In the past two seasons of low milk prices, the average dairy farm business has managed to reduce its break-even milk price by more than $1.40 – with average savings of over $210,000 p/a.
DairyNZ’s nationwide Autumn Reset events aimed to help farmers hold onto those gains and set their farms up to thrive in the future – regardless of milk price fluctuations.
DairyNZ’s Bay of Plenty regional leader Sharon Morrell says these autumn events prompted plenty of discussion among farmers about what they’ve done and how they’re preparing for the seasons ahead.
“Farmers have managed to reduce farm working expenses over the last two seasons and now with the increase in milk price they’re very focused on paying off debt and catching up on maintenance that had been deferred,” says Sharon.
“At the moment they have their eye on farm targets for feed on hand, cow condition score, and pasture cover by the start of next season so they’re ready to capitalise on better milk price prospects.
“At the events, we also talked through DairyNZ’s Pasture Road Map to set pasture milestone targets over the coming months through to mid-spring.”
For the Autumn Reset campaign, DairyNZ produced a resource called the Farm Fitness Checklist (delivered to you with last month’s copy of Inside Dairy) which is designed to help farmers identify areas for improvement.
Reporoa dairy farmer Tesha Gibson attended the Autumn Reset Events. She and husband Bryan, who are equity partners and in their 14th season on the farm, also worked through the Farm Fitness Checklist.
It showed they’re on track with most things, but did highlight a couple of areas to work on.
“We’ve been up, we’ve been down and we’ve had droughts. We’ve had some good years and some pretty bad years – so we’ve been around a bit,” says Tesha.
“We’re always analysing and reviewing what we do. We don’t sit down specifically every year but we are constantly looking at our budget and updating it every month. Every time new figures come in, it’s just ingrained in us to keep on top of it.
“We did the Farm Fitness Checklist when it came in the mail. It showed we were doing everything apart from one or two things, which was good.
"Those two things were riparian planting, where we don’t have a plan yet; and having a bobby calf ramp – we haven’t built one yet but it’s on the list.”
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy May 2017