The Christchurch earthquakes saw a number of new residential areas pop up, with people moving further out into the wider Canterbuy/Selwyn region. Devon Park is a new Rolleston subdivision, by the same group who developed the Rolleston Hamlet and were involved in the Izone Industrial Park in Rolleston. People used to laugh the Rolleston tagline the “town of the future” but the last laugh is probably the developers now, as it has been the fastest growing region and industrial park in New Zealand and with two primary schools and a secondary planned.
When driving around Rolleston looking at the various subdivisions, one thing you notice about Devon Park is how much closer it is to the Rolleston CBD. It’s only a 5 minute walk to the local shops, and is an achievable walking distance to the local shopping area with supermarket and library. Some of the other Rolleston subdivisions are a lot further out. Plus whereas a lot of subdivisions promise a local shopping area, Rolleston’s township is really well established with a flash community centre, aquatic centre, restaurants, video store, takeaways, shops and cafes.
A theme among many subdivision developments these days is to have high density allotments, with houses crammed into tiny sections, and all squished right up against each other. Devon Park has taken a different approach, by having different section sizes, spacious enough so you don’t feel like you are completely in your neighbours’ space. I’ve heard complaints that some further out Rolleston subdivision sections poke right up against each other.
Devon Park’s fertile land is perfect for gardening which is great if you are looking for a space out of the hustle-and-bustle of town, but not quite in the country! If you compare some of the developer’s previous landscaping boulevard-effect of Rolleston Hamlet, it’s obvious they won’t skimp on trees. This is not an approach shared by all Rolleston developers.
Until recently, I hadn’t heard of UniMed health insurance, which is surprising since it is one of NZ’s top 4 health insurance companies and it has been providing individual/group insurance since 1979.
Recently UniMed has launched their Health Positive plan which is ideal for people aged under 35. They’ve designed the plan with a mix of day-to-day expenses health expenses (e.g. GP, glasses and prescriptions), as well as some extras such as physiotherapy and chiropractor. Nib and Southern Cross have comparable health insurance plans, however UniMed’s seems to include more and have better premiums. The plan has great reimbursement rate options of 50% or 80% of actual costs too. Unfortunately the plan doesn’t cover surgery – but they have other great plans that do, each with their own benefits.
The likes of nib and Southern Cross seem to spend a lot on advertising, but UniMed’s low profile means they have a larger reserve and can pay out more claims for members. Dealing with UniMed is really easy and hassle free. You can tell their emphasis is on their members’ health.
MetroGreen is based in Timaru and specialises in the distribution of high quality garden tools and accessories. They import a large range of garden hand tools for both professionals and keen gardeners, including secateurs, knives, axes and so much more.
MetroGreen prides itself in importing and providing not only the top brands of garden tools, but they also give landscaping advice…especially when it comes to the tools and equipment required for the job.
Producing top quality milk is not just a case of luck. Most farmers will have hit a period when their milk quality and production has been compromised and the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. When profitability is down, it’s a tough decision to spend yet more hard-earned cash trying to find out what’s going awry.
This was the case five years ago for Mitch Russell, a large herd dairy farmer in Canterbury who became concerned at the herds’ high bulk milk somatic cell count (BMSCC) and increases in clinical and sub-clinical mastitis. Despite their efforts, mastitis was showing no sign of improvement. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse.
“We were losing the battle, alright,” says Mitch. “We just couldn’t get on top of it and cell count was up around 280,000 cells/ml. There was a good deal of Staph infection in the cows, and because the four herds’ milk through the one shed, I realised we needed to do something.”
Mitch’s long association with VetEnt Riverside proved to be critical in getting the situation under control. They recommended Mitch engage the help of PureMilk Mastitis Consultancy to take an objective look at what was happening. South Island PureMilk consultant Ian Hodge visited the farm to assess what the significant issues were. Every farm is different, in terms of the complex interactions and balance between bacteria, environment, cow health, milking machine, staff and, of course, the farmer. There are many factors that can influence the level of mastitis, but typically around 60% of the problem can be attributed to the milking process itself.
“These guys have been doing this for a long time and really know their stuff,” said Russell. “First up, Ian introduced a programme to reduce the Staph infections out there. His recommendation that we milk infected cows last so as not to contaminate the herd worked well, and then we got into teat sealing and antibiotics which really nailed that problem. We joked that the teat sealant was a bit like No-More-Gaps, but it has made a serious difference for us in reducing bacterial infection over the dry season. It means that if we send cows out to graze, the teat sealant minimises the chance of picking up infection and disease from a crop. This, in turn, cuts down the amount of time we have to check cows in the shed and deal with any animals suffering from mastitis, all of which counts. Healthier animals mean healthier profits – end of story.”
Good Management Principles
One common myth about mastitis is that at a bulk milk SCC of 200,000 cells/ml or less, there is no cost to the farmer, but the reality is that more somatic cells mean fewer milk-producing cells, so it is crucial to reduce the count in as many ways as possible. Ian came in and transformed the way the shed ran. He checked vacuum and pulsation, watched the cows during milking, and made sure the ACRs (Automatic Cup Removers) were operating properly. He recommended changing the milking liners, checked the teat-spraying processes and generally looked for anything that could contribute to the poor teat condition, then worked back to find the cause. “At the end of the day,” says Russell, “there is always a reason for poor teat health and it all comes down to a few good management principles.”
But, according to Mitch, the biggest and most surprising transformation on the farm has been the impact PureMilk’s involvement has had on the staff, which has been really positive. Central to the consultancy’s modus operandi is ensuring there is buy-in and commitment early on in the piece from those who actually work on the farm. Staff training during the assessment which included teaching the staff how to increase hygiene around the animals has paid dividends.
“Ian has turned the place around in terms of staff morale,” he said. “Not only has he taught them a whole lot of wee technical tricks that have made a difference to their daily duties, such as cup placement, length of milking tubes and so on, but we are starting to get industry recognition and awards for our clean milk and reduced cell count. The reduction in SCC levels has also been a clincher: it all helps to keep us working on doing the best job we can.
“We get PureMilk back on an annual basis as a general rule, so new skills and ideas come up each time. Ian typically spends a day on site and then comes back very promptly with a full written report along with recommendations. Then, all we have to do is to put them into practice; it’s that simple. If there’s any equipment that needs expert attention, Ian can organise the guys to come in and fix it.
“But the great thing is that we can call Ian at any time if we don’t think things are going as they should. Because he’s seen so many farms (PureMilk conducts 250-300 milking assessments per year) and he’s objective, he can look at our situation with fresh eyes and quickly nut out where the troublespots are, point them out while we are on the job and we can fix them there and then. It’s an awesome service!”
So, what about the figures? How do they reflect the success of Mitch Russell’s involvement with PureMilk? After all, there has to be a cost associated with taking on a consultancy arm and that cost will have to come from the bottom line.
“This is true, and don’t think I didn’t have my concerns about throwing money at it when I was losing ground and I couldn’t see an end in sight. But VetEnt Riverside assured me that we couldn’t lose by making the call, that there would always be a benefit from better mastitis control, and so we sucked it in.
Cost of PureMilk Programme over 5 years is $6325.
Total net return on investment over 5 years is 6954% or 1300% per season.
The results certainly speak volumes in favour of his investment. In December 2012, the Russell farms were 18,000 litres ahead of last season, with less antibiotic milk going to the calves, thanks to better overall animal health. Coupled with this, SCC has dropped from its peak of 280,000 c/ml to a cruisy 140-150,000 c/ml which, Russell says is not bad for an 1850-strong herd.
Certainly, PureMilk usually reduce SCC by an average of 20-30%. A 30% reduction in a herd of say, 700 cows, equates to an increase in income of $42,700 alone.
“We’re looking for improvements all the time, and Ian has suggested a few other things we can do at dry-off. We also take the decision to cull re-offenders, which reduces revenue lost in unnecessary treatment time and feed costs for non-producing stock.
Many farmers will be concerned that a consultancy assessment, such as this one from PureMilk will result in having to invest in more equipment which they can ill afford, but this hasn’t been Mitch Russell’s experience. His only purchase has been the replacement of his milking liners which, in the scheme of things, is minimal.
“Getting these guys in is a no-brainer,” he said. “Our figures are fairly typical for a large herd and the actual cost of the annual assessment is very small compared with our significant increase in profitability. Over the next few years, we intend to reduce mastitis still further and then low cell count bonuses will kick in.”
If you’re looking for Ashburton vets or maybe vets in Te Awamutu, there are VetEnt branches in these towns. The North Island’s east coast team of VetEnt animal health experts are some of the Gisborne vets that the people in region trust for the health and care of their animals. Be sure to visit the VetEnt website on www.vetent.co.nz for more information.
“I’m a busy person, so I find it hard to find time to work in exercise around work (I run a business), family (two bumptious boys), and occasional socialising. I travel once a fortnight, and find it hard to do anything in regular hours. Plus if I’m honest, I’m not into the sweaty go-hard environment of a gym (too much perspiration is not my style – plus I am not good at getting up in the mornings!) I figured that exercises at home in the evenings would be the best way to get fit. Searching online, I came across Ezyfit, who are a group of personal trainers and gym owners online. They’ve tailored a program of exercises that take into consideration what equipment I have (e.g. swiss ball and running shoes), what body parts I want to work on (soft tummy), and what things I like (built in a tennis lesson – yay). I find the convenience of this really works – though I have to admit that around Christmas, my self-discipline has seriously waned. But roll on first week of work, and I’m back into it. Worth a try! If your self-discipline went out the window at Xmas and you’re not feeling as fit and fantastic as you’d like, then home workouts are probably on your New Year’s resolution list like mine.” Lisa P, Wogga Wogga, NSW, Australia
“The downside of having children is post pregnancy belly fat. It’s stubborn, hard to shift and who has time anyway with kids ever demanding a watchful eye! Well there is a way. Ezyfit is a site that has helped me find a solution to lose that post-pregnancy belly I was carrying around. You can even get a personalised program that works around your exercise preferences! Best of all, I could do all the exercises at home.” Kobayashi S, Tokyo, Japan
“I’ve always wondered what’s the secret to weight loss after pregnancy? It’s depressing that the body tries to hold onto body fat after babies. Why can’t we look like those Woman’s Weekly actresses with no bulge (seriously, surely those shots are photoshopped????) And with the exhaustion of a new baby (as well as another wandering toddler to be mindful of), it seems too hard to commit to weight loss after pregnancy. However, I’ve just chanced across the Ezyfit program and cannot rave about enough! I’ve seen some excellent results over the past few weeks, not to mention a boost of energy as well. I highly recommend it to all mums of all ages.” Sarah T, Christchurch, New Zealand
Sam Fleetwood had the following to say about web design Christchurch company called Alexanders. The company helped Sam set up his Google AdWords campaign and ensured that his site not only had the right content and optimisation, but was designed in such a way that it boosted Sam’s conversion rate and expression of interest calls from potential customers:
“Our paid advertising on Google has been working really well. Thank you for sorting that out for us. Can we please put it on hold for now, as we are pretty much booked up until early next year. We’ll be in touch when we need to reinstate it
“It was amazing how those search words worked. The calls kept coming through!”
It seems that many companies in Christchurch are finding online success and breakthroughs in their marketing campaigns after working with the team at Alexanders. Based in the leafy suburb of Fendalton, this internet marketing agency has been in operation for over 10 years and currently has a clientele list comprising of Christchurch’s top and fastest-growing companies.