Learning from New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia

Ida Development
May 9, 2019
10 Key Management Attributes
July 1, 2019

Just Milk Farm Captain recently had the opportunity to go to New Zealand, Tasmania & Australia with a delegation CRV XSeed, a genetics company in South Africa with roots in New Zealand.

The tour started with 5 days on the North Island of New Zealand followed by 3 days in Tasmania and ended in Australia for the last 5 days. We toured several farms where we spent time looking into how they operate with their systems as well as their challenges and solutions to those challenges. Further we spent time visiting the CRV & Australia Genetics Bull Stations and progeny of bulls that we as a Just Milk group use on our own units in South Africa.

Below is a brief summary of what I have taken from the tour:

The New Zealand way of farming was quite an eye opener, a very lifestyle orientated system. Cows must fit into the famers’ schedule. The farms are small and seem to have very high input costs in terms of infrastructure but also maintenance and cleanliness are not high on the agenda – I guess that at $18/hour (around R174/hour) for labour you only do the absolute basics and forget the rest.

Tasmania was a lot like South Africa with bigger farms and more cows. They seem to have the mindset to want to get bigger and expand their operations. A lot of emphasis is being placed on improving cow genetics and breeding the best cow for their operations. They are trying hard to improve their heifer rearing in an attempt to improve the overall growth of heifers. The weather and soil types that we saw up north make management difficult, water table rises and saturates the soil while the rain keeps coming in waves. Daily temperatures have also made for internal parasite problems – not too hot, not too cold. They have had to incorporate various methods for dealing with these problems. Wallabies are another problem, destroying fences and damaging pastures.

Australia (Victoria) was dry and you can see and hear the farmers are taking strain. Increased feed prices, lack of water and milk buyers not coming to the party have taken their toll. With labour at $25/hour (around R257/hour), the farmers and their families really get stuck in themselves. It was interesting to see how there is a tool for everything. They don’t have time to struggle so they make sure they don’t have to.

Take home points for me were:

  • Become more efficient with staff – do more with less.
  • Staff with more skills is very important, we need to improve skills and maximize potential.
  • Work at improving the overall herd in terms of health traits, fertility, etc.
  • Look after the heifers and they will look after your bottom line.
  • Our pasture mixes make us steps ahead of them – drought protection.
  • Less units of chemical N but need to earn the right to reduce – good pasture/soil management.
  • Less concentrates/supplements, more grass!
  • Stock less, buy in less feed.
  • Once a day milking for poorer producers and to build condition.
  • Tight breeding seasons keep team focused on one important aspect and not many.
  • Silage management, our contractors are in too much of a hurry to move on, compaction is not good enough in comparison.

Special thanks to CRV Xseed, CRV Ambreed, Australia Genetics and Just Milk.

Written by Justin Davies


New Zealand Images

Tasmania Images

Australia Images