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Sisters join forces to fence waterways

Land & Water

Southland sisters Ivy, Rose and Phyllis Thompson prove age is no barrier when it comes to doing their bit for the environment.

This month the Thompson sisters were joined by members of the Sustainable Dairying and Supply Fonterra teams on their farm in Pukemaori, at the bottom of the South Island, to complete approximately 1.5km of fencing around river, wetland and pond areas on their dairy farm.

The Thompson sisters said they saw both practical and environmental benefits.

"We didn’t want stock down on the river or drinking water from the wetlands. It can be dangerous for our cows if they go down there. We also know that letting them in the waterways is not good for our rivers and streams," said Rose. 

Fencing supplies were provided by RD1, who is supporting the fencing of waterways as Fonterra works to meet the Clean Streams Accord targets, by providing thousands of insulators, strainers, wire and posts at wholesale prices.

Over 95 percent of Fonterra suppliers have now fenced farm waterways, and the completion of the Thompsons’ farm is another step towards achieving 100 percent.

Fonterra Director Milk Supply Lisa Payne said every kilometre really does count when it comes to making a difference to New Zealand’s waterways.

The Thompson sisters have been on their 7.5ha property for 69 years and currently milk 15 cows, all of which have individual names and cow covers. While it is just the three of them on the farm, the sisters are still very involved in the day-to-day farm duties and have established an effective system.  Ivy and Phyllis milk the cows each morning and evening, which takes them about two hours, while Rose looks after the house and cleans the cow shed.

Rose explained that the sisters also receive help from their local community, which helps them to continue to farm.

"We have a great community and anyone you ask will help if they can."

The sisters said they have always been passionate about dairy farming. Ivy has had a love for Jersey cows since she was little which lead to the establishment of the farm. Now, even after 69 years, they say they love that farming still keeps them busy, fit and active.

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