Pic: Prime Minister John Key with Tru-Test Group CFO Ian Hadwin and HSBC CEO David Griffiths with the HSBC Best Importer or Exporter with China award.
The Chinese dairy industry is about as different from New Zealand’s as you can get. Consider this:
– Their average feedlot has 6,000 cows (compared to herds in NZ of 350)
– Cows are virtually all feed-lot (compared to NZ’s grass fed)
– Their cow-to-human ratio is 1:100 (compared with our 1:1.5)
New Zealand’s global leader in animal weigh scales, milk metering and electric fence systems, Tru-Test Group, has just won a New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) award for technology that is set to help revolutionise China’s dairy industry.
The HSBC Best Exporter with China award reflects Tru-Test’s success in opening up the market for walk-over weighing and animal weight data management for the country’s 12 million-strong dairy cow industry.
With vastly higher input costs than New Zealand (in addition to their feed-lot structure, they import lucerne hay from the US, for example) China needs a systematic means of measuring and managing cow performance.
Tru-Test Group introduced the first walk-over weigh scales system to China just over a year ago, and now around 2% of cows in China are being weighed and the data captured. That means 98% are not underlining the market’s potential.
Tru Test Group’s Market Manager for Asia, Nick Howarth, says the likely uptake of the Chinese dairy farmers and the intensity of the Chinese dairy industry’s production is likely to provide valuable insights for the New Zealand industry and further opportunities for companies like us who can export unique kiwi technology.
“Given the number of people in China and the size of their industry, their dairy industry will not be a competitor to New Zealand’s Ð instead it’s a lucrative market for New Zealand technology and an opportunity to better understand the implications of a different style of dairying,” Nick says.
Given the intensity of production in China, Nick believes the majority of Chinese dairy operations will be using the technology within five years.
Tru-Test Group is working in close partnership with their Chinese distributor to educate farm managers about the need for better animal monitoring, and the ROI possibilities.
The distributors’ field force is primarily scientists and technicians who are able to work through the animal health, production and feeding considerations with farm managers.
“Although the Chinese and New Zealand markets are like chalk and cheese, the overall benefits for the New Zealand dairy industry are the same as they are in China. It’s all about maximising the productivity of the dairy herd to increase profitability.”
Tru-Test’s walk-over weigh scales capture and store animal weights. The scales feature advanced technology that enables farm managers to weigh the animals without stopping them on the platform – critical for the dairy environment, and especially in China with their large average herd sizes.
Walk over weighing has largely been valuable through monitoring mob weight trends.
However, with the emergence of electronic identification (EID) technology, farm managers can also monitor individual animal performance.
The weights captured by the walk-over weigh scale can help detect potential productivity and animal health issues. It also enables the segregation of high and low performing cows for differential feeding and health supplement programmes, understanding of optimum return on investment from feed inputs and assists in culling decisions.