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Demand reflects health, safety

Demand reflects health, safety
Nigel Hodges, of Rural Building Solutions, says this year has been marked by strong demand for rotary dairy sheds.

Rural Building Solutions and its Chapman dairy sheds have dominated Canterbury demand for topend dairy sheds over the last 12-18 months, says company owner and principal Nigel Hodges.

The design-and-build specialist – founded in 2007 by Nigel and Ruth Hodges, of Darfield – is the only South Island licensee for Chapman Dairy, a New Zealand milking parlour specialist.

“It made a lot of sense for us to align ourselves with Chapman Dairy and draw on their lifetime of experience; their systems made sense and they are recognised nationwide,” says Nigel.

These rotary sheds come with features such as large exit areas and concrete slabs, big supplementary-feed systems, and underpass access to the middle of the rotary platform.

“The underpass access is definitely a plus from a health and safety point of view,” says Nigel.

“I think farmers are choosing these specifically designed sheds because it also makes it easier for them to attract good staff.”

The company also builds effluent systems, feed-pads and silage bunkers. He says this year has been marked by particularly strong demand for rotary sheds that tick all the boxes for health and safety.

A lot of repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals for its quality The firm operates Canterbury-wide, and has two dairy sheds under way in Mid Canterbury, with four in the pipeline.

It has also completed two replacement sheds in the Kaikoura area since the start of August and is in the throes of doing another one there. Innovation is important, says Nigel Hodges.

For example, the silage bunkers the company builds for maize or crop are designed to withstand corrosion from silage leaching, and bunker walls are made to lean out slightly at the top to minimise the potential for silage spoiling.

Feed-pad design and construction is another speciality. The firms uses a customised design process to achieve a good fit with the yard, farm layout and effluent system, as well as access requirements.

Feed-bin moulds are designed for feed pads as part of an approach that also provides certainty around delivery and placement on site.

Coming from a background as a builder and foreman on commercial projects, Nigel recognised he could meet a need for a better level of service.

And as a qualified structural-concrete specialist, he works to ensure all concrete construction work is completed to a high standard.

“We do all our own concrete placing and finishing, so we’re in control of the finish. Our standard of concrete work owes a lot to the calibre of our staff.

“For us, doing what we say and standing by dates is very important. You need to be in control of dates if you’re building something like a calving shed, because calving cows don’t wait.”

Rural Building Solutions employs 10 staff on site, assisted by a sub-contractor when needed. A small group of staff takes care of the office and administration.

One of last year’s bigger jobs involved the design and build of a 60-bail rotary shed with a feedpad, an advanced effluent system, and three silage bunkers.

The feed-pad alone was 106 metres long and 56m wide – “longer than a rugby field but not quite as wide”, says Nigel.

Rural Building Solutions has entered in the next round of the Master Builders awards, following up on silver-award success two years ago.

Ruth, who works as a rural real estate agent in Canterbury, has a background in banking and farming, which has proved valuable in the family business.

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