Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Farmer impressed by happy cows

Although the paddocks are not as green and lush as most Waikato dairy farmers would like at the moment, grazing cows on open pasture is still envied by Japanese dairy farmer Kuwihiko Nagano.  

Nagano was visiting from Cambridge’s sister city Bihoro, in the northern island of Hokkaido, for 10 days, sponsored by Cambridge Federated Farmers.

Waipa District Council deputy mayor Grahame Webber hosted Nagono. Webber has visited Bihoro three times and said it was great to finally arrange a Japanese farmer exchange.

“We are trying to go through into the farming area to get a link to strengthen that sister city tie.”

Nagono works on his family farm with his father and brother, milking 80 Holstein Friesians through a three-aside double-up dairy. The farm is 20ha, with the cows inside year-round, but Nagono would like to incorporate some pasture grazing into the system. However, it can be wet during summer and when he left for New Zealand the snow in February was waist deep, with temperatures of about minus 17 degrees C.

The farm has 13ha in corn and 7ha of pasture and the Nagonos buy soy bean, alphalfa and lucerne supplements from the United States. The cows produce an average of 32 litres/day, with farmers getting paid $1.10/litre. For those who do well it’s considered a profitable industry to be in, Nagono said.

He was keen to return to Japan and incorporate some form of pasture grazing in the summer.

“NZ cows are so happy,” he said. “In Japan, we are very stressed, and the cattle are very stressed.

“Because of the numbers of cows, we try to squeeze as much milk out of the cow as we can. In NZ you can have so many more cows, so you don’t have to squeeze too much out of them, so they are less stressed.”

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