The Weekly Dairy Report: Price rises make the busy spring period bearable as the milk flows start

The Weekly Dairy Report: Price rises make the busy spring period bearable as the milk flows start


Another mild dry week that has been great for calving, but heightens the need for more rain in Canterbury to boost aquifers, springs and streams severely depleted from low rainfall.

Most of the rest of NZ has had adequate moisture and some in the wetter areas have to grapple with the conflict of causing pugging verse rotation length.

DairyNZ advisers suggest a small amount of pugging is acceptable  compared to the cost of running out of feed by rotating faster than the grass growth.

Top ups with supplementary feed, or dare we mention it, pke, will fill the weather induced gaps until strong spring pasture growth arrives, although many farmers have factored these deficits in by significant reductions in stocking rates.

Managers will be actively using their spring rotation planners to drive them to BCS targets for mating  and feeding cows to maximize early milk flows.

While weather predictions continue to frighten, the market has taken a huge turn for the better, as another strong auction last week lifted the basket of milk commodities by nearly 13%.

The rises were lead by a 19% lift from whole milk powder prices and with values now nearly US $2700/tonne, the sustainable target figure of US$3000/t seems within reach.

The only negative is the stubbornly high currency which will erode some part of these increases, but most exporters are learning to adapt with the exchange rate challenge.

The US milk production increases are dropping as they are in Oceania, but in the European Union, butter and skim milk powder stocks have lifted to a 7 year high.

Fonterra have made another early dividend payout to help with cashflow, and the Commerce Commission have given the seal of approval to how that Company sets it’s milk price payout level.

Tru Test blames the dairy downturn for the big loss they made last year, and see little improvements this year, as farmers put their cheque books away and all spending costed to immediate returns.

Another reminder of the bobby calf welfare rules as the industry is being watched on this issue. Animals must be fully fed and at least 4 days old before transport, have firm hooves, dry navel, no scours, ears up, walking and tagged correctly to be compliant.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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If they are genuinely serious about bobby calf welfare rules why are we not seeing any MPI officials at the weekly feeder calf sales. I am a mid size calf rearer and some weeks the state of the calves is shocking. Wet navels, bloody scours, vendors not feeding their calves to stop obvious signs of scouring in the pens, naval infection and swollen joints. This is a minority of vendors but the "bugs" they bring to the saleyards spread between pens. The vendors who present their calves with pride week after week deservedly earn a premium but the rest are letting our industry down.

I pointed out a calf with a massive navel swelling to the boss agent at Tirau. He marked it with spray then later put it up for sale with the rest. Saying nothing to the crowd. I was appalled. The same day two wrighties agents were having a bidding war for the hereford calves. Many whitefaces were well over $300. Bigger fools who bought through those agents. Neither agent physically checked the calves. And one of them bought the calf with the crook navel. Actually that pen was full of calves with navel swellings, he just happened to be really bad.
Its a fraught business getting good calves Wilco. I ended up getting my best straight off farm. The farmers did a magnificent job.

At Tuakau saleyards they have a vet in attendance. The staff divert sick calves to a sick pen and dubious ones are vet checked before they are sold. Not sure who pays for this.

A lot of stock agents are desensitised to the animals, just a unit to be sold and gain commission on.......they have a tough job, but they should have their eye out for this sort of thing

Would report to MPI and ask them to get back to you

As a farmer you pay your tax to get a decent go from MPI. Unfortunately MPI are reactive agents, not proactive with the 10 officers under-resourced to deal with the amount of problems. Most of the time they give out warnings with limited resources to prosecute, so they're not taken to seriously unless you're put in the spotlight and they have to act to save face

MPI only have about 10 animal welfare officers for the entire I doubt you will ever see one