Drought has little impact on production

A strong season in Otago, Southland and Canterbury helped alleviate the impact of widespread drought and milk production nationally decreasing only 1.6% in the 2012-13 season.

Statistics released yesterday by LIC and DairyNZ showed New Zealand's dairy cows produced 1658 million kg of milk solids in 2012-13, down from record production achieved in 2011-12, but still above the 2010-11 season figures.

Both organisations agreed the achievement was testament to the resilience of farmers and their ability to manage through a drought with minimal impact to their business and the New Zealand economy.

The dry conditions resulted in a shorter milking season for many farmers.

The strong performance was also helped by an increase in cow numbers, good milk production before Christmas and a strong dairy season in the South and Canterbury.

Nationally, the number of herds has increased from 11,798 to 11,891, while the number of cows being milked has increased by 150,000, or 3%, to 4.78 million.

Although South Island dairy herds account for 25% of the national total, they contain 38% of all cows. Southland has 11.1% and Otago 5%.

South Taranaki continued to be the district with the most herds, with 1038, followed by Matamata-Piako with 1000.

There were 396 herds and 236,981 cows on a total effective area of 76,886ha in Otago. Southland had 929 herds and 532,079 cows, on a total effective area of 194,322ha.

The Mackenzie district, in the central South Island, where there are 16 herds and 13,364 cows, recorded the highest production per cow, with an average of 403kg m/s per cow.

ANZ's latest Agri Focus said it was ''odds-on'' a record would be set for annual milk production this season, given the record milk price, good cow condition, reasonable pasture covers, and additional supplementary feeding to extend lactation expected to support a strong finish.

Those dynamics and the strong start to the season meant ANZ economists now expected annual milk production to grow about 7% in the 2013-14 season.

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