The New Zealand dairy industry is the country’s biggest export earner, with its value placed in excess of NZ $13.7 billion (“New Zealand Dairy Industry Today | Dairy NZ,” n.d.). However, with Fonterra revising it’s Farmgate Milk Price for the 2015/16 season from $4.15 per kgMS to $3.90 per kgMS the pressure is on farmers to maintain production, despite experiencing lower profits (“160308milk-price-media-release-final.pdf,” n.d.).
With less room to move, farmers have responded by reducing herd sizes, and are expecting a tough few years of recovery with the latter contributing to lower production and reduced profits once again. Is there any answer to recovering losses or minimising the damage to profits?
Increasing milk production within herds could be an important step in maximising dairy efficiency. Energy is the key driver of production, and determines milk production and it’s composition (“Nutrition,” n.d.). As farmers are paid per kg of milk solids, the overall composition greatly affects profitability.
It has been found that milk production and quality will decrease if cows are exposed to variations in weather, feed quality, location and temperature (“Paper_Pow_2014.pdf,” n.d.). However, the use of a covered sheltering system during the cooler months provides less opportunity for energy wastage and therefore may provide an answer to increasing milk production and overall quality.
If pastures are not subjected to damage during wet periods or from over grazing, higher yielding crops can be grown, reducing the need for outsourced feed and providing greater certainty and consistency in feed quality. It has been shown that milk production can be increased by focusing on pasture quality e.g. “increasing quality from 10.5 to 11.5 MJ ME/kg DM increased overall daily cow intake from 12.0 to 17.1 kg DM/d with subsequent increase in milk solids from 237 to 535 kg MS/cow (Kuperus, 2003).”
Reducing the opportunity for cows to experience extreme temperature fluctuations minimises the amount of energy required to maintain a stable body temperature and contributes to improved overall cow health and fewer calf losses (“Paper_Pow_2014.pdf,” n.d.).
This can be made possible by using Dairy Barn Systems, which are available in a wide range of configurations and sizes with each system tailored to suit your land, environment and needs. Utilising a Dairy Barn System allows you to control the quality of your pasture and prevent damage during wetter months, whilst also maintaining stock feed levels at an optimum amount. Cows are protected from weather extremes and conserve energy as body temperatures are more easily maintained. All of this results in increased milk production and quality, with improved levels of milk solids relieving the pressure on cows, and farmers.