When Cam Brown stepped onto Hauhungaroa 2C Block Incorporated’s station he saw huge potential and it just so happened the corporation saw the potential in Cam as well.
Cam was brought onto Hauhungaroa as acting manager on a nine-month contract and during that period he was able to demonstrate what he believed could be achieved with a few changes.
This resulted in the corporation restructuring the business model to create the new role of general manager, a position Cam has proudly held for the past seven years.
Hauhungaroa 2C Block Incorporated is a Maori-owned corporation and covers 3227ha (1010ha effective).
It’s a breeding and finishing property located on the western shores of Lake Taupo and operates within the Lake Taupo catchment and thus operates under a nitrogen cap.
Farming successfully under a nitrogen cap is knowing how close to the cap the farm is at any time.
Cam says they use the Overseer programme through the Waikato Regional Council which leaves him to focus on his work in other areas.
Keeping in mind the cap restrictions has also meant any production Cam wanted to gain had to be done with a restricted fertiliser input.
Upon arriving at the station in 2011, production was sitting at 175kg/ha.
“The sheep were half Coopworth E3F and Texel cross which didn’t take to what can be a harsh climate very well.” The cattle were a mix of Simmental, Charolais and Hereford Cross, “really big cows but highly inefficient in getting through winter in terms of feed demand.”
Cam says it was a matter of simplifying the breeds so they began reintroducing Romneys and introducing Angus over the yearling heifers.
“We didn’t have particularly good heifer calving that first year so we expedited and basically phased out all the Charolais, Simmental and Hereford and have been using Angus since then.
It’s probably been three years now since the last Hereford got phased out of the system – we’ve just gone onto Angus pure in terms of tagging this year.”
Now the station winters around 4600 ewes of which around 1600 go to a terminal ram, 1600 ewe hoggets and they have a breeding cow herd of 257 plus 80 in-calf heifers which calve as two-year-olds.
Last year, production was at its highest, hitting 250kg/ha and has averaged 235kg/ha over the last three years.
“On reflection, we have achieved a lot,” Cam says.
Lambing was also at a high this year at 156% to the ram, the best results Cam has achieved in his career.
The station itself is still very young country, the Hauhungaroa 2C Block Incorporated was formed in 1948 but they didn’t stop milling until the early 70s so there are still a lot of stumps and decaying logs and some soil deficiencies.
“It can be very costly to get fertiliser on that country – a lot of it can only be done by plane or chopper.”
There is still about 1145 hectares of the business that is leased out and planted in trees on a three-rotation long-term lease plan.
Plantain and clover crops have been used over the years but the issues around controlling weeds, particularly thistles, became quite exhausting and cost prohibitive.
“We are moving away from that and putting in lucerne which is a first for us and we will use that for underpinning our ewe hogget mating programme and we are moving to improving pastures species to allow us to grow more feed in the winter and also finish lambs and not be so regimented by specialist crops.”
Cam says although he and his team of two have achieved a lot over the last eight years, he believes they’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what the station is capable of.
“In terms of how far we have come to where we are now and where it can be is still huge.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Kiwitahi Romneys
- Farm Spec Machinery