Cyclones pour water on production

Cyclones pour water on production
Ngatea sharemilkers Stuart and Heather Fowlie with farm owner Maureen Martinovich. Fynreath Ad Cricket ET, a daughter of stellar foundation cow Braedene Bravo Cuddle

Ngatea sharemilkers Stuart and Heather Fowlie are hopeful of a productive season after suffering through the effects of three cyclones last year.
Situated a few kilometres from the southern edge of the Firth of Thames, the farm they sharemilk on is owned by Maureen Martinovich, wife of the late Ernie Martinovich.
It is their fifth season on the property. Its location close to the estuary means soils consist of heavy marine clay, plus peat.
Heather says with half the farm’s paddocks mostly under water last year from March to October, they were forced to cope as well as they could by reducing the number of cows being milked from 170 to 140 by strategically culling and drying off cows.
The farm, which incorporates a stud, Fynreath Jerseys, split milks with cows being calved in February and June. Heather says last year was “pretty stressful”.
“Every day you woke up wondering if it was going to be the last day of rain. It rained virtually all the time. The whole district was having problems getting rid of water.” Normal production of 68,000kgMS from 170 cows fell to 56,000 from 140 cows.
So far this season rain has been regular but manageable and the herd is performing well and in August production was 9% ahead of their usual baseline. The Fowlie’s run a very low cost selfcontained system.
Their dairy herd is grazed on farm all year round, no feed is bought in and young stock are also grazed on-farm; consequently their share of the farm working expenses is just $1.21. Stuart and Heather and their three children aged 10 to 29 all take a strong interest in breeding and showing.
Apart from jerseys, they also have a few pedigree Holstein Freisian, Ayrshire and Brown Swiss cattle.
The Fynreath prefix was registered with Jersey NZ in 2000, a year following the purchase of Stuart’s father’s cows and the Fowlie’s becoming 50/50 sharemilkers for Stuart’s parents. A year into their contract the farm was sold.
After a couple of moves and then unable to secure a 50/50 share milking position the decision was made to disperse the herd, except for a stud cow, Konui Glen Dofl Daisy, purchased in 2002, which was retained.
Unfortunately the cow died a year later, but ultimately became part of the foundation of their present-day herd through her single daughter. While managing and as lower order sharemilkers, the Fowlie’s determined to return to 50/50 sharemilking so building of a new herd began.
In 2006 they purchased 10 heifer calves destined for the bobby truck from Brett Thompson’s Braedene Stud in Te Awamutu for just $15 a head. “They were reared by a friend and later leased to him.”
Following a year off farming in 2011/12 season they were offered a 50/50 position and the current herd was then brought together.
It was soon to be discovered that one of the $15 bobby calves was rather special; Braedene Bravo Cuddle subsequently contributed extensively to the herd, in which she remains today, now aged 12.
“With the help of embryo work, her genetics has rapidly grown the family both at home and with progeny that have entered the national herd.” Her daughters have sold for as much as $8500.
Four daughters and a granddaughter sold for a total of $28000 at the Waikato Invitational Sale in May 2017 During the past two years a calf has been offered from the Cuddle family for youth to purchase and show through the Next Generation sale held at Waikato A & P Show in October, now coming into its third year.
Both calves have been very successful in the show ring for their new owners.
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