‘Sustainable future’ drives conversion

‘Sustainable future’ drives conversion

Canterbury equity farmers Tony Coltman and Dana Carver are pleased at how their new dairy conversion at Dunsandel is progressing. In fact, the conversion is now all but completed with the new addition set to deliver a significant production boost.
“We’ve just commissioned our new shed and are looking forward to everything settling down,” says Tony, equity manager and director at Datona Ltd and Canlac Holdings.
The 1400 cow equity partnership is on track to become a 2100 cow operation, with total farm area rising from 335ha to a 510ha effective platform. A 155ha leased support block remains in place.
“The new farm is right next door. We’ve taken 100 hectares off the existing Canlac Holdings farm, which will be 235 hectares effective milking 950 cows. The new Quantum Dairy will be 275 hectares effective milking 1150 cows. We will have two sheds running as one business.”
Tony says the new conversion is all about ensuring a strong and sustainable future for the partnership. As he notes, the existing farm’s 19-year-old 50 bail shed milking 1400 cows with limited technology was not an ideal model going forward.
“For us and our staff, this is a much more effective solution that we know will work well.” Prior to the conversion, the Quantum Dairy land was used as dairy support for another operation.
Completing the conversion has required a process of subdivision, adding a new 60 bail rotary shed (fitted with ACRs and Protrack technology), creating new races, putting pivot irrigators across the property, rolling out a new effluent system and building a couple of new houses.
“We’ve also had to establish new pasture: 120 hectares was in grass already but we had to put in new grass on the rest.”
Once Quantum Dairy is in full swing, Tony expects production to rise from around 720,000kgMS per year to 1,000,000+kgMS per year. Tony anticipates adding another three full-time staff to keep up with the growth.

‘Sustainable future’ drives conversion
A new 60-bail rotary cow shed and new races and underpasses are part of a new dairy conversion by Datona Ltd and Canlac Holdings at Dundandel.

 
“I think we’ll only need around five staff on each farm. It should all be pretty efficient to operate because of the way we have set it up and the economies of scale involved.”
To help build up stock, a few hundred milking cows for Quantum Dairy have been sourced from the North Island. “We also bought 120 autumn calving carryovers to supplement 70 of our own.”
Canlac Holdings has been a monitor farm for DairyNZ initiative Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) for some time. Tony and Dana joined in order to get ahead of environmental issues facing the dairy sector.
The six-year programme’s goal is to reduce nitrate leaching losses with proven pasture and forage crop options.
Plantain is proving effective at reducing nitrate leaching and Tony says this has been planted as part of the new pasture programme for the conversion.
Tony is very open about farm performance through his involvement with the Tactics for Tight Times initiative, as well as providing benchmark data for Lincoln University.
Both he and Dana are also outspoken advocates for healthy farm lifestyles with Dana leading Dairy NZ’s Farmer Wellness and Wellbeing Programme.
The couple have three children; their eldest daughter is studying at the University of Canterbury and they also have a 16-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.
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