DairyNZ developer Sarah Gordon has taken the feedback – from 100 farmers, graziers and rural professionals – and developed two tools to help provide the right information from the start.
“We’re helping streamline the process by providing graziers and dairy farmers with better information, through a questionnaire and checklist,” says Sarah.
The questionnaire is designed for the start of a dairy farmer/grazier relationship and aims to identify whether the goals and expectations of both parties are aligned. There are two versions – one for the grazier, one for the farmer.
“It covers off a range of topics such as infrastructure, stock management, animal welfare and the dairy farmer or grazier will be able to highlight areas of most importance to their farm system. They will then be able to ask the questions outlined for these issues,” says Sarah.
The questionnaire operates in a similar way to interviewing a prospective candidate for a job.
“It can be used either as a phone interview or sent to either the dairy farmer or the grazier before the first on-farm visit,” says Sarah.
A second tool focuses on the actions required when rearing dairy replacements – and whether the dairy farmer, grazier or a third party are responsible for each task listed.
The responsibility checklist ensures someone takes accountability for specific areas involved in raising quality young stock.
“The checklist is designed to be used with the questionnaire and grazing contracts. It can also be used at any point in the relationship to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly identified and defined,” says Sarah.
Revised grazing contracts
As a further aid to relationship management, Federated Farmers has been working on a revised Grazing Contract which it is hoped will be available for this coming grazing season and will offer separate schedules for heifer grazing, winter grazing, and dry stock grazing. Separating out these options in the contract allows for more specific needs for each type of grazing arrangement to be met.
Federated Farmers has allowed DairyNZ the opportunity to provide input into the new versions of their contracts which have led to the addition of options for grazing fees with both weekly rate and rate of liveweight gain.
Contracts do not guarantee good working relationships between graziers and stock owners but can help to establish expectations and commitment to performance. Going through the process of completing a contract can facilitate discussion for an agreed process and outcome to a grazing arrangement. A more comprehensive contract will support clearer communication between the two parties.
In support of the contract, DairyNZ is also helping to develop some information documents around "monthly management reporting", "developing remedial action plans" and "strategies for adverse events". These documents and the final version of the contract will be available later in the year.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy March 2015