Farmers nationwide can register for a visit from a DairyNZ expert who will review their early spring grazing management, talk through a plan and, if needed, give guidance on ‘where to next’.
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the visits will help farmers gauge whether they are on track during the critical spring period – a high pressure time exacerbated by the low milk price.
“Analysis shows, that if the amount of pasture eaten is increased by one tonne of dry matter per hectare (DM/ha) an extra 30-40 cents of milk income per kg of milksolids can be generated, by either reducing the need to source feed off the farm or increasing milk production with the same inputs,” says Tim.
“In the peak milk period between calving and Christmas that could mean an extra $30,000 more cash in the budget for the average farm business.”
“Pasture management offers the opportunity to improve returns by increasing income without increasing costs,” says Tim. “Grass has already been paid for and growing and utilising it well has always given the New Zealand farmer an advantage – it makes sense to focus on this area and minimise the need for bought-in feed.”
The visits will run throughout August. Tim recognises this is a busy time for farmers hence the on-farm visits.
“We wouldn’t be doing this unless we knew it could make a difference. Good early spring grazing management provides a platform for capturing this additional one tonne of dry matter per hectare before Christmas.
“Accurate feed allocation in spring will ensure cows are adequately fed with the right rotation length and that average pasture covers will be achieved at balance date (when feed supply equals feed demand).
“Farmers have asked us for more support in this area of their decision-making and we’ve responded by putting more people into the field for these visits.”
Tim says even the best pasture managers are sometimes uncertain whether they have got it right.
“It can really help to get that second opinion – and have some peace of mind on that front,” says Tim. “You can start to question whether you have made the right calls. Are you under feeding the cows or leaving too much pasture behind?”
“If we find a plan needs to be updated or improved upon during our visits, we’ll connect dairy farmers with other rural professionals to get that advice quickly if we need to.”
The visits are not designed to replace comprehensive feed management services already provided by farm consultants to many dairy farmers.
The one-on-one visits are part of DairyNZ’s Tactics campaign, designed to help farmers cope with the low milk price, recover faster and build resilience.
Dairy farmers can register for their one-on-one visit, funded through the milksolids levy, at dairynz.co.nz/visit. Spaces are limited so farmers are urged to book in early.
DairyNZ communications and marketing advisor
021 703 068