Pastoral Farmer Goals and Intensification Strategies

Focus groups were held with four pastoral sectors (sheep, dairy, deer, and beef) to investigate intensification strategies available to each sector. Focus groups first identified drivers of intensification in their sector, then identified the strategies they perceived as available, and evaluated the identified strategies in terms of favourability. For a researcher selected intensification strategy in each pastoral sector, benefits, barriers and solutions, and the relationship between farmer goals and the selected strategy was examined. The three main drivers of intensification in the sheep industry were profit, higher land values and return on capital. The researcher chosen strategy, high fecundity sheep, was viewed by the focus group as having benefits of increased financial security, increased profit, better return on capital and better land utilisation. However the strategy was seen as conflicting with other desirable goals such as lifestyle, social life, work variety, self reliance, environmental concerns and animal welfare. The three main drivers of intensification in the dairy sector were declining market prices, need for increased profit and need for increased productivity. The researcher chosen strategy, robotic milking, was viewed as having benefits of: reduced labour requirements, enhanced lifestyle, greater job satisfaction, reduce operational costs and increased profit. Implementation cost was viewed as a barrier as was the need for new specialised technical skills. The three main drivers of intensification in the deer industry were return on investment, competition from other land uses and returns per hectare compared with other pastoral sectors. The researcher chosen strategy, 100kg weaner by 1st June, had benefits of increased management options, increased profit, achievement of animals’ genetic potential, better predictability and a higher kill-out yield. The strategy presents challenges to animal welfare – an important consideration for the group. Three industry enterprises (dairy, calf rearers, and beef finishers) are involved in beef production. All three agreed that profit was the main driver for intensification. The researcher chosen strategy was dairy/beef progeny. Benefits of this strategy for the industry were: increased profit, access to prime markets, higher yielding quicker growing animals, and better behaved animals. The primary barrier to the success of this strategy was the need for co-operation across the three industry enterprises and the processors, and the need to ensure increased profits are distributed to all parts of the chain. Dairy farmers (the source of 65% of animals farmed for beef) were particular concerned about animal welfare issues and the consequent financial risks presented to their operations by this strategy.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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