Shorthorns ‘hassle free, profitable cow’
Three seasons ago Kaitangata farmers Logan and Nicky Kelly took ownership of their first farm. Their attention to efficient management has seen the farm become more productive and profitable in that time.
Logan grew up on a dairy farm in the region and worked on farms owned by his parents at Kaitangata and Mataura Island.
He and Nicky went sharemilking for the family business, then entered an equity partnership with them on the Mataura Island units.
Selling these shares back to the family funded them into buying one of the family-owned farms at Kaitangata. The 60-hectare (52ha effective) unit milks 170 cows.
Most of them belong to Logan’s Burness Shorthorn Stud and the rest are friesians. Because of the low milk pay-out, the couple have had to increase efficiencies.
They now winter 100 cows on farm by growing 5ha of fodder beet, make more supplement and rear more heifer calves and bulls to sell.
They have done this by artificially inseminatin for longer, looking after their stock well, and minimising costs. It’s a formula that has worked as they have increased production as a result.
Shorthorns have long been a favourite for Logan. As a young boy he always took a shorthorn calf to calf-club days and he still likes to show the breed off at every opportunity.
He started his stud more than 20 years ago as a 12-year-old, and favours their good temperament, hardier, black-soled feet, ease of calving and good fat-to-protein ratios.
The friesians in the herd are there for them to benchmark the shorthorns. The Kellys use Semex genetics and different red-breed bloodlines, such as swedish red and danish red, to bring variety.
“We want a hassle-free, profitable cow,” says Logan. “A good shorthorn will beat a good black and white no problem.”
They have experienced success showing their cows. Five-year-old Burness Empire Phil was named top milking shorthorn at the South Island milking shorthorn championships in 2014 and supreme champion for the combined breeds class at the New Zealand Dairy Event in the same year.
In 2015-16 they produced the junior champion in the combined breed class and sixth overall in the all breeds class at the New Zealand Dairy Event.
Right now they are concentrating on lifting production and reducing empty rates from nine per cent. They plan to monitor cows closely and get on top of infections quickly, and fully feed the herd. A small farm makes this easier, says Logan, but every animal has to be a “winner”.
They totalled 70,000 kilograms of milksolids off 170 cows last season. They employ one full-time worker.
Logan works for his parents on their farms to pay his worker’s wages and takes a lead role on his own farm.
Nicky rears the calves, does the bookwork and is mum to Victoria, 14, Esme, seven, Danielle, four and Watson, 18 months. It’s a busy life for the couple, but they’d have it no other way.
“Reducing debt is the main aim and we hope that at the end of it, we’ll have our own wee farm and slice of paradise,” says Logan.