50 Years Ago in Dairy Exporter: July 1973

As NZ Dairy Exporter counts down to its centenary in 2025, we look back at the issues of earlier decades.

In Editor’s Notes5 Minutes


Farmers should become much more proficient in the use of “dry matter” as a measure in feed budgeting.

So say a group of eight agricultural advisers based in Whakatane, who are setting out to educate themselves and the farmers they advise, in dry matter measurement.

The Rangitaiki Plains Co-op Dairy Company is helping in this local education campaign by buying a special grass cutting machine and an oven for drying grass clippings. The capital cost of the equipment is $1750, and the company will also pay for the services of a technician who will be involved in this work.

Mr Pat Bradford, the NZ Dairy Board consulting officer in Whakatane, says dry matter measurement enables farmers to budget feed much better, and management becomes more efficient as a result. Many farmers hear the term “dry matter” (DM) at a field day or a farmers’ conference, or read about it in a semi-scientific paper, but never relate it to their own farming activities.


Talk of new milking sheds usually centres on such points as cows per hour, milking positions and automated equipment.

Usually the talk is technical and concerned with production and cow reaction. Seldom does it touch the implications on the human side.

A young Taranaki dairy farmer and his wife came upon those implications last season.

Suddenly they had more time and less fatigue. David and Jean Honeyfield, after 14 years of milking in a four-bail doubled-up walkthrough, have stepped into the rotary age with a 20-bail turnstyle.

“The difference is amazing,” says Mrs Honeyfield.

“In the old shed we’d be milking nearly five hours out of 24. We’d be bending all the time and running out into the rain to get cows. Now it is so much easier and cleaner.”


A $1.5 million project to spray-dry milk produced by town supply and factory supply dairy farmers has been  undertaken in Christchurch city.

The project is the joint effort by the Tai Tapu Central Co-op Dairy Co and the town milk co-operative, Canterbury Dairy Farmers’ Ltd.

It involves building a spray drying centre and introducing farm vats and tanker-collected whole milk from about 85 Tai Tapu suppliers.

The companies hope that the move will give them greater returns and an ability to diversify powder production according to market needs. Both have small roller-drying plants which will be retained as supporting or alternative equipment. The project is being financed largely through Dairy Board loans.


Cream cans clatter across the station platform. The train whistles, tugs and rumbles south.

Another consignment of Kaikoura cream is away on the 116-mile journey to butter churns near the heart of Christchurch City.

The 22 farmers who send their home-separated cream south by train are the most distant of the nominal 512 suppliers of the Tai Tapu Central Co-op Dairy Co of Christchurch. Tai Tapu officials say the company’s collection area covers some 7000 square miles and quip that it is full of differences when compared with more regular districts of North Island dairy companies.

First, the company headquarters and processing plant are packed on a two-acre section only about a mile from Christchurch’s Cathedral Square. The everyday traffic of a busy city streams past front doors that look across  Moorhouse Avenue and into Hagley Park. Cream is drawn mainly from beyond a strong town milk belt around Christchurch and out of districts where dairying is often only one of the varied farming interests of a supplier.

Thanks to the Hocken Library, Dunedin