The Weekly Dairy Report: Recent summer rain will boost grass in some regions but overall milk production continues to lag behind last year.

Good rain at last for some of the dry areas at the weekend will freshen dry soils, but more will be needed to kick start dryland pastures.
Northland farmers would have welcomed the significant falls that hit the region but some other eastern regions in both islands received much less and will have little affect on pasture growth rates.

Recent windy conditions have seen very high evaporation rates sap moisture from the ground, and even the regular daily 5ml dose of irrigation water is insufficient to ensure maximum pasture growth.
The West Coast of the south island has had too much rain with these westerly conditions, and feed and soils that are too wet has reduced production and feed and some have resorted to OAD milking.

Northern dairy farmers are being urged to book in their pregnancy tests 8 weeks after the removal of the bulls, to ensure all dry cows are identified early, and the opportunity to cull inefficient animals can be taken, especially if feed is short.
Facial eczema spores are starting to build, so zinc treatments should start to prevent this insidious disease infecting the herd.

The annual stock number count last year has shown dairy cattle numbers are static on 6.5 million, which is a good result considering how tough it has been to survive on recent milk returns.
National production figures continue to lag behind last year but this is however keeping prices at a level that most can make a profit on.

Last week’s auction was up only slightly by 0.6% to show the market is neatly balanced, although whole milk powders did ease back to $3283/tonne.
Analysts are still comfortable at these levels for the present $6 payout, and it appears farmers are too, as forward delivery dairy cows have lifted in price to $1800-$2150 per head.
The EU put 6% of their stockpiles of SMP up for tender recently but the reserve price was not met, and stocks of this commodity will continue to grow.

Some are questioning NZ’s mainly grass fed system in relation to reducing the problems of nitrate leaching into the environment, and the sector needs to find systems that balance farming profitably in a long term sustainable way.

Latest rural real estate figures shows quality farms are still selling well but volumes have dropped significantly as dairy buyers are only interested in listings with strong production figures and location values.
Agents report regional regulatatory environmental restrictions are heavily influencing prospective purchasers as potential increased production opportunities maybe curtailed by consent rules.