A mega-dairying set up in the United States shows cows housed
in large sheds and kept in yards. Supplied photo.
The mega-dairying concept is not likely to take off in New
Zealand, says DairyNZ general manager David McCall. Reporter
Nicole Sharp caught up with Mr McCall at the South Island
Dairy Event last week to talk about his recent trip to the
The United States concept of mega-dairying, where cows are
housed in large sheds and are fed forage food and milked up
to 10 months of the year, would not be suitable in New
Zealand, DairyNZ general manager for development and
extension David McCall says.
Mr McCall has recently returned from a trip to the United
States, where he investigated the concept of mega-dairying
and what it would mean for New Zealand.
Mr McCall said the biggest issue would come down to
production costs. If New Zealand was to try the US method we
would lose our competitiveness, he said.
In the US, dairy farmers have a replacement rate of 40% to
45% of their cows each year, which was more than double New
In the US it depended on the milk price as to when a cow was
culled, Mr McCall said.
Systems for both the cows and calves were completely
confined. Cows were milked up to three times a day.
Until calves were old enough to be weaned they were raised in
areas called ''calf cafes''.
Bobby calves in the US were reared into the beef industry,
while in New Zealand they were generally culled.
''If we were to use their system [mega-dairying] their costs
would be lower than ours,'' Mr McCall said.
The US was one of New Zealand's larger competitors in the
dairy industry, he said. If New Zealand didn't use pasture
grazing, it wouldn't be able to compete with the US because
of production costs.
Their non-pasture feed was cheaper than ours, their labour
costs were between $NZ10 and $NZ12 an hour,
whereas ours was $14.25, and their infrastructure costs were
half of ours, Mr McCall said.
New Zealand dairy farmers had to keep improving their
efficiency to maintain their competitiveness, he said.
''There is no one system that fits all,'' Mr McCall said.