Wednesday, July 6, 2022

One kgMS per cow per day for a year

The dairy engine of New Zealand’s export earnings in 2011-12 recorded its first double-digit production increase in more than a decade.

Statistically, each of our 4,634,226 dairy cows produced one kilogram of milksolids every day on average (364kg/cow/year), though in practice they are dry for 60 to 90 days. Production was 30kg/cow more than the season before.

NZ milk production jumped nearly two billion litres or 172 million kilograms of milk solids, an 11.3% increase on the season before.

While milk volume collected and processed rose by 10%, the milksolids rose by a greater amount.

The protein component of that milk increased by 11.7% compared with the season before and the milkfat portion 11%.

That means all the milk collected in the bumper year was more concentrated – 11.35 litres per kilogram of milksolids versus 11.46 litres the previous season.

DairyNZ and LIC economists attributed the milk production increase 80% to more milk solids per cow and 20% to more cows being milked.

For the 25 years before 2007-08 the number of dairy herds fell by about 170 herds per season, due to aggregation, but in 2011-12 there were 63 herds added to the national tally, which was 11,798. It was the fourth consecutive season in which there was a slight increase.

The average herd size has now reached 393 cows, an increase of seven, compared with only around 150 in the 1980s. Average production last season was 129,000kgMS.

However, the rate of herd size increase slowed a little last season, given that the average annual increase of the previous decade was 12 cows.

Just under 3000 farms have 500 cows or more, including 493 with more than 1000 cows.

That distribution is clearly weighted to the South Island, which has 25% of the herds (2886) but 37% of the national tally of cows.

The average herd size is 779 cows in South Canterbury, for instance, but only 280 in Taranaki and 249 around Auckland.

As the largest dairying region, Waikato contains 3556 herds, which is 30% of the national total.

The cows in Canterbury produced close to 400kg MS each last season, while Northland produced 315kg/cow and East Coast’s nine herds (once part of the old Gisborne Milk domestic business) recorded 279kg/cow.

Stocking rate is continuing to edge upwards and is now at 2.83 cows/ha, about half a cow higher than 20 years ago.

Over the past decade the portion of inseminations with crossbred genetics has climbed from zero to around 25%, while Holstein-Friesian has fallen from over 60% to around 50% and Jersey AI use has fallen from 35% to around 18%.

The average dairy company payout at $6.40/kg was the third-highest of the past two decades and fifth-highest in inflation-adjusted terms.

This excludes dairy company retentions and DairyNZ levy.

It was very similar to the 2009-10 payout and means that four out of the past five years have been good for payout.

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