Business type: Owner-operator
Location: Edgecumbe, Whakatane
Farm size: 160ha effective milking platform, 52ha effective support block nearby (47 ha owned and 5 ha leased)
Peak cows: 580 FX
PSC: 15/07/2021 cows and heifers
Stocking rate:3.6 cows/ha
Farm system: 2 (1-10% feed imported)
Wintering system: 80% of herd wintered externally or on support block for 6-8 weeks
Production: 240,000kg MS, 1,500kg MS/ha, 414kg MS/cow (3 year average production pre-2017 Edgecumbe flood is 241,000kg MS, 3 year average post flood is 211,400kg MS)
Scroll down to get into the latest budget!
Numbers at a glance
Financial KPI 2021-2022 budget
Physical KPI - 2020-21
Net dairy cash income
|Total farm working expenses
|Total operating expenses
|Dairy operating profit
Pasture and crop harvested
|Purchased N surplus
kg N/ha/yr *
t CO2 equiv/ha/yr *
|Six week in-calf rate
*Find out more about these KPI's and how to calculate them for your own farm here.
Strategy and financial
To maximise growth with quality assets, careful timing, superior relationships, sustainable profitability, and a balanced lifestyle of family and fun.
Have a clear strategic plan and awareness of the importance of good governance.
Be industry aware so that business decisions are made based on up to date industry information.
- Budget updates
Do farm administration on a daily bases so cash flow and budgets are always up to date.
Repayment of debt is a priority, which means the business is better able to withstand a downturn.
- Know the current situation
Monitor farm physical information frequently so decisions can be made quickly and are based on current farm information.
Have a low-cost, simple system that has low environmental impact which is easily communicated and replicated.
- Communication with staff
Have clear objectives and communicate that to staff. Give staff responsibility and expect them to operate unsupervised.
Continue to follow best practice environmental guidelines to ensure long term sustainability for the land and the business.
Network frequently and always be open to new ideas.
Farm policy and infrastructure
- The farm has two 20 a-side herringbone sheds.
- The furthest paddock is 1.4 km from the dairy shed.
- The farms are well subdivided, with good internal races and water supply.
- Farm policy is to operate a low input system, with imported feed and winter grazing approximately 6-8% of total feed used. In low payout years the owners are prepared to reduce the amount of imported supplement.
- Young stock are grazed off the milking area from weaning. They can be brought back to the milking platform during the season to help deal with any feed surpluses.
- 80% of the herd is wintered off which helps avoid pasture damage through the winter on the low lying wet soils.
- The focus is on maximising grass grown and maximising the utilisation of that grass. Achieving 1,500 kg DM/ha post grazing residuals is key to the overall pasture management plan during the milking season.
- Pasture cover is monitored regularly, (with plate meter or eye assessment), and reviewed with owners fortnightly. Supplement use is based on pasture cover and growth rate information.
- Drying off decisions are made to ensure early winter cow condition and pasture cover targets are met. Key targets are body condition score 5 at the end of May and 2,400 pasture cover at the start of calving, (July 15).
- Support block
There is 52 ha of support block. This provides about 40 ha of silage and baleage, (about 100 t DM), grazing for weaners from November to May, winter grazing for 80% of the herd for 6 weeks and grazing for yearlings from July to May. Some supplement from the support block can be brought back to the milking platform if needed.
- Milking platform
The farm is low lying and gets very wet in the winter. Effort is made to minimise mud on the milking area. If conditions get very wet, mob sizes will be reduce and back fencing will be used. Cows are stood off on average about 7-10 days from calving until spring. Maintaining pasture quality is vital and preferably is able to be done with animals rather than machines. Yearlings may come back to the milking platform to help with pasture control. On average about 10 ha is harvested each year for silage.
Baleage, hay and PKE may be fed in the spring to maintain post grazing residuals and to reduce pasture damage if soil condition's are too wet. However most supplement is used in the late summer and autumn. The budget has allocation to purchase about 110 t of PKE, (170 kg DM/cow) and make 40-50 ha of silage/baleage and hay. PKE is fed out in troughs on the race to avoid pasture damage.
- Pasture renovation and weed control
Pasture renovation is a regular part of the farming plan, mainly to repair any damage done in the spring and from mobbing in the summer heat. Any paddocks that are under performing will be re-grassed as well, so the area renovated each year can vary.
Weed control is high priority so that every bit of land is available for grass to grow.
- Support block
- AB is done for 5 weeks. No pre-mating heats are done but extra time and effort are put into the 5 weeks of AB. Four bulls per herd are used after AB and are rotated every 3-4 days, 2 on 2 off. 7 bulls are run with the heifers for 5 weeks and then 2 are returned for use with the milking herd after AB.
- Herd testing is done twice a year.
- Since 2019 the breeding policy is to selectively mate A2 cows to A2 semen.
- Pregnancy testing is done via milk sampling to minimise impact on the cows.
- The SCC for the herd is about 160,000. Dry cow therapy is based on best practice recommendations with only high SCC cows being treated. The rest of the herd is teat sealed only.
People, health and safety
- Labour consists of 2 herd managers (one for each farm) and 1 additional staff member employed to provide relief milking, tractor work and any other support needed for both farms.
- The farm owners contribute 0.7 FTE of unpaid input for relief milking, cover for busy periods, administration, strategic planning and governance.
- Effort is made to ensure the the working environment is enjoyable and a good work/life balance is achieved.
- Remuneration recognises experience and responsibility.
- The HazardCo system has been used to ensure manuals with processes that meet OSH industry standards are on farm and implemented.
Apply best practice animal husbandry and land management to ensure excellent profitability without compromising the environment
Nitrogen use is about 70 units of N per hectare.
- Soil testing and fertiliser
Soil tests are done each year on different paddocks. Olsen P levels are 34 and pH is 6.1. Fertiliser applications are based on soil tests and recommendations that are considered optimum for the soil types. The soils on the farm are 55% Paroa_ 2a.1 Loam, (a poorly drained Gley soil) and 45% Awakaponga_3a.1 (an imperfectly drained recent soil).
Effluent can be applied to 40 ha, (25% of the farm), via traveling spray irrigators.The effluent systems have been upgraded in the last 3 years and are now fully lined with stirrers installed. Storage capacity is 60 days. Best practice is followed to ensure effluent is not sprayed near drains or canals.
2020-21 Season Review
2020-21 Numbers at a glance
Milk Production (kgMS/ha) 1,419 1,469 Milk Production (kgMS/cow) 391 400 Net Dairy Cash Income ($/kgMS) $6.64 $7.96 Total Farm Working Expenses ($/kgMS) $2.69 $3.01 Cash Operating Surplus/Deficit ($/kgMS) $3.95 $4.95 Gross Farm Revenue ($/kgMS) $6.52 $7.87 Operating Expenses ($/kgMS) $3.30 $3.50 Operating Profit ($/ha) $4,566 $6,421
*These KPI's are based on cash book actuals to 31 May 2021 and estimated non-cash adjustments. The final financial performance based on financial statements may differ.
- The estimated operating profit for this season is $6,421/ha which is the second-highest recorded for the farm.
- Pasture harvested for the season is close to the pre-flood levels of over 18 t DM/ha. This contributed to milk production being more than 4 % up on budget from less imported feed inputs. The increased milk solids combined with the milk price at over $7.50/kg MS contributed to net cash being 24% up on budget.
- Farm working expenses were up 16% however most of that is due to the decision to employ an additional staff member to provide relief cover for both farm managers and free up the owners to pursue more off-farm activities.
Other points of interest
- As 588 cows were milked at the peak of the season. This was 8 more than budget and 28 more than the previous season. Despite the higher stocking rate, winter and spring pasture growth were well above farm requirements so it was a challenge at times to control pasture and maintain quality.
- More than double the supplements were made on the milking platform in the spring and early summer, and young stock were brought home at times to help control pasture.
- The only supplementation was during the spring was hay to transition springers.
- Summer and autumn were more normal this season with reasonable rainfall for most of the latter part of the season. With more supplements made about 50% less PKE was used in the autumn than budgeted.
- Total N use for the season was 93 kgN/ha with more used in the autumn to ensure pasture cover at the end of the season was reached.
- The herd was dried off in mid-May, and by the planned start of calving cows were at target body condition score of 4.9, and pasture cover was 2,500 kgDM/ha.
- The six-week in-calf rate is 66% which is similar to the 2019-20 mating results.
- The somatic cell count for the season is 151,000 which is similar to the previous season.
- 131 replacement calves were reared along with 30 beef calves. This is 21 more calves than budgeted.
- Animal health costs were down with less spent in the spring on drugs and vet callouts.
- The permanent staff contracts were altered in the spring to give them extra time off per fortnight. Additional labour has been employed to cover the extra time off for staff as well as other relief milking and general farm work so the owners can spend more time developing the kiwifruit block. The labour adjustment for unpaid owner input is reduced from 0.7 FTE to 0.4 FTE so this offsets some of that cost increase.