Lay of the land

Shawn McAvinue asks Southern dairy farmers early last week how calving on their farm was progressing and how they would rate the season so far out of 10, taking into consideration a fall in milk price forecast?

Jason Herrick, of Mossburn in Northern Southland ... "We’ve started calving on July 29 and we’ve got 100 of 950 in already. Conditions are very wet so it has been a challenging start. I’d probably give it a three out of 10. The payout dropping is neither here nor there, it is comparative with years gone by and you’ve got to take the good with the bad sometimes."

Rodney Dobson, of Gropers Bush in Western Southland ... "We started on August 1 and we’ve got about 60 cows in, out of about 540. We are just getting warmed up and waiting for some sunshine to dry out the ground. We’ve got plenty of cover but the ground is very wet. I don’t think we’ve had a day so far this month we haven’t had rain and there’s snow on the Longwoods Range, so it’s cold and wet, so I’d give it about a three and I’ll drop it another half point for the milk price."

Blake Korteweg, of Hedgehope in Central Southland ... "We are just getting into it, probably about 100 out of 600 in now, she’s just a bit wet down here but not too bad, sort of what you’d expect — it would be nice if it was drier but it is not. The winter was good and there’s plenty of grass around and most people are ready to get into it now. The milk price was an expensive email to receive — we expected a drop but not that much. We are teetering on the fence if it is going to be a good or bad season so I’ll give it a five. Anything can happen from here."

Justin Koenig, of Kapuka in Eastern Southland ... "About 350 cows have calved between our two sheds and we wintered just under 1500. Everything is good, the cows are healthy and the staff are in good spirits. It is very wet ...  but we do have grass in front of us, which we want to conserve for the second round at the end of September.  At Christmas we will reevaluate where we are at. No-one can make changes now, you’ve got pregnant cows and feed in place and you’ve just got to make the most of it.   I would rate my season as a seven. We won’t be making a lot of money, but we won’t be losing a lot  either. I’m not in it for the money, this is a lifestyle and I have a responsibility to my cows, staff and my land."

Callum Kingan, of Enfield in North Otago ... "We started on July 25 and we are about halfway now and it has been going good. We have been fortunate with the southerly winds drying things out quite nicely, so it has been cold but dry. I’d give it an eight."

Brendan Morrison, of Inch Clutha in South Otago ... "We start a bit later than most farmers. We’ve only had about five early calves. Our heifers are due from August 15 and our cows from August 20. The start of winter wasn’t too bad and then it got a bit colder and wetter into July, so I’d say a five or a six."

Ryan Sutherland, of Henley on the Taieri ... "We are well into it. We’ve got about 110 calves and we’ve got another 170 to go. The payout dropping and the wet conditions has been a tough start to the season. The cows are in good condition but trying to find dry areas for them to go, day and night, is a bit of a challenge. The payout was a kick-in-the-guts so we will need to find ways to cut some costs but there’s only so much you can do. I’d say four. It has been hard going, so it is a bit of a mind-game at the moment, but hopefully it’ll come right and we are away laughing."