Farming philosophy sways judges

Farming philosophy sways judges
Top of the class: Isabella and Colin Beazley with the spoils after being named New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year.

Colin and Isabella Beazley are 50/50 Share Farmers on 143 hectares of rolling hills near Wellsford north of Auckland.
They’ve spent six years building up to their current herd of 300 cows and further expansion is on the horizon.
They love the challenge of breeding their own cows ac-cording to what they believe a healthy, prosperous herd should look like and having just been named 2019 Share Farmers of the year in this year’s NZ Dairy Industry Awards finals, it seems the judges also like what they see.
The traits they’re breeding for reflect their wish to look to the future.
“We’re thinking about what it’s going to be like in ten years time as much as about making a dollar,”explains Colin.
“The environment’s always going to be a big issue.”
That’s why they look for low nitrogen cows that convert more nitrogen into milk rather than excreting it into the ground.
“We think as a country we’ve been chasing cows that produce litres and litres of milk too much, and not paying enough attention to the build of the cow.”
Low nitrogen is the key trait for the bulls they choose, but they’re also looking for things like hard feet and good body confirmation.
As Isabella explains: “We think if they’re healthy they’ll be producing well anyway, so we want plenty of room for their internal organs, and a cow spends a lot of time on her feet, walking to and from the milking shed, so good feet are important.”
Being able to breed their own herd is one of the things they most enjoy about owning their own cows.
They’d been looking for a share milking deal for two years when they managed their first 50:50 arrangement six years ago when they were both 25.
Being in their mid-twenties with only four years of dairy farming behind them and without the benefit of a family history of dairying, they couldn’t talk any of the banks into financing them.
“We were told that statistically we were up against it,” says Isabella.
“Nearly half the dairy farmers in their early twenties that go into share milking leave within the first twelve months, and that can be predicted after six.”
“They come in not realising how much work there is on the business side, not just the practical side,“ Colin adds, “and they end up taking a step back.”
Neil and Wendy Jones owned two farms side by side and the Beazleys were able to buy into the smaller, 200 cow, farm in 2013 on a three year term.
Thanks in part to money from a rental property they paid off their debt as quickly as possible and managed the step up into the 300 cow site when it was offered at the end of that term.
A recent purchase by the Joneses of roughly 100 hectares next door means their next three year term, starting in June, includes another 200 – 250 cows depending on what they can finance.
“We can grow while staying here,” says Isabella.
“We love the area. Our kids, Erin who’s seven and Dayton who’s three, are involved in the community and so are we. We couldn’t be more happy that the opportunity came up and that we were offered it.”
Clearly Isabella and Colin are no strangers to hard work, which is just as well.
Entering the Share Farmers of the Year sector in this year’s Dairy Industry Awards has meant putting in some long hours.
“A lot of 1am and 2am nights in the lead up to the prelim judging and then the regional judging and the national finals – it didn’t really stop,” says Isabella.
“You get two hours to showcase your whole business. The systems and the processes that you use and why that’s beneficial to you and your operations.  You open up your financials, you open up everything you do daily and put it on display for the judges.”
“The farming business is something you do every day,” Colin adds, “but you don’t usually have to describe it to someone else or explain why you’re better than the other guys.”
The judges are rural professionals at the top of their chosen fields.
“Westpac is a major sponsor,”says Colin, “so there’s always a rural banker from somewhere, and a farmer who has won it in another region in a previous year, and generally there’s a Dairy NZ person with the sort of broad knowledge that helps with the more technical side of things.”
The Beazleys had to explain just how they achieve the most production they can, with the mostprofitable system, while never putting the desire to make an extra dollar ahead of the wellbeing of staff, stock or environment, and always paying attention to keeping a good balance between work and family life.
It’s a winning combination all round.
]As well as the national title they came away with four merit awards showing the depth of their farming ability; the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award, the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, the Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award and the Meridian Farm Environment Award.
“Apart from anything else, it’s a great networking opportunity,” says Colin, “and that’s two years in a row with winners from Northland, which is fantastic for the region.”
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