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Gareth Morgan says as long as farm prices reflect revenue and not profitability we are mis-managing dairy industry risk; we continue to raise our bets on the one nag – kgs of milksolids. Your view?

Posted in Opinion
Drought-induced shortage of pasture leading farmers to use palm kernel as feed – Photo by Andrew Smith

By Gareth Morgan*

Resorting to stuffing their cows with palm kernel in response to the drought-induced shortage of pasture, is just the latest instance of a New Zealand dairy industry that continues to take more and more risk in order to keep the meagre money train rolling.

When cows eat palm kernel, and other grain foods for that matter, it changes the fat content of the milk.

The Omega 3 you find in milk from grass fed cows disappears, and in its place appears the less healthy palmitic fatty acid and even trans fats.

We know artificial trans fats are bad – real bad – the stuff that boosts our risk of heart attacks. This is why cheap margarine is such a curse and more a less the choice nowadays only of the budgetary challenged – few in their right mind with free choice would feed that crap to their families.

We don’t yet know if the trans fats from cows are as bad as the margarine version, but in many European countries all trans fats are banned.

I’ve written a bit on this lately – our dairy industry, which is really important, has become so unhinged from sustainable economic reality that its decisions are increasingly being driven by short term opportunism that is putting the future of the industry, and the country for that matter at risk.

The pressure that has driven us to such extremes is best summarised as the price of land, which has become totally unrelated to the financial earnings of farmers.

With a pitiful rate of income return on such an expensive asset being the norm, there has never much of a cash cushion for farmers to weather stormy economic climes.

As we all know the raison d’être for dairy farming certainly isn’t income, for decades now it’s been the appreciation in land values. Can this just continue forever?

The answer to that is no, it can only continue so long as expectations of greater income some time down the track are fulfilled. Otherwise, as we’ve seen in plenty of other instances the speculative fervour, once shown to be unjustified, leads to a crashing of the asset prices. Housing markets around the world are a great recent example.

Back to dairying.

With growth in the world’s appetite for protein we know demand conditions for the product are favourable.

But so are they for meat and from that example we know how it doesn’t necessarily follow that the value of meat-producing assets are guaranteed to appreciate. But of course so far for dairying they have, and understandably the longer that has gone on the more the conventional view is that it will continue.

Farmers gear up and buy more land, invest more in intensifying their farming, including feeding not just pasture, but grain to livestock.

The New Zealand dairy industry remains a volume game, kgs of milksolids are the holy grail of dairying success.

Anything the farmer can do with his payout cheque or Fonterra dividend to raise production he will – some beyond the point of rationality – pursuing the nirvana of greatest kgs of milksolids per cow and per hectare.

The rationale is simple – other farmers price the value of the asset on the basis of kgs of production, virtually irrespective of the costs of production. So long as that is the buyers’ rationale the industry will continue to grossly over-invest on-farm. And it will until farm prices reflect profitability not revenue.

But the risks are rising – the 2008 episode with melamine and the 2013 DCD scare are examples of the types of risk that food safety concerns can deliver, trans fats are another.

For New Zealand, the more dependent we are on milk volumes the more vulnerable we become to risks around the quality (eg: from contaminants) and the quantity (eg: from drought or an outbreak of cow disease similar to what PSA has done to kiwifruit) of that volume.

It’s a simple problem of having too many eggs in one basket.

If you combine this with the wafer thin buffer of income farmers get from investing in such an expensive asset (land) then it doesn’t take much of a stress test on the industry to catapult it into a major shock.

Now any business has risk, it’s part of the game. But what we’re discussing here is the extent of the risk and whether in the case of New Zealand dairying the risks are steady to declining or growing.

As a firm matures the norm is that risk declines – mainly achieved from diversification of income streams. Therein is the test our dairy industry is failing.

There is little diversification of income sources, it remains predominantly from the volume of milksolids. And we know the rate of return on asset values is woefully inadequate already, meaning the cushion for shocks is getting less not greater.

What to do?

The industry faces a challenge – it’s faced it for over 30 years and has only played around the periphery in trying to address it.

Instead of all the dividends being re-invested pretty much on-farm in pursuit of volume, it needs more to be coming from those areas of the supply chain that provide markedly higher margins.

They include delivery of consumer products in international markets, transfers of on-farm technology and IP to other countries. Now there is a little of this occurring but it is pitiful in relation to the industry’s main act – it simply is not effective diversification.

Until that does occur we continue to raise our bets on the one nag – kgs of milksolids coming off NZ farms.

And we know that is way past the profit-maximising point, and without relying on further appreciation of land prices dairying is high risk, low return.

The relevant question is not how long this can continue – because that is unknown. It is how many of the investors in the sector accept the argument and are moving to protect their personal investment stake?

And on that front you’d have to say, bugger all.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gareth Morgan is a businessman, economist, investment manager, motor cycle adventurer, public commentator and philanthropist. This opinion piece was first published on his new blog garethsworld.com and is reprinted here with permission.

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84 Comments

Some good points Gareth, many

Some good points Gareth, many of which established farmers understand and agree with regarding rational for investment and business sustainability.
 
Under the cooperative model the method of growth and evolution was retained earnings. In effect dividends being reinvested in the processing and supply chain for insurance of further wealth creation. This model will continue to be successful into the future.
 
The government and financial industry scuttled this model with the advent of Fonterra, the veiled DIRA, and the final nail TAF. Correct me if I'm wrong but I also recall you arguing against the efficiency of producer cooperatives stating the inefficiency of capital (lazy capital). As far Fonterra goes, redemption risk was born of DIRA, the brain child of the government and their financial advisors, embraced by our own industry leaders and farmers.
 
One effect of DIRA was the transfer of 100 years of cooperative capital to current generation suppliers balance sheet. It was government sanctioned thieving, and the result was speculative land purchases, pushing the price of land even higher.
 
The repealing of the Land Aggradation Act by Richardson also contributed to an irrational obsession with land speculation (aggradation), making it difficult for next generation to realize ownership.
 
Finally can you explain how transferring our on farm technology and IP will contribute to increasing our on farm profitability?

Well doneOmnologo, it is an

Well doneOmnologo, it is an insurmountable problem with present thinking.
 
 How are you doing witht he 'big dry'. I spoke to a friend  this morning, and he said  that this has the potential to turn into an animal welfare nightmare very fast.

Good response Omnology!!   AJ

Good response Omnology!!
 
AJ - I don't think NZ has experienced serious major animal welfare issues on the farm since the 1980 droughts.
Farmers were having to dig pits and slaughter sheep as there was no feed. The freezing workers went on strike at around the same time and caused much disruption.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

notaneconomist  I was talking

notaneconomist
 I was talking to some of my locals just now, they are killing capital stock. One neighbour is about to kill 250 beef cows, Capital stock!  another is about to kill 3000 ewes. They are worried that there is a 3 week waiting list at the works but if everyone hits the button at the same time, he said its going to be more like 6 months, and then lots of welfare issues.
 Another told me his streams from the Ruahines are drying up and a lot of farmers are now running out of water.  One who trades alot of beef , told me all the cattle he normally buys have been killed or sent to the south Island. He is feeding $1k a day of bought in feed and he has had to budget for 150k of feed purchases. He told me he will take up to 4 years to recover ,if he is lucky. He thought that this drought is going to leave the country with a chronic stock shortage which will leave the meat industry in a precarious position as farmers restock.
 
 Here is one of my neighbours on the 14th of feb
 
http://www.3news.co.nz/Hawkes-Bays-dry-summer/tabid/367/articleID/288094...

AJ - Ouch that is going to

AJ - Ouch that is going to hurt killing off Capital Stock and worst will come when they go to restock along with everyone else. Hope they have a bit of slack at the bank as they are going to need it.  SI is pretty dry also from Nelson through to Otago (I haven't been south of that) so I wouldn't expect to much surplus feed around. The hill country farmers down where our farm is haven't started weaning their calves yet so expect the calf markets will be poor this year down here. Financial impacts will be felt far and wide as this dry is wide spread.
There are so many similarities to the economics of the 1980's excluding the high interest rates of course.
 
GDP will be much worse than what the Govt are expecting.

MIst - There will always be

MIst - There will always be winners and loses its the nature of the beast. Some will be able to position themselves to capitilise on the restock by supplying when demand is high.
Never count your chickens till all the eggs have hatched >:)))

A couple of article links I

A couple of article links I had sent to me earlier in the week.
Palm Kernal Corn has issues other than Trans fats to worry about
The attituted of FF is very concerning but not unexpected.
 
http://www.psgr.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108:...
http://www.psgr.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=110:...
 
 
 

Hi AJ, hope alls well.  We're

Hi AJ, hope alls well.  We're trickling along, using imported feed (whole maize) and silage to keep some cows milking. We have been OAD for 5 seasons so cow condition good.  Have dried off 3/4 herd and got them on some mature dry feed on the neighbours. Lucky really, but considering we've just purchased the neighbours in the context of this article....well ironic really.
My strategy to deal with the drought, is make sure there's water in the paddock and stay away for the day.

Good piece up top there

Good piece up top there Omnologo...hope all stays well for you, should get a dusting this week....
 Ifn it don't kill ya, it ought ta make you stronger...luck to you .

Appreciate the thoughts

Appreciate the thoughts Christov, hope alls well with you and yours. Looking foward to some of that good oil cascading from the heavens so as to keep the omega rich white gold flowing.
Cheers and beers, all the best.

Good to hear your coping ok,

Good to hear your coping ok, Omnologo. :-)
 
Spoke to a mate in the heart of the Waikato drought.  Said that their accountant told them that one of the differences this time was that most are up on production for same time last year.  Last years production was very good for many, so that is taking the sting out for some.
 
 

Thanks CO, so far so good. We

Thanks CO, so far so good. We were a bit greener for longer down our way, but unfortunately the good folk over in Reperoa and closer to Taupo have been dryer for longer. I hear it's even getting dry in Southland, surely not?

Yep, northern southland is

Yep, northern southland is dry, central southland is drying out - a bit of a mixed bag, but down where we are its all good - so far.  Aug/Sept/Oct is forecast to be wet,wet,wet and cold,cold, cold for down our way so we aren't getting cocky over having feed now.
 
We drove up from farm to Central Otago today and the only river that had any real water in it was the Kawarau.  Oreti was hardly flowing in places.  The lack of water in rivers etc, and it's effects ongoing, I think is being hugely under-rated.  All rivers in the South Island are low.  Will be interested to see how it affects fish/aquatic life. Ah, well, as we both know - Mother Nature always has the final say. ;-)

Aj.  If there are any animal

Aj.  If there are any animal welfare issues with dairy stock, I sincerely hope that any roles banks are playing in the farm are scrutinised.  I heard of a bank forcing a farmer to buy in feed and continue milking twice a day  feed because his cows 'haven't reached .5kg/day yet. 
 
Travelling through Southland the green of the countryside was almost jarring after having spent time up in the north island.  It was even more 'unreal' that it was green courtesy of nature, not because of irrigation.  Northern Southland is drying out and in a trout spawning stream on the our farm, there is water but it isn't flowing - and we aren't in drought.  Also a stream on our runoff has no water at all in it - something that never happened during the southland 'dry' last summer, so there is something seriously screwed with water tables - and not just in drought areas.

Interest costs represent a

Interest costs represent a very sizable cost to the new farmer. To ensure increasing profitability, interest costs must come down to make our produce more profitable against our competition. To survive at the moment and to continue to pay the bank, farmers will now be drawing on their equity just to meet interest payments and other costs as the income dries up.
Interest rates must fall now , to help preserve our farmers equity. Wheeler must drop interest rates and statutorily align real interest rates with the OCR.

They should also force down

They should also force down rents, as tenants could suffer due to falling government spending, high unemployment and declining real earnings.

Government wont do anything

Government wont do anything other than bite the hand that feeds them. The bite size has increased to such a chunk that there's only finger nail margin left for many.
 
They know exactly how much equity everyone has and they will expect that equity to be used.

Mist42nz - haha, I know that

Mist42nz - haha, I know that you don't believe everything your told, your far too clever for that game. 
Talking about games the one between the haves and have-nots will always endure and the latter will always want their deserved - oh I mean undeserved..... chunk. The irony is that those who frequently accuse the haves of being greedy are the real greedy in society. You know the green types who covet other people's stuff rather than go out and get their own.
 
Nothing wrong with a bit of hoarding from time to time. Its what and how you hoard that is the trick.

Wheeler must drop interest

Wheeler must drop interest rates and statutorily align real interest rates with the OCR.
 
Wheeler is basically powerless: I suggest you read this illuminating article concerning the politics of the Australian banks versus the RBA in respect of setting interest rate levels. 

Good piece...The Q is why is

Good piece...The Q is why is the RB so "happy" to let margins improve in what is a difficult time for everyone else.
Such behind teh doors reasoning is something we'll never see I suppose, but it could take several forms,
1) Downright corruption...oh no I mean normal hot seat movements / 2 way swing doors / back scratching....
2) Fear that we are still in dire straights so proping up the banks is essential
3) Shear incompetance
4) blinkers (guess that could be a repeat of 3)
5) Something(s) else
regards
 

They would not be funding

They would not be funding these interest dollars if they had not borrowed too much in the first place.
They cannot blame the banks for loose funding offers. They can blame themselves for their lack of business accuity.
No conservatively funded farmer will go to the wall. A bit of temporary loss and may have to sell the family bach or boat.

Tell that to Graeme Hart. He

Tell that to Graeme Hart. He is leveraged up to his eyeballs. He has made so much money and yet he would be prepared to risk to grow to be the biggest. The strange thing about human nature is that we are never quite satisfied with what we have. We like to grow things and leave a mark. Farmers want bigger farms, they want to gain economies of scale...all this require the bank to fund it.
Our interest rates have been held artificially higher than the rest of the world for the last 30 years. We are a small country, once upon of time extremely wealthy by world standards but now extremely poor, perhaps as poor as a lot of european nations. So how did we lose the plot? We have poor tax policies that tax us and bleed us dry. We have tax incentives for foreign investments that we do not provide to our own New Zealanders. We have high taxes and we also have user pays. We have high council fees and also user pays. Even with property management fees. New Zealanders pay GST but non residents and foreigners pay zero GST. Again it costs us more to do business in our own back yard.

Let them go to the wall, I'm

Let them go to the wall, I'm aware of alot of farmers who have become more like land speculators, borrowing small fortunes to buy up more land with the expectation of capital gains, with values paid bearing no resemblance to the profitability of the land.

Good riddance to them, maybe some sanity will return.
 
We went through the goat bubble, the ostrich bubble, the deer bubble, now its just the biggest bubble of them all the land bubble, maybe this drought will be the bursting of it.

Now we can only hope the same happens to the residential property market.
 
.

 

Odessakiwi - did you get out

Odessakiwi - did you get out of bed on the wrong side this morning? Or are you just hoping that the whole economy will crash for some reason?
I sincerely hope you don't use any imported items in your day to day life.
You can have goat bubbles, ostrich bubbles and deer bubbles that doesn't really matter. You can always change the type of farming operation that is on the land.
 
The country was built on kiwi ingenuity and unfortunately is has also been kiwi ingenuity that is sucking the blood off those who do the building.
 

It may have been once built

It may have been once built on kiwi ingenuity, but seems to me that lately its been built on debt, and doesn't take a genius to borrow to bid up assets to unsustainable levels.

The economy will never recover until the debt is cleansed from the system, if that takes a few farmers going bankrupt so be it, if that means Rabobank goes under etc so be it.  If it means all the banks go under, then so be it, but please dont bail them out.

The economy has already crashed, its just that we don't see it yet cause its been hidden under more and more borrowing.  farmers borrowing more and more to cover costs, govt borrowing more and more to subsidise wages and rents.  

So yes, if it takes a crash for the unsustainable track we are on to stop and for actual kiwi ingenuity to come back than maybe thats what needs to happen.  

But it wont, Key will keep propping up everyone, but its just delaying the end result.

I'd make 2 points to kimys

I'd make 2 points to kimys suggestion that we..."statutorily align real interest rates with the OCR".
1/ There is  no such thing as a free lunch...  -ve real returns to savers is basically a transfer of wealth.
2/ Changes in interest rates get Capitalized into real estate prices.... which is a problem because with Globalization and Foriegn investment, the Capitalization rate might have less to do with interest rates in NZ and more to do with interest rates in the Big economies... 
My father was a Dairy farmer on a hill farm that should never have been a dairy farm.... He always used to tell me that  one should 'underfarm "...  ie. never run a farm at maximum capacity as mother nature is an unpredictable master.
The other thing he always told me was that because nature could be fickle .... debt had to be treated like a .."ticking bomb"...
I remember Dad getting a job at the steel Mill one yr,during the off season.... because we were suffering our 3rd or 4th drought in a row.
your very first sentence says it all.... " interest costs represent a very sizable cost to the new farmer..".
My fathers advice would be laughed at today....  yet I laugh at Key and English telling Solid Energy that they did not have enuf debt on their balance sheets....
I laugh when someone like Elder ,who gets paid $1 million plus, babbles on about the "perfect storm"... implying..."it's not my fault"...  ( I could have done that for only $60,000/yr)
i wonder if modern farmers have been getting the same kind of advice .....??  ( at the bst of times they only make 1-2% returns ...according to Andrewj )
My heart goes out to all the Farmers who are in dire straits..... The whole North island a drought zone...  a shocking tragedy.. ( makes Aucks. realestate boom feel perverse)
my heart also went out to all the retired people who lost everthing with the all the finance company collapses... a debacle.
just as it did with all the people who got shafted with the whole leaky homes debacle.
 
Cheers  Roelof
 

In the next two years if not

In the next two years if not earlier, at least 3 or more Crafar size farms will again be for sale.
We will then be entertained again when Chinese buyers come to the rescue of the Banks.
 
Lots of xenophibic ranting will again be raised about foreign buyers of our land ...
Sigh....if only we can see more clearly instead of the colour green before we get into more and more debt.

I am aware of at least 1

I am aware of at least 1 super rich chinese take up residency in NZ. He is planning to liquidate his substantial chinese public company holdings and start to acquire niche businesses in New Zealand. Including getting involved in the mining and fishing industry. No OIC approvals needed as he is a NZ resident.

Andrewj not too sure how

Andrewj not too sure how falling rents would help farmers in this drought. Are you happier to watch your neighbour farmers equity being eroded by high relative interest costs and watch the high New Zealand dollar erode farmers profitability due to relative high interest rates?

I was thinking if the

I was thinking if the government cuts interest rates, they would want to make sure that landlords passd the savings along  to tenants.

Well if that happens I start

Well if that happens I start paying tax at 33%. How much more do you expect a property investor to pay  in tax on the rental income?? Again a attitude that New Zealanders must pay more tax.

um...I'd expect you to be

um...I'd expect you to be paying the same rate as a PAYE on the same income. 
regards

Hellloooo, seems to be an

Hellloooo, seems to be an echo...I am a PAYE tax payer. Any rental income above costs will be taxed at 33%.

Interesting article Agree

Interesting article
Agree totally with Gareth here, further to this farmers need to be very diligent with their return on feed cost more than ever
Firstly an example of this
They need to work out the cost of pasture grown and utilised and this related to the cost of the land. It's actually very expensive pasture.....you take it at a modest $25,000 per hectare at say 4% interest = $1000 interest cost for 1ha 
Add say $400/ha fert and maybe $200/ha maintain regrass etc
Looking around $1600 total per hectare in cost
Pasture grown per year say 15 tonnes per hectare (top end)
Utilised at say 75% = 11.250 kg DM eaten per hecater
Cost per c DM = $14c 
That's at the lower end of things, try do the figures on land worth $50,000 per hectare, the opportunity cost on this pasture is ridiculous and would be best to sell now, take your money and run......maybe too late now, nobody can afford to buy your farm? probably isnt worth $50k now and will probably drop to 25k very soon? the more sustainable level
So I guess the need to have high performing pasture and to grow high volumes of quality crops, to make the land pay is crucial. Even if you are debt free the opportunity cost of pasture is ridiculously high and would only ever be justified if milk price goes $10/kg MS, which isnt out of the question in these times, it really needs to be here.......
There is only so many efficiencies that can be improved on farm to address this high debt issue.......the horse has already bolted. Major factors are obviously the weather and payout and debt levels
It's as simple as this
Dairy farms with equity will survive and others will simply accumulate more debt. Scary question to ask the banks right now, but how many of their clients would be cashflowing all interest and FWE on overdraft and their own wages? and their tax bills? since maybe January and this will continue now with the drought through to September......and all the money required for regrassing and feeding cows with supplements in the months ahead......
Not a good scenario, we didnt need this drought but its going to finally bring excessively indebted dairy farms to receivership, or else the banks be very patient till end of year?? not sure they are that patient overseas? they were already being patient in a good year?
 
 
 
 
 

Front page of Taranaki Daily

Front page of Taranaki Daily news today, Farmer in receivership to Rabobank.
Rabobank admits to 200 other farms in similar situation.
Alarm bells anyone.
Money printing?

Without banks providing a

Without banks providing a line of credit, New Zealanders cannot compete with the Chinese who are now strongly cashed up. The US and alot of greedy corporates shifted their manufacturing and poured trillions of dollars into China and providing ready markets for its manufactured products in the US and home countries. For western economies to fight back we need to understand that we started this game with a full chess board, the chinese started with only pawns. Somehow we stupidly gave them our chess pieces, we now hold the pawns and they have a full chess board. We are now struggling with our backs to the wall. We are highly indebted countries. so we need to keep interest rates close to zero to be competitive when we are doing battle against cashed up chinese competition.

Further to my post to explain

Further to my post to explain the economics
Example
A cow typically eats say 15kg Drymatter of good quality feed to produce 1kg Milksolid (industry approx)
So at current payout say $6 per kg MS, requires 15kg DM pasture 
Typically the majority of the cows diet comes from pasture, and thus, the importance in the cost of this pasture. So this cost is majorly dependent of yield, low yield such as drought and the cost of the pasture may double?
So in a typical year if it costing 14c per kg pasture as in previous example = $2.10 per kg MS pasture cost
Then you have Farm Working Expenses etc on top of this......such as labour, cost of cows, animal health etc
But as you see you will see the cost of pasture is so crucial to profitability in New Zealand dairy farming and on a lot of farms that have paid $40,000 per hectare or converted to dairy at a high cost, the interest cost are just too high to continue as it costing them say $5.00 kg MS to feed and milk their cows.
So farmers are really dependent on the weather and hoping to achieve pasture yields etc and get a high payout to make any money
 
 

Hi  Yeah I agree with that,

Hi 
Yeah I agree with that, my example was very generous at the higher end performance wise and lower debt.
So if you look at land bought at $40,000 per hectare say at 4% interest it starts to get messy. Then your looking $1600/ha per year for interest plus the $600 for fert etc
$2200/ha cost
And if you used a 12tonne DM/ha at 70% utilisation, which is very common, comes out at 8400kg DM eaten
This would have a cost at 26 cents per kg DM utilised........
And this is just the start, some farms would be up at 35c/kg DM  I would imagine with this drought they would be looking 50c/kg DM for pasture? scary eh

So if 12kg DM pasture = 1kg

So if 12kg DM pasture = 1kg MS
1kg Dm = $0.50
12kg @ 50c = $6/kg MS (breakeven)
And then you have labour, machinery etc all that cost on top.......
Making a loss unfortunately

So these farms need a payout

So these farms need a payout at around $10 per kg MS, to be viable. Could this happen in the future? I think it could, just throwing it out there. I wouldn't be confidently buying a farm in hope of it happenning though. 
I would've sold my farm and got out on the high, cows are fun but not that fun

Yeah totally agree with you

Yeah totally agree with you on the feeding side of things, people have really lost track of return on feed cost. And what you are saying with better efficiency with well fed cows etc with fixed maintence cost, yeah figures work out a lot better when you feed cows, but to a certain point as you are saying 1.8kg MS I would agree
The magic figure that I seem to have heard is targeting 400kg MS/ cow, 300 day lactation. esp on $6 payout
That would be just feeding cows properly on grass and using silage/crops as necessary, no rocket science required and not too much pressure on the cows either.....perfect

Yeah I hear what you're

Yeah I hear what you're saying you would have to be flexible on this.......given the season etc, but in most years I thinks it realistic.......genetics are definitely there, most cows doing 300kg MS will jump to 400kg if fed properly in New Zealand. How often do you see hungry cows in NZ? what's holding them back? It's lack of Energy. Yes quality of pasture very important, must be well managed.
How is this achievable? I guess dropping stocking rate to allow well fed cows and that which will allow you to put in sufficient summer forage crops as a good insurance policy. Being diligent at predicting surpluses in the spring time and transferring them preferably as crop, but sometimes silage if true surplus. Using new pasture renovation to ensure quality updated pastures that are weed free. 
High stocking rates were a bad idea and have cost the industry, medium stocking rates to feed cows are much better for cow and farmer

Yeah 350kg is a good start

Yeah 350kg is a good start anyways on simple system. If you are managing to peak at 1.8, then if you should be able to get 400kg MS if cows are fed properly post peak, but yeah this does require extra attention to detail, so depends on your system.
Use of forage crops could be a good way to do this. eg Early sown turnip crop grazed december then sown in Oats....even strategically feed out some silage just to keep them up in November if the pastures are seeding, as once they crash you'll never get them back up.....even if you feed them heaps in Jan/Feb. Its a balancing act alright, not all suited to I guess and this is just tweaking it...
 

Yeah I've know seasons to

Yeah I've know seasons to vary like that because of rainfall either too much in the spring or not enough in the summer. To compare seasons just on stocking rate is not accurate. You would have to run a trial with a control.....too many variables. 
I thought you said you need more concentrates and minerals etc if doing over 400kg ms? you dont actually need to worry about mineral supplementation any more than usual till you get over 450kg unless you happened to be feeding unusually high maize eg above 5kg a day. 

Interesting, I thought you

Interesting, I thought you would be growing maize on your runoff as yields are up to 25 t per hectare, also you can grow a winterfeed like oats so effectively 30 tonnes per year. I wouldn't recommend maize for more than 2 years in a paddock though. Something like 2 years in maize, 3 years in a hybrid ryegrass or similar then back to maize.
Yeah minerals need to be added to maize at standard ravensdown mix rates etc as maize is a cereal plant that has almost died and all the goodies have been lost (minerals) it's not a balanced feed. I do think some mineral companies are putting doubt in farmers minds though and making systems far too complicated out of fear that if they don't put the minerals in year round, then there will be dire consequences, its BS! Spring time, yeah that's a no brainer, as pasture is low in some essentials, but to be honest cows in New Zealand are limited by one main factor ENERGY, and there not much point adding a bunch of minerals if a cow aint eating enough quality food to meet daily requirements. This would be around the 450kg ms mark, to get up to 500kg you may need to look at mineral supplementation, but even then its questionable.
So it looks like we agree 400kg ms a cow! 

Oh ok yeah fair enough,

Oh ok yeah fair enough, stoney soil, sounds like lucerne could be a good option for that? may be worth a shot anyhow for good quality silage and yield maybe 10-12t in dry
Cheers
 

You are correct Donker.  One

You are correct Donker.  One of our previous sharemilkers had had best production of 280kg/cow - on a hard hilly Nth Island farm.  Moved to our farm in Southland and the very first season did 420kg/cow.  We don't feed maize, pke etc. Just grass and winter crop. Silage and balage is made on runoff and some of the farm. Genetically his predominately kiwi-cross cows were in the top 5% for NZ so the MOTH had faith that they would shift and produce well.  On our southland farm our sharemilkers (previous and current) consistently produce 420-440kgs/cow on a simple feeding system.
 
High stocking rates and pke have a lot to answer for.  Profitability, not production should be the goal, but we are extolled by dairy companies and DairyNZ that we should be lifting production.  One of those situations where what's good for the company is not necessarily good for the individual.

Yeah it sounds like you are

Yeah it sounds like you are running a good system at present, right stocking rate and feeding cows, its enjoyable farming and the cows are doing all the work!

Yep 280 mist. 'Twas a farm

Yep 280 mist. 'Twas a farm that should never have been converted as it was so steep, and an owner (A consulting officer of all things)  that had no money.  MOTH knew it well and also firmly believed the sharemilker would do just fine down south- which proved correct.  Don't always blame the sharemilker ;-)

The first wave of

The first wave of recieverships happened back in 2010. Some of those farms are still in recievership. Take a look at the receivers reports for Patoka Dairies Limited (in rec) on the Companies Office site - reciever appointed back on 19 March 2010 (three years next week), the receiver  opted to finish off the conversion and bring production up to the highest level possible, before selling off at some time in the future. The Bank's main debt has barely been touched, and the farms are now in drought. Oh, and the receiver's fees are up to about $900,000 and counting.
 
This drought will be the round bale that breaks a lot of famer's backs. It'll probably stress a lot of the banks too. 

Re the Taranaki Farmer - Why

Re the Taranaki Farmer - Why does he have 5.6 million of debt on a farm thats been in the family 150 years?

You borrowed the $5.6 million, refinance it or bugger off and live with the shame of squandering your family heritage.
 

 

Thanks for the

Thanks for the insights...
Milk like wood it seems. ie we ship logs abroad the value add is done abroad, seems nuts.  i notice cheese is starting to get a bit more reasonably priced again...in some ways the over-pricing was good...pushed kiwis away from the heartattack.....
regards

Yay it's Friday......yay

Yay it's Friday......yay again..! anyhoo no top ten so , up it goes here. ta Gareth..!
I think if you want a lesson in politics 101 the following will suffice.
 
 

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics?'

 

Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way:

 

I am the head of the family, so call me The President.

 

Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government

 

We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People.

 

The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class. 

 

And your baby brother, we will call him the Future.

 

Now think about that and see if it makes sense.'

 

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.

 

Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him.

 

He finds that the baby has severely soiled his nappy.

 

So the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother sound asleep.

 

Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny.

 

He gives up and goes back to bed. 

 

The next morning, the little boy say's to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now. '

 

The father says, 'Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'

 

The little boy replies, 'The President is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.' 

Christov: Put this one in

Christov: Put this one in your archive folder for another day

An Aussie stockman and his wife had just got married and stopped at an
outback hotel on their wedding night.
 
The stockman approached the front desk and asked for a room.
 
He said, 'We're on our honeymoon and we need a nice room, with a good strong bed."
 
The clerk asked, 'Do you want the 'Bridal'?'
 
The drover reflected on this for a moment and then replied, 
 
Nah, I reckon not. I'll just hang onto her ears until she gets used to it

like it...like it a

like it...like it a lot..!.......Magic things ears, enabling French women to hold their liqour while maintaining their decorum.

Pollyticks,

Pollyticks, inu-endo.
 
Indeed - secular state anyone? MFAT servants not acceptable?
 
Cabinet minister and former head prefect at St Patrick's College in Wellington Chris Finlayson will represent the Government at the inauguration mass of Pope Francis I in Rome on March 19.

You can't beat a free holiday

You can't beat a free holiday paid for by the taxpayer.  I bet his wife goes with him as well.

Who is a farmer these days? 

Who is a farmer these days?  Who is it that is paying over the odds for dairy land in the current climate. A farm was recently sold.  Sellar did not want to sell to corporates/investors.  But guess what.  The only one will to pay his asking price was a well known company who specialises in organising equity partnerships.
 
I recently spoke to two senior corporate types - never milked a cow.  Both told me how they own dairy farms.  One was lamenting that the irrigation taps have been turned off on them.  Well....you convert a farm in dryland country relying on irrigation and the river starts drying up and you had better have a plan b.