Farm­ers to share cop­ing tac­tics

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Mata­mata dairy farm­ers could ben­e­fit from vis­it­ing their neigh­bours and hear­ing their tips.

As part of DairyNZ’s Tac­tics for Tight Times cam­paign to help dairy farm­ers sur­vive a tough sea­son bought on by a low milk price, two farms – one in Wai­hou and an­other in Pu­taruru – are among about 30 farms na­tion­wide whose farm­ers have agreed to share their in­for­ma­tion and host events as part of the cam­paign.

The cam­paign is de­signed to help farm­ers sur­vive the cur­rent sea­son and build their re­silience for the fu­ture.

DairyNZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Mackle said the fact the Min­is­ter for Pri­mary In­dus­tries has de­clared drought con­di­tions on the east coast of the South Is­land as a medium-scale ad­verse event, has high­lighted the crit­i­cal need for ex­tra sup­port for farm­ers.

‘‘The milk price hit a sixyear low in De­cem­ber, and dry con­di­tions have ex­ac­er­bated the sit­u­a­tion, forc­ing many farm­ers to make some pretty tough de­ci­sions, es­pe­cially as they look to set them­selves up for next sea­son,’’ he said.

‘‘ With the dou­ble­whammy of a dry sum­mer and low milk price, judge­ment calls be­come much more com­plex as farm­ers care­fully bal­ance the prof­itabil­ity of keep­ing cows milk­ing, keep­ing con­di­tion on them and us­ing sup­ple­men­tary feed.’’

DairyNZ is pulling to­gether re­search, data and lessons learned from sim­i­lar sea­sons to sup­port farm­ers with their de­ci­sions around health and well­be­ing, pas­ture cover, feed, pro­duc­tion, stock health and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment.

The first round of events on the host farms will be held at the end of Fe­bru­ary and March, pro­vid­ing farm­ers with the eco­nomic out­look for dairy and cost­ef­fec­tive tac­tics tai­lored to their re­gions.

Mackle said the shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion is cru­cial to the Tac­tics for Tight Times cam­paign.

‘‘Many of our host farms are in very dry ar­eas. Events on those prop­er­ties will ad­dress the spe­cific chal­lenges that come with those con­di­tions.

‘‘ We’ll pro­vide farm­ers with as much data as poss- ible from the host farms, both short and long-term, and then back this up with tools, re­sources and in­for­ma­tion from ex­perts.

‘‘No two farms are the same and this di­ver­sity has been ad­dressed with the se­lec­tion of host farms which dif­fer in own­er­ship struc­ture, the amount of feed they buy in, to­pog­ra­phy and size.’’

Mackle said many farm­ers are al­ready run­ning very re­silient sys­tems be­cause ex­treme weather and a fluc­tu­at­ing milk price is part and par­cel of be­ing a farmer.

‘‘ Dairy farm­ers have learnt lessons from the past. This cam­paign is about bring­ing that knowl­edge into one place, dis­cussing what worked last time and feed­ing that into plans for the com­ing sea­son,’’ he said.

An­drew McGiven and Gra­ham Wal­lace will open the gate to their farm, lo­cated at 4262 State High­way 26, Wai­hou, to neigh­bour­ing farm­ers on March 4 from 10.45am till 1pm.

Mike White will open the gate to his farm, lo­cated at 70 Whites Rd, Pu­taruru, on the same day from 10.30am till 1.30pm.

Photo: FAIR­FAX NZ

DRY CON­DI­TIONS: Ad­vice is avail­able to dairy farm­ers to help them sur­vive a tough sea­son brought on by a low milk price.

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