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Contract ‘helps us get back on track’

Contract ‘helps us get back on track’
Kaitangata sharemilkers Mathew and Catherine Korteweg have taken on a second contract milking job on a neighbouring farm.

Disappointed with the way the milk pay out downturn of the past couple of years has hindered their progress, Kaitangata lower order sharemilkers Mathew and Catherine Korteweg are now focused on fast tracking their goal of reaching 50/50 with a second contract taken on this season on a neighbouring farm.

Mat and Catherine are into their fourth season lower order sharemilking on Mat’s parents’ South Otago dairy farm. Mat says since the downturn two years ago, they haven’t made as much progress as they initially hoped.

“So we snapped up this opportunity to contract milk on a neighbouring farm,” he says. “This contract will help us to get back on track.” It has also given them the opportunity to provide a more appealing package for their staff.

“We had a couple of really good staff members on our farm, who were experienced but also unsure about taking the next step. Our 2IC, who has been working with us for two seasons, has now stepped up to assistant manager on the second farm. He knows our system, and he applies that on the new farm.”

The Korteweg’s new position is very similar to what they’ve been doing for the past four years. With 550 cows on the home farm, the second farm is slightly smaller at 515 cows. The growing conditions are the same, and the systems are similar.

“We have in-shed feeding at home, and the second farm is pasture based with an input of potatoes, as the farm owner is also a spud grower. Spud farming and dairy farming are a good compliment to each other.”

Mathew says he and Catherine didn’t have very high expectations for this first season on the second farm, as it was more about getting the feel of the farm and seeing how running two farms was going to work for the couple and their team of staff.

Now they are busy setting the farm up for next season, where they aim to push performance a bit more. “Herd improvement is going to take longer than a season,” he says.

“We are waiting to scan the cows in the next couple of weeks, then we’ll be able to have a tidy up of the herd. We have been doing weekly pasture walks and we are starting to learn which paddocks to focus our regressing and undersowing, which we can do this season which is great.”

Mathew is Federated Farmers Otago sharemilkers section chairperson, where he reports to the executive committee on the monthly meeting.

He says he got involved with Federated Farmers as he’s not great at sitting down and reading the newspaper, so this was another way to gain authentic industry information.

“I’m dealing with ministers and high profile people I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to rub shoulders with,” he says.

“Federated Farmers is a great way to have a bit of influence and get involved in the industry outside of the farm gate.”

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