Arjan’s aim – ‘a farm to be proud of’

Arjan’s aim – ‘a farm to be proud of’
Arjan Van’t Klooster and partner Kelsi Chamberlain operate two adjacent farms at Glenavy carrying herds of 1200 and 600 cows.

South Canterbury dairy farmer Arjan Van’t Klooster and partner Kelsi Chamberlain operate two adjacent farms at Glenavy. One of these, a 320 ha unit is owned by Arjan’s parents will the couple own the second 164 hectare farm.
The larger farm carries 1200 cows, and their own farm has a current herd of 600 cows. The farms border the northern side of the Waitaki river which acts as the boundary between Canterbury and Otago.
Arjan’s parents emigrated to New Zealand initially settling in Matamata and moved to their current farm in 1994.
Before stepping into dairying Arjan attended Lincoln University back in 2012 completing a degree in agriculture and commerce. The farms carry predominantly Friesian cows.
The genetic makeup of the herd has shifted over the past ten years to a somewhat lighter cow, more suitable for conditions underfoot. “We had an average live-weight at one time of 620kg and we’re currently averaging 570kg.
The bigger Friesian’s were breaking down and I aim to get the herd down further to about 550 kg,” Arjan explains. The all-flat free draining farm has 4km of river frontage.
Given the soil formations the farm is inclined to dry out quickly once the dry hits. To counter this and sustain pasture growth centre pivot and k-line irrigation has been installed.
“We have moisture metres in the ground which tell us when its time to irrigate, so our water resource is used very effi ciently,” says Arjan.
A pasture renewal programme has been implemented where 15% or so of the farm is replaced with a grass and clover mix and recently plantain has been incorporated into the mix.
The renewal process started several years ago so almost the entire footprint has been rejuvenated. Fodder beet which has been grown successfully for the past Ten years, with yields now reaching above 35t DM/ha.
“On the larger farm we operate a high-input system and use a cow-barn through winter. We also winter-milk; calving in March and August, to do this we import potato waste from McCain’s, along with PKE.”
Arjan describes the current season as excellent and when Rural South spoke with him milk production was tracking 7% ahead.
Eight staff are employed over both farms and Arjan says its pleasing to see staff retention has been excellent.
“Management of the properties was not too big a step for me but you have more responsibilities and more risk,” he says.

Arjan’s aim – ‘a farm to be proud of’
Arjan Van’t Klooster is a volunteer fi refi ghter and is heavily involved in Young Farmers. Along with partner Kelsi Chamberlain the couple manage two farms, a 320ha unit owned by Arjan’s parents and a 164ha adjacent farm they own. The larger farm uses a cow barn through winter.

Arjan employs a 2IC on each farm and spends his time across both farms. This coming season the decision has been made to bring in a ninth team member. “It will give Kelsi and I are bit more time off.”
All staff are offered Primary ITO training and currently five are involved in study. “It’s a win-win situation and I’m happy to pay for this opportunity as the benefits flow back directly to the operation of the farm.”
Kelsi takes care of rearing all the calves and also helps out at times with tractor work and silage making.
Priorities looking ahead are for the couple to get themselves more financially secure, attend to the property by tidying up fences and weeds and undertake more tree-planting.
“My aim is to have a farm that I am proud of,” says Arjan. The big farm produces 527 kgMS/cow while on Arjan and Kelsi’s farm production is sitting at 420 kgMS/cow. That farm also milks on a 16 hour rotation all year long.
Arjan says that on this regime the cows don’t peak as much but tend to hold their milk longer, with less animal health issues and better in-calf rates. It is also an arrangement the staff enjoy working to.
As a volunteer firefighter for the local brigade Arjan is also treasurer of his local Young Farmers’ Club and Chairman of the North Otago district, which involves organising three clubs. “I enjoy helping the industry this way and seeing new young people get into dairying.”
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