Physical and financial characteristics of high input and low input dairy farms in New Zealand : research project for thesis, to be presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Animal Science, Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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In recent years the use of supplements in New Zealand dairy farms has increased, but there is little information about the way in which this extra feed has influenced the dairy system. This research work aimed at analysing the effect of extra feed input on the physical and financial performance of dairy farms. ProfitWatch data corresponding to 915 owner -operated dairy farms were analysed. The data was classified according to dairy season (1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02), extra feed offered per cow (low input systems: <50kg DM extra feed/cow; Intermediate input system: between 50-500 kg DM extra feed/cow; High input systems: >500kg DM extra feed/cow) and quartiles according to EFS/ha. The definition of extra feed comprised supplements imported, winter grazing and maize grown in the farm. The statistical analysis comprised analysis of variance (ANOVA) and regression analysis done in SAS. In all 4 dairy seasons, high input systems had higher stocking rates (2.7-2.8 vs 2.4-2.5 cows/ha), lower comparative stocking rate (83-86 vs 92-83 kg LWT/t DM), higher milksolids production per cow (293-341 vs 249-295 kg MS/cow) and per hectare (826-921 vs 616-744 kg MS/ha), and higher use of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare (85-116 vs 53-67 kg N/ha/year) than low input systems. During the period of study, milksolids payout increased from $3.58/kg MS in 1998/99 to $5.30/kg MS in 2001/02. High input systems had higher Gross Farm Income per hectare ($3287/ha vs $2374/ha in 1998/99; and $5377/ha vs $4362/ha in 2001/02) and higher Farm Working Expenses per hectare ($2519/ha vs $1760/ha in 1998/99, and $3259/ha vs $2187/ha in 2001/02) than low input systems. There were not significant differences in EFS/ha, Return on Assets (%) and Return on Equity (%) between farms in the 3 feed input systems. Within each feed input system, farms in the top quartile for EFS/ha had higher stocking rates and higher estimated pasture consumed per hectare than their corresponding farm system in the bottom quartile. Regression analysis of all the farms (915 farms) showed that across all farms, the marginal (average of 4 years) response to the extra feed used was 50g MS/cow/kg DM extra feed per cow. But the marginal response per hectare to extra feed was higher (96g MS/ha/kg DM extra feed per hectare) due to associated increases in stocking rate and other inputs. The operating cash surplus per hectare increased by approximately $0.07 to $0.12/kg DM of extra feed used per hectare, but EFS/ha was not significantly affected by these differences in cash operating surplus. Keywords: low, intermediate and high input systems: extra feed.
New Zealand, Dairy farming -- Economic aspects