Moving Day is entrenched in dairy farming culture, but discussions have been held about whether there are less disruptive ways to move farms.

For many, June 1 means one thing — time to move. As the new season starts, thousands of sharemilkers pack cows into stock trucks and move equipment and families to new farms. It is a familiar sight, the traditional progression in New Zealand's dairy industry.

More awareness of the disruption the move can have on families, small rural communities and schools, has led to discussion in the industry about whether there is another way.


DairyNZ strategy and investment leader, people and business, Mark Paine says discussion stemmed from a workshop four years ago involving people from different sectors of the industry which focused on improving the reputation and experience of working in dairying. Getting away from the traditional Moving Day was one issue explored.

Advertisement

"When we dug into it, there was agreement that it is incredibly disruptive for rural communities and schools. Secondly it has a fairly negative impact in terms of stock movement for locals," says Mark.

He also questions whether the emphasis on change every June 1, causes unnecessary uncertainty in farming relationships.

"It's about trying to get the balance right between progression which is a good thing, and continuity in the industry in terms of making sure that people stay long enough to really stick with the farm system, understand the particular farm they are on and have it really humming, which is really a three-year-plus experience.

"When really effective employment relationships are operating, you don't want to have the expectation of Moving Day bringing that to an end. If things are going great, then focus on the things that will make it go better. Don't stop the whole thing because there is this kind of industry expectation that it's Moving Day, it's time to move."

Mark says farmers will never get away from the physical reality of having to move stock and equipment on the day itself, but he suggests phasing a family's move to better suit children and the communities they move into. He suggests more could be made of the weeks before the new season, once cows have been dried off.

There can even be opportunities to move over January. DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte says it is possible for people to move to new farms through the year.

"There's a school of thought that January is a better time because it allows more time to adjust to a new farm and for training, instead of new staff being thrust into the new season and calving when it's all go," he says.

"You're still not going to get away from stock on the road and the physical aspect. From a farming systems perspective you can't be moving any other time. But it's at a higher level we're talking — it's around families."

Advertisement