Biosecurity tight on Reporoa farm

Biosecurity tight on Reporoa farm

Despite the heartbreak, personal stress and uncertainty that Myco Plasma Bovis leaves in its destructive wake, if there was to be a half full glass it would be enhanced awareness of biosecurity.
Faced with milking 30 less cows this year, experienced Central Plateau dairy farmer Colin Guyton has made the decision not to buy-in extra cows, thus avoiding the risk of importing disease into his healthy herd.
Colin says high empty rates resulting from weather conditions reduced his herd of friesian cows from 600 to 570.
While never previously buying-in extra cows, he would have on this occasion – but for the risk of Mycoplasma Bovis.
Producing 235,000kgMS last year from 600 cows, Colin remains hopeful that the 570 cows he has will produce well because of extra feed they will get, with production at least matching last years.
He says the production that might have resulted from 30 extra cows is not worth the risk of potentially bringing in a disease, ultimately resulting in the entire herd being destroyed—a devastating outcome.
“At the moment we don’t know how widespread the disease actually is. We think we’re safe because we’re in an area where there hasn’t been an outbreak – but there could be 20 farms in our area and we just haven’t caught up. We’ve had to get up to speed pretty quick on the NAIT issues – because a lot of the problems that MPI have had are around tracking stock movements.”
Colin farms 200ha effective on the Reporoa farm between Rotorua and Taupo that he and his wife Shelley bought in 2002.
Growing up on his father’s dairy farm also in Reporoa, Colin says farming is in his blood – it’s a love for the cows and a life out doors.
Heeding his father’s well-intentioned advice not to go farming because it was a tough life, Colin joined the Post Office as a radio technician in the days before cell phones, computers and microwaves, to pursue the developing electronics industry.
Discovering that this path was not his passion he entered the New Zealand Police where he remained for six years, thoroughly enjoying the thin blue line – until the calling of farm life steered him in that direction.
For the first 10 years, Colin and Shelley sharemilked, firstly on Colin’s parents farm and then a larger farm in the same area, before buying their own slice of paradise.
“Shelley was a townie 100% but man you would not get her off the farm now. She’s a legend as far as I’m concerned.”
With a river running around the back of the farm and a creek running through the middle, Colin says the farm can get pretty wet, and flood on occasion.
In recent years wetland development has been done in conjunction with Environment Waikato and Fish & Game.
“We’ve probably developed about 6 ponds with the biggest more than a hectare of water and planted with native trees. It’s a really cool spot now, just alive with croaking frogs.”
For the last three years, Colin and Shelley have employed a Contract Milker – Mike and Ange Hinricks, enabling a bit more flexibility to pursue other interests including being employed as an AB Technician, fishing and overseas travel, while remaining very active in the farm.
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