Fraser McGougan and his wife Katherine live on their 147 ha Willowvale farm in Taneatua which has been in Fraser’s family since 1898. Five years ago, they purchased the land from his parents and are currently milking 430 crossbreed cows with a total production of 160,000 kg of milksolids per annum.
Joe and Jenima Foster were living in the city when they made the decision that they wanted to start a family and have a rural lifestyle for their children.
Summer holidays on a farm near Warkworth in the 1970’s sparked an interest which has led to a 34 year farming career for Hawke’s Bay farmer Kevin Davidson.
The purchase of a 65 ha farm at Tomarata, east of Wellsford was the realisation of a lifetime dream for Northland farmers Carl and Glennis Flintoff. Now the couple are focused on profitably increasing per cow production.
Kevin and Michele Alexander milk 340 Friesian cows on 148 hectares (eff) at Hukerenui in Northland. All cows are wintered on farm with calves and yearlings off-farm. Production in the 2010-11 season was 163,000 kgMS.
Maize silage is the supplement of choice for Bay of Plenty farmers Matt and Laura Gow. The Gows and daughters Kate (5) and Abby (4) milk 970 cows on 280 ha (eff.) near Edgecumbe. Last year, the farm produced 363,300 kgMS (1,298 kgMS/ha and 374 kgMS/cow) which was a great result given the very dry year.
Trying to reduce the impact of the weather on milk production is a key challenge for Northland farmers Brett and Tracey Mackay. The Mackays, along with twins Sean and Chloe (7), milk a split calving herd of 170 Friesian and Friesian-cross cows on 65 ha (eff.) at Matauri Bay.
Since leaving school Dean Petersen has climbed the ladder from farm worker to sharemilker and eventually farm owner. Today, Dean, wife Sharyn and their children Troy (14), Alana (13), Kayla (10) and Nicole (3) are farming 1,250 cows on three properties near Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty.
The challenge of eradicating kikuyu and bringing a new block into dairying led Northland farmers Keith and Jenny Trotter to grow maize silage for the first time in spring 2006.
The desire to achieve more consistent production led Bay of Plenty farmers Graham and Julie Thompson to feed maize silage. "The seasons are so variable. Each year presents a different challenge and it is hard going when you are reliant on the weather to feed your cows," says Graham. "We have built a system that allows us to control our feed supply and we can decide at the start of the year what production level we want to achieve."
Terence and Suzanne Brocx farm a 440 cow split calving Friesian herd on 162 hectares (eff.) near Kerikeri. Last season they produced a total of 1,000 kgMS/ha and this year they are on target for 1,150 kgMS/ha (423 kgMS/cow).
Feeding maize silage from June till the end of January helps maintain the body condition on Kevin and Christine Tucker?s stud Jersey herd. The Tuckers along with their daughter Katherine farm Kaycee Jersey Stud on 266 hectares at Tapora, a summer dry area located 35 kilometres west of Wellsford.
Dairy farming at Tapora on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour has delivered its share of challenges for Northland farmer Scott Freeman. Scott is Operations Manager of "Pine Hill" and "Harbour Edge" farms owned by Glen and Joanne Inger. The farms are located at Tapora, 30 kilometres west of Wellsford.
A passion to farm family land despite its difficult environment and the need to maintain a sustainable farm business provides plenty of challenge to Northland farmers Ben and Sharon Smith. Along with their two pre-schoolers Caleb and Matthew, Ben and Sharon live and farm on the difficult flood prone country that makes up the Hikurangi Swamp, north of Whangarei.
Buying his Mercer dairy unit from the family three seasons ago Ashley Thomas knew production had to jump to be viable for him and a sharemilker. "I had enough on my plate with our beef unit up the road, and we were growing maize so it was the best feed option."
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