Systemisation – By Ian Wickham (NZG Owner)

“A system is a process made explicit and repeatable. Systemisation is the act of creating a new system. The primary benefit of creating a System is that you can examine the process and make improvements. Developing Systems helps everyone do what they have to do with minimum misunderstanding. Creating systems may feel like extra work, but they ultimately make your work easier. The better your systems, the better your business.”

When I view the past 30 years in the business of growing great dairy heifers, the main thing that has set our company apart from the others and allowed us to continuously lead the industry is that we began by creating a system to deliver value to our customers, both Owners and Growers.

Until 1987 when we wrote the very first grazing contract in the world to define the system we use for each participant in our team, the raising of dairy heifers for a successful herd entry was very ad hoc, of poor quality, and of most concern to me was that the dairy industry did not even recognise that there was an issue or problem!

The advantages of the system we implemented were actually at least FOUR FOLD!

Firstly; The Dairy Heifer Owners benefited by gaining a lower price feed/pasture source than the cost of feed on their dairy farm which could be released to increase the feed available to lactating cows.

Secondly; Non dairy farmers/Growers, were able to gain increased dollar returns from each kilogram of dry matter/pasture than available from alternate enterprises without the need to borrow or invest their working capital to purchase livestock – and they could earn an income reliably paid monthly.

Thirdly; The Dairy Industry as a whole also gained in several ways. More land and labour became available quite rapidly and at low cost, to help the dramatic increase in milk solid production over the past 30 years.

And Fourthly; the main reason I created and implemented our heifer growing system, and still I think the least understood and appreciated reason to use a SYSTEM to grow heifers are the great heifers we routinely return to their Owners to calve and enter the dairy herd for a long and successful lactating career.

Even though the fertility traits of our New Zealand dairy herd declined substantially during this period, our systems have provided the management and nutritional requirements to maintain and increase the liveweight targets and in-calf rates consistently at the highest end of the industry.

Why have I reviewed these benefits of our New Zealand Grazing Company system?

As LIC and DairyNZ have discovered as they have gradually changed their approach to dairy replacements and emulate aspects of our system, it is difficult to design and implement a successful system, but EASY TO USE IF YOU ARE A CUSTOMER.

Have we finished the journey of systemisation – NO!

Our “back room” systems relating to animal management and Information Technology are well developed (the systems you see a Field Technician using when recording on your farm are just part of the overall system) – however as part of continuous improvement, we are currently focused on making our systems and service even easier for all our customers to understand and use.

To those customers who have been with us for the past decades, and in some cases, generations, we thank you for your support and loyalty, and including those more recently joining us, we look forward to continued mutual benefit by increasing the value of our systems to all.