Sharemilking ‘ideal business model’
Some sharemilkers may see a lower-order position as a starting rung in the dairy ladder, but for Southlanders Graham and Glenda Haynes, it’s their ideal long-term business model.
The couple are in their fourth year on 243 hectares at Grove Bush with David and Pam Yardley who own a 850-cow herd on the farm.
Three Redpath barns eliminate the need for the cows to be wintered off farm and grass is supplemented with whole-crop barley, lucerne, fodder beet and choumolier at various times of the season.
Production averages 460-470 kilograms of milksolids a year per cow across the herd.
Aged in their 50s, the Haynes have great drive and passion for the industry and for their personal goals, But it was a reality check that changed the course of their lives in 2001.
They had an enjoyable family lifestyle at Matamata, in the Waikato, but no assets. They took stock of their situation, and decided they needed to get out of their comfort zone.
“We had nothing, zero,” says Glenda. “We had to get good jobs, we had to prove ourselves.”
“We listed what we wanted. And, because we were older, we didn’t have the luxury of years and years ahead of us to achieve our goals, so we had to come at it from a different angle.”
Those goals included owning a cut-and-carry block for growing silage and balage, and owning their own home as well as a holiday home.
After moving to Southland and working in management roles from 2001 to 2005, they took on a lower-order sharemilking position in 2005, then a second lower-order position in 2007.
In 2009 they also went into an equity partnership in a 500-cow business; this meant they were responsible for three dairy farms and a total of 1600 cows.
A period of consolidation followed when they relinquished the sharemilking positions; they subsequently sold their share in the equity partnership in 2014.
This enabled them to buy a holiday home in the coastal township of Riverton, and then buy by a 29-hectare cut-and-carry block at Makarewa.
This was sold and replaced by 45 hectares – at Grove Bush – last year.
The property supports winter hoggets as well as producing three grass-cuts a year, supplying the Yardley farm and neighbours with feed. Graham says it is a fantastic feeling to look back at what they have achieved.
“We gave ourselves a time-frame to work hard, be aggressive, and that was always in our goals and time frame.”
He says that in working towards their goals, it was important for them to earn the respect of farm-owners, to respect the owner’s asset as if it were their own, and to be surrounded by supportive people.
Supporting and mentoring their own staff and seeing many grow and move on in the industry has been immensely satisfying, he says.
The Haynes firmly believe that achieving career goals and satisfaction in the industry does not necessarily depend on becoming herd-owning sharemilkers or farm-owners.
While they were prepared to commit to five years of “stressful” farming over multiple properties, they emphasise that work-life balance, happiness and health are vital.
“At our age, you have to start looking at the big picture and think what’s really important,” says Graham.
Along with the couple focusing on running a topperforming dairy unit for the Yardleys, he is putting his expertise to good use as an adviser on several farms in the area.