Setting ambitious goals and commiting to them has become the bread and butter of 50:50 sharemilkers Fraser and Amber Carpenter’s work ethic. The 2017 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners are in their third season sharemilking on Fraser Mansell’s 66ha effective 190 cow farm near Karaka, South Auckland.
Before taking on their sharemilking position Fraser Carpenter was managing his parent’s farm at Karaka then working as a second-in-charge on a 500 cows farm at Clevedon.
The path to becoming sharemilkers needed to allow for Amber’s career off-farm as New Zealand merchandise manager for an Australasian retail chain, but with her being responsible for running the administration side of their dairy business.
Fraser is the sole charge worker on the farm, taking care of its day-to-day operation. After deciding on their goals, the Carpenter’s committed to saving towards a herd over about three years, also rearing some stock.
“At that time we didn’t have any kids and just wrote up a savings plan and a personal budget, and just stuck to it.”
After completing business, financial planning, taxation, investment and agribusiness management courses, Fraser learnt how to write a business plan, set goals and to act on ideas to make them reality, while Amber is inherently an organised goal setter, Fraser says.
“We were (eventually) in a position to buy cows and this contract came up which allowed Amber the flexibility to travel to Auckland to work.
This allowed us to split our risk.” Their herd is half friesian/half kiwicross with all the stock being bred to kiwicross in order to lower their live weight.
“We think they’re easier to feed. The big framed friesians, we find hard to keep the condition on. The kiwicross cows are a bit like a pocket rocket, the seem to suit our system. I can fully feed them easier, (than friesian) I find them easier to get in calf and easier to maintain their body condition score.”
The herd usually produces 71,000 to 72,000kgMS a year. The farm has two Herd Homes which paid dividends during last year’s wet winter and spring.
This summer was initially a text-book-burner for normal farm operations, with cows going on to once a day (OAD) milking just before January because of drought.
However with cyclone Gita subsequently transporting a good dollop of rain onto the farm and boosting grass growth, combined with keeping to OAD the cows are in good condition and milk production slightly up on the same time last season.
Seasonally the herd is usually milked twice a day from the start of calving on July 10 until February.
Currently about 4ha of maize silage, yielding 80 to 90 tonnes, is grown on farm along with a similar quantity of palm kernel; in-shed feed is provided from calving until December.
Turnips and rape are grown through summer, plus grass silage is grown on a 15ha neighbouring support block on which R1 calves are grazed, while R2’s go to a grazier on May 1. With their goals tracking well, the Carpenter’s couple see farm ownership as being absolutely achievable.
“”We know it’s just a start, but Amber’s been able to carry on working and contribute financially, and the farm’s ticking along as well so we’ve grown in equity in the three years we’ve been here so far.”
When the time is right, they will move up to a larger sharemilking position and reset their goals.
“We’ve enjoyed the ride so far and we just look forward to the future and looking at any opportunity as it comes our way. We’re really excited about it; the dairy industry has been awesome to us so far.”
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