Tuesday, 07 July 2020 08:25

Court case dilemma

Written by  Staff Reporters
Former Federated Farmers sharemilkers section chairman Richard McIntyre. Former Federated Farmers sharemilkers section chairman Richard McIntyre.

The recent court case involving sharemilker Tony Kuriger, the son of a National MP, has created “a concerning precedent”.

So says former Federated Farmers sharemilkers section chairman Richard McIntyre.

Kuriger was convicted and fined by Palmerston North District Court for the ill-treatment of cows on a farm at Hukanui​, Wairarapa.

McIntyre says there are now questions around animal welfare obligations in a sharemilking relationship. 

“It was determined that if the condition of the cow races is causing lameness and the farm owner is not prepared to fix them, then it is up to the sharemilker to repair them and attempt to recover the cost from the farm owner. 

“If the farm owner has already refused to repair them, it is unlikely this will be an easy or fast process. 

“Given the considerable amount of money involved, there would be very few sharemilkers with the ability to cashflow such an undertaking. 

“This places an even greater obligation on the sharemilker in terms of due diligence and also considerably increases the level of risk that they take on.”

McIntyre stepped down after four years in the role. He says the Feds sharemilkers section is in safe hands with Aaron Passey as chairman.

McIntyre believes sharemilking still remains an attractive option for those who want to be their own boss in the industry. Sharemilkers can choose their own staff, own herds and make decisions around animal breeding.

However, he says the dairy industry is evolving and sharemilkers must continue to evolve.

 “There is still a lot to be done...the Zero Carbon Bill and the National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater will change many farm systems and the terms of many sharemilking agreements will need to be renegotiated in order for them to remain viable. 

“This will be a challenge particularly in areas where the change required dramatically affects the farm’s profitability and therefore the farm owner’s ability to absorb the increased cost.”

Staffing issues remain a worry on farms but Covid-19 has presented the sector an opportunity to improve its talent pool.

“There will be many displaced workers who aspire to enter a new industry and work their way up.”

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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