23 Oct 2014

Small-scale farms under microscope

7:14 am on 23 October 2014

A Lincoln University research project will focus on the challenges facing small scale dairy farmers in an industry where farming operations and herds are getting bigger.

Farmers with herds of no more more than 350 cows will be surveyed for the project commissioned by SMASH - the Small Milk and Supply Herds group.

Research leader Victoria Westbrooke, a lecturer in agricultural management and agribusiness at Lincoln, says smaller-scale dairy farmers can find themselves more time challenged.

"Often with the small farms some of them may have one staff member helping them, but often it's being run by family. One of the key aims of a lot of small farmers is to have some flexibility in their time and be able to do other things as well as milk.

"So many of the issues are around that time management and getting time away from the farm to do other community activities and other things."

Dr Westbrooke says phone interviews with up 350 farmers will start in a few weeks.

Information from the survey will be used to tailor farm extension programmes to meet the needs of small-herd dairy farmers.