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Budgeting, Medium Input (Canterbury)

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Farm facts Numbers at a glance Mid-season update Management decisions 2023-24 forecast budget Additional resources

Willsden Farm in Te Pirita, is 20 km west of Dunsandel. The farm is part of the Camden group whose stakeholders strive to strive to operate a profitable, sustainable and resilient business, which is able to identify major risks to the business and utilise tools to mitigate and manage these risks.
The farm has a 304.8 effective ha milking platform milking 1045 kiwi cross cows running a medium input feed system.  Pasture management and feed budgeting are a priority and key to ensuring efficient use of feed and consistent milk production.

Willsden Farm, at Te Pirita 20 km west of Dunsandel is part of the Camden Group. Camden Group operates across Canterbury, owner/operator of 4 irrigated dairy platforms and ownership and investment in irrigated dairy support farms. Camden Group are also equity partners in farms in mid and South Canterbury.

Camden Group dairy support farms provide all young stock and winter cow grazing and silage requirements. All transactions between the dairy farm and the support farms are at market rates.

The aim of the business is to exceed best practice standards with regard to employment, animal welfare, compliance and the environment.

The stakeholders strive to operate a profitable, sustainable and resilient business, which is able to identify major risks to the business and utilise tools to mitigate and manage these risks.

Cows on race aerial shot.

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Farm dairy aerial shot.

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Travelling irrigator.

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Travelling irrigator working.

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Farm facts

Business type: 

Owner Operator

Location: Te Pirita, Selwyn District, Canterbury

Te Pirita, Selwyn District, Canterbury

Farm size: 

304.8 ha effective milking platform,

Land: 

100% irrigated (Water source is Central Plains Water Ltd)

Soil Type: 

Lismore Stony Silt Loam

Peak cows: 

1045 Kiwi cross

PSC: 

4/08/2022

Stocking rate: 

3.4 cows/ha

Farm system: 

3 (11-20% feed imported)

Wintering system: 

100% of the herd wintered off farm for 9 weeks

Production:

485,000 kg MS/year, 1,591 kg MS/ha, 464 kg MS/cow, budgeted

Production (4 year average excluding 2022-23 season):

489,509

Numbers at a glance

Financial KPI 2023-24 budget
Net dairy cash
income ($/kgMS)
Total farm working 
expenses ($/kgMS)
Total operating
expenses ($/kgMS)
Dairy operating profit ($/ha)
$8.05 $5.42 $5.79 $3,957
Physical KPI 2021-22
Pasture and crop
harvested (t DM/ha)
Purchased N
surplus (kg N/ha/yr)
GHG (t CO2 
equiv/ha/yr)
Six week
in-calf rate (%)
15.5 115 15.6 66

Find out more about these KPI's and how to calculate them for your own farm here.

2023-24 mid-season update January 11th 2024

Numbers at a glance

2023-24 mid-season update as of 11thJanuary 2024.

View/download PDF of updated budget

Financial KPI's Budget Updated forecast
Milk Production (kgMS/ha) 1,591 1,575
Milk Production (kgMS/cow) 464 456
Net Dairy Cash Income ($/kgMS) $8.05 $8.51
Total Farm Working Expenses ($/kgMS) $5.42 $5.60
Cash Operating Surplus/Deficit ($/kgMS) $2.63 $2.91
Gross Farm Revenue ($/kgMS) $8.27 $8.75
Operating Expenses ($/kgMS) $5.79 $5.92
Operating Profit ($/ha) $3,957 $4,456

 

Comments and points of interest

Key points

•    Pasture growth has been similar to last year and good pasture management has seen pasture cover sit around 2,000 kgDM/ha since September, with average pasture quality for 12.23 MJME/kgDM for the whole season.
•    Production to the end of December is similar to budget.
•    Milk income is on budget now that the milk price is back to $6.10/kgMS advance 
•    Revision of the fertiliser policy and more targeted phosphate applications have delivered some savings for this year.
•    Operating expenses, (opex), and Farm working expenses, (FWE), are likely to be up on budget by about $0.15-$0.20/kgMS. budget and should be around $5.90-6.00/kg MS for opex and $5.55-5.65/kg MS for FWE.

Comments

Production to the end of December is 257,892 kg MS which is 1,434 kgMS ahead of budget. This is from 1053 cows milked at the peak, up 8 on budget. There has been less wastage and fewer losses this year as fewer unsound cows were taken into the 23-24 season, a result of better in calf rates from last season’s mating.
Pasture growth this season to date has been similar to last season, with the “spring flush” a little later than last year.
Pasture management has been very good this season and pasture cover has not varied significantly since September, sitting between 1950kgDM/ha and 2050 kg DM/ha.  
Pasture quality has also been very consistent, averaging 12.2MJME/kg DM for the season so far. Pasture quality information shows that the cows were able to be fully fed from pasture.
 Supplements fed for the season to date is 265 kg DM/peak cow milked. The plan is to feed 500-600 kg DM/cow for the year but that will depend on how the summer plays out.  The herd peaked at 2.02 kg/cow/day from 1053 cows getting up to 3.9 kgDM/c/day of baleage plus a little proliq in October and early November.
6.9 ha of fodder beet was planted in October. The original plan had been for 7.0 ha of crop, half fodder beet and half kale. However more of the off farm wintering will be done on fodder beet next season so more fodder beet is need to transition cows prior to going to winter grazing.
39 ha of regrassing in the spring was done in the spring, 4 ha more than budget. The last of the regrassed paddocks are coming back into the grazing rotation now.
There was a small surplus of pasture in the spring on the milking platform, with 85 t DM (baleage), from 42 ha being made. The original budget was for no supplement harvested on the milking area.
Nitrogen applied to date is on budget with 94 kgN/ha average over the whole area. Product used is 82 kg/ha Ammo31 applied at the end of August, 60 kg/ha of Urea in October, 60 kgN/ha of NProtect in November and 50 kg/ha NProtect in December. 
Fertiliser applied is below budget with some late changes made to the Phosphate nutrient budget after a revision when the payout drop was announced. A reduction in P applied plus lower prices for product has resulted in a $44,000 drop in fertiliser costs. 
Olsen P levels from all the paddock testing was studied and to make a saving, (this season only), it was decided not to apply Super phosphate to paddocks that had Olsen Ps over 37, and reduce the amount applied on paddocks 25 to 37. Some Ammo31 may have to be applied to those paddocks in autumn if S levels are low. Ammo31 went on all the farm in September.
Better than average winter growth rates and good crop yields on the support block resulted in cows staying at winter grazing for longer to clean up the crops. Therefore less supplement was needed on the milking platform in the early spring so surplus was sold to other Camden dairies. Winter grazing costs are up about $75,000. This extra cost was largely offset by the sale of surplus supplement not needed in the spring.
R & M costs are up nearly 50%, largely due to ongoing issues with the rotary platform and milk lift pump replacement that were not included as part of the Dairy shed capex. There has also been some additional R & M to the manager’s house.

Current Situation

Current daily production is up on budget with the herd 1.78 kg MS/cow/day, from 1040 cows to the factory, (1047 cows in milk). The recent hot weather has had an impact on production which has dropped in the last few days. 
Cow intakes are about 18 kg DM/cow/day made up of 17 kg DM of pasture and 1.0 kg DM of proliq.  The prolic is probably not needed, but it is available, only costs $0.13/kgDM and the cows seem to be able to eat it without any substitution so it is not affecting grazing residuals.
Pasture cover is 2,070 kg DM/ha and growth rates for the first 10 days in January are between 70 and 100 kgDM/ha/day. At current per cow daily intakes of pasture demand is 65 kgDM/ha/day so cover is increasing slightly.
The grazing rotation is 22 days, (would like to be on 24 days), with four paddocks out of rotation, (two that were later being regrassed and two that have just had a light crop of silage harvested.
Young stock are all off farm.
Soil moisture levels are currently OK but are only just being maintained with the current irrigation schedule. If the weather continues to be hot and dry like the last couple of days (warm nor’westers, 30 degree C days), growth rates will be impacted.
The farm is predominantly on an old river bed and the soil temperatures can get to 25degrees C in the summer. At this level pasture growth can drop below 60-70 kg DM/ha/day even with irrigation. With rain and irrigation, growth rates in the summer will exceed 70gkDm/ha/day.

Looking forward

The main concern at present is to survive the hot and dry weather that is affecting the region. 
Milking frequency will likely change towards the end of January to “3 in 2”. Experience has shown that as long as feed intakes are maintained there is little impact on milk production and it reduces stress on the cows.
Feed supply and demand over the next 5 months will be balanced by using the existing supplements on hand, (235-335 kg DM/cow) and gradual destocking, with the aim of ensuring target pasture cover and cow condition are met at the end of May.
Nitrogen use is still on budget for 180-190 kgN/ha with another 4 applications, (22.5 kgN/ha), still budgeted for the next 5 months.
There is scope to up the amount of supplement if needed, but that would potentially then impact the budget for next seasons supplements.
Some early culling will take place in March with about 15 cows scheduled to go. Depending on feed supply some empties will be culled at the end of April along with drying off of about 50 low body condition score cows. The balance of works culls will go early in May and the sale of the balance of the culls will be completed at the end of May when the last of the herd is dried off.

Calving and reproduction

•    The calving pattern for the 23-24 season was 69% after 3 weeks, 89% after 6 weeks and 98% after 9 weeks. This is similar to the previous season of 66%, 89% and 99%.
•    Submission rates for the first 3 weeks were 90% which is up on last season, (80%).
•   The 6 week in calf rate, (from scan mid-January), is 69%, very slightly better than last season.
•    There were 28 R 3 Jersey bulls leased for the herd and 17 R 2 Bulls leased to run with the yearlings.
•    More replacement heifer calves were born than budgeted so 267 heifer calves were reared, 7 up on budget.
Other points of interest
•    Baleage purchased from the associated support block, (harvested in November before any seed head production), tested at 12.91 MJME/kgDM. This will provide exceptional milking cow feed for the spring.
•    Planned shed upgrades have gone well and now enable herds to be kept separate on the yards which makes prioritising feed allocation easier.  
•    The upgrades included work that future proofs the setup to allow for integration of cow collars at a later date.
•    Protract was installed in August and has improved drafting and stock management through the shed.
•    The farm Dairy is now a one person shed so labour efficiencies have improved.
•    Dry cow therapy has typically made up about one third of animal health costs. More focus on managing mastitis and somatic cell counts, (SCC) to try and reduce this in the long term has seen a nearly 20% improvement in SCC for the season so far. The average for the season so far is 119000 compared with 147000 last season.  
•    This has come at a cost, with animal health costs forecast to be up $20,000. Hopefully savings will come early next season with fewer cows needing dry cow therapy. 

Management decisions

Strategy and financial

Mission
To create a financially secure group of businesses that allows all participants to thrive – and continues to sustainably serve communities for generations to come.
"The Camden Way"

  • People/Community: Provide our employees with a safe and supportive working environment. Be respectful, honest and open with them and recognise and encourage their individual personal development and goals. Be recognised as a preferred employer by the farming industry. Be positive and supportive of the communities in which we live.
  • Animals: Be respectful and take good care of the animals that we farm. We are committed to meeting all the animal welfare needs of the animals we farm.
  • Soil, water & air: Operate our farming business to have the least possible impact on the natural environment, with the goal of leaving it in an improved state.
  • Technology/Farm Systems: Utilise effective technologies in our farming systems to achieve our broader aims. We want to be involved with the leading farmer organisations and be early adaptors of positive change.
  • Compliance: Where possible endeavour to operate at standards that are higher than the minimum compliance standard, working with all industry partners to achieve this.
  • Financial: Strive to operate a profitable, sustainable and resilient business.
  • Risk: Identify the major risks to our business and where possible utilise tools to mitigate and manage the risk.

Management
The farm operation is supported by Camden Group Services, a business services group which support all six farms. This includes farm management oversight and administration and financial management, the cost of which is charged to Willsden at market rates.

Budgeting
Budgeting is drafted by the Camden Group Services team in consultation with Farm Managers and 2ICs and is approved by the Directors prior to the start of each season. The budget is monitored and reviewed frequently using an online farm accounting software package and budget v actual variance reports.  The budget is updated in more detail for quarterly board meetings so an accurate forecast of the year-end view is established. This gives the Board the ability to plan ahead in making decisions on dividends and future capital expenditure

Co-operative difference
Since the 2021-22 season the farm has achieved the standards required to receive a Fonterra Co-operative difference of 8.0-9.4 cents/kg MS. This is above the company average. Undertaking the work needed for this has been beneficial for the farm and farm staff as it has helped to show what “good” looks like.

Networking
Camden Group management value the benefits gained from being involved in community and industry projects and networking with their peers.

Farm policy and infrastructure

  • The farm is well subdivided, (45 paddocks 6.5-7.0 ha each, 1-2 wire electric fencing), with good internal laneways.

  • An independent stock water well and reticulation system provides all stock water. There are two 1,300 litre troughs in each paddock. A dosatron inline dispense is installed for delivery of minerals.

  • The farm has minimal machinery, and a plant replacement policy that includes turnover of bikes at 15,000 km. This keeps R & M costs low but does have a higher capital cost.

  • The aim is to winter 1085 cows and in calf heifers, all off farm on the adjacent support block.

  • All young stock are grazed off farm, with weaners off farm by 1st December.

  • Pasture management and feed budgeting are given priority. Farm cover is measured and feed budgets updated weekly for 9 months of the year.

  • Spring Rotation Planner is followed from 1 Aug, to balance date around 25th Sep, on 24 day round from there until 1 March, then go to 35 day round for remainder of the season. Spring surpluses are managed with planned regrassing program, (12-15% /year permanent pasture), & silage made if there is an unmanageable surplus. Quality is king, correct round length is vital. Fully feed cows 100% of the time. Post grazing residual 1500-1600 KgDM/ha is the aim.

  • Achieving recommended cow condition and pasture cover targets for the farm at key times are critical, and decisions for culling and drying off are based on feed budgets, cow condition scores and calving dates

Feed

  • Pasture
    The farm is in a status quo position now for re-grassing as the whole farm has been re-pastured within the last 10 years. The current regrassing plan is 7 ha of annuals, 34 ha of perennial rye grass/white clover mix, all sown in the spring. The permanent pasture is usually in the grazing rotation by late December.
    The main weed problem is nodding thistles which are managed with some winter weed spraying or through the regrassing programme which includes each year putting the two most weed infested paddocks through a cropping rotation first, (brassica or annual rye grass).
  • Regrassing
    Approximately 10% of the farm is being regrassed each year to improve pasture species. This is done as grass to grass in the spring using a pasture seed mix of dairy diploid rye grass and white clover direct drilled.
  • Crop
    From 2023-24 the cropping programme is 3.5 ha of kale for use in the late winter and spring for dry cow and 3.5 ha of fodder beet for transitioning milking cows in May prior to going to winter grazing. One 7 ha paddock will also be planted in September with annual rye grass, and will be returned to permanent pasture the following spring.
  • Supplements purchased
    All hay and silage purchased are sourced “in house” from within the Camden Group. About 550 kgDM/cow is as baleage. Taking paddocks out of rotation for regrassing in the spring helps to manage pasture surpluses without needing to use a mower.
    About 150 kgDM/cow of proliq is imported. Usually about 75 t DM is carried into the winter for springers and to cover any short term deficits for the milkers in early spring.
  • Supplements made on the milking platform
    Usually no supplement is made on the milking area. The plan is to have sufficient cow numbers to harvest all the pasture.
  • Irrigation
    Moisture and evapotranspiration levels are monitored on farm, and water use is budgeted. This information is used in daily irrigation planning to ensure costs are kept down and the irrigation carried out is effective.
    Irrigation is provided by:
    125 ha -3 Briggs 250 Rotorainers, on a 7 day rotation (20-23 hour runs), average daily shift time 2.5 hours
    170 ha – 776m Centre pivot (installed 2010)
    11 ha – K lines in 2 corners
  • Winter grazing
    The herd is grazed off on average for 9 weeks. Stock are able to be walked to the grazing so no freight costs are incurred. Cows return to the milking platform just prior to calving so are bought home in small mobs.
  • Young stock
    The last of the calves leave the farm as weaners by 1st December. They return to the farm mid-July 1st as in calf heifers. They are grazed on support land owned by Camden Group. All costs are at market rates.

Herd

  • 2023-24 will be the first season with Allflex cow collars and protrack.
  • The herd has a BW of 197/48 and a PW of 253/63 from 98% recorded ancestry, as at 1/1/2022.
  • Herd testing is carried out 4 times a year with 2 tests over two milking and two tests from one milking.
  • 40-50 empty high BW/PW young cows are sold to the group support enterprise each year and maybe purchased back as in calf cows the following year.
  • The herd has a replacement rate of 23% each year, made up of in calf heifers and about 40 in calf carry over cows.
  • About 250-260 replacement heifer calves are reared each year, on whole milk, meal, pasture and hay. They are weaned off milk at 70 kg liveweight, (LW), and continue to get crushed barley and fresh pasture until they reach 100 kg LW. Up to 2 t of milk powder may be used each year to top up the fresh milk supply.
  • Mating starts 26th October and is for 10 weeks. AI is used for the first 5 weeks, made up of 3 weeks using 80% premier sires, 10% sexed semen and 10% beef semen, (for lower genetic merit cows). Week 4 is 90% premier sires and 10% beef semen, and week 5 is with compact calving “dairy” semen.
    About 30 Jersey bulls, (leased in house), are used for the last five weeks of mating and are withdrawn from the herd 4th January.
  • Heifers are run with about 15 Jersey bulls, (leased in house).
  • Pregnancy testing is carried out at 35 days after mating has finished. A second pregnancy is done late April/early May to identify any final empties.
  • The current reproduction plan is to treat non cycling cows with CIDRs in the second week of mating, (usually about 4-5% of the herd). Camden Group is currently investigating other intervention options including once a day milking for 2 weeks post calving.
  • The approach to animal health is to be vigilant, keep good records and be proactive. Metabolic diseases are not an issue as supplementation can be made easily through the metered in line water dispenser.
  • The average bulk somatic cell count for the herd is below 130,000. The animal health budget includes dry cow therapy for the herd, and teat sealing, (including the in calf heifers). This accounts for about ¼-1/3 of the total animal health budget.
    The incidence of lameness varies (3-8% of the herd), but is mostly treated in house so is not a large direct cost. Laminitis can occur in December/January with the change in feed quality.

People, health and safety

  • The farm operation employs 6.5 FTE, made up of one farm manager, one 2IC, two senior farm staff, one intermediate and one junior farm staff. A calf rearer is employed from July to December and students are employed over the summer.
  • The average length of employment is about 4 years, with most staff being promoted within the business and only leaving to move to being self-employed, (contract milking, sharemilking or equity partnerships).
  • Farm systems and processes for employment and health and safety meet best practice standards and are in line with “The Camden Way”. The team pride themselves on a proactive health, safety and well being culture, and the Board of Directors take particular interest in this too.

Environment

  • Soil testing
    The last soil test was May 2022, with 5 sites having full tests done and all paddocks tested for pH and phosphate levels. The results are: pH Phosphate Potash Sulphate Sulphur 6.0 32.9 7.2 8.6
  • Fertiliser
    Fertiliser applied each year are based on soil tests and nutrient budgets. Nutrients applied are: Phosphate Potash Sulphate Sulphur 30-40 kg/ha 0-5 kg/ha 55-65 kg/ha
  • Nitrogen
    Nitrogen use is about 180 kg N/ha, usually applied at 22.5 kg N/ha over 8 applications.
  • Effluent
    Effluent is spread via the irrigation system to 63 ha. The farm has 30 days of pond storage.

Budget revision following milk payout drop

Overview

Our 2023-24 budget was planned to cope with an inevitable change in payout. Therefore we have not adjusted our plans, at this stage, in response to the lower forecast milk price.

Our day-to-day spend for the farm has not changed, other than to update the budget to account for timing changes and an increase in winter grazing costs. Good feed growth at the grazing block meant cows have remained at winter grazing for longer to eat the surplus feed, so that cost has risen ($0.04/kgMS).

Our capital spends (plant replacement and upgrade of dairy shed) were completed over the winter as per budget.

We have always had a policy of re-investing surpluses back into the farm business in good years, which can be drawn on in the not so good years. The key is to invest in areas that can be utilised, such as, debt repayment, maintaining good soil fertility and keeping maintenance of infrastructure up to date.

What advice would you give to farmers who are either first time sharemilking or farm owners?

Budget and re-forecast regularly. Keep the bank and your accountant in the loop.

Challenge your suppliers on what they are charging.

What words of positivity would you give to farmers planning for the coming months ahead?

Your business is long term, this drop in milk price will likely be relatively short term so take out any unnecessary spending but make sure you continue to spend where you are going to make a return: on your people, animal health and breeding, fertiliser, and essential maintenance. You will bounce back more quickly.

If you have enough equity, consider using some of that to cover cash flow. Term debt is at a lower interest rate than overdraft so this could save money.

Do you have any tips and tricks for looking after your people on farm?

Keep your staff up to date with the on farm situation so they understand what changes might be made and why they are being made.

2023-24 forecast budget

Budget last updated June 2023

INCOME $TOTAL $/KgMS $/COW $/HA
Net Milk Sales
The milk revenue is based on 485,000 kg MS @ $6.20/kgMS, advance and 430,499 kg MS @ $1.30 deferred, plus the Fonterra dividend of $0.30/kgMS on 480,000 shares and a Fonterra co-operative difference of $0.08/kg MS. This is net of the DairyNZ levy of $.036/kgMS. This milk income is the farmers best estimate of their likely net milk sales. It may or may not be out of date based on new information from dairy companies. It does not necessarily reflect DairyNZs milk price forecast.
3,799,150 7.83 3,636 12,464
Net Dairy Livestock Sales
Net stock income is based on approximately 690-700 bobby calves @ $25-30/hd, 178 MA cull cows and R 2 heifers @ $700/hd. The plan is to purchase about 30 MA in calf cows from Camden Group Support, (CGS), dry stock enterprise, (were carry overs from previous year sold back to CGS), to build numbers back up to opening levels. The average price will be about $1,600/head.
96,400 0.20 92 316
Other Dairy Cash Income
Rental from related entity for shed on boundary.
6,600 0.01 6 22
NET DAIRY CASH INCOME 3,902,150 8.05 3,734 12,802
EXPENSES $TOTAL $/KgMS $/COW $/HA
Wages(incl. ACC)
The farm operation employs 6.5 FTE, made up of one farm manager, one 2IC, two senior farm staff, one intermediate farm staff and one junior farm staff. A calf rearer is employed from July to December and students are employed over the summer. This is net of employee accommodation allowances and includes employee ACC.
526,600 1.09 504 1,728
Animal health
The approach to animal health is to be vigilant, keep good records and be proactive. Metabolic diseases are not an issue as supplementation can be made easily through the metered in line water dispenser. The average bulk somatic cell count for the herd is below 130,000. The animal health budget includes dry cow therapy for the herd, and teat sealing, (including the in calf heifers). This accounts for about 1/4 to 1/3 of the total animal health budget. The incidence of lameness varies, (3-8% of the herd), but is mostly treated in house so is not a large direct cost. Laminitis can occur in December/January with the change in feed quality.
89,250 0.18 85 293
Breeding and herd improvement
Mating is for 10 weeks, AI is used for the first 5 weeks, made up of 3 weeks using 80% premier sires, 10% sexed semen and 10% beef semen, (for lower genetic merit cows). Week 4 is 90% premier sires and 10% beef semen, and week 5 is with compact calving “dairy” semen. 45 Jersey bulls are leased for $500/hd plus grazing. Some are used with the heifers, and the balance are used with the herd for the last five weeks of mating and are withdrawn from the herd 4th January. Pregnancy testing is carried out at 35 days after mating has finished. A second pregnancy is done late April/early May to identify any final empties. The current reproduction plan is to treat non cycling cows with CIDRs in the second week of mating, (usually about 4-5% of the herd). Herd testing is carried out 4 times a year with 2 tests over two milking and two tests from one milking. Includes protrack subscription.
110,100 0.23 105 361
Farm dairy
Standard dairy plant cleaning and maintenance is followed.
28,000 0.06 27 92
Electricity(farm dairy, water supply)
The dairy shed is a 50 bail rotary shed turnstile, (built in 1999), with Read slide pulsation, Read automatic cup removers and a circular yard with capacity for 500 cows.
31,500 0.06 30 103
Supplements made(incl. Contractors)
Usually no supplement is made on the milking area. The plan is to have sufficient cow numbers to harvest all the pasture.
0 0.00 0 0
Supplements purchased
All hay and silage purchased are sourced “in house” from within the Camden Group at market rates. About 765 kg DM/cow will be purchased for the 2023-24 season; 550kgDM/cow of baleage @ $0.40/kg DM, 150 kg DM/cow of proliq @ $0.19/kg DM, 53 kg DM/cow of barley @ $0.50/kg DM and 12 kg DM/cow of straw, (for feeding to the springers). $15,000 is included in the budget for fodder beet which was fed in May 2023, (paid for in June 2023), on the dairy platform as a transitional supplement before the cows go to winter grazing.
307,200 0.63 294 1,008
Calf rearing
About 250-260 replacement heifer calves are reared each year, on whole milk, meal, pasture and hay. They are weaned off milk at 70 kg liveweight, (LW), and continue to get crushed barley and fresh pasture until they reach 100 kg LW. Up to 2 t of milk powder may be used each year to top up the fresh milk supply.
36,000 0.07 34 118
Young and drystock grazing
250 heifers @ $15.50/head/week for 52 Weeks and 261 weaners from December to May 1st @ $9.50/week. Per head price includes freight and animal health costs.
255,800 0.53 245 839
Winter grazing
The herd is grazed off on average for 9 weeks @$34/hd/week. Stock are able to be walked to the grazing so no freight costs are incurred. Cows return to the milking platform just prior to calving so are bought home in small mobs.
325,500 0.67 311 1,068
Fertiliser(incl. N)
Fertiliser applied each year are based on soil tests and nutrient budgets. Nutrients applied are: Phosphate 30-40 kg/ha Potash 0-5kg/ha and Sulphate Sulphur 55-65 kg/ha. Nitrogen use is 180 kg of N/ha usually applied at 22.5 kg/N/ha over 8 applications.
195,300 0.40 187 641
Irrigation
Moisture and evapotranspiration levels are monitored on farm, and water use is budgeted. This information is used in daily irrigation planning to ensure costs are kept down and the irrigation carried out is effective. Costs include CPWL water rates and some electricity.
350,000 0.72 335 1,148
Regrassing & cropping
This season the plan is for 3.5 ha of Kale for use in late winter and spring 2023 by the milkers, and 3.5 ha of fodder beet for transitioning cows in May 2024 prior to going to winter grazing. The current regrassing plan is 7 ha of annuals planted in September, (to be regrassed in permanent pasture September 2024), 20 ha of perennial ryegrass/white clover mix, (grass to grass), also sown in September, plus returning last winters kale area, (7 ha), to permanent pasture. The permanent pasture is usually in the grazing rotation by late December.
53,500 0.11 51 176
Weed and pest 5,250 0.01 5 17
Vehicles & fuel
The farm has minimal machinery, and a plant replacement policy that includes turnover of bikes at 15,000 km. This keeps R and M costs low but does have a higher capital cost. Includes $27,000 for fuel.
37,000 0.08 35 121
R&M(land, buildings, plant, machinery)
Includes $28,000 for irrigation equipment repairs and pivot rut remediaiton, $18,000 dairy shed repairs, $10,000 for fencing, drains and effluent, $10,000 plant, $7,000 shelter trees and $3,000 for water supply.
90,000 0.19 86 295
Freight and general farm expenses
Includes bio security levy of $10,600, dead cow disposal and waste disposal.
19,350 0.04 19 63
Administration
Includes environmental compliance and irrigation consent monitoring, plus $111,000 for Willsdens share of Camden group services business overheads.
116,100 0.24 111 381
Insurance
As per last invoice plus allowance for additions.
28,000 0.06 27 92
Rates 23,500 0.05 22 77
TOTAL FARM WORKING EXPENSES 2,627,950 5.42 2,515 8,622
CASH OPERATING SURPLUS 1,274,200 2.63 1,219 4,180

Non-cash adjustments have been included below the cash analysis to enable fairer comparisons to be made between farms. These adjustments are not part of a cash budget but are important to fully understand the efficiency of the farm business.

$TOTAL $/KgMS $/COW $/HA
Value of change in Dairy livestock
Anticipating that there will be 7 more R 1 heifers, 6 more R 2 heifers and 59 more MA cows on hand at the end of the seasons. Total stock income cash and non cash is $0.20 + $0.23 = $0.43/kg MS which is slightly below the average for mid Canterbury owners, ($0.45-$0.51 for 2020-2022 financial years).
110,000 0.23 105 361
Labour adjustment
All owner input is covered by the share of Camden group service business fee.
0 0.00 0 0
Feed inventory adjustment
Took more supplement into the 2023 winter so expect to have about 160 t DM less on hand at the end of the season. This is valued at $400/ t DM.
-48,000 -0.10 -46 -157
Owned support block adjustment 0 0.00 0 0
Depreciation
This is as per the financial statements for 21-22 season.
130,000 0.27 124 427
DAIRY GROSS FARM REVENUE 4,012,150 8.27 3,839 13,163
DAIRY OPERATING EXPENSES 2,805,950 5.79 2,685 9,206
DAIRY OPERATING PROFIT 1,206,200 2.49 1,154 3,957

More budget case study farms

Want to see how the top operators are spending their money? Are there areas for improvement in your own business where savings can be made? We’ve collected in-depth current season budgets from a number of top performing farms with a focus on lower ‘per unit’ cost of production to help you identify opportunities.

Last updated: Aug 2023
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