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Navigating farming’s ‘progression pathways’

Kim Stewart Oct 10
Navigating farming’s ‘progression pathways’
Adam Waite out on the farm beat with children Kieran, Bayden and Reid.

In 2003 Adam Waite made the decision to seriously commit to farming when he moved from Taranaki to Balclutha to attend Telford Agricul-tural Training Centre.

Prior to this he had dabbled with a bit of relief milking on various farms around Hawera, South Taranaki.

After completing the 12 month foundation course he worked as a stock agent for four years which gave him a great grounding in what does and doesn’t make a well conformed dairy cow.

“As time went by though my priorities changed and I could see a gateway back into farming. I was drawn to this given farming’s scope for personal growth and progression pathways,” says Adam.

After a year as a farm assistant the opportunity presented to progress to a managers position for two years at Morton Mains.

Seeking out the advice of really good farmers was something the couple decided was very important to do in order to move on and develop their farming business, Southern Meadows 2011 Ltd.

Adam and Jenna have now completed their fifth season at Seaward Downs, 9 km from Edendale, 25 minutes nor-east of Invercargill.

They have transitioned to equity partners on the 151 hectare effective farm predominantly owned by Kevin and Debbie Hall.

“Our equity partnership also has a share in a 170 hectare run off 18 km from the home farm where a herd home can accommodate up to 680 cows. Another herd also uses the run-off over winter.”

Adam and Jenna’s herd peak milked 465 pre-dominantly crossbred cows producing 465 milk sol-ids/cow, a farm total of 214,895 KgMS up 12,500 kg from last season.

Over time the herd’s genetics has shifted away from friesian to crossbred for better feed conversion efficiency and to reduce the live-weight impact per hectare.

The herd supplies milk to Fonterra and is milked twice a day though this year Adam says they went to once a day milking earlier on ANZAC day.

“We wanted to get weight on during May to prepare the cows for their winter stint on the run-off in the best possible condition. Our philosophy is to build weight slowly which allows for weight loss to be similarly slow once they are milking,” Adam explains.Calving is due to begin 8 August and will spread over 10 ½ weeks.

The herd will be returned prior to calving in groups back to the main farm.The ‘very basic’ 36 aside Herringbone shed performs well and for the last four years the milk has been grade free.

Daryl Gabiano, from the Philippines came on to the farm in March.

He is proving a valuable hard-working part of the team.

Adam says the herd home has brought several advantages to their farm management.

“We have full control of how we feed the stock with nothing wasted on the paddock. We feed each cow 9 ½ kg of dry matter silage and a kg of straw as well.”

Two years ago Adam and Jenna purchased some shares as a part of the total farming business – land, stock and shares held at the dairy factory and this share portion is currently valued at 10%.

“What works really well for us in terms of setting business goals is that we can extend that share-holding to 30% and in the next 18 months we plan to extend our existing holding by a further 5%,” says Adam.

Life is busy off the farm too, with their children keen on ripper rugby and hockey.

Two of the three boys attend Edendale Primary School.

Jenna is the chief calf-rearer in the spring time and also handles all the admin work.

She is also generally on call for any extra work that needs to be done if necessary.

We’re farming in a traditional dairy area with a lot of well established dairy farms.

To further their farming aspirations the couple have enrolled in a Dairy NZ Mark and Measure Course on 11 June.

Navigating farming’s ‘progression pathways’

Adam and Jenna with their three boys.

It’s a benchmark group set up by Dairy NZ and the process involves a full deconstruct.

Adam says the course provides the opportunity to put a line in the sand to see where they currently sit in terms of their business plan and the goals they are setting.

“It’s in Queenstown for three days so that’s really great too with Nana coming in to look after the boys.”

“Adam says a focus at this time is to find ways to improve productivity without massive additional costs in feed supplements.”

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