for their liking was sold off leaving four farms in the business instead of five. “The PWC guys helped us understand where we were out of kilter with normal, modern farming practice,” says Jason. Jason started spending 85 to 90 per cent of his time on farm business, rather than in the IT business he’d built up over many years. Luckily he’d already stepped back into a directorship role before the farming opportunity came along. He’s the first to acknowledge that a pivotal decision was to employ Duncan Eversen “He’s an absolutely magnificent guy who came on as our operations manager and for the last four years he’s helped us achieve what we wanted, which was to come into line somewhere between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of what was happening on all the other comparable dairy farms in terms of outgoings and profitability, and I’m really pleased to tell you that we’re doing even better than that,” says Jason. Having come into the dairy industry from the world of IT, which is driven solely by commercial imperatives and the hard-core competition that goes with it, Jason feels strongly that New Zealand farmers are extremely lucky with the support network they have around them with companies like Dairy NZ, Ag-Research, LIC, Fonterra, Balance, Ravensdown and the list goes on. “It doesn’t matter who they are, all of these suppliers, and many of them are co-operatives, they always have our best interests at heart, even if some of their decision-making hasn’t been the best at times. “It’s very different when you engage suppliers in the commercial world where there isn’t the same industry ownership. These guys all understand that they’re an integral part of our industry. We’re so lucky to have that sense of ownership that goes with the co-operative structure,” says Jason. The other strong view which he attributes to his commercial background is to do with New Zealand’s place in the international marketplace and sustainability. “Most dairy farmers engagement with the process of selling a milk product in China or anywhere else in the world ends when they press the washdown button after milking. It’s the co-operatives that do the rest. In my experience it’s really hard to sell product to customers,” says Jason with conviction. “They’ve really got to want to buy from you and there’s got to be an edge that makes you a stronger value proposition than anyone else, and we have that with New Zealand dairy products. “We have a premium in the global marketplace but to keep that we have to keep moving ahead of everybody else. It’s no good sitting back and going ‘well they don’t do this in Europe or don’t do this in Australia.’ If we want to keep that premium it’s really important that we remain ahead of the rest of the world in sustainable products.” Jason’s the first to admit that there’s no point in crippling the farmer but he gets frustrated at farmers who are reluctant to change because they don’t see the importance of New Zealand staying ahead of the sustainable game. He uses slow-release nitrogen as an example of a win-win for the environment and the farmer, and Kiwitahi Pastoral’s steady return to pasturebased farming and phasing down of palm kernel as another. “Regardless of your views on PKE customers don’t like it and they don’t want us using it therefore we have to look at other options,” says Jason. “We’ve brought our costs down by $2.00 to $2.50 per kg of milk solids by concentrating on doing pasture better, and it’s dropping every year. This year we did 585,000 kilograms of milk solids with just under 2000 cows, and that’s keeping sustainability at the forefront of what we do.” Kiwitahi Pastoral is a four-farm business milking just under 2000 cows. Qubik are proud to take care of the dairy shed requirements for Kiwitahi Pastoral proudlylocally ownedandoperated 100% kiwi owneD Morrinsville ∙ PHONE 07 889 5059 Proud to support Kiwitahi Pastoral
8 | nzdairy Leading the way on Kim Newth DAIRY PEOPLE » Kaiwaiwai Dairies At Kaiwaiwai Dairies Ltd, performance is not just measured in dollars and cents. Rather, a wide range of metrics are used on this high performing Wairarapa farm to ensure the whole operation runs profitably and sustainably. “We’ve got something like 90 data feeds online, not counting animal records and financials, for climate, soil, effluent, water, wetland and silo temperature,” observes Aidan Bichan, one of six shareholders in Kaiwaiwai Dairies. “This allows us to find more opportunities for improvement; our philosophy is to leave the farm in better condition than when we purchased it [in 2005].” Active as Dairy Environment Leaders and Climate Change Ambassadors, Kaiwaiwai Dairies was named as the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards 2020 Supreme Winner and continues to innovate and model best practice in all areas. Along with the Supreme Award, Kaiwaiwai Dairies received the Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award and a host of other awards for water, soil and sustainability management. The farm has a 325ha milking platform - along with leasehold land in South Wairarapa and Carterton for young stock, winter grazing and supplements - and milks 900 cows at peak. As of early September, spring calving (600 cows) was almost finished. Since irrigation was installed across 120ha a few years ago, the bulk of calving has swung to spring with 300 cows calved in autumn. Aidan says cow condition is tracking pretty well currently, in spite of a dry autumn. Kaiwaiwai Dairies held a field day in February 2021 to celebrate their Ballance success, (postponed last year due to the lockdown). Some 150 people attended, enjoying a full programme that included stops at a wetland development, dairy shed and calf shed. “What makes the difference in our size of operation is the people: we totally rely on people to manage our farm, milk our cows, feed the stock and get them in calf. We’ve got a very stable and experienced team. Our culture is all about being a good employer, as well as being good stewards of the environment and good role models.” Sharing best practice with the wider community is something that Kaiwaiwai does very well. Photos: Dairy shed with solar panels (top). Kaiwaiwai’s Vern Brasell, Neville Fisher and Aidan Bichan. Some of the 150 attendees at a field day in February. “I’m keen to have a focus on Wellington and engagement there with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry for the Environment (MfE). Vern Brasell [a fellow shareholder] also works locally through discussion groups. It’s a good structure that works well for us.” There is a strong focus on water efficiency, with water use halved in the dairy shed over the past six years to 36 litres per cow, (which is around half the industry standard). Water is monitored in and out of the shed. Water that goes through the milking plant and cooler is used again for stock water. Flood washing the yard, feed pad and entry off the race with green wash has also reduced water use – “and the way it is set up we can use that green wash twice if we want to.” This year a retention bund has been created in a low lying area next to the farm’s state highway boundary to capture floodwater and run off. A notch at one end enables the water to be slowly released over several days. It is effectively trialling a way to take sediment out of run off and manage flood peaks. It is also forming another wetland area and has been recently planted with Manuka, Coprosma and flaxes. Through their earlier wetland development project on the farm, Kaiwaiwai has discovered that planting rings of Manuka can be an effective way of suppressing grass growth and creating good conditions for wetland species to flourish. Kaiwaiwai Dairies established a wetland on nearly a hectare of former pasture land that is now removing 660kg of nitrogen a year from water flowing through it to the Wairarapa Moana catchment. Their latest project involves adding a retention bund to a well-established farm dam, again to capture run-off and slow water flow. Blackberry will also be cleared out of this area and natives established. Last November, Kaiwaiwai Dairies installed a 54 kilowatt solar panel system, designed to supply the farm rather than generating an excess for the national grid. This is now generating enough power to practically run the dairy shed most afternoons. Other environmental projects include reshaping stock tracks to prevent runoff from entering waterways, dung beetle trials and using crops to strip potassium from effluent irrigation paddocks. SOLVE EFFLUENT COMPLIANCE ISSUES - Large reduction in artificial fertiliser requirements - Eliminate effluent separating equipment - Minimise laneway & paddock damage - High flow rate for fast & efficient effluent discharge - Highly cost effective for emptying large ponds - Significantly less nitrogen loss to the atmosphere Contact Shane P: 06 379 5504 • M: 027 453 3505 E: email@example.com ALL AGRICULTURAL SERVICES AVAILABLE Proud to support Kaiwaiwai Dairies Proud to be associated with Kaiwaiwai Dairies For all your livestock cartage needs Proudly supporting Kaiwaiwai Dairies
| 9 nzdairy people, animals and the environment DAIRY PEOPLE » Kaiwaiwai Dairies Drone photo of pivot and the latest pond project at Kaiwaiwai Dairies. Inset: Bunded wetland to intercept sediment and reduce flood peaks.
10 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Plantation Road Dairy ‘Lightbulb moment’ Kevin Davidson isn’t sure why more New Zealand dairy farmers aren’t tuning into biological farming. Dianna Malcolm When conventional farming failed Central Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers Kevin and Linda Davidson they starting asking questions. It would bring Kevin to biological fertilisers, and a new way of thinking for their 1900-cow Plantation Road Dairy at Ongaonga, which produces 1 million kg of Milk Solids a year (and includes a winter contract). “I was under a conventional system in 2008 using over 300 units of Nitrogen, and harvesting 12,500 tonnes of grass,” Kevin said. “I used to do better than that without irrigation in the Waikato. “I started pulling the farm apart, and trying to find out why the best was the best, and the worst was the worst. And, I got invited to go and hear Dr Arden Anderson from the United States speak, the penny dropped, and I thought we’d give it a shot.” Dr Andersen consults in the field of sustainable agriculture and carries international credits for his influence in biological farming. “That combined with reading some papers put out by Dr Bert Quinn (Quinphos fertiliser) on how DAP (Diammonium phosphate, the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertiliser) or Urea (an inexpensive form of nitrogen fertilizer with a nitrogenphosphorus-potassium ratio of 46-0-0) slurries put on with helicopters worked more efficiently than standard granular fertilisers that made me think we could do it,” Kevin said. “So, I bought a truck and I dissolved the fertilisers with water, which isn’t too bad of a job if it’s on your own farm.” The results have been everything he hoped for on their property which includes the pasture species fescue, clover and some Plantain. “It was one of those lightbulb moments. We got a lot of things wrong, but I had some mates doing it too and we just kept comparing notes and pressing on until we got the equation a little bit better. “We now got our Nitrogen use down by half to a third of what we used to use and we’re harvesting over 15 tonnes of pasture – which is a 25-30% increase.” He said they used to have a Brix* level of 3-4. It is now 10-12 and above. It has lifted the sugars in their plants by 400%. “It’s more than just a biological fertiliser programme. Biological is about the nutrient density of food. So, I guess God gave us a sweet tooth to understand what’s good for us, and what is not. “Sweetness is a sign of nutrient density in grasses. If you’ve got something that tastes naturally sweet it will be high in nutrients. And, that translates into milk. “Because photosynthesis is about sugar production and no-one pays any attention to that. Our pastures are now more palatable, so we were able to lengthen rotations, and that’s when the harvest started coming.” They apply 11 fertiliser applications a year, following the cows as they graze. The property is irrigated to 94% by a centre pivot. They also use humic acid with their fertiliser, which helps hold nutrients in suspension in the soil. Trials by Southern Humate in New Zealand show a 63% reduction in leeching – achieved by increasing the ability of soil colloids to combine and by enhancing root system and plant development. When it comes to animal health, Kevin says they also use Acid Buf in their Partial Mixed Ration. It is a rumen buffer made from calcareous marine algae. Its natural honeycomb structure breaks down slowly in the rumen giving twice the buffering capacity of sodium bicarbonate – even when fed at much lower concentrations. “Our vet bill is definitely less. But, I’d say our animal health bill no less because we spend money on mineral supplementation,” Kevin said. He says he has no idea why the rest of the industry isn’t more engaged in this subject. “It’s no different to what they are doing on the other side of the world, but for some reason conventional farmers here don’t seem interested in participating in it. I’ve been vocal about it for some years now, and they know me, but they won’t engage for some reason. “We were all reading cow dung and cow cudding counts in the 1800s, and then we got smart and could do blood tests and we forgot about that. I’ve learned a lot by choosing to farm this way and it’s helped our cattle health enormously.” The Fonterra suppliers also send a portion of their milk (for a significantly higher price) to the award-winning Origin Earth boutique dairy company at Havelock North. And, there is no hope of them getting lost in the herd there. All of the Origin Earth products are crafted from single farm origin milk from farms within an hour of its factory. It means that the milk for any one batch of milk, yoghurt or cheese comes from a single farm. • A Brix value, expressed as degrees Brix (°Bx), is the number of grams of sucrose present per 100 grams of liquid. For most plants, the rule of thumb is that a value of 10 or lower may point to a nutrient deficiency. A Brix value of 12 or higher indicates a healthy plant. Servicing Hawke's Bay with locations in Waipukurau and Hastings 068588983 & 068783289 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.tararuavets.co.nz Tararua Veterinary Services is proud to work with Plantation Road Dairies to help them achieve excellent herd health and herd wellbeing (06) 374 9999 Farm Supplies & Servicing 24/7 24 hours - 7 days 06 374 9999 386 High Street Dannevirke www.dannevirkedairy.co.nz • Milking Machine Sales and Service • Water Pumps • Water Filtration From House Hold To Entire Farm • Stock Water Systems New and Servicing • Engineering, Machining- Repairs, Manufacturing & Solutions • Electrical, Household, Commercial & Agricultural • Gas, Hot Water & Central Heating PHONE. 07 885 1022 EMAIL. email@example.com WEBSITE. www.grahambrown.co.nz Your business. Is our business. Proud to support Plantation Road Dairies Limited and help grow rural business throughout New Zealand
| 11 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Plantation Road Dairy sparks new way of thinking on farm “Proud to support Plantation Road Dairy” A move to biological farming has resulted in happy cows and healthy pastures. For all your dairy livestock requirements contact Brownie: Phone: 027 271 4722 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Proud to support Plantation Road Dairies with their large scale dairy operation Get In Touch To Find Out More Dickie Direct use more e cient nutrient forms in conjunction with soil enhancing biology to improve farm production, pro tability and environmental sustainability. 0800 4 DICKIE (0800 43 42 54) www.dickiedirect.co.nz Get In Touch To Find Out More
12 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Paul & Rosie Franklin Dairying couple making their own luck Dianna Malcolm Paul Franklin – a sheep and beef farmer for two decades – says he’s “had a bit of luck” amassing four farms and 5000 dairy cows in Central Hawke’s Bay. But everyone knows that much luck is not only hard to come by – it’s impossible. This is,in fact, a shining example of a dairy farmer who is hard-wired to leave no stone unturned while making the most of his opportunities. Together with his wife, Rosie, the couple own and operate Springhill Dairies, from their home base at Ongaonga. When Paul’s bank manager first teased him about converting to dairying, he replied, ‘If you’ll bank it, I’ll do it’. Paul wasn’t joking, and it would be the conversation which lit the fire underneath the foundation of this empire. Paul and Rosie started with a solid conversion milking 400 cows on their home farm. Today that operation has grown to 520 hectares milking 1500 cows, but it is now part of a much bigger picture. Where luck did perhaps play a part was when their adjoining neighbour’s farm (which had been converted to the tune of $17 million by its former owners) hit rough waters after a run of challenging seasons and subsequent pressure from the banks. It was forced back onto the market and Paul and Rosie’s buy price reflected that. A recent 220ha lease property just down the road from the home farm has expanded this multipronged operation to a total ownership of 2237ha (1811ha dairy farms, 426ha run off properties) and 360ha (leased run-off). Springhill Dairies property break-down (with three of the four farms milking year-round) and a total annual production of 1.803million kg of MS include: • 1500 cows on 522ha at Ongaonga milked through a 50-bail rotary (this is the original dairy that hasn’t stopped for 20 years, 365 days of the year). Milking Friesians with a farm manager. It also has a shared run-off of 276ha, and an uncovered feed pad that can hold 1000 cows. It is partially irrigated, and can be impacted by drought. • 1400 cows on 509ha on the adjoining farm milked through a 60-bail rotary. Milking Friesians with a farm manager who is responsible for the day-day-day running on paddock rotations and staff. It also has a shared 276ha runoff (see above) and a small feed pad. It is also partially irrigated and impacted by drought. • 1600 cows on 550ha at Tikokino milked through a 70-bail rotary. It’s 100% irrigated and very similar to a Canterbury farm, with 11 centre pivots and an immense water source. Milking Friesians with a farm manager. It has an additional 150ha run-off (of which half is irrigated with centre pivots), and they are building a feed pad. • 500 cows on 230ha at Eketahuna milking OAD through a 40 a-side herringbone. The Kiwicross herd is being milked by a contract milker. Its production had peaked at 140,000kg Milk Solids (MS) under the former owners. Last season Springhill Dairies produced 199,662 kg MS. It is 1.5hrs from the home farm and it gets 2.2m of rain annually. Paul says if someone had told him at the start of his dairy journey that he’d be milking 5000 cows in 2021, his answer would have been simple. “I doubt it. “I always knew I could grow grass, and I guess in the end we’ve just converted that grass to a different end product,” he said. “Because now we convert it to milk.” He said the initial conversion regarding switching to dairy farming was prompted by the lack of progress in sheep and beef prices together with his workload. “Sheep and beef is cyclic and realistically they’re still cycling down,” he said. “When I gave up sheep and beef farming we were getting $130 for a lamb and that was 20 years ago. “Financially, in the long run I’d probably still be doing alright with sheep and beef, but the sheep and beef business had gone through some pretty tough times in the 1980s. We were at a scale where our farm wasn’t a two-man operation but it was bigger than one, and I was trying to run it myself. “I thought there’s got to be a better way. I’d considered the possibility of heifer grazing, and beef. But beef is mainly bulls and they tend to give you an untidy farm. Dairy had been in the back of my mind. It was a fresh challenge.” Dairying in the DNA Ultimately, he says there’s no denying your make-up. “I suppose it’s just in my DNA,” he said. “It would be easy to just sell up and do nothing to be quite honest. But, that’s not the way I am. I enjoy the challenge of growing grass.” He says Hawkes Bay is a “boom or bust” area for dairy because of its water challenges. But it comes into its own with supplementary feed options. “We’re not fully irrigated here. We can irrigate out of the river, and when we get cut from that, we have a storage dam that holds 500,000 cubic metres. But it’s still not quite enough. That’s when we use the feed pads. “We’ve got a lot of options in Hawkes Bay when that happens, with potatoes, beetroot, apple, corn waste, sweet corn and all sorts of things. It’s all readily available. “We can balance other feeds, for example if you mix apple (sugar) with maize (carbohydrates) you get a pretty good brew. And, beetroot has a similar feed value to fodder beet. We feed all the supplement feeds through mixer wagons.” Grass is king Paul chooses to buy in the supplements. Everything he grows on-farm is grass-based and part of that rationale comes down to animal welfare. “I used to take the cows off the winter crops we grew because they were up to their knees in mud. It’s not a good look, to be quite honest, and I didn’t like it. “I like it when the cows can sit down on the dry. I found they didn’t do that well on it either. Whereas on grass, the cows come from a grass-based diet in the herd, they go on to grass for winter, and they come onto grass for milking. There’s no transition periods. We now winter all the cows on grass and grass silage.”All of the farms make use of run-offs for replacement heifers and dry cows, because Paul believes that the only cows they need on the home farms are either springing or milking. Three of the four farms use AI to make the most of genetic progress. The heifers are all synchronised – which will include 800-head this year – and they will be mated to sexed semen for that genetic progress, and a deliberate focus on calving ease. Paul says permanent pasture seems to be a distant memory now that it often runs out after five or six years. They have responded by making the most of short-rotation grasses. They do a lot of direct drilling (particularly on the dryland country). “It’s quick to do, and some years you don’t even have to spray, you can just direct drill an annual or two or three-year grass,” he said. “We don’t do winter crops because this is how I want to farm.” While Paul’s daily workload means he has limited time to actively participate in Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand, even though he is a member. He tries to stay abreast of what’s happening with Fonterra because, he “has a fair few shares proudlylocally ownedandoperated 100% kiwi owneD Hawke’s Bay • PHONE 06 879 9998 Proud to support Paul & Rosie Franklin For all your dairy livestock requirements contact Brownie: Phone: 027 271 4722 Email: email@example.com Pleased to support Paul and Rosie Franklin with their large scale dairy operation Rosie and Paul Franklin. in the company”. “We’ve been pretty busy on the farm for a long time now. I try to take as much interest as I can but I’ve had no input into any industry politics really, because this is not an insignificant operation to run day-to-day.” He says he’s open to considering offers to buy the Eketahuna property. It is just far enough from the home farm, and it’s milking 500 cows OAD on 230ha. They have found the sweet spot getting the most sustainable production out of it, but Paul would happily let it slide off their portfolio. “It’s a low cost operation down there, and a buyer wouldn’t lose the shirt off their back taking it on,” he said. “It’s free draining and it gets rainfall. It can be a bit tough in the spring, and that’s why we milk OAD.” The next move for Springhill Dairies would be to establish an operations manager. Paul and Rosie’s son, Mark, and daughters Alice and Emily aren’t interested in putting cups on cows, but they are all capable in business, and Paul says any one of them is more than qualified to fill the role. “We have been working to get the business to stage where one of them could possibly come home, if they wanted to and find a place in that position. “We’re in a pretty good place with the direction of our business at this point.”waterfordpress.co.nz