Contract milkers have plan all mapped out

03:45, Apr 30 2013
Southland Times photo
Southland Farm Managers of the Year Daniel and Emma Todd.

2013 Southland Farm Managers of the Year Daniel and Emma Todd are in their second season as contract milkers at Rimu, near Invercargill. Diane Bishop reports.

Contract milkers Daniel and Emma Todd treat every cow they milk as one of their own.

The Todds also own just 10 per cent of the cows they milk at Rimu, near Invercargill, but their cows don't get preferential treatment.

"Every cow is treated the same, regardless of who owns it," Daniel says.

He and Emma are in their second season contract milking 377 crossbred cows at Rimu, near Invercargill, on a 140-hectare dairy platform owned by Rob and Karen Duthie.

This is their first contract milking job.


Daniel grew up on a sheep and beef farm, but has spent the past 10 years working on dairy farms in Southland, while Emma, who grew up in Invercargill, studied towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree and became an associate chartered accountant.

The Todds, who have been married for three years, moved to their current job at the start of the 2011-2012 season when son Jamie was just five days old.

"It was pretty full on when we came here," Emma says.

Now life is about to get a whole lot busier for the young couple, who are expecting their second child in late June and are focused on growing their equity through the purchase of young stock.

The Todds' business operates under three separate contracts.

As contract milkers, they receive $1.20 a kilogram of milksolids, plus 5 per cent of the total milk income, while the 10 per cent of cows they own are under a 50-per- cent sharemilking contract.

They also receive 10 per cent of the reared calves in return for calf rearing and pay 10 per cent of the animal health, breeding and stock feed. The tractor, silage wagon and mower they own are leased back to the farm at a flat monthly rate.

The Todds prefer to milk friesian cows, but the Duthies have swung towards "big high-producing crossbreds" and they expect to achieve a total of about 136,000 kilograms of milksolids this season.

This will equate to 361kg of milksolids per cow or 971kg of milksolids per hectare and they are currently producing about 0.93 kilograms of milksolids a day on once-a-day milking.

However, milk production on the property is limited by the effluent consent, which is set at 400 cows.

The special feature of the property is that it is on a busy road, which provides motivation for continuous improvement, including managing ragwort, which is an ongoing problem, and it has a large number of mature shelterbelts.

The cows calve from August 5 and the Todds are focused on getting as many cows in-calf during the six weeks of artificial insemination (AI).

"We've got a lot more cows in calf to AI this year," Daniel says.

The empty rate is currently about 9 per cent and 4 per cent of cows are induced.

A stringent regrassing policy has been implemented, at a rate of 10 per cent a year, with one-third of the property regrassed during the past four years, while the balance is in old pasture.

The Todds' main goal is to bring up a happy and healthy family and they believe the dairy industry helps maintain a family-friendly lifestyle.

They are also heavily involved in their community and have found that involving themselves with local groups has expanded their base of friends, mentors and networks within the area.

The Todds have set clear goals and they aim to go 50-per-cent sharemilking or form an equity partnership within the next four years and own or lease a runoff to manage their young stock within the same timeframe.

They also hope to move into partial or full dairy-farm ownership within 10 to 15 years.

The Todds will represent Southland in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year Awards, which are being run in conjunction with the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, in Wellington in May.

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