When Southland dairy farmers Adam and Nicole Gerritsen look back on their journey in the industry they admit it may give an impression that they haven’t spent very long at any one job on their way toward eventual farm ownership.
“Yes, it may look as though we’ve wizzed through jobs, but every new position has been one step closer to our goal of owning a farm. We’ve been fortunate to have had really good opportunities come our way in quick succession,” says Adam.
Originally from a farm near Cambridge in the Waikato, Adam’s farming got underway in 2009 (after working at RD1) with Nicole joining him on farm in 2010.
In 2012 Adam and Nicole moved to Southland to help his family convert a dairy farm north of Gore.
A year later they took their next step in farming, with Adam managing a unit near Invercargill which the couple then contract milked, followed by a shift to lower-order share milking before taking up 50:50 share milking in the Winton area two seasons ago.
“Opportunities down south are huge compared to the Waikato. We would have found it very hard to get to a 650 cow 50:50 job up north. Here in Southland, the number of owner-operators seems relatively low compared to other regions so it is possible to progress,” Adam explains.
Nicole takes care of all the fi nancial and administration aspects of their dairy business and the couple also have a two year old daughter Isla, so life is busy. With a herd manager and farm assistant, both full-time, Adam is still very involved in the day to day operation of the 220 hectare farm.
Come the end of the milking season, all the herd moves 10 km down the road where they are wintered and looked after by another farmer. It’s an arrangement that works well, giving the paddocks on the dead-fl at farm time to breath and rejuvenate.
The farm was converted about 10 years ago and has a 54 bale rotary plant. Each paddock is approximately four hectares making farming systems
easy Adam says.
“We run two herds and have two people in the shed at all times. We put our Friesian cross herd together in 2016. It was the year we were just climbing out of the pay-out slump. We paid good prices and got good animals.”
The farm carries quite heavy peat with around a quarter of it prone to bogging, but Adam says the low-cost system works well. “It’s the way I have been taught.
We fill in the edges when we have to with palm kernel and also bailage we grow on the farm. We mainly feed out August and September over calving and again in May.”
Milk production is solid too at 440 kg/cow and when Rural South spoke with Adam a 16 hour milking rotation had been introduced since late December. He was pleased to see that over this transition the cows did not drop production.
The farm is positioned in one of the drier areas around Winton and the plan is to dry off the herd on 28th May and have them trucked off to their winter home the same day.
Surrounded by a mix of dairy and sheep and beef farms Adam says he and Nicole are really enjoying this period in their farming journey.
He’s conscious that the situation hasn’t been so positive for some farmers in the district with herds affected by Mycoplasma Bovis.
“I think the impact of seeing your herd culled will be massive and the compensation provided isn’t going to ease the grief farmers will experience. Even though there is support from industry organisations it’s still going to be really tough.”
When asked what advice he would offer those entering dairying with an ambition to achieve well Adam says it comes down to surrounding yourself with like-minded people and great role-models.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have had both. The rest comes down to hard-work and having a vision.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Plunkett Agri Spraying
- L J Contracting