The day kicked off with 7 o’clock breakfast at the quirky zoo keepers cafe in Invercargill. A quick chat about the day ahead over brekky, there was no time for lion around, and we were on the frog and toad.
Our first of three farm visits for the day was to another corporate based farm. However, this time around it was quite different to the previous ones, as the farm was midway through its conversion to organic farming.
Gie explains the processes set out by their vet consultants
We were greeted by the charismatic farm manager Gie, and the lovely company policy planning officer Jess, as they ran us through the day to day running of the operation and their various procedures they had in place to treat cows. We had some interesting discussions on the challenges they’re facing as they adapt their system to meet organic certification, most notably around animal health treatment and management. It was great to have an insight into a very different system and I’ll be intrigued to see how they progress as they approach their final certification.
We moooved onto our second farm for the day about mid morning, but not without a cheeky little detour to a roadside raw milk vending machine. Quite a novelty for us as it’s illegal to sell raw milk in Australia. Quick sip and we were off to the southern dairy hub.
We head into a brand new operation which can only be described as Mickey Mouse. A state of the art facility which is certainly well set up and should hopefully see some udderly terrific research and data come out of it in years to come. Willis was our man for the guided tour as he showed us all the bells and whistles, which included some pretty nifty milk metering gear and multiple drafting gates. We ventured down the manicured laneways to have a quick captain cook at some naughtiest pastures you’ll see and some sweet as fodderbeets.
Elsi does her own feed test on the local fodderbeet
I think it’s fair to say we were all throughly impressed with the setup of the ‘hub’ and if their cows are any indication to go by, they should be outstanding in their field!!
Alas, it was back to our trusty hurtz rental van, as we ventured on down the road to our final farm visit for the trip, Shenstone farm. We were greeted by 50/50 sharefarmer Richard, who provided us with some excellent insights into how he ran the business with his delightful wife Mandy. He enlightened us with his philosophies on how to ensure dairy farming in his region ran as efficiently as possible, thus returning the best return on investment as possible.
Richard and Mandi discuss the plans for moving away from share milking.
Some of the key tips he offered were to have a positive and open attitude, particularly towards being able to “always question how can I do it better?” In addition to that, he couldn’t emphasis enough the importance of pasture monitoring and management. It was without doubt his number 1 profit driver.
With our final farm visit complete, we all piled into the van for our final long drive, a delightful 2 hour drive to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown.
Upon reaching our accommodation, our ever reliable driver Matt preformed one of the all time great reverse parking jobs, fitting an over sized 12 seat van into a space big enough for a punch buggy. Tip of the hat Matt!
As the day drew to a close, we wandered on down the street to sink our fangs into some sensational Ferg burgers down by the harbour and reflected on the wonderful week that was.
Happy days ✌️
– Craig Emmett