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Sharemilkers allow off-farm careers to flourish

Sharemilkers allow off-farm careers to flourish
Blair Evans with 50/50 sharemilkers, Kelly and Jono Bavin.

Blair and Rachel Evans have always chosen to employ a sharemilker on their farm. It was a strategic decision as both have successful off farm careers, Blair in fi nance and Rachel as an early childhood teacher.

“I’m a big believer in bringing people into your business that can add value. I also like to give people opportunities to gain skills and grow their own businesses,” says Blair.

Blair grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Southland. He completed a Bachelor of Agriculture at Lincoln University before embarking on a 20 year rural banking career.

In 2001 he and Rachel, who is originally from Timaru, married and purchased a deer block and later sold this to fund their way into a neighbouring block next to his parents’, Lincoln and Annie, farm at Tussock Creek.

When a 300-cow neighbouring dairy farm came up for sale three years later the family purchased it and converted Lincoln and Annie’s farm to dairy.

Combined, this offers a 176ha milking platform for 500 cows plus a 60ha support block used for growing silage and some wintering.

Blair and Rachel have subsequently bought out Lincoln and Annie to become the outright owners of the business. They have only ever employed two sharemilkers with current couple, Jono and Kelly Bavin, now in their seventh season.

This leaves Blair free to focus on his new role as a director at Malloch McClean Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors where he assists farmers to run their businesses more profi tably and with farm succession planning.

“I’m passionate about helping people and seeing businesses succeed. Many people don’t truly understand the fi nancial aspect of their business and someone independent taking an outside view is hugely valuable.”

He says with regards to farm succession, a good plan takes time. “The earlier the process is started the better so you can get you where you want to go and create the options you need to get there,” he says.

Blair and Rachel have invested heavily in their farming business over the past couple of years extending the 30 aside herringbone shed to a 40 aside with new plant, ACR’s as well as re-configuring their yard.

They favour a low cost, low input system with a combined cost structure $3.71 per kilogram (ie. owner $1.64 and sharemilker $2.07).

Lincoln and Annie still live on a 5ha block next to the farm and Lincoln is the chief handyman filling in on the farm as needed. A passionate gardener, Annie runs garden visits of their homestead.

A small church has also been moved onto their property and extensively renovated. Called The Abbey it is operated as a wedding venue.

For Blair and Rachel this means working in their farming operations with any events booked.

This year Blair and Rachel’s farm is on target to achieve 212,000 kilograms of milk solids up from 205,000 kilograms the previous season.

They have four very active sons: Corban, 15, Preston, 13, Harris, 11 and Mason, 9. Blair says the aim is to continue to develop their business and create opportunities for growth.

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