Confidence, skills, recognition grows

Confi dence, skills, recognition grows

Bunnythorpe farm business Stewart Dairyland is an enjoyable place for New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year winner Angela Strawbridge to spend her working days.
Stewart Dairyland is a 600 hectare, two farm, operation milking 410 cows on each dairy platform which employs a total of four full-time staff.
Angela says good communication between staff and the farm’s owners, James and Debbie Stewart, along with the ability for staff to create their own rosters around their family needs are among the reasons for her job satisfaction.
“We set our own rosters because I’m not the only one with children on the farm. So we are quite flexible with the rosters for everyone, so it’s a really good, happy place.” Angela has three children aged 10, 13 and 17.
Before working at Stewart Dairyland she was 50:50 sharemilking with her former husband. For the first two years at Stewart Dairyland she was relief milking and calf rearing.
When the previous herd manager left Angela persuaded the Stewart’s she was the right person for the job, a position which provides stability for both her and her children’s schooling needs.
One of her motivations for entering the Farm Manager of the Year award was to gain independent recognition after having worked on a family farm for seventeen years.
Because she had no personal references she wanted to benchmark herself and to learn areas where she needed to improve her knowledge and skills, especially in pasture management.
“It was my weakest point so I really wanted to try and get more knowledge around pasture management and hearing what the judges said.”
“I made it in the top five last year and this year my plan was obviously to win it, which I did, so that was quite cool because I really put a lot of focus into it.”
and winning the award means she hasincreased her skills and gained greater confidence to move ahead in her career when the time is right.
Of its 600ha, Stewart Dairyland’s operation comprises 360ha effective or 180ha per farm, and a 240ha run-off.
Cows on the farm Angela manages are milked through a 36 a-side herringbone shed; the other side has a 54 bail rotary shed. “Everything is calved on my side because that’s where the majority of the run-off is.
Once we get up to a certain number we then start stocking the other farm up.” Angela is largely responsible for all the cows’ winter feeding along with budgeting the feed.
Each season the run-off and dairy platform respectively grow 200 tonnes and 70 tonnes of grass silage, and 215 tonnes and 125 tonnes of maize.
To ensure the cows are in top condition for calving and peak milking, the home grown feed is supplemented by palm kernel if needed, but there is also a strong focus on maintaining quality pasture.
Last season’s production on Angela’s side of the farm was about 165,000kgMS, with the same figure expected this season. After a wet winter and spring last year mating was difficult.
The total empty rate over the two farms was 13%, which continues a downward trend against a high of 18% “We are really focusing on our two and three year old’s because we found there was a high empty rate in those areas. They’re our better genetic cows and we need to be focusing on them.”
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