Golden opportunity with a grand view
Mike and Pip Jones are forever grateful for the opportunity to become share-farmers in a South Otago sheep and beef farm with the support of their business partners, the Oliver family of Mosgiel. The 700 hectare farm, dubbed Grandview, at Glenledi near the coast east of Milton was bought two years ago.
Mike has also managed the family’s 830ha Manuka Gorge property, Tenby Estate, which is further inland, for the past six years.
Through this association and the results the Joneses were achieving in Tenby Estate’s production, they were offered the opportunity to become share-farmers.
When Mike was “head-hunted” about three years ago by an American company to manage a station in North-Canterbury, the Oliver’s provided an incentive for the Joneses to come back.
“They asked us if we’d like to be a shareholder and basically told us to go and find a farm, and it’s yours to run as your own,” Mike says.
“We never thought we’d get the chance to be farm owners, We thought we’d always be managing places like we had been. It’s pretty amazing really, just for someone to give you that opportunity.”
The attraction of Grandview was its South Otago location, neither too wet or too dry, especially compared to North Otago, that there was the opportunity to undertake some development and it was not far from Tenby Estate.
“It’s a great location. It’s pretty reliable for grass growth. We’re not too far from the coast, it tends to hold on when it’s dry in other areas.” “There was an opportunity to turn it around, really.”
The original house was a detraction as it was small and needed a lot of work, but the Joneses are now enjoying a recently completed four bedroom homestead which they designed and built, adding to their investment in the farm.
The property is on mostly rolling to steep contour and includes 250ha of native bush and gullies; development has included clearing scrub and gorse, fencing and fertiliser. The farm was previously used for dairy grazing and the original purchase included a small number of sheep.
These were added to with perendales and romdales to make up the present 3000 ewes and 600 hoggets, along with 75 beef cows. The past season’s lambs averaged a healthy 19kg carcass weight and calf weaning weights 290kg despite the dry summer.
“We didn’t have a huge amount of grass, but what grass was there was good quality obviously and they did well.”
While the farm’s location is generally favourable, it is vulnerable to southerly weather and was hit by lamb losses resulting in a nett lambing of just 136%.
Mike does not yet have an accurate benchmark, but expects lambing to be 145% to 150% in a typical season.
This year’s pregnancy scanning in July showed 177% for two tooths, 187% for four tooths and 188% for mixed-aged ewes, without scanning the triplets.
The beef cattle are a good pasture management tool and eliminate much of the need for topping by tractor. “It’s not a huge number of cows, but it’s amazing what sort of a job they can do.”
Apart from hoping for a better lambing outcome this season, Mike plans to complete more fencing, and regrassing about 45ha a year to enable stock units to be increased over time.
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