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Farm consultant Jeremy Savage said the farm was tracking well after a successful 12 months.
‘‘It’s looking pretty good at the moment. We’re tracking ahead of last year for milk production to date,’’ Mr Savage said earlier this month.
‘‘We had a really good, tight calving spread with 520 cows out of 555 calving by September 1 and our costs are under control, so our cost structure will be lower than last year.’’
He said the farm’s operating costs were budgeted at $3.80/kgMS, meaning a big payday could be in store if Fonterra’s farmgate milk price remained around the $7 mark.
‘‘We have a reputation for our sustainable farming programme, so we want to focus on cost control so that no matter what the payout is we have a sustainable farm system.
‘‘We won’t be tempted to chase milk production if the price goes up.’’
Mr Savage said pasture covers were lower in October due to the cooler than expected weather, but this meant less mowing which reduced the costs.
Animal health costs were also low, after the farm’s management opted to cull about 20 cows, that had ‘‘a strain of mastitis which was unpredictable, hard to track and very hard to treat’’, replacing them with heifers.
‘‘The cell count has been very low so far this season, so already it’s paid dividends,’’ he said.
A new irrigation system has also been installed to improve moisture levels on farm.
Mr Savage said no decision had been made on the long term management structure of the farm, following the departure of former executive director Ron Pellow last year.
He said he would be continuing in a farm supervision role next year, with Ravensdown farm environmental consultant Clare Buchanan continuing as events co-ordinator, liaising with the South Island Dairying Development Centre partners and running focus days.
The farm hosted three focus days this year. The last one in October attracted about 250 farmers.
‘‘The feedback has been very positive from farmers and they want to learn about pasture management and harvesting grass, and financial management, and those are things Lincoln does well,’’ Mr Savage said.
‘‘And having [farm manager] Peter [Hancox] on deck with his wealth of experience has made it easy for Clare and I to step into our roles.’’
The farm’s next focus day will be on Thursday, February 13.
-By David Hill