Business gains now in sharp focus
Climatic challenges over the past six months have had south Taranaki 50/50 sharemilker Kane Brisco see out his wettest winter in 12 years of farming, followed almost immediately by the hottest dry period he’s seen in the same amount of time.
“I’m in a fairly high rainfall area as it is, just outside of Ohangai, and we’ve had an extremely wet winter and spring this season,” he says.
“That has stopped now, and we’ve gone straight to pretty dry. We would normally be at peak growth for November and December, but we were close to half to two thirds of a normal growth rate for those two months.”
Kane made an early call on bringing in extra supplements as soon as it started drying out, with 299 bales of silage and extra palm kernel contracted in to help his 215 cows get through summer and into autumn. “It was important for us to be milking in autumn,” he says.
“Even though we made a small loss through November and December, to continue milking provides cash flow through summer and autumn. A lot of people will struggle to milk right through this season.”
Kane takes a proactive rather than reactive approach to farming, and his cows have held their condition pretty well. He has also started chicory for the first time this season, after being unhappy with the quality and results he was getting from turnips, he has changed to a higher quality feed and the cows are milking well on it.
“They’re about 10% per day ahead of last year.” Kane is now planning for a system change for next season, when in-shed feeding will likely be installed.
“We’ve been doing the numbers on it and we’ve brought in farm advisor Grant Leigh from FarmWise who has done some computer modelling of different systems on farm.”
Kane says employing Grant is a good investment going forward, and while he won’t use him for dayto-day running of the farm, his advice will help to future proof and create a more resilient business.
Kane is now into his fifth season on this 70ha effective farm, and says now is the time to make some business gains. “We’ve probably been a bit slower progressing than we would have liked, due to the low pay out in the past three years,” he says.
“We came in on the high pay out and bought cows, then things changed a lot.” Kane spent five years dry stock farming before moving on to manage dairy farms 12 years ago.
He saw more progression and opportunities in the dairy industry, but says there is a bit more competition around now for the 50/50 sharemilking positions.
“And in all sharemilking jobs. The really good ones are very competitive.” This farm was a good one to start off with for Kane, with pretty much the whole milking platform flat.
For the next two to three years, Kane is looking to expand his business and is keeping an eye out for opportunities on his current farm and elsewhere.
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