Dairy Farm 4 , Pāmu Miraka Kau 4

Located near Massey's Manawatū campus in Palmerston North, Dairy 4 is a working farm that aims to provide large-scale dairying solutions through university research projects.

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Diary 4 at Massey

Dairy 4 is one of Massey's working farms and the larger of the two dairy blocks, near the Manawatū campus in Palmerston North.


  • To provide the university with a base for on farm teaching and research.
  • To be managed as a profitable, large-scale, commercial seasonal supply dairy farm.
  • To study the problems inherent to large-scale dairying and to provide a teaching resource for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
  • To provide a link between Massey and agribusiness.

Farm features

About the farm

Dairy 4 is the larger of the two dairy farms owned and run by Massey. In early 2012, half of the Dairy Cattle Research Unit (DCRU) grazing platform joined Dairy 4, and the remainder of the DCRU land (then organic) was dissolved into the Dairy 4 grazing area in early 2013. This has increased Dairy 4’s effective grazing area to 221 hectares.

Location and map

Dairy 4 is located adjacent to the Massey University campus on Tennent Drive (SH57) – approximately 5km from Palmerston North City.

The farm is subdivided into approximately 80 x 1.5-3.5 hectare paddocks all with race access.


250 hectares.

Effective Area: 221 hectares.


80 metres above sea level.


980mm (average annual rainfall).


An average of 7°C in July and 18.1°C in January (monthly 10cm soil temperature).


  • Predominately Tokomaru Silt Loam with some Ohakea Silt Loam soils on the lower terraces.
  • Poor natural drainage and with a tendency to dry out in summer.
  • Moderate natural fertility.
  • All artificially drained.


Tile and mole. Approximately 90% of the farm. Soils are prone to being excessively wet in winter, and dry in summer.

Water supply

Massey University water supply, reticulated to all paddocks.


Six permanent staff and casual staff as required.

Genetics and breeding

  • Breed: Friesian x Jersey herd
  • Recorded ancestry: 99%
  • Breeding worth: 107/58
  • Production worth: 110/66


  • Milking facility: Waikato Milking 60-bale Centrus platform, ECR Plus, LIC Automation Yield Sense, in-bale teatspray, five way drafting, Nedap cow collars.
  • Research: Waikato Milking 28-bale Centrus platform, ECR Plus automation, LIC Automation Yield Sense, in-bale teatspray, three way drafting.
  • Feed pad: 600 cow capacity. 400 cow commercial and 200 cow research.
  • Freestall barn: 200 cow capacity with individual freestalls, plus two open calving areas.
  • Calf units: Two calf units, 120 calf capacity research rearing shed located next to the dairy shed. 80 calf capacity unit on Old West road for all outgoing animals and overflow for main shed.


Pastures are predominantly perennial ryegrass / white clover species. Historically, Dairy 4 has grown on average, 11.4t DM/ha/year.

Grazing policies

Pasture-based production system with supplements imported (as noted in Crops and supplements) aiming to achieve high levels of feed conversion efficiency through excellent grazing management.

The following stock are grazed off the farm.

  • Heifer calves from weaning yearling heifers.
  • Jersey breeding bulls from 12 months of age.
  • Mixed age dry cows. 150 for 60-70 days.

Regrassing policy

Pastures are renewed on a 10-year rotation. A mixture of Perennial and short-term grasses are used, approximately 20-25 hectares. Any known crop paddocks for the following season are sown with annual the autumn before.


Fertiliser programmes vary every year. Fertiliser applications are based on biennial soil tests, plant demand and climate data.

Soil tests are done biannually and show the following results:

Year pH Olsen P SO4 K Mg
2000 5.7 65.5 8.8 5.0 32.0
2002 5.8 45.6 8.2 6.0 29.0
2004 5.7 39.6 9.3 6.0 28.0
2010 5.8 39.4 14.5 5.0 28.0
2012 5.8 43.0 22.0 6.0 27.0
2016 5.9 37.0 17.0 8.0 36.0
2018 6.1 26.0 15.2 7.0 34.0
2020 6.1 28.0 13.0 10.0 38.0

Crops and supplements

Chicory is used as summer crop. Maize silage, grass silage, bypass products and concentrates are used throughout the season.

5–10ha of Maize silage is grown on farm the remainder is sourced externally, along with grass silage. Approximately 500 bales of baleage harvested across the season. Concentrates can be fed in shed. Minerals are provided on a daily basis through the mixer wagon.

Stocking rate and production

This table shows stocking rate and product 2016-2021
2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021
Total milk solids supplied (kg) 244,980 225,326 263,500 269,024 276,049
Cows milked (peak) 597 578 565 575 572
Stocking rate (cows/ha) 2.6 2.5 2.6 2.6 2.6
Milk production (kg MS/cow) 410 390 466 468 483
Milk production (kg MS/ha) 1,056 971 1,176 1,217 1,249


Mating takes place mid-October for nine weeks. Artificial breeding only.

This table shows mating information 2016-2021
2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021
Repro 6 week 81% 75% 78% 75% 74%
Repro empty 10% 13% 12.5% 13% 15%
Mating AB (weeks) 9 9 9 10 9.5
Mating natural (weeks) 0 0 0 0 0
Total weeks mating 9.0 9.0 9.0 10.0 9.5

Our people

Dairy 4 is managed by Joshua Mitchell.

Joshua Mitchell

Farm Manager – Dairy 4
School of Agriculture and Environment


Massey University purchased the property of W.J. Brogden (111.3 ha) in April 1973, and the property of L.L. Lovelock (50.6 ha) in July 1973. These two properties were amalgamated and developed by the university for a large seasonal supply dairy farm. In May 1988, the adjoining property of G.W. Perry (58.24 ha) was purchased.

Read more about the history of Massey

Visit a farm or request research and teaching services

Contact Massey Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises (MAHE) with questions or to visit a farm. You can also request teaching or research.

More information

You can also email us at: agstation@massey.ac.nz.