Sun, Mar 26, 2023 5:30 AM

A warm West Coast welcome




When I rocked up to the DairyNZ discussion group in Westport recently, I got a very warm welcome from the Keoghan clan and soon found myself at ease in the light-hearted company of Westcoast Dairy Farmers at their discussion group.

DairyNZ’s, Mark Shadwick presented the serious business of the day opening discussion with questions on how farmers are handling the unexpected dry spell on the coast. However, with the expectation of rain in the following day or so none appeared worried.

The overall response was, “the grass is still green”. There were a few concerned faces when it came to the other topic of the day, ‘making a profit while costs are increasing.’  The four standouts being increased costs of Fertiliser up 50+% Fuel 10+%, Supplements up 35% and Finance! Mark guided the complex discussion through several scenarios. How to get the best from current soil status, timing of nitrogen application whilst being flexible around summer dry.

With the uncertainty brought about by rising input costs, the downward pressure on the forecast current $9.50 milk playout.  Mark said “DairyNZ is running a series of groups to support farmers to maintain profitability.

Farmers attending contributed on topics about close management of finances, budgeting and planning to limit costs. Mark encouraged farmers to control those things they can control. “Ensure you have a feed management plan,” plus he explained the merits of bench marking their operation through the Dairy-base system.

The following day Roger and Jean Gibson hosted the Karamea discussion group. First up the group looked at cows feeding on his Maize crop. The group discussed feed allocation, best utilisation, and overall management tips. When asked if he would grow the crop again, Roger’s response was, “Definitely.”

Discussion about managing costs and making a profit highlighted Freight in and out of Karamea as a big cost hike for business there. The following discussion also covered the merits of the NZ grass-based system and when bringing in supplements or using Nitrogen can best maintain that profit and be a buffer to manage summer dry or other weather-related risks.

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