While production and profitability are essential to running a good farm business, it is the enjoyment of farming that lies at the heart of Stevenson family’s farming philosophy.
Their Southland farm operations comprise a dairy farm in Isla Bank and a beef and dairy replacement unit near Te Anau.
Rex and Audrey Stevenson run the Te Anau farm, purchased in 2001 after 11 years sharemilking in the West Coast and South Otago, under the umbrella of Glenkylie, their family company which also owns the land at Isla Bank.
Three years ago they established Trinity Farm Holdings as part of a succession plan in conjunction with their son Craig, who is married to Ruth. Craig manages Isla Bank and is a shareholder in Trinity Farm Holdings which sharemilks for Glenkylie.
“When establishing our succession plan we had to keep in mind our other son, Michael, a physiotherapist in Christchurch, and his family.” Audrey says the family are very much on the same page in their view of running the farms.
“For us, we are wee bit different to some farmers; our farms have got to run cost effectively, that’s really important, financially it’s got to make a profit, but we also enjoy farming and we don’t push the stocking rate.”
Glenkylie milks about 630 ayrshire, ayrshire/ friesian cross cows through a five year old 54 bail rotary shed, while Audrey and Rex run their 273ha home farm.
Each season the Te Anau property rears about 200 bull calves which are sold at two-and-a-half years old. The property winters 1400 stock.
The Glenkylie herd was increased this season, up from 600 cows, after the purchase of an 80ha block at Bickley Rd near Riverton in order to be more self sufficient and to mitigate the price volatility of bought-in feed.
“Some of it is cut and carry and all the heifer calves go to that property until they’re a year old and then they come to Te Anau, and Bickley Rd grows the sugar beet for the dairy farm.”
The Stevenson’s prefer sugar beet over fodder beet because of its higher feed value, but the Te Anau farm is better suited to fodder beet. At the dairy farm sugar beet is fed out on two 400 cow feed pads which are vital in preserving pastures due to the farm’s heavy clay soils.
“We don’t winter on the dairy farm at all. All wintering is done in Te Anau, of the dairy cows and heifers.”
Glenkylie incorporates an ayrshire stud and the Stevenson’s are “keen users” of Semayr Breeding Services, a division of Ayrshire New Zealand, which sells through LIC.
Its sire-proving scheme aims to widen its genetic base and help get as many young ayrshire bulls proven as possible. Semayr runs a bull farm in Taranaki where bulls are farmed and selected on their breeding worth and other traits.
Anyone with ayrshires has the opportunity to present bulls to Semayr; if they meet the criteria, they are selected and proven within both ayrshire herds and other herds throughout New Zealand.
“It’s proving our own bulls in New Zealand and it’s worked quite well for us.”
“Our majority use of semen is ayrshire, but we use friesian as well” “I would suggest that this year the genetic pool is a lot better than in the last few years because of the bulls coming through the system.”
With both the farms running well and the succession plan in place, Rex and Audrey aim to have some time out. “Our goals are now to take some time off and enjoy some travel.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Aros Contracting Ltd
- Sweeney Excavation Ltd
- May Brothers Contracting Ltd