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Burmeister boys love the farming life

Burmeister boys love the farming life
Deb and Ben Burmeister with children Josh (6), baby Charlie and Ryan (9).

At 5.00am the alarm goes off and Ryan Burmeister is on his feet, feeling in the dark for his clothes and Red Bands before heading from the warmth of the house to the shed where 285 jersey cows are waiting to be milked.

While Ryan’s passion leans to the cows, his brother Josh prefers all things mechanical and the maintenance side of farming. A third brother, Charlie, hasn’t really formed a preference just yet, and at barely six weeks old that is perhaps not surprising.

Ryan is aged nine while younger brother Josh is six and the boys are already forming a love of farming and a passion for the Taranaki land that has been in the Burmeister family since it was purchased by their great-great grandfather in 1951.

Ryan’s dad, Ben Burmeister, says Ryan would be in the shed every morning if he had his way but limits have to be imposed. “It’s never forced on them but they love it.”

Five years ago Deb and Ben returned to the fourgeneration Burmeister farm owned by his parents, to farm on a 50/50 sharemilking basis. At the same time, in partnership with Ben’s parents, the couple bought a 60ha run-off just down the road where they hold an annual pedigree jersey yearling bull sale and graze young stock.

This season Ben and Deb are looking at how they can buy the farm, setting a target date of June 1st to achieve that goal. Ben and Deb both have strong dairy farming backgrounds with Ben spending time working in the United Kingdom, gaining a better appreciation for how cost effectively good grass can be grown in New Zealand.

Deb grew up with pedigree jerseys and by the age of eight knew every cow in the herd. When her parents sold the dairy farm her thoughts of farming went with it and she pursued a career in accounting.

“I was never going to marry a dairy farmer either – but look what happened.” Located in the settlement of Warea, the Burmeister’s 115-hectare farm is just 30 minutes south of New Plymouth and one road over from Stent Road, internationally famous as a top spot for surfing.

Typically 300 predominantly pedigree jersey cows are milked off a platform of 106 hectares where a production of 115,000kgMS is targeted.

Like so many farmers in the area last year, the weather was not kind to Ben and Deb, significantly impacting on production. This season the couple reduced the herd to 285 to give everything time to recover.

Three quarters of the herd are pedigree jerseys from the Burmeister’s Lockhart Jersey Stud that originated from Ben’s great grandfather.

“My great grandfather died when he was 98 and he used to ring dad up every second night and get calving reports and do cull lists, so I suppose Jersey was ingrained very early on.”

Contract mating for LIC and CRV, Ben says about a third of the farm’s income is derived from stock sales.

“We do a lot of embryo work too,” adds Deb. “Taking embryos out of really good cows and putting them into others. That’s the part that gets us out of bed in the morning. That’s our passion really.” The scene seems set for Ryan, Josh and Charlie to grow up with the same passion as their parents have.

This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…

  • Sea Breeze Contracting Ltd
  • BDO Global
  • Coastal Wrapping
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