Bonacord a real family farm
Bonacord Farms is a real family business. Two generations of the Allison family are involved – Peter and Raelene have been joined by their son, Kelly, and his wife, Amanda, who are 25 per cent contract milkers and have a third-share in the company.
Peter grew up on a farm at Moneymore, He and Raelene bought their first dairy unit, in 1972, at the south end of the Taieri Plains.
Although his family farm was sheep and cropping, Peter had an early interest in milking the handful of ayrshire cows on the property. Their new farm came with some good friesians, so he began crossing them with his ayrshires with good results.
They farmed at there for 36 years, building the initial unit of 68 hectares and 72 cows up to 112ha and 400 cows.
Kelly had been managing the unit before the family decided to go bigger to make room for the next generation.
They bought a 171ha property at Outram in 2008 where they milk 600 ayrshires and jerseys through a 41-a-side herringbone shed. The cows are grazed off farm, usually at Middlemarch.
They are grass-fed supplemented by silage made on the farm and a lease block. They also feed around 270 tonnes of palm kernel each year.
Production last season totalled 246,000 kilograms of milksolids – around 1440kg/ha. Their best production has been 262,000kg of milksolids – 1530kg/ha.
Peter and Raelene now live on a 4.6ha lifestyle block at Waihola, and leave Kelly and Amanda to the day-to-day running of the farm. They have an automatic calf-feeding system at Waihola and look after a 135ha lease block at Milton, which is u sed for making balage and rearing young stock.
Peter says he hasn’t looked back since his father bought him his first cow as a birthday present when he was a child.
“I took an instant liking to them. When I had more money, I invested in better stock.” Bonacord Stud was built up from this and today includes ayrshires and jerseys.
Jerseys were introduced to the stud in the early 2000s and Peter found them efficient milkers in relation to their size.
He now crosses ayrshires with jerseys to breed a moderate-sized but efficient cow. He has jerseys of 400kg liveweight that produce 600kg of milksolids.
The aim of Bonacord Stud is to produce cows of good type, capacity, udders and fertility.
He finds the breeding worth system useful for jerseys, but not so much for ayrshires. Bonacord has four bulls in the RAS list in the top 30 out of one cow family – Cardrona Fjord Bethany.
The stud sells ayrshire calves for dairy beef and jersey bulls. Elite bulls are sold privately.
Peter is a director of Ayrshire New Zealand for Southland/Otago and is a judge of jerseys and ayrshires at competitions.
“I like to be able to meet like-minded people. There is certainly a real camaraderie amongst breeders.”