16 Jul 2012

Dairy herds in good condition for calving

6:32 am on 16 July 2012

DairyNZ says dairy herds are in the best condition they have been in for years.

Calving is under way in the North Island and is expected to start soon in the South.

Dairy NZ regional team manager Craig McBeth says cows are in good health due to excellent weather over the past season which led to good grass growth conditions.

He says that will boost milk production this season and many herds have an average body condition score of 5 rather than 4.5, which is a significant improvement.

Mr McBeth says a good body condition score for cows leads to better milk production early in spring, a higher incidence of those cows getting back in calf at their first or second mating.

But he says dairy farmers will be challenged by a lower payout this year.

Mr McBeth says dairy commodity prices are under pressure throughout the world which will suppress payout and has been well signalled by Fonterra and other milk processors.

"So farmers are in a great position to really make the most of the better weather that we've been having and the good cow condition that they tend to have and do their planning still, map out their spring rotation plan, and make sure that they're able to farm in a way that's going to be as profitable as they can be under a low payout".

Meanwhile Fonterra has begun collecting colostrum, a nutrient-loaded milk produced by cows for about four days post calving.

Colostrum is processed into milk powder and shipped overseas, mainly to China.