Dairy farming in New Zealand faces challenges. The industry’s social license to operate is being questioned as environmental and animal welfare standards tighten. Amid these pressures, maintaining profitability is paramount. Composting shelters, known as “composting mootels”, have emerged as tools to address these challenges. Yet, New Zealand-specific knowledge on integrating composting mootels into pastoral farm systems is limited.
This project investigated the experiences of three dairy farms on the South Island’s West Coast that recently adopted composting mootels. By conducting farmer interviews, Overseer modelling, biophysical sampling, financial analyses, and examining the practical learnings of these farmers, the study aimed to enhance understanding of composting mootels. The emphasis lies on the real-world, trial and error learning that these farmers have undertaken.
The case study farms demonstrate there is significant environmental, social, and animal welfare gains to be made by integrating a composting mootel into a dairy farm system. Yet, there is a clear need for additional research on design, usage, and bedding compost management. Aspiring mootel adopters should heed the insights from pioneering New Zealand farmers and conduct thorough due diligence.
Rural Professionals Fund final report, 2023