LIC | Wise Farming Strategies from FarmWise - Part 1

Wise Farming Strategies from FarmWise - Part 1

Strategies from FarmWise to help during these tough times



  • A problem shared is a problem halved. If you, or someone you know is not coping, talk to friends, neighbours and other professionals.
  • Try to get off farm even for an hour or so – surround yourself with positive people.

Feed and supplements

  • Renegotiate PKE, grain or feed contracts if possible.
    • Payment schedules or actual tonnages may need to change.
  • Supplements
    •  Use supplements to bridge short term feed deficits, but not to maintain stocking rates over extended periods. 


Allocate milk cheques to bank first so they and you can keep a track on income and expenditure.

  • Communicate well with banks.  Bank on no surprises 
  • Update budgets and be as open as possible
  • Earn and maintain trust levels through meeting stated targets even if they are losses – get brownie points
  • Go interest only, and take up Fonterra’s offer of the 50 cents per kg MS loan offer if possible

Heifer replacements

  • Aim for 10% replacement heifers above your typical cow empty rate
    • A 7% average empty rate means you may only need 17% replacements to maintain status quo
  • Reduce or increase that % according to your need to cull or retain extra cows 
  • Only keep the best replacements i.e. the high BW and PW

Grazing management. Pasture = Profit

Managing Spring Grazing

  • Design a spring rotation plan – and follow it.
    DairyNZ Spring Rotation Planner
  • Measure you pasture cover regularly
  • Analyse your feed wedge – act accordingly

Managing Feed

  • Short of Feed?
    • Adjust either supplements or N applied OR 
    • Reduce stock numbers or milking frequency. DON’T starve your stock!
  • Surplus of Feed?
    • Make the most economical form of supplement OR 
    • Reduce the surplus by regrassing or planting the most economical feed crop in your district.
  • Harvest as much pasture as possible
    • Graze ryegrass at the 3rd leaf stage
    • Ensure you are on the correct rotation length throughout the season for your area
  • Reduce substitution 
    • Target residuals no higher than 1550 kgDM/ha 
  •  Focus hard on pasture quality 
    • Use the mower if cow performance will suffer from hard pasture clean up duty (protect condition score, productivity and reproduction).

Calf rearing cost savings  

  • Minimal or no meal. Just milk, water and quality hay in the calf shed, and when out in the paddock
  • 2nd day and older colostrum, and reject milk is cheap calf rearing
  • If your system requires you feed some meal, buy half your normal amount  
  • Gradually transition them over to 100% PKE  
  • Grass and hay and milk out in the paddock with minimal meal and some PKE if needed  
  • Ensure you add coccidiosis powder to milk or meal/PKE


The strategies outlined above will be added to and expanded upon as the season unfolds. Adopt and adapt these strategies appropriately to suit the circumstances of your own business.

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