Sharemilkers playing the long game

Sharemilkers playing the long game
PHOTOS: Hawera sharemilkers Andrew and Tanya Dobbin with children Wyatt (8), Jackson (1), and Siobhan (10); View of Mt Taranaki. Siobhan and Wyatt help getting the cows in for milking.

When dreams are delayed it is sheer grit and determination that makes farmers forge ahead.
Hawera lower order sharemilkers Andrew and Tanya Dobbin are a good example of true dedication to the industry despite unexpected setbacks.
The couple had originally planned to take three years to build enough capital to buy their own herd.
Due to a down turn in the milk solid price and a drought their plans are now taking longer than expected.
But it hasn’t put them off their end goal.
“You can’t dwell on the bad stuff. You’ve just got to look forward and move forward,” says Andrew.
The couple are in their sixth season on Trevor Hurley’s 130-hectare-effective farm, south of Mt Taranaki milking 300 Kiwicross cows.
Although the farm is normally summer safe, atthe beginning of last year they were in the grip of a drought which followed a bad winter and spring last year on the back of three bad payout years.
Despite these setbacks the Dobbins have managed to en-sure the farm’s productivity has not been negatively affected this season and are on target to produce 110,000 kilograms of milk solids.
“Thankfully we had a good winter and spring, which has helped.  We just had to buy in 30 tonnes of palm kernel and a bit of hay to see us through the drought last year,” he says.
The fact that their herd is in the top 5% BW has also helped. They had a 9% empty rate this year.
This means their focus in terms of improvement has been on the pasture.
They are renewing 5ha per year in new species – Trojan, red and white clover.
Andrew says the results are noticeable with better growth, even in marginal conditions.
Neither Andrew nor Tanya grew up on farms.
Andrew was brought up in Opunake and did relief milking while at school.
He and Tanya met in Queenstown while Andrew was working seasonally in tourism and Tanya in hospitality.
“Basically Tanya told me to get a real job and that’s when we went farming,” says Andrew with a smile.
The couple took on a farm assistant position on a farm in Balclutha and a season later moved to a herd manager position on a 500-cow farm in Canterbury.
They then moved up to Taranaki and took on various manager, contract milking and sharemilking positions.
Andrew says they have been so long in their present position as farm owner Trevor Hurley has been so supportive.
“He’s brilliant, I can’t say enough about him. He’s been so good to work for,” says Andrew.
Both Tanya and Andrew work actively on the farm as they employ no staff.
The Dobbins are parents to Siobhan, 10, Wyatt, 8 and Jackson, 1. Their next goal is to buy their own herd in three years time.
“As long as the payout keeps up and we don’t have any more droughts!”
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