Our first farm visit was Stephen and Annalize du Plessis’ who came to NZ from South Africa in 2001 and they have slowly climbed the ladder by being a worker, then share milker and now being on a 50/50 share. They milk about 660 Friesian-cross cows which they have bought gradually off the farm owner.
Their milking platform is 238 HA of sandy loam over river rock soil which thrives in the wet but can get dry in summer. The dairy is a 54 stand rotaflo which sits and runs on water, which was very fascinating to see. Stephen and Annalize are very passionate about farming and striving to do bigger and better.
The big wow factor was Stephen’s farm was the 700 cow wintering barn which houses all their cows though the wet period and has an efficient effluent management system. The barn was only three years old and is about 600 meters long with a lane in the middle. The beds are on each side of the barn and the cows sleep on individual water beds/mats, a luxury unsuitable for Australian dairy cows!
All the effluent from the barn and dairy goes into a pond which is regularly stirred. This then goes through a separator with all the solids going to one side and the liquids going to the ponds. The liquids and solids then get spread out on the pasture when it is needed, reducing fertilizer inputs.
Our second farm visit was Richard and Mandy Jones who are on a 50/50 share on a farm just out of Dipton.
Richard and Mandy came over from England to NZ in 1997 with only the clothes on their backs and their young son. They now own over 900 cows, all their machinery and own a 94 HA out block where they raise all their calves and heifers. The farm they are milking on is owned by the NZ Rural Property Trust. The property sits on a nice sandy loam over river rock soil which makes it a great farm throughout the wet months. This is because they can keep the cows on the farm for wintering, saving them money on not having to take the cows off the farm. However, the property can get quite dry if there is a lot of wind and heat.
Richard and Mandy are not actively using Breeding Worth and Production Worth for their cattle, they prefer to breed for production and longevity which is a system that seems to work very well for them. Richard and Mandy are very passionate about dairying and love farming but they are looking forward to slowing down. It was great to see the Jones’ reflecting on how far they have come and to see how much they have achieved.
After lunch we headed off to Queenstown to see the Running of the Wools at around about 4:30 pm which involved 50 horned Rams and 350 ewes run though the centre of the city which was good fun.
There was more than 10,000 people in Queenstown for the Rural Games, which we will be attending in the morning.