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Father, son work towards a new order

Tom O'Leary Dec 12
Father, son work towards a new order

Stories about father and son farming teams that don’t really work are not uncommon – two bulls in a paddock – that kind of thing. So it is refreshing when you hear of one that works very well.

South Otago farmers, Tony and Sarah Brock, have the honour of having 50/50 share milked on the same Kaitangata property, 10 minutes from Balclutha, for the last 23 years.The Brock’s herd of 480 cows is 80 per cent straight Friesian with the balance Friesian/Jersey cross.

Two years ago, Tony and Sarah’s son, Cameron, joined Tony on the farm after spending 18 months working on a dairy unit in Waipahi when he left school.

Now aged 20, Cameron’s plan is to progressively take over more farm and staff management responsibility and by the end of next season take on the role of farm manager – allowing his father to take a step backwards.

“The idea is to let Cameron do what he wants to do and can do – just looking over his shoulder from time to time checking things are going ok,” says To n y. “The farm owners are quite happy for Cameron to take over from us over a period of time.”

Cameron’s mid-term goal is to raise the capital required to purchase the herd from his father and take over the sharemilking contract.

“It’s not the easiest industry to buy into and it’s quite hard to get the capital together to buy a size-able chunk of the herd,” says Cameron.

“I don’t really want to start buying anything until I’ve got about $50,000 in the bank – and I’m well on the way to that – I’m a good saver.” Tony adds that their accountant advised to develop solid evidence of savings to support a loan application to the bank, rather than buying animals now.

Enjoying the opportunity to work with and learn from his father and mentor, Cameron says if he presents an idea which might not be the best his father will either explain why it is not so good or, if the potential for damage is minimal, let him do it anyway and learn by his mistakes; adding that his father is a good listener and takes ideas on board.

“Yes, I am quite happy with new ideas. There are new farming developments coming up all the time. Cameron has completed his Level Four ITO where they discussed lots of ideas on how to increase production and farm profitability – so he does have a few good ideas now and then. He’s planning to take additional management courses in the next few years.”

Looking into the future, achieving ownership of his own herd at a young age is a step towards owning his own farm – Cameron’s ultimate goal.

Reflecting on the way dairying is often portrayed in the media, Cameron says that while he is all for bad farmers being called out and suffering the con-sequences, it is the times when good farmers get called out for doing nothing wrong that concerns him the most.“Everyone hears the bad press – but they never hear about the good stuff.”

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