50/50 Sharemilking as a path to farm ownership is a tried and true journey in the NZ Dairy Industry. Often, sharemilkers have to grow their herds quickly over a short period of time. For example, moving from a 270 cow farm up to a 500 cow farm. A sharemilker’s herd is their biggest and most valuable asset. My Kellogg Rural Leadership Project explores strategies and attempts to quantify several strategies for sustainable herd growth.
Herd value in New Zealand is usually determined by a few factors. Breeding Worth, Production and Cow Age. Herd growth must fall within these boundaries and be cost effective and sustainable.
This case study focused on a 77ha 270 cow dairy farm in the Matamata/Piako district. Several scenarios were analysed that were applicable to this herd and interviews and a survey conducted which explored other farmers herd growth stories and strategies, with special focus on people who had undertaken these strategies themselves and their experiences.
After comparing several scenarios, it was decided that to “maximise” the herd owner’s asset; herd growth will have to come from within. This will be achieved by breeding the herd to high BW proven bulls, attempting to increase 6 week in calf rate and breeding the bottom 10-15% of animals to easy calving beef sires.
Increased value from cull cows will be achieved by preventing udder damage.
Advice was also sought from farm consultants, one herd growth expert and one reproductive expert.