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New blood, new ideas for family farm

New blood, new ideas for family farm
Hayley Hoogendyk, a former Dairy Manager of the Year at the Kairanga farm of Craig and Raewyne Passey. Photo: NZ Dairy Farmer

When a farm has been in the family for 100 years sometimes an outside eye on the business can bring in fresh ideas. That was the thinking that has seen 30 year old Hayley Hoogendyk end up managing a 510 cow 195ha effective farm at Kairanga for owners Craig and Raewyne Passey.

It’s the first time the family has employed a manager outside the family and Hayley says she has brought in ideas as well as learned some.

“For example, Craig is very good at pasture management. I thought I knew what I was doing but this is a whole new level,” she says.

It’s a high producing farm (500 kilograms of milk solids per cow) on a low input system. No urea is used, something Hayley has struggled to comprehend but says that it does work well for the farm.

“Craig has used urea in the past but says that it doesn’t seem to add any benefit. I favour low level application following the cows. But Craig’s pasture has been well looked after and has a lot of clover, which provides more than enough nitrogen. In fact we can’t keep up with the pasture at the moment and cut 8ha of baleage yesterday,” she says.

She says the good soils combined with Craig’s emphasis on ensuring cows don’t damage pasture in winter seems to pay dividends.

At no point do the cows set foot twice on the same pasture over winter. Cows are also stood off at night in winter as a last resort. Hayley has brought in a renewed focus on feeding cows fully in winter.

While the farm used to be on a longer round meaning they had to work hard to eat the pasture lower, Hayley favours a slightly quicker round.

“The residuals were 1200-1300 but it takes more for the grass to grow back when it gets too low so I aim for no lower than 1450 and use slightly
more baleage and hay,” she says.

While the farm has traditionally grown turnips for summer crop last season chicory was grown. The herd was divided into older cows and the two and three year olds.

Hayley says so much chicory grew that although the younger cows had first go it was too much for them to handle on their own. This season turnips will be ditched for chicory.

Around 4ha of rape is being grown for winter crop – the first time the farm has grown a crop for winter feed. The herd is largely pedigree friesian and Hayley has said she has noticed a difference in terms of performance and how much the cows can eat.

Hayley has also been keen to learn more about breeding and has been involved in the farm’s embryo transfer programme, selecting the right recipient cows, which she says has involved detail and precision.

“You can see the breeding coming th rough when the calves are born, which is quite cool.”

Hayley won the 2017 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year award and collected merit awards for employee engagement, leadership, and power play. She went on to win the national Manager of the Year title – the first time a woman has won.

She was runner-up for manager of the year in 2016 and in 2014 was named Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. She says she loves growing people up in the industry. “Farmers normally focus on growing cows, but we need to also be growing people,” she says.

Typically the farm produces around 500 kilograms of milk solids per cow and this season the target is the same although Hayley’s personal target is 520.

“Craig thinks this is unrealistic which makes me even more determined to achieve it!” Hayley plans to keep growing her own herd – which is currently three heifer calves and nine milkers – to take the next step of a sharemilking position.

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