Focus doubles farm profit

Improvements in pasture use and herd reproduction over the past three years were among changes that doubled the economic farm surplus (profit) of the first Hauraki Plains focus farm, Steve Searle reports.

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  • Synlait profit in line with early forecast

    After bouncing round with its forecasts Synlait Milk has reported profits in line with expectations at the time of listing on the NZX in July last year.

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  • Open Country to double capacity at Wanganui

    Open Country Dairy is building a second powder dryer at its Imlay, Wanganui, plant doubling the site’s production next year.

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  • Opinions vary on price scheme

    Divisive, anti-co-operative, long overdue, another step to demutualisation, a sop to corporate farmers – Fonterra’s new guaranteed milk price programme (GMP) has been called all this and more, but for Waikato farmer George Moss only one label applies.

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  • How it works

    Fonterra suppliers keen to plug into the December guaranteed milk price (GMP) offer will again be asked to apply at five price levels, the same methodology used in the under-subscribed June offer.

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Big moves in China

Fonterra is confident in its choice of Chinese business partner despite that company’s recent financial reporting showing a drop in returns.

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A whirlwind five years

Taking out the 2014 national Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title caps off a whirlwind five years in the dairy industry for variable order sharemilkers Charlie and Jody McCaig.

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Feedpad a favourite

Installing a feedpad has had a significant effect on the bottom line for Mark and Kelsey Williams. They told Anne Lee that as well as reducing feed waste, it has also reduced the fertiliser bill.

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  • Consultation boils over

    The Northland Regional Council (NRC) has begun a careful process of seeking farmer and expert input to implementing the National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management.

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  • Where does responsibility lie?

    It’s not just the Kaipara River that needs to be cleared of weed, Rodney Local Board representative on Auckland Council Thomas Grace says.

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  • Farmers urge river weed kill

    Helensville farmers Barry and Annette Bradly knew the problem with glyceria weed growing over the Kaipara River, which borders their property, was getting steadily worse.

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  • A pest of a problem

    Helensville dairy farmers Scott and father Murray Narbey have been told to spray out glyceria in the 5ha of wetlands on their Helensville farm by Auckland Council staff.

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The value of simplicity

Maximising pasture harvest and controlling costs are at the heart of Clarence and Elise Stolte’s farming philosophy – and they are reaping the rewards.

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Beet is beaut

It’s common in other areas, but paddocks of fodder beet are still unusual on the West Coast. Darryl Kennedy told Anne Hardie the crop has proved to be a winner on his Grey Valley farm.

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Mix and maximise

Stock sales can hold the boat steady for dairy farmers when the milk price is low. Inseminating rising heifers for excess replacements or breeding valuable dairy-beef calves to sell into the market can provide a sizable pay cheque to boost profits. Waikato farmers Ross and Tracey Laing told *Sheryl Brown* how they maximise their Holstein-Friesian herd by breeding more than half the cows to Hereford bulls.

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  • Potential for new dairy index

    In the future, dairy farmers may have access to a DairyNZ endorsed, secondary economic index for dairy cattle specifically for high-input/output systems.

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  • The guts of the problem

    While greenhouse gas issues seem to have dropped off the radar at the moment, New Zealand scientists are still working in the background to come up with solutions to an issue that could have serious repercussions for pastoral farming.

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  • Southern standoff

    Building a covered pad is a big-ticket investment, but Canterbury farm owner Graeme Wall and his farm manager, Richard Ellison, told Anne Lee their vision for better pasture, reduced waste, and healthy cows is being realised.

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  • A passion for breeding

    Hans and Margaret Schouten used to milk 270 Friesian and Friesian-cross cows producing 520kg milksolids (MS)/cow. Now they are down to just one and it’s not even a Friesian.

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Stirring up the dust

Shane Ardern was running a dairy farm of 320 cows with his wife, Cathy, at Te Kiri, near Opunake, when he was elected to Parliament as the member for Taranaki-King Country in 1998.. He talked to Bob Edlin about his achievements and disappointments.

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  • Beware of peaks and pitfalls

    If you can’t sit down and have a drink with your equity partners then you shouldn’t be doing business with them, Justin Geddes of Crowe Horwath says.

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  • Topping up the emotional bank balance

    People productivity may be the final frontier for New Zealand farming, Joan Baker, of Baker Hawes Consultants, says.

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  • In the show ring at three

    Showing Friesian cattle is what Kate Cummings, of Wyndham, regards as her summer sport. While other teens are playing softball or tennis, she is clipping coats and combing out tails.

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  • Their heads weren’t in the clouds

    Richard and Pauline Kean weren’t farmers when they bought Jetstream Farm in Waikato, but as they told Steve Searle, hard work, expert advice and happy sharemilkers have turned their property into a productive farm that has won environmental awards.

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Cashflow is the oxygen of your business

While I am passionate about the dairy industry and its future, it is time to put aside some of the hyperbole in the industry about how wonderful we are, recognise that our dairy farms fit into the small to medium business category, and recognise the No 1 reason for failure of small businesses is lack of cash flow.

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  • Casting an eye

    What will dairy farmers be looking for in the upcoming election for DairyNZ directors?

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  • Breeding a critical part of the system.

    The start of mating is just round the corner. Mating decisions have a profound effect on six-week in-calf rate, empty rate, and next season’s calving spread. With the removal of induction as a management tool for next year, it is even more important that mating is well-managed this season.

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  • How does the grass grow?

    Knowing how to get the best out of pastures becomes a lot clearer when you understand how the dominant pasture species – ryegrass – grows.

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  • Feeding the Formula Ones

    Cows can be considered the Formula One cars of the ruminant world, finely tuned and designed for top performance – or in the case of cows, milksolids.

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Opinion – Serving up milk on a plate

*Fairlie dairy farmer Leonie Guiney is visiting Ireland. She looks at the Irish and our dairy industries, makes some comparisons and draws some conclusions.* 

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Properties with history

When William and Elizabeth Hartnell arrived at Waiotira, south of Whangarei, in 1866 they had 10ha of land. Several generations later the farm has grown to 1012ha, including a 200ha dairy farm and a beef unit raising 1000 four-day-old calves each year to grow on.

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  • No need for capital gains tax – experts

    Labour’s proposal to introduce a capital gains tax will reduce farmland values and add a new layer of bureaucracy but will give farm business succession planning a positive boost, tax experts say.

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  • Lochinver a challenge to investors

    The aspiring Chinese buyer of Lochinver will need deep pockets for several years to achieve even modest earnings from the big sheep-and-beef station, new information shows.

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  • Classic appeal for first farm

    Tidy infrastructure and room to improve the business make a northern Waikato dairy farm an ideal proposition for someone wanting to use their energy and enthusiasm for their first farm.

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  • Complete package in Australia

    A 476 acre dairy farm situated in the highly sought-after Cobram East district in Victoria, Australia, is in two titles, and is well laid-out with a central dairy and an excellent race system servicing the paddocks. It has a good 30-aside swing-over dairy with cup removers and 8600 litre vat, 300-cow yard, an in-bail grain feeding system with silos, crusher, roller mill, and dispenser, and good calf-rearing facilities.

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Lab passes 30-year test

In July 1984 young Waikato scientist Roger Hill left a small soil testing laboratory in Cambridge to launch his own in Hamilton.

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It’s all in the planning

While most New Zealanders soaked up the warm weather, Dairy Exporter Associate Editor Anne Lee spent the summer shivering in a UK winter investigating wintering options developed in a cold climate. 

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  • Animal health


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  • Slurry cleaning systems

    Passageways or scrapeways both indoors and outside can be cleaned by automatic scrapers. Most common were hydraulic scrapers that require a raised, covered track to be installed in the centre along the length of the passageway.

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  • Effluent management

    Storing and managing the slurry from a housed cow system or scrapeways on an outdoor pad can require a significant capital outlay for storage and handling.

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  • Quantity makes the difference

    Moorepark has carried out several experiments on crop wintering diets and found that how much the cow is offered makes more difference than what it’s fed.

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