As New Zealand pastoral farming is about profitably balancing feed supply and demand, five production systems have been described by DairyNZ primarily on the basis of when imported feed is fed to dry or lactating cows during the season and secondly by the amount of imported feed and/or off farm grazing. The definitions do not include grazing or feed for young stock.
System 1 - All grass self contained, all stock on the dairy platform
No feed is imported. No supplement fed to the herd except supplement harvested off the effective milking area and dry cows are not grazed off the effective milking area.
System 2 - Feed imported, either supplement or grazing off, fed to dry cows
Approx 4 - 14% of total feed is imported. Large variation in % as in high rainfall areas and cold climates such as Southland, most of the cows are wintered off.
System 3 - Feed imported to extend lactation (typically autumn feed) and for dry cows
Approx 10-20% of total feed is imported. Westland - feed to extend lactation may be imported in spring rather than autumn.
System 4 - Feed imported and used at both ends of lactation and for dry cows
Approx 20 - 30% of total feed is imported onto the farm.
System 5 - Imported feed used all year, throughout lactation & for dry cows
Approx 25 - 40% (but can be up to 55%) of total feed is imported.
*Note: Farms feeding 1-2kg of meal or grain per cow per day for most of the season will best fit in System 3.
Skills for systems
Successful dairy farm management requires a wide range of skills but some skills are more important in particular dairy systems.
Steps for system change
If you are considering changing your farm system this page will help step you through the process and ensure you can proceed with confidence.