Working for corporate Ata Rangi Pastoral (ARP) has set Raman Singh Badan and his wife, Rhiannon Williamson, on a solid career path.
After an eight year journey, the couple became lower order sharemilkers at the start of June this year on one of ARP’s farms, Twin Lakes, where Raman was previously manager.
ARP operates six dairy farms in New Zealand, five in the central North Island and one in the South Island in North Otago. Raman comes from a long line of farmers.
“Back in Punjab we were crop farmers. Farming is in my blood, all my ancestors farmed.
“I had a couple of options; to study toward being a biologist or, I always wanted to be a full-time farmer and to study towards it,” Raman says.
From 2010 he completed tertiary study in Applied Technology Dairy Farming at Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua. It has been “really cool” working with ARP as there is a culture of excellence as well as a strong culture of encouraging study and personal development, he says.
“Everybody gets their chance to build up their career and step up; they can show their abilities.”
The corporate structure also means there is good accountability and a clearly understood two-way commitment and communication between staff and the company’s management.
Rhiannon’s roles include administration and calf rearing and the farm’s four full-time staff to work an eight days on, two days off roster.
“It definitely helps. This year I had to recruit my own staff. Although I expect them to work hard, they can see they don’t have to work their butts off.”
Twin Lakes peak milks 950 cows on 333 hectares through a 60 bale Waikato rotary shed with in-shed feed.
Automatic cup removers and automatic teat spray means one person can milk the entire herd. Production last season was 333,000kgMS of which about 85% came from A2 milk. “Twin Lakes is a top performer based on production per hectare.”
“I used to think that jerseys were not a really good cow for production, but now my mindset has changed a lot. They are easy to deal with, easy to work with.”
The herd comprises about 80% jerseys and is relatively young with an average age of four to five years.
The farm is predominantly grass-based and is undergoing an intensive regrassing programme in which close to 20% of pasture is being replaced annually. Twin Lakes was the fifth and final farm developed by ARPL and started production in September 2016.
The farm is named after the two lakes created by the causeway over Lake Maraetai, about 15 kilometres south of Tokoroa. Pastures are on heavy pumice soil.
ARP is strongly commited to ensuring its integrated, pastoral-based agricultural business operates in an environmentally sustainable way.
This involves implementing practices and techniques that are of benefi t to both the environment and surrounding communities.
Due to being flat and around waterways, its development incorporated 0.5 metre high bunding to prevent any soil and sediment runoff.
Since its establishment, ARP has increased wetland area and native planting within signifi cant natural areas. It is undergoing a signifi cant replanting programme, working in partnership with Kessels Ecology and PF Olsen.
In the next five years Raman and Rhiannon aim to own their own herd and believe they can achieve this with the support of ARP and its management.
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