Dairy farming runs deep in Anja’s veins
When Anja Wood returned from Canada after helping out on the dairy farm her brother works, she knew she wanted to be a dairy farmer.Growing up on the family farm in the small rural community of Hiwinui, between Palmerston North and Feilding, the Canadian style of ‘indoor farming’ was a distinct contrast to the free-range operation Anja was used to. Returning to New Zealand eight years ago Anja settled down on the family farm and her parents herd of milking shorthorn cows.
Initially moving into the 2IC role under the guidance of her dad, David Wood, Anja progressed to Farm Manager the following year with day-to-day responsibility for running the 115-hectare effective dairy platform.Down the road a 242-hectare run-off is home to young stock and is looked after by David who also assists his daughter in the shed. “Our herd is 98% registered milking shorthorns,” says David.
“We have 330 cows, 270 of which are a spring herd but we also milk 80 cows through the winter so we have a group of 35-40 autumn calvers as well. Production averages 400kgMS – 420kgMS with a very good fat to protein ratio.”
Anja is now adding her own milking shorthorns to the herd and young stock. Last year she arranged for her own distinctive ear tags so that her cows could be distinguished from her dad’s.
Recognising the need to broaden her under-standing of the dairy industry Anja completed Level 4 National Certificate for Herd Management and this year graduated with a New Zealand Diploma in Agri-Business.
“Study has helped me understand more about the business side of farming – not just doing the day-to-day work but also understanding the financial side of the business,” says Anja.
“Understanding pasture management has been one of my biggest challenges and my studies have really helped with that too.”Now the fourth generation to tend the farm, Anja’s passion and aspiration is to ensure the farm is retained for future generations of her family by ensuring it is financially and environmentally sustainable.
Expanding the farm’s effluent management to get more of the farm irrigated during the summer months is a step towards achieving Anja’s sustainability goal.Reflecting in the future generations, Anja says there is already a fifth generation coming through with her seven-year-old niece Ruby and three year old nephew Regan.
While Regan lives in Canada with Anja’s brother, her sister’s daughter Ruby is a frequent visitor to the farm providing a valuable helping hand.David says that while the Hiwinui area was once the home of many farms, over the years it has increasingly become a lifestyle community.
“Our farm is one of the few still remaining. We have a very good relationship with the school and I make the opportunity available for children to come and work on calves for pet day. So we get a few interested ones coming down each year and spending some time with an animal. It’s a way of trying to bridge the gap and create some interest in the farming lifestyle.”
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