In June this year Karl Dean and his wife Amie achieved the goal they’d been working towards for the last six years when they moved 15km’s along the road from their lower order sharemilking position to take up a 50/50 position with Kelvin Coe. They’re milking 400 cows, mainly crossbred Jersey-Fresians, on 140 hectares (132 effective).
Sited on the edge of Lake Ellesmere the land is relatively shallow so, as Karl explains, “there’s not a huge amount of water holding capacity but there’s heavy, gluggy soils. It’s a very fertile area but it’s impacted by the lake and the high water table which is why we’re a fairly low stocking rate for Canterbury.
“ The stock move onto a neighbouring dry stock and cropping farm through the winter. Also owned by Kelvin it’s run as a separate entity by his son-in-law. “They’ve got the drier land we can use over winter. We pay for the grazing and it’s a win-win for both parties,” says Karl.
Karl’s been farming for 15 years. He and Amie married five years ago with the move from Taranaki to Canterbury six years ago bringing her closer to her family. “We moved for family reasons long term,” explains Karl, “and to try to get ahead.”
The latest move is a good start with their primary goal for the next five years being to pay down debt and look towards getting some land of their own. “We won’t be able to buy a dairy farm in five years but a block of land to graze on would be a step in the right direction.”
Running a 500 cow farm of their own is Karl and Amie’s longer term goal, with the lifestyle a key consideration. “It seems to be a good size to operate,” says Karl.
“You can still employ a share-milker in the future and it’s hopefully not too expensive to actually buy in the first place to be honest.”
As Dairy Chairperson for the North Canterbury branch of Federated Farmers Karl sees his role as providing a voice for their members and helping shape submissions on their behalf as they respond to policy initiatives from the government.
“For the last three to four months we’ve been dealing with submissions on the Healthy Waterways and Zero Carbon policies, putting the farmers’ point of view. We seem to be submitting something practically every week and we will be until Parliament goes quiet in early December.”
Another concern is around bio-security and Karl believes the NAIT (National Animal Identity Tool) is an effective and essential tool for helping farmers stay ahead of the game by providing an online platform for keeping trace of stock movements between farms.
“If everyone makes sure that they’ve re-registered it’ll be helping everybody in the industry by proving our ability to have better bio-security,” says Karl.
In the meantime Karl and Amie are enjoying the change of pace offered by their new farm. There’s another change on the horizon for Karl and Amie too, which is likely to soak up any spare time they might have.
“We’re enjoying that lifestyle that comes with this size of farm after milking 750 cows for the last six years, especially as we’re expecting our first baby in January” says Karl.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Ellesmere Transport Co
- Glassey Contracting