Active use of Cashmanager RURAL helps generate discussion, explore different scenarios and drive decision making for Southland dairy farmers Katrina Thomas and James Dixon.
The couple own their 317 hectare milking platform at Wreys Bush, where they are in their seventh season since converting from sheep farming to dairy. They have a contract milker and this season anticipate milking about 840 cows at peak.
Katrina Thomas and her son Lachlan Dixon, 11, on the farm. Photo: Nicole Sharp
Katrina has been using Cashmanager since they converted in 2011. She is responsible for inputting their budget, managing it and paying the bills, while James does the reconciling and the couple work closely to ensure consistent coding.
“Over time I’ve broken things down into more codes, and sub-codes, which makes it a lot easier.”
Three years ago they moved to online, saving time and eliminating the need to do manual downloads, with the added benefit of easy access for their banker and accountant, as everything is stored in the cloud.
“It’s very transparent with the bank and he can pick up any anomalies Having that sort of system in place is really beneficial.”
As dairy farmers, they are required to complete an annual nutrient report for Fonterra and Katrina has found Cashmanager useful when it comes to doing the report.
“If you fill in the quantities (in Cashmanager) as you pay the fert and feed bills it makes the process very easy. I can have both open and bring up fertiliser, see the quantities and how much we’ve put on, and all our feed. I refer back to Cashmanager and cross-check the amounts, much easier than having to look back through a pile of paperwork.”
She regularly updates their budget throughout the season, depending on what’s happening on farm.
“I try to do as much as I can now (June), for example, we’re looking at the breeding aspect and loading that in. So we discuss how much to spend with LIC on AI, herd testing, scanning etc. We get all the figures now and decide things like how many herd tests we will do, how many straws we will need, then generate the codes and lock it in.
“It forces us to have conversations now about our future plans – will we do some natural mating and what will we use? It generates discussion and makes us think ahead to next year.”
Another example is animal health, Katrina is about to have a discussion with their vet about whether they will Rotavec again. If yes, it needs to go in the budget.
As well as helping drive decision making, they use Cashmanager to test out different scenarios and play around with the dairy forecaster. “There is a big difference in costs and interest, depending on what volume of milk solids we target, so we try different scenarios and that generates discussion as well.”
Following on from that, they find the Performance Summary (EFS) report to be useful, particularly for their contract milker, because it has the necessary detail and breaks things down into units of $/milk solid. When they test out different scenarios and amounts of milk solids, they can immediately see the effect it has on the bottom line with the EFS report.