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Development focus on big-scale farm

Development focus on big-scale farm
Mustering on horseback on Otago sheep and beef farm 4 River Farming, where fencing has been a focus of recent development.

Otago sheep and beef farm business 4 River Farming Company covers four properties totalling 8760 hectares in a broad semi-circle around Dunedin. The largest part of the business comprises 7,300ha of hill country supporting 25,000 stock units of sheep and beef.

The hill country is divided into two blocks, Blucher, 3300ha and Kiatoa, 4200ha. These are supported by two lowland finishing farms, River Farm, 730ha north of Dunedin at Waikouaiti and a 730ha property, Akatora, south of Dunedin at Taieri Mouth.

Farm manager Logan Rowland has worked for the company for eight years, initially employed as a stock manager for five-an-a-half years. Today he runs Kiatoa, which carries 6800 Romdale ewes, 1700 hoggets and 480 angus cows.

Blucher is delegated to a stock manager, and supports 5100 Romdale ewes, 1500 hoggets and 380 Angus cows. Each season about 11,000 store lambs are finished on the lowland farms, depending on the nature of the season.

Reminiscent of North Island hill country farms with numerous gullies carving through the blocks, the farm is attractive to workers who have had experience on land of its type, as well as working with dogs and horses, Logan says.

“It’s probably the reason they are in this line of work; the love of being on the hill and of the dogs.”

“We probably do about 15 to 20 days a year on the horses. Dogs are irreplaceable. Without the dogs you couldn’t move stock.”

“There’s no one paddock where you could drive around on a bike.” Consequently Logan is “pretty big” on promoting dog training among the staff. Since he has been on the farm, stock water, fencing and gorse control have been areas under the spotlight.

“We’ve just put in another 10 paddocks worth of troughs, just so we’ve got water all year round. (The weather) can go from a feast to a famine here overnight so if the creeks dry up we’ve got fresh water.”

The previous lack of stock water meant stock could not be grazed on the early country when they ideally needed to be.

Development focus on big-scale farm

Bulldozer work has improved many of the farm tracks and access at 4 Rivers.

A full-time fencer has been employed for the past two years to catch up on much needed maintenance fencing as well as completing 10 kilometres of new fences, while a contract fencer has completed a further 10 kilometres.

“Before that we couldn’t even hold stock in the holding paddocks. In every paddock the fences were buggered.”

“Once we get all our fences secure at Kiatoa we’ll build some satellite sheep and cattle yards in the middle of the block for ease of management.

It’s about 14 kilometres to the back of Kiatoa so any major job like weaning, shearing and drafting takes a lot of organisation.”

These improvements fit with Logan’s personal goal to have the property at a much more manageable level, along with improving production and infrastructure.

This has included building a four bay workshop, plus two new sheep yards on Blucher which is now well-fenced and well-maintained.

A bulldozer has greatly improved many farm tracks, making travel over the farm much easier on both people and vehicles.

Logan says the farm’s staff can be proud of their contribution to the day to day running of the farm, as well as the significant results achieved in it’s development so far.