Payout augurs well for all NZ farmers - expert

Last updated 06:36 06/03/2014
AgResearch scientist Tom Fraser.
Fairfax NZ
SPINOFFS: AgResearch scientist Tom Fraser believes sheep and beef farmers could also benefit from a predicted record dairy payout.

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A senior AgResearch scientist says sheep and beef farms may get some spinoff from the record dairy price announced by Fonterra.

Tom Fraser, from AgResearch at Lincoln, said he was pleased there had been a record dairy payout, and hoped dairy farmers used it to pay off debt.

From a sheep and beef farmer's perspective, there could be more grazing of heifers as dairy farmers used their farms for milking cows only.

And sheep and beef and cropping farmers might be paid more for crops such as maize which dairy farmers used.

Fraser was talking in Apiti to about 30 farmers about using feed for the best possible return.

He said that might be to finish lambs or cattle, and to perhaps graze dairy heifers.

He hoped strong dairy prices could be maintained.

"I hope it will still be at the same milk price in three years' time. And meantime it would be good if Fonterra held some back and paid it out next year."

Fraser said the payout could put pressure on sheep and beef farms for conversions to dairying and he thought farmers would milk cows for as long as possible to reap the rewards of the record milk price.

"That longer milking season could mean cows go into winter in lower body condition than they usually would." Fraser said animals liked green leaf and legumes. "Some people try to make it complicated but it is common sense."

Fraser said farmers often under-estimated how much stalky dead material there was because it was often under pasture, and they over- estimated clover.

"And every time they [animals] take a mouthful of legume, they also take in stalks, and they take several days to break them down in the gut."

Fraser talked about some crops and how lambs grow on them.

"Look at pasja, lambs don't put on weight on the crop immediately. Some eat it, but most have to get used to it. And plantain, good in spring, but I have never seen animals perform well on it in summer."

Fraser said it was useful to mix up plants, rather than just sowing ryegrass and white clover. Lots of dairy farmers are doing that [mixing seed] and stock like it and do well on it."

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