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Awards bolster goal of farm ownership

Awards bolster goal of farm ownership
Adelle and Mark Pacey were multiple award winners in the Dairy NZ Central Plateau region competition. The couple milk 320 cows on 116 hectares on the edge of Lake Rerewhakaaitu.

IIt’s a real family affair on the Pacey’s 116-hectare dairy farm on the edge of Lake Rerewhakaaitu, 30 kilometres east of Rotorua.

Mac and Lynda Pacey moved into the district in 1981, buying a 50ha hectare farm carrying 130 cows.

Track forward 36 years and their son, Mark, and his wife, Adelle, have bought into the now much larger holding with a herd of 320 crossbred cows.

While the farm is situated on very fertile soil, underfoot it was challenging in late autumn this year.

“Mud! We’ve got plenty of it at the moment, so we’re not having that much fun. We’re still milking 150,” says Mark.

A feedpad next to the 24-a-side herringbone dairy shed offers respite when conditions do not suit the herd standing on pasture.

While not ideal, Mark says it works well enough with regular cleaning.

Mark and Adelle had three successes in the New Zealand Dairy Awards Central Plateau regional competition – leadership; farm environment;; recording and productivity.

This was the second year they had entered, and Mark says it has been beneficial.

“We thought we had learnt quite a lot the first time around, and we decided to enter to learn more.”

Their farm straddles rolling country with a couple of steeper sidings. Grass growth was strong last season and calving is due to start on August 1.

“Our calving season is quite compact with 78 per cent calved down in six weeks.” Mark and Adelle employ a young farm hand, who is relatively new to the industry.

The milking shed still uses the Duravax cupping system, technology that has largely been replaced by automatic cup removers.

Come Christmas Day, the young herd drops down to milking once a day while the old herd milks on twice a day for a further three weeks.

“It takes a little bit of getting used to cupping on and off,” says Mark.

“The cups go on and off at half-suction. At peak milk it takes us about three hours to put the herd through.”

Once milking stops, work on the farm picks up – given that during the main season, most of the time is committed to moving stock around and cleaning up the pad.

Three kilometres from the main farm, the 45ha support block is home to the young herd.

Mark says the decision to reduce the stocking rate from 3.7 cows/hectare to just over three has been a good one.

He says he and Adelle are in a good position to attain their goal of farm ownership: “We are pretty lucky that Mum and Dad have farmed really responsibly and taken care of the business so well.

We will become equity partners on this farm.

Mum and Dad have a home at Ohope, but right now I can’t see Dad off the farm for a long time.”

Mark Pacey is very supportive of the local Dairy New Zealand discussion group, saying it provides an opportunity to rub shoulders with a lot of dairy professionals and to visit farms around the district.

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