Dairy at Work

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These videos feature farmers talking passionately about their properties and farming practices.

Each story gives an inspiring insight into what can be achieved on farms throughout New Zealand. While all the featured farmers are at different stages of their journey, they all share the same goal of farming both sustainably and profitably. Their enthusiasm is contagious.  

Northland - Roger and Jane Hutchings, Lodore Farms

Very sustainable dairy farming with a business that is productive and profitable while having minimal impact on the environment has won the Supreme Award for Roger and Jane Hutchings in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Northland in 2014. 

Northland - Shayne O'Shea and Charmaine O'Shea, SOS.Co Ltd

Exemplary dairy farm management and care for the environment in a location very visible to members of the public have won the Supreme Award for brother and sister Shayne and Charmaine O’Shea in the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Northland

Shayne told the judges “every day is show day” as the busy Kokopu Road bisects the dairy farm, which is some 12km to the north-west of Whangarei. He is very concerned how good the farm looks and very mindful of the visual impact of dairying to non-farmers, and how that can affect the whole dairy industry. That attitude is a big driver of farm policies, the judges said.

Bay of Plenty - Dennis, Judith and Gordon McFetridge, McFetridge Farms Ltd

When millions of tonnes of `sludge’ from the collapsing Ruahihi power scheme canal flooded through their land Dennis and Judith McFetridge wondered if they’d ever farm dairy cows there again

Today the farm bears little resemblance to that awful September 20 day in 1981. Now it is well fenced and grazing 180 two and three years old cows. Riparian areas on either side of Ivy Stream and steep sidlings have been planted in natives and are attracting bird life.

Waikato - Grant Wills and Karen Preston, Preston Wills Ltd

Grant and Karen fittingly bestowed the name ‘Tremeer’ - which translates in Cornish to “happy farm” - on the Wills’ 244ha Walton dairy property when they first ventured into dairying, and land ownership.

The name, chosen in memory of a stint the couple had working at a rural castle in Cornwall while travelling, has proved prophetic, and apt. The award judges noted it was clear that all decision making for this 650 cow business “focuses on profitability while caring for the people, the cows and the environment”.

Taranaki - Gavin and Oliver Faull with Tony and Loie Penwarden, Faulls Farms Ltd/ Trewithen Partnership

This 1150-cow year round milking operation,on 371ha at Tikorangi just inland from Waitara,was described by the award judges as “a strongexample of dairying and what can be achieved”.

Currently the farm comprises of a 282ha milking platform and four nearby run-offs totalling 89ha. Contour is flat, with some easy sidlings. Production last year was 487,909 kgMS and they are on target for 540,000 kgMS this season.

Canterbury - Mark and Devon Slee, Melrose Dairy Ltd

Mark’s parents Syd and Morrell converted the original 365ha family sheep farm south of Ashburton in 1987. Mark and Devon began managing this in 1991 and have since grown the business to 2640 cows, buying the family farm, two neighbouring properties and a run-off in the process.

Operating efficiently and managing resources carefully are clearly major drivers for the Slees who stress they are “learning all the time” but “like to think we are doing the best we can”. They believe the growth of their operation allows this. “Once we had some scale we were able to step back and really focus on improving in many areas,” says Mark.

Southland - Andrew and Heather Tripp, Nithdale Station

The Tripps embrace the mantle of stewardship that comes with being in charge of this 17,000 su historic property at Kaiwera, south east of Gore. “We see ourselves very much as stewards here, and that guides every decision we make,” says Andrew, whose grandfather Charlie Tripp bought the property in 1924.

Andrew and Heather oversee a diverse operation including their 275ha (effective) 834 cow dairy unit established in 2008. The couple, who were Supreme winners of the inaugural Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Southland in 2002, also have 42 ha of forestry, a farmstay, and run sheep, beef and their combined Romney and Suffolk sheep stud ‘Nithdale Genetics’.

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