Who are we?
New Zealand Grazing Company has been operating since 1987 and is the original and most experienced heifer growing business in New Zealand operating from Northland to Southland.
Is New Zealand Grazing Company Ltd independent of any other organisation?
Yes. Our company is 100% NZ farmer owned and has a dedicated focus to provide service to people who want to grow great heifers for their dairy herd(s).
Do other organisations provide services, advice and information relating to dairy replacements?
Yes. The dairy industry has realised that it needs many more dairy replacements grown to their potential size as soon as possible to optimise in-calf rates and milk-solid production. When we observe the many poor results within the industry, we believe that the 30 years of continuous and passionate dedication that we provide, offers farmers a far better solution.
Are undergrown heifers a recent trend?
Our records indicate that dairy heifers in our care are grown to heavier target weights than historical trials indicated were satisfactory. However, during the past 25 years there has been a downward trend in the fertility of the national herd. This lowered fertility is correlated to imported genetics and the fertility decline was masked by the widespread use of induction as a management tool to abort the pregnancy of later calving cows. This practice is now outlawed.
Recent LIC research* indicates that improved heifer rearing management may profitably offset the long term decline in the national herd’s reproductive performance and six-week in calf rate.
*McNaughton & Lopdell, 2012 (study involved data from more than 100,000 animals)
How is the low fertility of the national herd being addressed?
In the following main ways;
An increased emphasis on fertility in the Breeding Worth (BW) calculation.
Farm management programs designed to improve management, knowledge and increase nutrition, such as “In-Calf” and “The 6 Week Challenge”
Improved growth rates in replacement heifers achieves puberty earlier and increases the in-calf rates for the first 2 or 3 pregnancies.
Why is New Zealand Grazing Company different from others who provide grazing services?
We provide a complete service to both heifer Owners of stock and to Growers (sometimes referred to as Graziers) with a separate contract for each to properly cater for the aspects that are important to each party. Think of the different relationship you have with a Bank, depending on whether you are a borrower or a lender. Our role is more like that of a good Bank with the motivation and desire to be fair to all parties because unfair relationships are not sustainable.
I see that Stock companies and Veterinarians and some others have set up Heifer Grazing Schemes. Are these the same as what you do?
There may be similarities because New Zealand Grazing Company has been operating for so long that others have seen an opportunity to copy aspects of our system – often with a claim that they are ‘cheaper’. However, their focus is likely to be different where they have added heifer grazing as an additional income generating enterprise to an existing business.
Stock companies seek to insert themselves as an ‘Agent’ to generate a commission, possibly with a mediation role when things go bad as they commonly do. The main role of Stock companies is to find a buyer and a seller – “Jobs right!” The consistent close monitoring and managing of systems and people who care for young stock does not usually sit well with most stock agents.
What about Veterinarians, aren’t they experts in managing young stock health?
Yes, some of them are, and this depends on what their speciality is. The New Zealand Grazing Company experience is that well fed and cared for dairy replacements have a very low requirement for veterinary input. We keep veterinary costs under control by implementing sound preventative animal health protocols and using good nutrition to build strong immune systems in the young stock under our care. In this way our input is not diverted to some other farm’s urgent veterinary dilemma. A veterinarian’s highly qualified input and cost structure is well utilised when diagnosing and containing disease outbreaks commonly found when animals are not fed properly.
Federated Farmers offers a grazing contract document for sale – is that an answer for me?
A documented contract is a good place to start, however do not regard this as a ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all the issues you may have. If you are going to use one of these contracts with a person (Stock Owner or a Grower who may own or lease land) whom you have found through advertising, be aware that you may need the legal protection this contract hopefully provides – on condition this ‘do it yourself’ contract has been correctly implemented. Also be aware that it can be expensive to enforce legal contracts and that an arbitration process can be very expensive. New Zealand Grazing Company Ltd contracts were the very first ever written and have been constantly developed to provide a modern and fair contract specifically for NZ dairy conditions
With New Zealand Grazing Company contracts, the administrative systems, standard operational protocols, and robust legal protection for all parties come together in the terms and conditions that form part of the contract and provide an efficient and integrated system for all parties – no surprises.
A case study:
In the current season we dairy farmers are expecting a milksolid payout reduction in the order of 45% and our district has surplus of pasture available.
My accountant (and/or bank manager) is advising me reduce my feed costs to meet my revised budget. I think I can buy grazing at a lower cost per head per week than what the New Zealand Grazing Company cost estimate is. What should I do?
The dairy farmer found a new grazier priced at $9 per head per week instead of $12 for the 52 weeks and saved $12,480 for the year.
However, he lost;
- $42,480 in production
- $8,000 in extra heifers not in-calf
- $9,200 to replace those extra heifers not in-calf
- Also extra breeding costs, more anoestrus heifers
- Lost days in milk as 3 year olds – slippage
- The actual cost of going to a cheaper grazier was a nett loss of more than $47,200
- $9 vs $12 per week grazing actually takes more days in milk for “cheaper” grazing group to start making a profit.
- Overall performance of this group was still affected negatively 3 years later.
“This sounds like ‘sales talk’ and New Zealand Grazing Company Ltd is really just a ‘middle-man’ taking a margin for doing nothing.”
We have heard this statement on occasion from people whom have not entrusted their stock with us and see no reason to do so. Often the largest problem one has, is the problem one does not know one has. There are many examples of this in the farming industry and the history of our company is to identify such problems and offer a service to change such a problem into an opportunity for enhanced profit to customers.
The current glaring example of this is the low performance of the 1st lactation cows in the national herd when one thinks of the huge resource that has been invested in the genetic development over the past half century. These 1st lactation cows are the highest genetic resource with real potential for early profit which is being delayed by their sub-optimal growth and development before herd entry.
Also, for New Zealand Grazing Company to provide its customers with high performing Growers it is obvious that such Growers need to be adequately rewarded for the extra feed and effort they apply. Comparing apples with apples, when we do comparative costing with other pricing systems, the New Zealand Grazing Company price is not more expensive and much better value for money.
Because New Zealand Grazing Company Ltd has no statutory levy or market monopoly to call on, and it operates in a competitive marketplace, it has developed efficient systems to provide outstanding service to the many customers who keep returning year on year because they find our service proven to be very good value for money.
Why has New Zealand Grazing Company designed and implemented a new and different payment system named Modeled Dry Matter™ MDM™ ?
During the past few years it has become increasingly obvious that dairy support payment systems based on time and/or weight gain are not adequately or fairly rewarding the higher standard of feeding, husbandry and care of heifers that is being required by dairy farmers who operate more productive herds. Being calculated on the actual feed utilised by the animals, all payments are able to be compared with other systems in an open and transparent way.
The MDM system means payment is calculated on actual weights. Does that mean the Grower needs to weigh monthly to get paid monthly?
Yes. The MDM system is proving to be an excellent way of motivating Growers to want to have the heifers (and weaners) in their care monitored on a monthly basis because they are paid on a current performance basis. With such motivation, we see Growers fairly rewarded and keen to improve growth rates and make every day a growth rate day!
As dairy farm owners, we currently graze our dairy heifers with a Grazier who has been in the business for more than 10 years dealing directly with dairy owners. He says that he used to deal with a grazing company and is very experienced and will supply weights. He is located quite handy to our dairy farm so transport cost is reasonable and he does NOT want or need to use a detailed formal contract and in this way he can keep costs low and we pay $xx per head per week for May to May grazing.
This is exactly the situation that is causing the problem of undergrown heifers entering the dairy industry. Graziers such as this are motivated to increase the numbers of stock to be profitable as compared to being motivated to increase the performance of all heifers. Animal weights may be on target for the period right through until the final two months of April/May when the feed requirement is greatest and the feed quantity and quality is low. The Grazier will be skilled at balancing the growth/condition of the heifers at this time to be just adequate to prevent a complaint.
Because dairy support space located in dairy provinces is not plentiful, if the heifer owner expresses disappointment, the option will be given him to find a different Grazier because dairymen are waiting for local space. When the price/performance of heifers grown under this system are compared to the MDM system, it becomes transparent which system is value for money.
LIC is offering MINDA Weights to their clients as a way of monitoring heifer growth performance using the Breeding Value Liveweight (BV Lwt) information they are required to calculate as part of the Breeding Worth evaluation. How do these targets match up with New Zealand Grazing Company Limited targets?
Five years before LIC introduced MINDA Weights, New Zealand Grazing Company asked LIC to include BV Lwt information on the MINDA “Calves Reared Report” to enable the BV Lwt system to be conveniently used as a scientific way of calculating heifer target weights. To date this has NOT been done and the proprietary system of MINDA Weights has instead been built and offered to MINDA clients. If our clients provide the BV Lwt data for their heifers, New Zealand Grazing Company will use such data for comprehensive reporting, and we have some clients who use both systems.
DairyNZ is now offering “Focus Farms” field days in our main dairy areas as part of an Industry Strategy to improve the quality of ‘dairy support’ services available to levy paying dairy farmers and others. Do you recommend dairy farmers and graziers attend these days?
Absolutely! For too long NZ dairy replacements have not had the attention paid to them that they warrant, and this is from all sectors and levels within the farming industry. We have always encouraged the development of an industry strategy designed to enhance knowledge, improve relationships and examine the economics of heifer growth. The DairyNZ Focus Farm in Northland is a Grower client of our company.
Why would I want to put my dairy replacements with New Zealand Grazing Company Limited?
We know each of our clients probably have a different set of reasons that fit with their particular set of circumstances and it is important to us that we meet or exceed their expectations.
As part of your farm support team, we can assist you to achieve your goals.
Within the wider industry it is recognised that more effort is needed to improve farmer skills in the following bullet points;
- Relationship Management
NZG takes the holistic view that all these points are equally important, however, there are no ‘silver bullets’ that will by themselves, achieve the optimum result. Not only do we focus on these points, we also have the benefit of decades of dedicated experience, professionally applied for your benefit.
New Zealand Grazing Company claims a position of leadership within the dairy support industry. What is the basis of this claim?
Being a Leader means being out in front, or being first …
New Zealand Grazing Company Limited is truly “A Leader in the Field”
We Help People Grow Great Heifers
This is our promise to you.
- In addition to being the very first “Grazing Company” in New Zealand (and the world) as specialist dairy replacement growers, we also were the;
- First to recognise that well grown heifers entering the NZ dairy herd are more profitable than poorly grown heifers.
- First (and still the only grazing company) to offer service from Northland to Southland.
- First to write and use documented contracts to define the terms and conditions of one party taking care of another party’s cattle.
- First to routinely and regularly weigh, record, analyse and report the liveweight gains of dairy replacements.
- First to benchmark Grower (Grazier) performance and publish as “Heifer Watch”
- First to organise and present field days and seminars dedicated to rearing dairy replacements.
- First to use and transmit weight data from the field to a computer via phone lines using a modem, pre-dating the availability of the internet.
- First to use a relational database (Oracle) to record and store dairy replacement records.
- First to use higher target weights than those recommended by academic studies.
- First to use the Liveweight Breeding Value (BV Lwt) to calculate dairy heifer targets in 2007.
- First to develop an App named ‘BlueLinker’ for an Android phone to transfer data from electronic scales to format and send as an email attachment.
- First grazing company in NZ to design and implement a comprehensive bull heath test and control protocol to control disease spread through this route.
- First to offer a hybrid payment system whereby a weekly rate and a weight gain rate are combined designed to offset the problems associated with weekly rate and weight gain rates.
- First to offer guaranteed payment systems whereby if target weights are not achieved, then money is refunded.
- First to offer Modeled Dry Matter™ (MDM™) payment system whereby the actual energy utilised by the animals is calculated on a transparent and fair basis.
- First to recommend our holistic approach (where everything is important to get it right) and achieve our goal of helping people grow great heifers and ensure a desirable result for our customers.