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Expansion drives farm purchase

Expansion drives farm purchase

South Taranaki 50/50 sharemilkers Shawn and Jo England will become equity partners next season with the purchase of a neighbouring property to the family farm Shawn has worked on for the past eight years.

Shawn’s parents Paul and Susan have entered a partnership with their son and daughter-in-law, who are in their fifth season 50/50 sharemilking 235 cows were looking for an opportunity to milk a larger herd.

“We’ve been ready to expand our business for the past couple of years, and we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a 400 cow 50/50 job,” Shawn says.

“With not a lot around, this is the next best thing for us. Mum and Dad are looking to slowly get out of the business over time and scale back while still having an investment in the farm.

“We saw this opportunity as a way of it working well for all of us.” The family farm at Manutahi is 72ha effective and the new property is 62ha.

Shawn and Jo have purchased an additional 150 cows and will run the two farms as one, closing down the second shed and milking 400 cows through their existing 32 bale rotary shed with automatic cup removers.

The yard will be extended, new effluent system, upgraded water lines and a bridge will be built to cross the railway line that goes between the two farms.

Shawn’s part time staff member who has been helping him out during springtime will become full time, and will bring along his partner to help with calf rearing.

Jo works off farm three days a week as a school teacher, and the couple appreciate having their own careers. Shawn says he enjoys going to the school events which give him something different to be involved in off the farm.

The couple have a three-year-old son Xavier, and between the two of them and his grandmother they make childcare fit in with their working lives.

Shawn says the focus with the new property is to continue to do the same production, which is now averaging 450kgs milksolids per cow from a jersey cross herd on a grass based system with half a ton of palm kernel per cow.

This season’s really wet spring and early dry summer saw palm kernel rations increase to 850kg per cow, and production is looking to be about eight per cent down on average.

About half the usual amount of silage was made on farm, so Shawn had to buy some in. He put the cows on once a day milking mid December, saying he’s never gone once a day that early before. “It’s helped the cows, they’ve stayed in good condition,” he says.

“They actually got in calf which was a miracle – I was really worried. They came out with a 6.8% empty rate, and our empty rate is usually between 5% and 7% so they were hardly affected. And a 76% six week in calf rate. Maybe I was feeding them better than I thought…”

The weather is now favourable and the farm is looking nice and green. While he can’t predict the weather, Shawn can rely on having more cows to feed and more pasture to grow next season.

“We just try to run an easy to manage, low input system which is profitable and can generate a good income no matter the pay out.”

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