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:
Special thanks to CRV Xseed, CRV Ambreed, Australia Genetics and Just Milk.
Written by Justin Davies