A marriage made milking

A marriage made milking
Waikato sharemilkers Liz and Allan Hains

Learning to farm together was the first stage in the journey for Waikato sharemilkers Allan and Liz Haines. The couple has been farming together for the last ten years and while Liz was not from a farming background, Allan said that she gave it a good crack right from the start.
“I thought Jeez – this is the woman for me for the rest of my life. So we went away for the weekend and I proposed to her.”
That was in 2010; they had already been working as a team for the previous three years on a 500cow farm as low-order sharemilkers, learning the ropes and the complexities of working together.
Allan’s farming journey began when growing up on his parent’s beef and sheep farm near the Catlins in the South Island.
Deciding that sheep were not his cup-of-tea, he trained as a butcher in Dunedin before travelling to Europe. Upon returning he was chewing the fat around the table with his brother, who was milking cows in Balclutha, and decided to give dairy farming a go.
“The only time I’d milked a cow before was on the sheep farm with a couple of house cows milked by hand,” says Allan.
“I went to work with my brother milking 430 cows – pretty much thrown in the deep end really.” Meeting Liz, who was from the North Island, Allan was persuaded to cross the Strait and farm in the Central North Island.
It is a happy success story for Allan and Liz not just as a couple but in their farming career which now sees them low-order sharemilking on Lance and Bridgett O’Sullivan’s beautiful farm in Tirau, between Matamata and Cambridge. “It’s a farm you take a lot of pride and joy in running,” says Allan.
“It’s 172ha effective, with an easy rolling contour. One thing that we’re into is planting trees on the farm—they’re important to us for the health of the cows. We’ve got some native bush here. There’s about 5ha of that – Kahikatea’s and that kind of thing – it’s about 100 years old.”

A marriage made milking
on the cups on the Tirau farm owned by former champion jockey Lance O’Sullivan and his wife Bridgett.

The couple work together in the 44-aside herringbone, milking 530 Friesian cross cows.
The herd is split between the older and younger girls. Allan says they typically milk twice a day but with an exceptionally dry summer, and after considerable thought, a decision was made to transition to 16hour milking – a decision they have not regretted.
“I was cautious with the cows dropping production – but they didn’t’ drop at all. There’s been no loss in condition or energy because the cows aren’t walking quite so much. We’ve also saved on power and we’re using the same amount of feed now, but only milking 16 hours. The cows love it. Milking at night is bliss – they walk in the shed, more happy, don’t pooh and they walk out gain.”
Allan says that most years production sits at 205,000kgMS but this year, with the long dry summer, he’s been tracking at 195,000kgMS. He says they try to get their production off the farm without buying it in.
While Allan and Liz have decided against farm ownership, they recently bought a little block of land not far away with a nice house on it. One day they will settle there.
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