NZ Dairy Winter 2022

48 | nzdairy “ For us, system 4 is worthwhile and suits our situation. Generally the more inputs you have the more work involved to get returns.” Farming smarter to suit your lifestyle Sue Russell DAIRY PEOPLE » Checketts Dairies Mossburn lower-order sharemilker Jason Checketts thinks that the farm management system he operates on his 390 ha dairy unit suits his lifestyle well. He farms to a system 4, generally grassed based but with additional feed offered in-shed. “I think it comes down a little bit to the sort of lifestyle you want to have. For us, system 4 is worthwhile and suits our situation. Generally the more inputs you have the more work involved to get returns,” Jason explains. And surrounding himself with the best advice and great consultants has really helped inform Jason’s decisions. Wheat is the supplement of choice but at times, and as needed DDG and Palm Kernel is added. In the early stages of the shoulders grass silage is also supplied. An 125 ha run-off directly across the road from the farm is also an important asset within the farming system. The run-off is used for wintering cows and harvesting grass off. Asked how the current season has been tracking Jason says it has been quite challenging. “Last season was reasonably plain sailing with good production results. This season we’re going to be between 10,000 to 15,000kgMS behind. I knew by early December that we weren’t going to catch up.” A slower calving period than usual coupled with some cows presenting with mastitis are the main reasons for the drop. Jason is expecting at close of season that production will be 450,000 kgMS. He peak milks 970 cross-bred cows. Ag Proud charitable trust Trustees Jason Checketts, John Douglas and chairman Jon Pemberton. Jason with children. Proud to be associated with Checketts Dairies And while many Southland farmers have struggled with the climate this season Jason says Mossburn and surrounds is probably the best part of the region to be dairy farming in. This has led to less supplementary feed being grown in some most impacted areas. For Jason, he sees three main stressors impacting on some dairy farmers. Firstly, a lack of available feed to maintain good cow condition and milk production and the battle to get cows for processing at the freezing works. “And this is happening at a time when milk payouts are at such a high level, so there is an element of frustration for many dairy farmers.” Cost of transport and allied services continue to rise while manufacturing stresses for feed and fertiliser adds further challenges. “The Ukraine/Russia con ict is having an impact. And I also think a lot of farm supply companies justify their price-increases on the back of a positive milk pay-out schedule.” The herd will dry off at the end of May, with calving due to get underway early August. Jason is a founding trustee of farming support charitable trust Ag Proud, along with John Douglas and Jon Pemberton, fellow proud Southland farmers. The organisation’s purposes are support the mental health of farmers and to nd ways to engage main-stream public in what real farming is all about and in so doing break down barriers to understanding. “In the last year or so it has been put on the back burner given COVID gathering restrictions. Previously Ag Proud BBQ’s have provided a space for townies and farmers alike to rub shoulders.” What was heartening about the BBQ’s was the discovering that only one or two people who attended each one had a negative attitude to farming. “I think they have really shown the true picture of how the public views farming and people working on the land as hard-working and essential to the health of this country.” And asked how COVID impacted his life on the farm Jason says that in some respects the lockdown was great. It provided him and his team of four farm staff with a solid bubble of time to get some seriously great work done.