Farmers achieving higher production

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013

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Southland's dairy industry has shown a steady growth as the nation's third largest milk solids producer.

Statistics released by the Government this week show the region produced 12.3 per cent of New Zealand's milk solids in the 2012-13 financial year, an increase from 11.5 per cent the previous year.

Federated Farmers' Southland provincial president Russell Macpherson said dairy farmers had become more adept at having fewer cows produce more.

"It is smart business to have your cows producing more milk solids rather than more cows and it is one of the areas as dairy farmers we can help mitigate our environmental impact," he said.

Mr Macpherson credited a combination of better feed, improved genetics and farming technology for the region's growth.

"It is a combination of all things, not just one magic bullet," he said.

The statistics show the number of dairy herds in Southland has increased by 25 from the previous year to 929.

The region produced 204,248,847kgMS, up from 193,253,045kgMS the previous year.

Despite overall growth in the region the average milk solids production per cow remained steady with only a 2kg increase from 382kg to 384kg.

Mr Macpherson said this was because some farmers had not embraced new technologies which would increase their production.

"As an industry we need to encourage farmers with a below average production to embrace new technology and new farming practices. That would help increase the region's overall average," he said.

Southland Sharemilker chairman Richard Jones said increased stocking rates could result from improved farming and pasture growth.

"Also newly converted farms will have a steady incline of growth for the first few years, as well as our climate being more suitable for milk production."

In line with the overall growth of the region the total number of cows grew from 505,743 to 532,079 in the past financial year.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate Southland assistant sales manager David Henderson said the industry had completed a very positive spring selling season.

"Flowing from the vibrancy of the dairy sector, values are also firm across other classes of land. A tight supply of listings prevails, meaning that any property with a dairy influence will attract strong interest," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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