Succession plan drives conversion

Succession plan drives conversion
Mataura’s Ryan and Abby Moseby were multiple winners, including the Supreme Award, at the Southland Ballance Farm Environment awards.

Ryan Moseby is a fifth generation farmer on Kanadale Farm, a 355 hectare unit at Mataura, 50 km north-east of Invercargill.
The farm has been in the family since 1874. Along with wife Abby the couple are responsible for a sizeable dairy operation carrying 750 predominately medium-sized cross-bred cows.
Four seasons ago the couple converted the farm, which apart from a period as a dairy unit back in the 1920s and 30s, had always been a sheep and beef operation.
A key driver in the decision to convert was to secure the financial future for Ryan’s parents and to future-proof their own business to one-day be in a position to pass on to their children.
“It was to do with succession. My parents were at the stage where they were looking at stepping back from day to day management of the farm and it made good business sense at that time to convert to dairying,” explains Ryan.
The farm will winter 750 cows this year which will provide a milking herd of 725 when the next season gets underway. The philosophy and approach the couple have to farming is very simple, anchored around an attitude of continually striving to be better at what they do.
“When we came into dairying we had zero experience so every season has provided opportunities to evaluate, reassess and tweak the farm’s system. Due to the nature of the farms’ contour elevation a key aspect is cow condition and we regularly have a vet come in and independently assess bodycondition scores.”
The journey ahead Ryan says is to improve the performance of the herd. So far, the herd has grown to its current size without a great deal of culling lesser-performing cows and this will now become a priority.
Taking up dairying after years with dry stock and sheep has been achieved with great external support from rural professionals.
Ryan, who spent time in rural banking, credits assistance from a very positive and supportive bank manager and from their vet.
“I think the advice we received from our great vet Claire Hunter from VetSouth, has been invaluable in our operation to date.”
The past two years have also been busy for other reasons. Abby, who has a rural finance background gave birth to the couple’s first child in September 2016.
She has become more involved in the farming business, taking care of the books and has reared the calves since day 1.
Helping to run the farm, alongside Ryan who is actively involved in the day to day operation, are two full time employees – an assistant manager and farm assistant and from time to time when called for a relief milker is hired. “Dad is still very actively involved on the farm which is great.”
This year has also been significant in terms of industry recognition in the form of the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards, which the couple won. The award recognised just how successfully the conversion of the farm also created opportunities to enhance the aesthetics and quality of the whole property.
Existing trees and shelter-belts were retained as much as possible. The property has a 25ha pine plantation with an additional 7ha in a variety of tree species.
The couple not only took out the Supreme Award but also won the Ballance Agri Nutrients Soil Management and Dairy NZ Sustainability and Stewardship awards.
Attention to the layout of farm races, the treatment of effluent, dealing with pests and in enhancing water quality in the farm’s several streams and water-holes was also recognised as significant.
There has been a programme of extensive riparianplanting and a longer-term planting plan has been developed.
Kanadale Farm is run to a low-input system where the emphasis and energy is put into growing great pasture.
“We think its very important to create sustainability in the way we farm and in the way we develop the land. It seems only fitting when you are responsible for a farm with so much family history and we’re very conscious of the role we can play in building on the work of former generations.”
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