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Organisation key for stock agent, farmer

Organisation key for stock agent, farmer
Kepler Farm’s Robbie Leslie, Travis Leslie, Ellen Leslie and Catriona Cunningham with the Kepler Mountains behind.

Owning a 235 hectare farm which includes a Dorset Down stud as well as working as a stock agent means Jimmy Kenny has a few balls to juggle.Not only that, he lives remotely from his Kaiwera property, leasing 75ha where he lives and was brought up in Lawrence, Central Otago.

The Kaiwera farm, which he previously leased, and bought in October 2018, is a sheep and beef business supporting 1300 romney breeding ewes, 60 beef cows and 25 to 30 first-calvers, while Okaruru Dorset Down stud comprises 450 ewes.

Jimmy employs a worker during winter, Bernie Nichol “I guess there’s a few balls up in the air at one time. I try to be organised. “Bernie has a fair bit of experience and I can pretty much leave him to it, whether it’s fencing, maintenance or shifting stock.”

Having a multi-faceted operation, plus additional income, helps to spread risk while maintaining strong cashflow, Jimmy says. It also enables him to tweak aspects of the business; the farm is deer fenced but has not carried any weaners for the past two years.

“This year I’ve upped my replacement numbers of the romney’s; I’m trying to lift them a bit and I’m trying to scale back on the cow numbers – that’s the plan.“I’ve got 550 romney ewe hogget replacements and 180 stud ewe hoggets coming in and about 160 ram hoggets to control grass and get pastures ready for weaning lambs.”

This strategy of swapping cattle for sheep is also for environmental mitigation on the rolling hill country; much of the farm has the Waipahi River, a popular trout fishery running through it.

A lot of waterways had already been fenced before Jimmy took ownership of the farm, however going forward there is more planning and work to be done to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

“We’ve traditionally put up a shelter belt every year, but now we’ll look at fencing some creeks off and planting them out instead.”Jimmy’s work as a stock agent gives him a good overview of other farming operations as well as helping to keep a sharp eye for good looking stock, an obvious asset for selecting top quality stock for Okaruru Dorset Down stud.

The stud, purchased by Jimmy three years ago from Bob and Marilyn Masefield, is the oldest registered Dorset Down stud in New Zealand.New Zealand-wide the breed is in strong demand for crossing purposes to produce lean, fast growing lambs.

According to the New Zealand Sheepbreeder’s Association, Dorset Down cross lambs when com-pared with lambs of other crosses lead the field in meat to fat ratio.The Dorset Down is one of the most virile rams of all sheep breeds and has been shown to cover greater than average numbers of ewes per season and remains active for a number of years.

“I always like the Dorset Down as a terminal sire,” Jimmy says.Medium-large in size, their traits also include a high yielding carcass.Because of this, Dorset Down ram lambs are put across the farm’s romney terminal ‘B’ mob as a means of boosting their carcass weights.

Okaruru Dorset Down will offer about 110 lots at its annual sale being held at the Gore A & P show-grounds on the farm on December 19; also included will be some Southdown/South Dorset cross and some Dortex (Dorset/Texel) lots.

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