The Shaws of Reporoa run a family-oriented farming business which has recently expanded, effecting huge changes for father and son team Jim and Ross Shaw, as well as their two senior staff turned junior managers Taylor McDonald and Oscar Smits. Ross and Karla Shaw are equity partners with Ross’ parents Jim and Helen.
Last June they added to their home farm Sangro Dairy – a 196ha farm with a 40 a side herringbone shed – with Rawhiti, a 104ha dairy platform with a 40 a side herringbone shed, which backs on to their 96ha run off block.
“We’ve gone from milking 500 cows to 900,” Ross says. It used to be dad rearing the calves while I ran the cows, now dad and I are rearing the calves and we have managers looking after the cows.”
Staff numbers have increased from one full timer and one relief milker or farm assistant depending Kelly Deeks on the pay out, to four full time staff and two part timers.
“This is all new for us and it’s a case of establishing systems and structures and setting out foundations,” Ross says.
“Being an expanding business, we needed to get great people with us, and we were able to do that through the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards which we’ve been involved in since we won Share Farmer of the Year in 2016.
The awards helped us to focus on putting some systems in place that could attract the type of people we needed to be able to grow our business.” These systems are around being open with managers about all aspects of the business.
“They know all of the figures that are in behind the day-to-day workings,” Ross says. “It’s about them making the calls as managers, taking us out of that but still being there for them to fall back on and talk about those scenarios we set in place. The family and the managers all have to implement it.
“21-year old Taylor Macdonald is an exceptional young man who won Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year last year, while former mechanic and dairy farmer’s son Oscar could walk in to any job.
“To get that calibre of person in the first place, we then have to remind ourselves that we do owe it to them to allow them to build their knowledge. They have put their faith in us to come and work here, so we need to have systems in place that will allow them to grow into their roles.”
As well as giving their managers the support they need to make the day to day calls on farm management, the Shaws do a lot of their own work on both farms rather than bringing in outside contractors.
“The farm we took over had some good infrastructure on it in terms of cow sheds but we needed to do a lot of fencing, cultivation, and tidying up, as well as still improving our original farm,” Ross says.
“Having all these guys pitch in improving their skill sets and giving them the opportunity to do more than just milk cows.”
Part of that has been the installation of a new effluent system for Rawhiti, which previously had none.
“We’ve just completed that and we’ve brought the farm up to compliance. Taylor and Oscar have facilitated and coordinated the subcontractors coming on and off the farm.”
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