50 years ago in the Dairy Exporter: February 1974

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

Get more work to the gallon

Fuel is costly. On an average dairy farm, the fuel bill is likely to amount to 65% of the total vehicle expenses and about 5% of the farm working expenses.

Apart from the moral obligation which virtually everyone faces – to conserve fuel – the farmer should be analysing his “fuel management” so that he can hold steadily rising farm costs as much as possible.

Consequently, his thinking must go well beyond the family car and its fuel consumption.

If each of the approximately 20,000 dairy farmers cut fuel consumption by only 10%, the individual financial saving would be significant. It would also be a worthwhile contribution to the national shortage of petroleum products.

This carpenter hammers out milk production

Richard Lay is one farmer who will not dispute the attractiveness of rewards offering to young men in the dairy industry.

At the age of 32, his net assets have increased 20 times since he exchanged a carpenter’s hammer for the milking cups nine years ago.

From a solid base of sharemilking to farm ownership, he has seen his Waikato dairy farm treble in value as he has won milk production from difficult peat country over the past 3½ seasons.

Only about one-third of the 80ha (197 acres) was in good pasture when Richard Lay took over the farm at Ohaupo.

But hard work to achieve a steady programme of development, which includes heavy applications of fertiliser and lime, has coaxed an excellent response from the peat country.

Richard is confident that milkfat production this season will be more than double his first season’s total on the farm, 11,228kg (24,754 lb) in 1970-71.

Pronunciation of margarine

Sir – I was interested to read the article on “The right way to say margarine”, in the November issue of the “Exporter” and to note your suggestion on how any uncertainty might be avoided.    

The late Sir David Rivett, one-time distinguished chairman of CSIRO in Australia, offered the suggestion that the “g” in margarine might be pronounced as a hard
“g” in winter and a soft “g” in summer.

Shed hygiene

Sir – I feel I must make a reply to comments in the “Consulting Officer’s Diary” of December, 1973, regarding employment of married women to clean milking plants in the milking shed. I know many dairy farmers who are more than “bugged” by the unreasonable demands laid out in the form for dairy shed inspection. As far as I can see, the pipe rails of the yard and bails have no influence whatever on the quality of milk produced. Provided the milking machines themselves are well washed and cleaned, I see no reason why the rails and walls of the shed should be scrubbed every day.

If the walls and the yards are hosed down and the machines are well washed after each milking and the shed is regularly painted inside once a year, no more can be expected of a farmer. In the case quoted in your article, it would appear to me that the farmer concerned is being forced, through petty officialdom, to spend $520 a year to clean his shed.

I consider that shed inspections should be carried out only when a farmer has been receiving grades for his milk.

Production before luxury

A warning against prospective farm owners placing too much emphasis on “non-productive” aspects of a farm is given by the extension officer of the Dairy Board’s farm production division, Mr Alistair Hall.

He was commenting on the increase in State Advances lending on dairy farm purchase.

“The success of the increase depends on vendors not pushing up the prices of land,” says Mr Hall.

“If you look at a place which costs more merely because of factors which are not related to production – for example, with a better house or an attractive location – then you could be putting yourself into a situation of higher risk.”

  • Thanks to the Hocken Library, Dunedin