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NZARN says strategic feed approach key to farmer viability

NZARN says strategic feed approach key to farmer viability

Nutrition experts have entered the milk price payout debate saying that a strategic approach and optimising home grown and supplementary feed resources are key to long-term viability.

The New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutritionists (NZARN) urges farmers, in an article published on their website ( to benchmark themselves against the best performing farms to identify areas for improvement.

Dr. Julian Waters, NZARN Chairman says, "Maximising utilisation of home grown resources such as pasture, silage and crops should be the basis for a profitable business, with a sound strategy to incorporate supplements to increase efficiencies when home grown feed is limited.”

Cutting cost by reducing feed, needs to be balanced with the potential loss in production, and increased fixed costs per unit of production. Dr Waters recommends taking on professional advice and expertise from the likes of NZARN consultants to assess their options.

Their specialist advice will help determine optimal efficiency firstly of home grown resources, and then of the most viable supplementary solutions to optimise production and financial viability.

"Feed budgets are a key component to effectively managing feed resources, particularly home grown pasture and crops, and therefore it is imperative that the composition and quality of feed is optimized to ensure the appropriate levels of nutrient intakes for lactation, health, fertility and gaining body condition score.

"Identifying the nutrient profiles of diets is becoming more important as farms use more supplements and have to comply with local Council regulations, particularly in respect to leaching of nitrogen and phosphorous.”

Recent research out of Massey University has measured a 50% reduction in leaching losses, arising from feeding supplements on pads or in shelters. This in turn leads to greater feed conversion efficiencies and reduces potential “wastage” of nutrients to the environment.

The best farmers have an equal focus on both numerator (input costs) and the denominator (milk solids production) and it is all about getting the balance right. The best farms achieve farm working expenses as low as $3.50/kg milk solids, and adding an average industry debt cost to this is inappropriate as 30% of the debt is held by only 10% of farms.

"Whilst some industry commentary has suggested the need for farmers to mainly concentrate on cutting costs in the short term, this may well weaken the longer term financial position of a farm business, which could on many occasions, be assisted by availing expert advice around one of the most pivotal elements of production – nutrition," Dr Waters says.


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