Farmer Focus Livestock: George Moss says milk price is likely to fall in NZ

The season for both farms continues to track along nicely, albeit behind our initial expectations and budgets.

Cows are milking at a 1.55 and 1.45kg milk solids a cow a day on the home and organic farm respectively. There are good grass covers on both properties and if we get more rain soon we should be able to claw back some lost ground.

The milk price continues to remain static with indications of a likely drop next season of between 5% and 10% depending on currency exchange rate.

Over the coming weeks we have two big ticket decisions to make. First, whether to apply autumn applications of fertiliser on the farms. The need to keep costs down on one hand and the desire to maximise grass growth on the other are the conflicting imperatives. We did a soil test on each farm and both farms reported surprisingly similar levels of soil fertility, adequate in theory to grow good grass. We decided to apply fertiliser to the home farm and leave the organic farm as is and apply the saved cash to debt reduction.

The second decision is whether to spend a large sum of money on facial excema control. Facial excema is a disease caused by the spores of a fungus that grows on pasture in late summer when night temperatures are above 12C. Facial excema causes extreme liver damage and photo-sensitivity and even death in cattle. It can be prevented by administering either zinc oxide or zinc sulphate to the cattle before exposure.

The dilemma, spore counts on grass are still low but climbing. Both night and day temperatures have been high, but falling quickly and when they fall fast enough the threat will disappear. We will decide on a daily basis whether to use control.

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