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New Zealand
The fact that this is being achieved with a significant
decrease in supplementary feeding is an additional
bonus. Translated into actual production figures the
herd was averaging 1.9 kilos of milk solids, before coming
off peak. Current MS are registering 1.75-1.8kgs. The
Waikato region as a whole has increased output by five
per cent so far this season: "That has to be looked at in
the context of last year being particularly difficult, so you
could describe milk output as being above average taking
a few past seasons into account." Forecast milk price
from Fonterra is $NZ6.25. Olin is not optimistic that the
forecast can actually be achieved: "We have had twelve
drops in succession in GDT (Global Dairy Trade) so there
is definitely more downside in the price than any upward
movement, unless there is a significant weather event here
or across the world."
Workload has eased off
The heavy workload is behind as Olin and his team have
just completed the AI season after six weeks of intensive
heat detection: "It's the first opportunity to take a
breath, though because it's our first year on this farm,
there are lots of mostly minor problems to be solved and
maintenance tasks to be seen to. I wasn't milking for the
past few days and instead spent time fixing water troughs,
fences and other small jobs that had been on the long
finger during calving and insemination."
Olin explained the challenges that can be associated
with excellent grass growth: "You have to be mindful of
what might be around the corner. Is there enough grass
or should we be taking out some paddocks and then risk
a weather change that would leave us short as happened
last season when we ran into a drought? It's a case of
`damned if you do and damned if you don't'. There's talk
of a potential dry Summer but who can predict that at this
Irish invasion
There have been plenty of Irish visitors to the Grennan
farm during November: "We hosted a group from the Irish
Grassland Association and that was great. We had some
good debates around the future for dairy both in NZ and
Ireland. We invited in two of our bankers and that really
added to the open discussion around the kitchen table.
Later in the month members of the Glanbia Board of
Directors visited and that gave us a different perspective
of the dairy industry in Ireland. They were also very
interested in the whole share-farming model that we use
in New Zealand and how it might work in Ireland. Luckily,
it all coincided with the end of the breeding season so we
had a bit of time to give to meeting people and sharing
viewpoints." The New Zealand Pasture Summit at the end
of November allowed Olin to interact with more Irish, this
time Teagasc speakers including Brendan Horan, Donagh
Berry and Laurence Shalloo.
Fonterra financial woes
Fonterra uses a candidate assessment process for
people aspiring to board membership. Three people are
then chosen as suitable and potential board members.
Milk output up
in New Zealand