New Zealand is a clean, green, unpolluted country of superb natural beauty, approximately the
size of Great Britain or Colorado, consisting of two islands 1000 miles (1600 km)
long, in the South Pacific Ocean, 1200 Miles (2000 km) to the east of Australia.
The climate is temperate, February summer temperature 80°F (26°C), July winter
temperature 54°F (12°C) or lower' rainfall typically 40- 50" (1000 - 1300mm),
usually reliable though summers are sometimes dry.
The highest possible quality at the lowest possible price.
- The population is 3.6 million people, English speaking, 85% of whom are of European
(predominantly British) descent, and 15% are Polynesian.
- The government is a self-governing democracy, within the British Commonwealth.
- More than 50% of New Zealand's export earnings come from a low-cost agriculture based entirely on grass.
New Zealand has 26.8 million hectares of which 9.5 million is in sown pasture or
under cultivation and 4.3 million is in tussock or unimproved native grasses.
It carries 4 million dairy cattle, 5 million beef cattle, 50 million
sheep, 1.2 million deer, 3000,000 goats, 400,000 pigs, and 50,000 thoroughbred horses.
60% of foreign exchange earnings come from farming, and the essence of
this is a low-cost agricultural based entirely on the feeding of pasture.
It is not economical to feed grain, and many farmers now even try to avoid
making hay or silage.
Pastures are predominantly white clover (Trifolium repens) and perennial
ryegrass (Lolium perenne), and in New Zealand's west maritime climate, with
generally mild winters and reliable rainfall, pastures grow throughout the year.
In the central North Island, for example, daily pasture growth rates may be
15kgs of dry matter/hectare/day in mid-winter, rising to 80-100 kg/DM/ha/d in
spring, giving an annual production of 15,000 - 20,000 kg/DM/ha on dairy farms,
and perhaps 11,000 kg/DM/ha on less fertile sheep and beef farms.
One kg of DM good quality, mixed length, leafy pasture contains 10.8
megajoules of metabolisable energy.
On one hectare, competent farmers carry 3.7 dairy cows, producing up to
700 kgs of milkfat/ha/year, or 16 breeding ewes, or 2.5 beef breeding cows,
entirely on pasture.
To achieve these levels of production, the animals' feed requirements
must be carefully matched to pasture production; the animals' peak requirements
coincide with maximum pasture growth, and during winter their requirements are
the minimum needed for maintenance.
For example dairy cows calve in late
winter (July); milk production reaches a peak in spring (October/November)
when cows require 16 kg/DM/day and pastures are growing rapidly.
As pasture production declines in summer, so does milk production, until in
winter (May) the cows are dried off and require only 5 kgs/DM/day for maintenance.
This seasonal production, based on feeding only grass, enables NZ farmers
to produce milk, beef, lamb, venison, wool, and goat fibre, at about 40% of
the costs of traditional European or American agricultural.