‘It’s a strong team that works closely together’

Terrace Farm’s Mick O’Connor with Aidan O’Leary.

Working for Dairy Holdings made Mick O’Connor change his focus from production to profit. It also helped that he went lower order sharemilking when the payout dropped from over $8 to $4.40.
In a low payout you have to understand your costs,” he says. Mick grew up in a farming family in Waimate and tried his hand at dairy farming while still at high school.
When he finished school he rang a local sharemilker and got his first job. Over the years Mick progressed up the dairy ladder from farm manager to contract milker and now sharemilker. He came to Dairy Holdings in 2005 due to the opportunities to progress.
He spent three years on South River Dairy Farm at Rakaia, went on an OE for seven months then returned to Terrace Farm in Dunsandel in 2010 as manager for six months, then contract milker for two seasons eventually milking 1000 cows.
During that time he built up a herd of 300 cows, which were leased back to Dairy Holdings, putting him in a good position to leap to a lower order share milking position where he now owns 1100 cows.
He and wife Kirsten now own 100% of the herd and share 48% of the profits. Terrace Farm is 290ha total/278ha effective and the herd is milked through a 54 bail rotary shed with automatic cup removers.
Mick says it was a visit to Dairy Holdings shareholder, Colin Armer’s farm near Taupo several years ago that saw him focus on a grass-based system for maximum profit.
Mick and his team now monitor grass and urea application religiously to get the best out of the pasture. Changing from roto rainer to centre pivot irrigation has helped grow an extra 25% pasture.
Mick runs the business with Kirsten who comes from a banking background and plays a key role in human resources and the financial side of their business. They have a son, Flynn, 4, and another baby on the way.
Mick also has a role as a supervisor with Dairy Holdings and oversees 12 farms providing a support role and someone to bounce ideas off. He says the support aspect of Dairy Holdings was also valuable to him during the low payout.
“One of the strongest aspects of Dairy Holdings is the communication and the experience available. It’s a strong team that works closely together. I enjoy seeing the farms and ensuring they are a good example of what Dairy Holdings does. It also helps drive our own farm forward to be the best we can be.”
Mick is also proud that he is able to not only grow his and Kirsten’s business but also to provide opportunities for his staff to progress.
Mick says he asked his staff why they are happy to turn up to milk his cows each day and the response was that they enjoyed being able to make their own decisions and the freedom to learn and make mistakes.
Mick and Kirsten’s own goals are to continue to grow their business and the people within it with the end goal of farm ownership.

Terrace Farm’s Mick O’Connor with Aidan O’Leary.
Terrace Farm’s Mick O’Connor with Aidan O’Leary.

“For those that want to get ahead Dairy Holdings is an awesome place to be.”
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