A Fonterra exchange programme which gives Chilean dairy farm workers experience in New Zealand has been a great blessing to Waikato contract milkers Dylan and Emily Hilhorst.
Not only has it provided an extra labour unit, but David Ignaciao has been a highly motivated and gracious worker, Dylan says.
“They come to New Zealand, they want to upskill, they learn the New Zealand way. David had studied (agricultural) theory in Chile but he had never left home, let alone been to another country.” “He had never seen a dishwasher before.”
“We’ve made him feel as welcome and as much a part of the family as possible. We’ve been really lucky to have him.” David started working on the farm early June 2017 and returns to Chile on June 4 this year when he will take over from his father on his family’s farm.
“He pretty excited about that.” He did not know any English so improvised sign language was initially the only form of communication, but this changed as David gradually picked up the language.
Their positive experience has given the Hilhorst’s great confi dence to participate in the programme again next season.
Dylan himself is relatively new to the dairy industry, having previously worked as a builder in his area, something he continues to do occasionally.
“I always wanted to come back to the farm and be part of the family business.” Dylan and Emily are in their fourth season on the 104 hectare Tirohanga property owned by Dylan’s parents Peter and Wendy Hilhorst.It is their first year as contract milkers after working as managers for three years. “Our plan is to buy into the farm over the years.”
The farm was previously 74ha and had a close to 30ha lease block added early last year. The lease block is owned by Dylan’s brother and sister-in-law Hayden and Narelle Hilhorst, who are sharemilking on a farm near Lake Taupo which is also owned by the brother’s parents.
Tirohanga milks 370 Friesian cross cows through a 29 a-side herringbone shed.
Production this season is expected to be 160,000kgMS from a Dairy NZ system three rated operation in which palm kernel extract, soya, maize and turnips are included in the supplementary feed regime.
Some of the cows are being crossed with Speckle Park genetics. The breed is native to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and is reasonably new to New Zealand.
Speckle Park are a polled medium frame animal with a mature cow weighing 650kg to 800kg and a mature bull 1000kg to 1200kg. The breed is touted to have good growth rates for 18 month markets, a high yielding carcass, and high meat marbling.
“We are only putting Speckle Park into our poor friesian cows, we aren’t putting them into our kiwicrosses because they can come out just looking like a jersey cross calf.”
Their calves typically fetch $100 to $150 more compared to Hereford/Angus/Jersey calves.
Weatherwise it has been a season of extremes, consequently the cows are on 16 hour milking which has worked out well for both the cows and farmers. Milking starts rotate from 5am, 7pm an 11am.
“It’s been really good. We’ve all managed to have a little bit more time off and we’ve got a lot more work done.”
Dylan attributes a spike in the empty rate, from 10% to an uncomfortable 16%, to the weather and buying some budget cows to make up the herd numbers after the addition of the 30ha block.
Apart from being the “brains on the books” and the busy mother of three young children, Emily is developing a self-contained farm stay in a separate building. It is planned to have it up and running late September/early October.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- South Waikato Veterinary Services
- McLaren Contracting
- Ferkins Farming Ltd