Day 3 – Getting into the detail on-farm

After an earlish start we hit the road heading for Dorie to visit Tom Henegen. We could spend all day talking to him about his irrigation, changing from flood to pivot. He spoke about sharefarming and his breeding programme.

He took us on a decent drive around the farm and watched him move stock. He recently fixed up his laneways using crushed lime rocks as most stock will walk up to 4kms a day. His cows are at 440kg livewight so he rarely feeds supplements as they get everything out of the paddocks but will feed fodder beet throughout the seasons.

Tom Heneghan discussed the challenges of utilising immigrant labour with the gang

Tom seems to have the same staffing issues that we do back home with finding and keeping staff with local people not wanting to be in the dairy industry and immigration regulations getting stricter. Tom made an interesting comment about the bigger the farm grows the less the owners/ managers deal with cows and more with people.

What I liked the most was his talk on calves and mating. They only had 5-10 assisted births out of 1500 cows and they put the calves straight onto feeder with a 5-6 lires once a day feedings. All the maiden heifers get AI’d at 15-16 months old and have a good in calf rate.

Tom explained the irrigation layout of his farm to Tom and Tom

Next stop we headed to Darfield to meet up with another farmer Daniel Schatt on Emerald Acres which he purchased last june after sharefarming with his parents. Daniel’s on a 40bale swingover milking 380 mixed breed cows. He’s an A2 supplier for Synlait and has to follow strict guidelines and practices.

Daniel DNA tests all his calves while disbudding to get the A2 future producers, he’ll keep roughly 25% of the heifer calves and 10-12 Jersey bull calves. They receive their EID and A2 tags while getting disbudded except bobbies which get a direct to slaughter tag.

Daniel is a good person to hear/learn from to come so recently owning his own farm. Its a small farm with only 2 full-timers and a relief milker much like most of our farms. He is a member of a couple of organisations the Federated Farmers of New Zealand and South island agricultural field days which are like our VFF and Farm World.

Daniel Schatt discussed the challenges of adapting his herd to the herringbone he had recently moved into

New Zealand has no government support for dairy farmers other then some tax breaks. Tom does deal with issues from the General public, he described it as a urban/rural conflict.

To finish off the day we went on a jet boat ride of the beautiful Rakaia Gorge.

We got a surprise at dinner by meeting Daniel Shields from Barry’s Bay Traditional Cheese who manufactures hard cheeses alongside his distribution company. He decided to expand his distribution company to the north island and after a client put their cheese factory on the market he jumped at the chance and working with a wonderful team continues the great Barry’s Bay name and distributes it to the supermarkets.

Daniel Shields gave the group an honest appraisal of the industry from an outside perspective

Another full day down, it was time to hit the hay ready for another one tomorrow.

– Leica Manners

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