Agriculture is the one of the largest sectors of the tradable economy in almost many countries around the globe but mostly across Europe. No matter it’s a fact that New Zealand is small in size but their dairy industry is one of the biggest dairy exports in the world. Moreover, New Zealand farms just fewer than 5 million dairy cows in over 11,000 dairy herds. These bring in about $19 billion a year to the national economy. However, dairying is spread across 1.74 million hectares of land and plays a vital role in every regional economy.
Climate and the NZ Farm Production System
New Zealand’s climatic environment is well suited to a low cost, high quality dairy system. The seasonal calving system that’s been a feature of the industry for more than 100 years, cleverly matches home-grown feed supply with the herd’s nutritional needs.
This seasonal calving system works with nature rather than against it, allowing the cows to access grazed pasture as their main feed source all year round.
Importantly, as spring pasture growth flushes to abundance, the majority of dairy farms in New Zealand time their calving to take advantage of the pasture for early lactation requirements.
Many international dairy farming customers have adopted the spring calving system with farmers seeing positive results, focusing milking cows to the pasture growth curve and keeping costs low.
The Economy of New Zealand Dairy Farming
The agricultural business also plays an important role in the New Zealand economy.
It contributes close to 70 percent of New Zealand’s export earnings, within the agri-business sector, the dairy industry is one of New Zealand’s biggest rural industries.
Dairy farming, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of New Zealand’s total exports, has emerged as an important and primarily export-oriented industry.
In 1989, the dairy industry made up almost five percent of GDP, Consumption data indicates that, in a typical year, only 13 percent of the total dairy products produced in New Zealand are consumed domestically. This implies that 87 percent of the country’s production is destined for export.
More Background to the Success of Dairy Farming in NZ
New Zealand dairy farming has been expanded both in sizes of farm and in location in the past recent years. However, an important part of these developments has been the growth in large herd dairy farms which appear to have a different social character when compared to the traditional dairy farm.
There are some of the advancements made in the dairy sector of the seasonal pasture-based farm system, highly fertile, easy care, productive and profitable cows are essential.
Cows are calved to match feed demand with the rapid spring pasture growth as spring is a busy time in New Zealand.
A wide variety of dairy products are produced in New Zealand including fluid milk, milk powders, butter, cheese, and infant formula.
To produce the vast array of products, thousands of dairy farms across millions of hectares of land are home to millions of dairy livestock. In fact, the population of dairy cattle was higher than the population of the country.
Dairy farming provides thousands of New Zealanders and migrants with direct employment across the country.
New Zealand has a reputation for delivering high quality dairy products across the world and is recognized as a world leading dairy exporter. The nation is the largest exporter of whole milk powder, with around 95 percent of the milk produced in New Zealand processed to be exported.
Additionally, other important export products include butter, cheese, infant formula, and skim milk powder. China, Australia, the United States, and Japan were some of the country’s biggest trade partners for dairy products.
Although, there has been a long history of herd health and production management programs in many dairy industries around the world, but evidence for the effectiveness of such programs is limited.
In response to a considerable decline in fertility of dairy cows, a herd reproductive management and improvement program was introduced in New Zealand.
Furthermore, this program uses a management cycle approach that includes:
- Assessment of the current herd status
- Identification of areas for improvement
- Development of a plan
- Implementation of this plan
- Review process
Genetic improvement is a concept that many farmers keep in mind all over the world when it comes to farming industry. However, improvements in genetic gain are delivering $10/cow increased profit potential on farm per year.
Nothing to laugh at.
Genetic trends for non-production traits such as fertility, longevity, health, conformation and udder traits also continue to trend favourably.
Organisation and People Dairying in NZ
Large herd farmers emphasize planning, organization and attention to detail as some of the important key success factors in large herds fanning.
Moreover, compared to family farms, large herd dairy farms have more employees and they play an important role in success of the farm.
Large herd farmers are forced to be efficient in their use of time and they believe they are well able to resist financial setbacks.
Finally, the character of large herds dairy farming tends to preclude family involvement making it distinctive from family farming.
Farm Staff, Workers, and Employees
One of the fundamental qualities of large herd farming is the presence of relatively large numbers of workers. This means that large herd farmers are forced to develop labour management skills.
The farmers reported a number of important aspects of staff relations.
If we assume that successful staff relations are those that demonstrate empathy for the employees then we can see that many of the large herd farmers have adopted positive approaches to staff relations.
Positive approaches include the following practices and precepts:
- Good communications
- Treat workers as staff
- Never dictate, challenge or criticize
- Be patient and tolerant, flexible and helpful
- Accept that work may be done in a way different from what you would prefer
- Never lose your cool
- Keep workers informed and interested
- Be concerned for your workers and aware of their needs
- Be honest with your workers
- Develop a team atmosphere
- Keep problems small
Some farmers, typically those on the larger farms, use advanced management techniques which are really valuable ways of organizing effective communication.
For example, some farmers had mission statements, a statement of philosophy, job description or comprehensive work manuals which were typed out and given to new employees.
The history of genetic trends shows that New Zealand farm and cow performance has been improved to a greater extent and set to continue in future.
Furthermore, it’s fair to say that both the New Zealand and other industries understand the importance of responding to a modern era, seeking new and creative ways to create competitive systems that are better now and keep improving.
At the core are people, animals, land, and feed. Farming is responsible for upholding these pillars and the NZ dairy industry does this exceptionally well.
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 01 September 2022