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Farming for a sustainable future in Manawatu

Farming for a sustainable future in Manawatu
PHOTOS: Planting out a bank on the Kimbolton farm. Environmental stewardship is a growing priority for Manawatu’s Colin and Berenice Jensen. The couple’s goal is to achieve an A2 pure herd with their pedigree jerseys.

In the small Manawatu town of Kimbolton, the name ‘Jensen’ is synonymous with dairy farming. The family has been farming Jerseys in the area for more than 100 years. It’s a tradition that Colin and Berenice Jensen are proud to be building on, as they work to achieve their farm and herd improvement goals.

The effective dairy platform is 155ha, with the property also encompassing scrubby hillside country that’s mostly unsuitable for grazing. Environmental stewardship is a growing priority for the couple, who are excited to be working with Horizons Regional Council on a Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) plan.

This provides a vehicle for mapping the farm’s soil and topography,identifying areas suitable for tree planting to mitigate erosion and slips.“The idea of planting up these areas and setting them aside to prevent erosion is something we’ve been looking at for some time,” says Berenice.

“The key will be to do it a bit at a time and it will be a long term commitment.”The couple is also looking into setting aside bush areas as a way to lock in carbon. “We want to be moving in the right direction and looking after the land.”

With their pedigree Jerseys, the goal is to eventually achieve an A2 pure herd. Colin and Berenice estimate around 75 per cent of their herd currently carry the desirable A2A2 gene. “We’ve been using A2 sires only for the last two years and by continuing to do that we’ll slowly transition the herd to be fully A2.

We’re not rushing though as there’s really no monetary incentive in pursuing that goal too aggressively at the moment.” The couple have been involved with Jersey Genome™ for the past four years, nominating elite heifers for consideration.

One of their heifers born in 2018 was accepted and some of their cows are registered with Jersey NZ. Their two year old heifers are also TOP inspected through the programme, with results showing outstanding progress.“Out of 87 heifers, 11 got endorsed as excellent this time. It’s very exciting and helps us pinpoint the animals that are doing very well, not just in produc-tion but in their form as well.”

Contract matings bring the potential to produce more top animals. One of Colin’s goals has been to get a bull on the Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list, with the Jersey Genome project assisting towards that end. CRV Ambreed is currently seeking more information on one of their very promising bull calves.

“So it’s still ‘wait and see’ at this stage.” The couple work together well on the farm, with Berenice managing calf feeding and filling in where needed in the milking shed, while Colin does the bulk of tractor work and silage making.

“Now we’re into mating and the whole team is involved with spotting cows for AI.”Colin and Berenice have three adult children: Emma, 26, Sarah, 25, and David, 23. David is pursuing his own career in farming and is currently working for Colin’s sister on a farm in Kimbolton.

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