Poor spring weather, rather than the effect of the recent earthquake, will determine the scale of New Zealand milk output over the coming months, according to North Island Kiwi dairy farmer Pete Morgan.

We have had a very wet spring and this has created significant problems for both cows and farmers alike, he said.

“Assuming we get our normal very dry summer, then it’s fair to assume that milk volumes will be down, or at least static, across the main milk producing regions of the country this season.”

Morgan was a speaker at this year’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference, where he was visiting Ireland with his wife Anne, who co-presented at the conference with her husband.

They milk 520 spring calving cows in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island.

“We control the business: it doesn’t control us. Quality of life is everything and the business has been developed to ensure that we both have ample time to devote to the family.

"One practical outworking of this is our practise of milking only once per day once the cows get beyond mid-season. Work smart: not hard is our motto."

Both the Morgans are strong advocates of improved soil and grassland management principles being at the heart of every viable dairy farming business.

The entire land block is soil tested regularly over a two-year period.

“This approach, in tandem with enhanced pasture management techniques, is the gateway to improved production and profitability. Discussion groups play a key role within New Zealand’s dairy industry, specifically when it comes to communicating and assessing the viability of new ideas."

Anne confirmed the absolute importance of farmers knowing their costs and having a real grip of cash flash flows – in real time.

“Bench marking is equally important. If farmers do not know their costs then they are not in control of their businesses.”