Dairy farm case studies

MPI has worked with farmers and industry experts to develop case studies of high-performing dairy farms across New Zealand. The case studies provide an opportunity for farmers to learn from other farmers.

Financial, environmental and animal health

To achieve sustainable growth, farmers are increasingly focused on improving their farm's financial, environmental and animal health performance. To support these improvements, MPI is developing ways to:

  • understand overall farm system performance
  • showcase opportunities for improvement, whether through a series of small changes or large-scale on-farm change.

MPI’s case studies of high performing dairy farms reveal some of the reasons behind their success.

Read these case studies to:

  • understand how triple bottom line (financial, environmental and animal health) farm performance can be measured
  • explore how some successful farmers have increased their farm's productivity and performance.

Case studies are available for the following regions:

Summary of case study findings – July 2018

A summary of the main findings from the Farm Systems Change case studies is available in Insights from successful dairy farms. The case studies examined the strategies and practices of 20 New Zealand farms across a range of regions, climates, herd sizes, soil types and production systems. Although no 2 farms were the same, a number of common practices appear to consistently contribute to their success.


Adaptive and diversified farm business

Dairy and beef farm

Dairy and beef farm

The owners of this Northland farm are committed to improving their farm and ensuring they are not reliant on just one source of income. They diversified into beef farming and adapt to the changing dairying environment to maintain farm performance.


Find out more about the farm [PDF, 5.5 MB]


Effective and consistent performance

northland image

Moo's 'R' Us Limited

Corin and Wendy Schick take a simple approach to managing their farm and cows. With guidance from their advisers, they balance fresh ideas with proven systems to continuously improve their business. Corin and Wendy focus on balancing the quality and quantity of feed, and this is reflected in their impressive cow performance under the variable Northland climate.


Read more about Moo's 'R' Us [PDF, 1.1 MB]



Conversion to dairy providing flexibility for owners

Rustic Dairies Limited

Rustic Dairies Limited

Zach Mounsey has used his background as an economist to focus on the economics and flexibility of his farm system. Zach and his parents converted a drystock farm to dairy, introducing once-a-day milking, and a focus on pasture quality. They have also focused on building a strong health and safety culture.


Read more about Rustic Dairies [PDF, 1 MB]


Focus on low breakeven and environmental sustainability

Judge Valley Dairies Limited

Judge Valley Dairies Limited

John Hayward and Susan O'Regan focus on the economic and environmental sustainability of their farm system. John and Susan acquired more land in 2014, allowing for increased farm efficiency and production.

A focus on having a well-fed herd has increased milk production by 21%.


Read more about Judge Valley Dairies [PDF, 1.4 MB]


Performance based system growing the future

Butterworth Enterprises

Butterworth Enterprises

Rex and Sharon Butterworth identify changes they need to make in their farming system, then adapt management to make the most of the changes. Rex and Sharon invested in customised covered feed pads designed to reduce the impacts of climate on production and changed farm processes to make the most of the new feeding system.


Read more about Butterworth Enterprises [PDF, 4.8 MB]


Robust management for long-term sustainability

Gascoigne Farm Limited - Farm Systems Change case study

Gascoigne Farm Limited

Marc and Maria Gascoigne have developed their farm with a focus on sustainable use of resources. After starting out as equal partners with Marc's parents, Marc and Maria followed a defined plan to progressively buy out the farming business. They now have a 445 cow spring-calving Friesian herd, which produced 224,692 kgMS in the 2014 to 2015 season.


Read more about Gascoigne Farm [PDF, 1.1 MB]


Bay of Plenty

Focus on production and profitability

Te Tiringa Farms Limited

Te Tiringa Farms Limited

In 2014, Matt Barr joined his mother in the family business, Te Tiringa Farms Limited, as a share farmer. Matt trials different farming practices such as milking heifers once-a-day and has developed clear objectives to measure performance of the business.


Read more about Te Tiringa Farms [PDF, 10 MB]


Robust management decisions for sustainability

Western Bay of Plenty Dairy Farm

Western Bay of Plenty dairy farm

The husband and wife who own this farm thoroughly investigate and analyse the costs and benefits of business decisions. A feed pad and careful choice of feed types have resulted in excellent cow performance. By diversifying into kiwifruit and radiata pine, the owners earn income that complements their dairying income.


Read about the Western Bay of Plenty dairy farm [PDF, 9.2 MB]


Weather proofing – a simple system for high production

Bay of Plenty Farm

Bay of Plenty farm

Owners of this farm have invested in systems to manage the impacts of the local climate, including installation of an in-shed feeding system. This has improved control over cow feeding levels, regardless of the weather, without adding extra work. A focus on feeding lactating cows has improved production.


Read more about the Bay of Plenty farm [PDF, 14 MB]



Maximising profitability from pasture

Peebles Siding Limited

Peebles Siding Limited

Peebles Siding Limited is one of 58 dairy farms owned by Dairy Holdings Limited. Dairy Holdings aims for consistent profitability by using farm systems that increase the quantity of pasture grown and harvested. Peebles' success is supported by:

  • an effective farm team
  • strong management, using regular planning, reporting, and monitoring.


Read more about Peebles Siding [PDF, 5 MB]


Proud farming family

Melrose Dairy Limited

Melrose Dairy Limited

Mark and Devon Slee work hard to continuously improve their farm, which was converted to dairy by Mark's parents in 1987. They farm highly productive and profitable crossbred cows and have focused on improving water use efficiency. Mark and Devon monitor their business performance to identify areas for improvement and support business decisions.


Read more about Melrose Dairy [PDF, 1.1 MB]


Recognising the mana of our ancestral land

Dairy farm case study Rakaia

Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporation

The success of Tahu a Tao farms stems from collaboration between the farm management, advisers and sharemilkers. Farm investment is undertaken with a long term view and a focus on what's best for the whānau, now and into the future.


Read more about Rakaia Incorporation [PDF, 1.2 MB]



A dairy conversion for the next generation

Otago dairy farm case study - Gleniffer

Glenmoa Farms Limited – Gleniffer

John and Ruby Foley aim to create the farm of the future. They converted their arable farm to 3 farm operations. Gleniffer – the most recent conversion – is a hybrid style dairy farm combining pasture with covered feed pads.


Read more about Glenmoa Farms Limited – Gleniffer [PDF, 1.3 MB]


Focus on consistent improvement for long-term success

Otago Dairy Farm

Otago dairy farm

This husband and wife team are 50/50 sharemilkers in an equity partnership. They focus on farming efficiently and improving farm performance. They invest for the long-term –  installation of a covered feed pad helps to reduce damage to pasture and feed wastage, while improving farm efficiency.


Read more about Otago dairy farm [PDF, 12 MB]


The importance of a great team

Huntly Road Dairies Limited

Huntly Road Dairies Limited

Anne-Marie and Duncan Wells believe in building strong teams around them. Huntly Road Dairies is an equity partnership –  connecting with the right business partners was vital to the success of their farming business. Anne-Marie and Duncan continually look for different ways of doing things to improve farm processes.


Read more about Huntly Road Dairies [PDF, 14 MB]



Adapting to the environment

Murdoch Southern Farms Limited

After moving from Taranaki, Blair Murdoch and Rebecca Jamieson adapted their farming practices to suit the Southland environment. They breed efficient cows that are suited to their environment. Blair and Rebecca continually look for ways to improve their farm processes.


Read more about Murdoch Southern Farms Limited [PDF, 14 MB]


Focus on farm technology for financial sustainability

Southland dairy farm

These Southland dairy farmers focus on keeping cows healthy by feeding them well. They use technology to manage feed delivery, monitor cow health, and measure soil moisture. Their effective use of farm technology improves farm performance and provides financial sustainability.


Read more about Southland dairy farm [PDF, 8.9 MB]

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