These matters are among those determining the distribution of dairying in New Zealand. Northern and western districts experience high summer rainfalls and short winters, and their pastures thus have the capacity to produce feed in accordance with the requirements of a dairy herd. These districts also have areas of well drained soils which withstand trampling by cattle. In such areas dairy farmers have been able to outbid sheep farmers for land. Conversely, sheep farming predominates in southern and eastern districts.
The following statistics from the dairying province of Taranaki illustrate the importance of dairying and the system of grassland farming followed:
|Area cultivated||819,386 acres|
|Area in grasses clovers, and lucerne||792,602 acres|
|Area topdressed||529,346 acres|
|Area cut for hay and silage||92,295 acres|
|Area in green, root, and other crops||14,898 acres|
|Area in cereals and peas for thrashing||1,701 acres|
|Dairy cows in milk||255,239|
Separate figures for the different systems of farming are not available, but the statistics show the cultivated area to be nearly all sown to pasture with the greater proportion topdressed. Feed supplementary to pasture is supplied by hay and silage with some fodder crops. There is very little emphasis on cereals and cash cropping.
Reference has been made several times to the necessity of providing feed other than pasture to help supply the stock during periods of pasture shortage. Such provision is but part of a wider problem—that of feed organisation to cater for the overall needs of stock.
Under “seasonal” dairying, an endeavour is made to see that all the cows are dry during the winter when feed is in shortest supply, though there is much variation from farm to farm in dates when cows are dried off and intervals over which they are calved down again. Thus calving may start any time between early July and mid August, and drying off take place from late April to June. A good correlation between pasture growth and stock requirements usually results if calving is started about six weeks before spring growth is expected to be under way. This time varies from district to district.