The board has this season decided to install a grain feeder and use palm kernel, at a rate of 180kg/cow, after a system review revealed annual periods of feed shortages.
This decision was controversial, causing debate amongst farmers at a recent farm focus day. But chairman Abe de Wolde stresses it's not a suggestion grass fed systems are inefficient, or that the current pasture management is not up to scratch, but rather that pasture production fluctuations make management difficult.
"A grass fed system could work at a lower stocking rate, but at the production levels we are aspiring to we need to do this. It's a tool in our arsenal to keep our operations efficient."
While last year's snow storms created a feed shortage, the decision to introduce supplements is based around information dating back to the farm's first season in 2007-08.
Research shows across every season there were periods when the cows were not being fed enough to reach production totals. Others factors taken into consideration are the need to protect the cows body condition score, to balance supply and demand and to improve profitability and sustainability.
He suggests farming is a journey and this is a new direction other farmers will watch with interest.
"As a demonstration farm we feel we have to scope the horizon for the whole of the Southland dairy industry; we're supposed to be leaders.
"We don't feel we present the [good news]. We're on a journey with the industry and hopefully we'll be able to learn together."
The emphasis is now on fine tuning stock management, which includes good calf rearing, better transitioning of cows through calving and early lactation and maintaining cow condition.
"It's a holistic thing and I think it's the way to go into the future; we're quite excited about it.
"Stock management is something neglected by the New Zealand dairy industry. We can grow large amounts of quality grass, but we need to be efficient.
"There has been a tendency in the industry to use cows as pasture harvesters; that needs to change if the sector is to become more efficient."
Palm kernel will be fed because of difficulties in securing grain for the coming season and because of price.
De Wolde warns care will be needed to ensure wastefulness or inefficiencies don't occur within the system. "This shift doesn't take anything away from proper pasture management."
The aim is to use supplements at a rate which ensures the residuals remain between 1450 and 1600 kgDM.
Farm supervisor Sharn Roskam says the change has been rigorously researched by the board.
"It's about being sustainable within the business, around our animals,staff and the environment."
And she says it's about ensuring supply and demand.
"It'll be nice to have a buffer in our system for adverse events."