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NZ: Bigger Herds but Not More Profit
May 21, 2015

A leading dairy scientist says the average New Zealand dairy farmer is milking 100 more cows than six years ago, yet making no more money.

Changes to farming systems made during the last six years have eroded dairy farmers’ low-cost base, DairyNZ principal scientist John Roche says.

He says rising feed costs have lost the competitive advantage of New Zealand dairy farmers against the rest of the world, and undermined their resilience.

While dairy farmers had no control over the milk price, they could control the amount of feed they put into their farming systems.

Mr Roche says feed management skills are being lost on New Zealand farms.

Although farmers instinctively knew their best and worst paddocks, they could accurately rank paddocks in the middle only if they measured pasture covers each week.

In the last 10 years, New Zealand’s 53 per cent growth in milk solids production included a 16 per cent rise in production per hectare and a 23 per cent increase in production per cow.

Average herd size increased 60 per cent and the number of cows rose grew by 37 per cent.

But there are fewer herds although they are bigger and more land went to dairying (26 per cent).

Source: Australian Dairy Farmer


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