Day 6 – Innovation for profitable cows and pasture

This morning we woke in the town famous for ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’, Invercargill. It is the commercial mecca of the Southland region and is surrounded by some of the most picturesque farmland we have seen too date.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a later start as our first stop was not far from us at LIC. We spoke with Joyce and Charlotte via video link in their Hamilton office and they had a captivated audience from the beginning.

Joyce and Charlotte explained the degree to which technology was utilised in the NZ breeding game

They started with discussing the business structure, the vast amount of services and programs they offer and their predictions looking forward. We then went onto discuss the NZ and International markets and some of the differences between the desires of the NZ and Australian farmers. Lastly we finished with a bit of where to from here and how they think the upswing in fat prices will affect the style of cow or type of cross the will be supplying to farmers in the future.

After a quick bite to eat at The delicious in name and nature, Seriously Good Chocolate Shop we headed just out of town to the Southern Dairy Hub which was quite a phenomenal place and with a backstory to match.

The Southern Dairy Hub herd test set up was a point of interest for the group

This dairy hub from the outside looking in functioned just like any other farm we had been to on our trip however this dairy hub was ran with science and testing at the forefront. The herds were split into four and were ran across two farms which joined in at the dairy.

The dairy hub had three focus’s;

1-The Short and Long Term issues with fodderbeat.

2-Cost affective ways to reduce Nitrogen loses.

3-Wintering of cows.

Amabel decided to see what kiwi cows thought of fodder beet first hand

Fooderbeat use was definitely their highest focus of the dairy hub and due to the farm being split into four they were able to measure the affects of fodder beat in the cows diet. The farm grew two crops, fodderbeet and kale of which they then split into high and low input and were able to directly see the effects of each of the four diets in real time and lab testing.

We all piled back onto the bus escaping the “heat” and headed a few farms over where we were met by Michael Farmer. Michael along with his wife and daughter farm on a 50:50 sharemilking agreement. With a background in business and banking his philosophies on farming were slightly different from others we had seen and was more focused on debt reduction and capital gains within his business. This was the place where we excitedly busted into our first wintering barn, and by barn we mean cow palace.

Michael discussed the challenges of trying to balance young farmer group responsibilities with family and business

Individual mattresses in stalls, back scratches at the walkways and a robot pushing up feed this place was definitely an amazing sight. We heard about his utilisation of by products collected from the barn and his ability to use the barn to benefit his pasture growth. This was a fantastic place to see and getting to see it in action was something we were all thrilled about.

The group were impressed with Michaels ‘bells and whistles’ barn, and were delighted to meet ‘Lily’ the feed pusher robot.

Dinner that night was slightly quieter then the last but the chatter around the table about the days prior and our ability to utilise things we have seen and heard was fantastic.

– Danielle Wright

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