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Animal welfare, environment farm focus

Animal welfare, environment farm focus
Jason Grant, South Canterbury’s new Federated Farmers branch president at his Fairlie dairy unit.

New Federated Farmers South Canterbury branch president Jason Grant says he is enjoying the role and is learning a lot about current farming issues facing New Zealand.

He says that while mycoplasma bovis is at the forefront for many farmers at the moment it is also important to focus on the bigger picture issues, such as climate change.

The South Canterbury region presently has around 580 members with the organization boasting 12,700 members nationwide.

“Federated Farmers is doing a lot of work on these types of issues that are bubbling away. A lot of work is behind the scenes and it’s important to put the right information forward and to advocate on behalf of farmers,” he says. Jason says that even challenges such as myco plasma bovis have a positive side.

“It has made farmers increase their biosecurity systems. That’s one positive spin off,” he says. Jason grew up on a mixed sheep and cropping farm at Rangitata Island.

He and wife Anna have been based in Fairlie since 2001. Originally they farmed sheep, beef and deer on the 1250ha unit before converting to dairy in 2015.

They now have a 290ha dairy platform with the balance of the land hill country used for heifer and cattle grazing and milk a herd of 1000 Jerseys.

Their dairy farm has a 54 bail rotary shed with Protrack and automatic cup removers. They also own a farm at Rangitata Island where they milk 720 Friesian cows on 200ha.

Each farm has a contract milker leaving Jason and Anna free to take on a managerial role. The farms are sup ported by a 290ha run off wintering block at Albury.

Jason says the main focus is on advancing the environmental side of their business. As the farms are both recent conversions they are equipped with some of the latest effluent system technology.

They operate a two pond system with about fifty days storage. This allows them the flexibility to spread when conditions are right. The Fairlie unit has a number of waterways, swamps and wetlands.

These areas on the milking platform have been fenced off. Animal welfare is a priority for the couple. “Well looked after animals are profitable animals,” says Jason.

“We focus on feeding the stock well and treating them well. For example the cows walk to the shed at their own pace. A quiet happy healthy cow is the key to a profitable dairy farm business.”

For the Grants it is about doing everything with attention to detail to get the best results. Pastures are monitored regularly and they renew 10% of their grass each year in a mix of perennial and tetraploid species.

They target 480 kilograms of milk solids from their Friesians and 380 kilograms of milk solids from the Jerseys, which go on once a day at the beginning of February. The couple has three children: Ruby, 10, Oskar, 12 and Will, 13.

Their aim is to simply maintain a profitable system going forward. Jason also encourages other farmers who are not yet members of Federated Farmers to consider joining.

“It’s a voluntary subscription base and carries great weight. It’s an important vehicle to provide strategic direction for the industry going forward.”

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