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Consulting and farming combine profitably

Lynda and Mike Randrup.

Consulting and farming combine profitably

2003/04 Season

Owners: Mike and Lynda Randrup
Farm location: Tirau
Farm size: 230 hectares
Herd size: 480 cows

Setting the goal to be out of the dairy by the time he was 40, Mike Randrup never thought he would be advising other farmers on how to achieve similar aims. Now, with wife Lynda he enjoys a Bay of Plenty lifestyle while retaining farm ownership and running a small farm consultancy business.

Setting goals has always been important for Mike and Lynda. Their focus on achieving outcomes aided them winning the Fonterra Westpac Hauraki / Piako Farmer of the Year competition two seasons ago.

Mike keeps the consulting business small, with around 16 clients. Interest in what Mike had to offer stemmed from his success with maize silage. Its use resulted in significant improvements to his home farm's profitability on difficult country near Tirau. The steep 225 effective hectare property has 70 hectares in pines, 25 hectares in beef and milkers on the remaining 130 effective hectares. Running 480 big Friesians, the farm averages in excess of 400 kilograms of milksolids per cow, or 1,540 kilograms per hectare in an area where production averages 890 kilograms per hectare.

Mike regards Intelact nutrition and farmers like Jim Van der Poel as pioneers in maize use. A large part of his consulting ability is also based on his own "on-farm" experience, and learning from his own mistakes.

In advising clients on maize use, Mike takes a holistic business approach. The first input he looks at is nitrogen application. He applies 250 kilograms of Nitrogen to his own farm annually. He also undersows with annual ryegrasses.

The profitability on the Randrup farm is excellent, averaging an EFS of up to $3,000 per hectare. Mike says, "successful maize silage users must first use all the grass they grow."

To capture the good winter growth, calving is split 60% spring, 40% autumn. The autumn split earns a premium of 80 cents a kilogram of milksolids at present.

Critics will often point out maize systems require high machinery inputs but the Randrups have made no such investment. Their maize silage is fed out using four tractors with a total value of $50,000 as well as a feed out wagon valued at $15,000.

"One of the final drivers is how many milksolids per labour unit you are achieving. At times New Zealand silage systems are more work, but if it's returning more, then you have to consider it. New Zealand dairy farmers are sitting on highly capital intensive enterprises, valued on average at $2.5 million. Maize provides a means to push up net returns for their businesses."