Aspire to dairying's heights, drystock farmers told

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
James Parsons
Fairfax NZ
BENCHMARK FOR SUCCESS: There are valuable lessons that drystock farmers could learn from their dairying counterparts, Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons says.

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Sheep and beef farmers have to stop viewing the dairy industry as competition, a meat industry leader says.

Dairying had set the benchmark for success, and there were some valuable lessons that drystock farmers could learn from their dairying counterparts, Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons told farmers in Taumarunui.

Sheep and beef farmers should not be jealous of the dairy industry and should celebrate its success and contribution to the national economy, he said.

"They are humming along really well, and as New Zealanders, we should be really proud that we have a really strong dairy sector."

The sheep and beef industry needed to establish itself as the sector that set the benchmark, Parsons said. It was possible to achieve a 2 per cent lift in pasture utilisation, production, genetics, animal management and budgeting; they were small incremental changes that added up to big gains.

Dairy farming was not as laid- back as many assumed, he said. It meant early starts, dealing with high staff turnover, and spending large sums of money on infrastructure, regrassing and input costs.

"I don't think that's easy. In fact, I think that's incredibly hard work, and they didn't get to where they are today by sitting on their hands and going to the beach."

Farmers needed to start looking towards the horizon rather than looking over the fence or at their boots, he said. It was the farmers looking to the horizon who had a clear purpose in the industry.

"Too many in the sheep and beef team have dropped their bottom lip and are looking over the fence."

Parsons challenged farmers by asking them what they wanted to be. The milksolids payout had been more volatile in recent years compared to lamb prices, but it was still out-competing the sheep and beef sector, he said. Dairying produced up to 1000kg/MS a hectare, whereas sheep and beef production produced only 190kg of production per hectare. The average production of a sheep and beef farm compared to a dairy farm was around 85,000kg compared to 150,000kg.

Parsons estimated that the averaged costs per production on a dairy farm were around $5/kg, compared to $2.50-$3 on a sheep and beef farm.

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- Waikato Times

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