Which System Is Right For You?

Which system is a question which is not easily answered, what is easy to answer is the fact there is for many farms in NZ a farm system change ahead... and many will include some form of dairy housing.

Some thinking around this needs to start with having an appreciation of what others have done and why and what things could look like going forward

Existing users are convinced that control of stock condition, better staff working conditions in winter, and better feed utilisation and nutrient recovery are key drivers to better farm system durability.

Environment Southland wants farmers now to prepare a complete farm plan and farms which can show containment of effluent from wintering and water logged land will be better of in ensuring the can continue to farm

Often misrepresented figures by people or organisations in respect of investment V return include things which had to be upgraded any way, like effluent storage, machinery or the shed lanes/ holding area's To truly appreciate the value a Dairy Housing system its vital a feasibility is done on the Milk production unit, the Feed production unit and other unrelated activities. Only then a transparent picture emerges

Investing in Dairy Housing while the payout is low makes sense, you be al set for maximising production when the recovery begins. Dairy housing should be a strategic investment, not a spirit of the moment decision.

Nutrient capture and re- use can be a massive driver of a new farm system, every cow produces 100Kg N and 100Kg K.... you could almost be self sustainable in nutrients... and with that reduce N leaching.

Did you know that N urine patches create fast growing grass in the location of the patch, and kills clover faster then anything else! so capture of N and re distribution of this effluent nutrient resource will help you grow more grass and protein. Clover is also sensitive to treading and pugging... reducing the total to be harvested material even further

The great thing being based in NZ is that we can benefit from all the worlds trials and successes from others, with 95% of Dairy Cows global housed... there is no need to reinvent wheels... what is needed is good advise and considered action with a long term view on what is durable, sustainable and affordable.


Which Farm System Is Right For You ?

Do It Once, Do It Right

Choosing the right system for your farming operation requires a due diligence process. In the past farmers have often "copied" the neighbors because it looks OK and seems to work... but does it really? Is it not better to thoroughly evaluate what you do and where you want to be, and then design around that, ensuring outcomes are achieved to your standards.

Which system will work for you? And how do you get from where you are to where you "need" to be? For starters allow plenty of time - from initial investigation work and possible feasibility work often a time frame of 3-6 months is realistic. In many areas we now also need to do full environmental assessments and project descriptions to assess the impact of the new system on the environment.

With lots of options and often a lot of misguided information driven by builders and providers only interested in selling concrete and steel without much consideration of the system you will need to operate its easy to get it wrong. It pays to get it right ...

Once you have decided to proceed, time is often needed to get finance in place and get the full project specifications out in the market place with construction companies and suppliers.
Allow at least an other 2-3 months for this process.

If resource consents and permits are needed a further 3 months time soon withers away.

After all that one can finally start doing some on site work. In most cases a construction period of 4 months is a good guideline.

Any professional will have to do all of these things to ensure things are done correctly, so when a builder indicates "it will only take a few weeks", be assured that he is just talking about his part of the job.

Independent farm systems expert input is often the best road to success, as the "mind and doors are open" for any alternative to be considered, and most experts have a vast network of support people as part of their resources available to you. Total project coordination by an experienced and skilled professional is vital for good project success. Talk to existing clients and ensure you get on with the person you are about to engage. After-project support can be a real bonus to ensure post build "inbedding", and to properly sort out any problems that arise.

Talking to other farmers is a good thing, but ensure you talk to farmers with similar systems and land/animal conditions to make comparisons valid; compare apples with apples.

Your accountant plays a vital role in providing information on past performance and consideration of the tax implications.

Economic analysis An economic analysis is a different skill set than an accountant's input, the economist can contribute greatly in both the feasibility stage, finance application stage and review and monitoring.

Banks are needed to support the new project fully, over and beyond the infrastructure building stage. Often initial year equity dips and cash support is needed to ensure longer term equity gains are realized.

Last but not least, ensure that you make your time work where its needed most, which for most farmers is the running of the farm. Often while projects are going on it is easy to lose track of day to day farm events, and often this can result in dropping the ball on farm or in highly inflated stress levels, which in reality are an additional cost to the project. If your day to day job is to manage projects, by all means do your own, but if this is a "once in a lifetime" dream, do not try and manage a project yourself (unless you have plenty of money to waste).