Oakura dairy farmer Warren Green admits he didn’t know a jersey from a friesian when he first went farming.
“I remember when the first cow calved, it was cow number 111 and that’s exactly the number I felt like ringing for help as I didn’t know what to do,” he says with a chuckle.
Warren didn’t grow up on a farm and came to dairy farming later in life at age 34.
He had previously worked in spare parts sales and was looking for a change of career when the opportunity came up to try his hand at farming. His first job was in 1993 on a 200 cow farm in Rahotu.
Warren took to farming like a duck to water and started to build up his own stock each year. “I liked the fact that farming was a complete change.
I was 19 years with a collar and tie so it was great to get outside. I absolutely loved it.” Three years later he moved to his first 50:50 sharemilking position milking 175 cows at Okato.
He was there five years then moved to a lower order sharemilking position for a year, also at Okato, then another 50:50 sharemilking position at Rahotu for three years before moving to Bevan McNeil’s farm in Oakura.
Warren sharemilks 450 kiwicross cows through a 50 bail rotary shed on around 175ha effective. Lifestyle has been a major factor in his decision to work for Bevan for over a decade.
“It’s a beautiful farm on the coast. I can go diving and fishing, it’s close to town and New Plymouth city.”
In the past finding the right staff has been challenging but Warren says he is lucky to have a good team at the moment that includes one full timers and a calf rearer. He favours a simple farming system with a focus on getting the basics right.
Effluent is spread over around 25ha of the farm via travelling irrigator. Growing 4.3ha of rape brassica tides the farm over the dry summer months.
There is an in-shed feeding system where the cows receive about one kilogram of meal each day year round. Last season, due to drought the farm did its lowest production ever – 135,000 kilograms.
The cows were put on once a day at Christmas and fed extra supplement. The year before was the best ever – 157,000 kilograms. Typically Warren targets around 150,000 kilograms.
Mycoplasma bovis has been a concern, as it has for many farmers, and Warren has ensured the farm has the correct protocol set up to minimise risk. The farm is self-contained and no stock is bought in.
Warren takes on the day-to-day running of the farm and Bevan invests his time in larger infrastructural projects such as fencing and earthworks where gullies have been transformed into productive farmland.
The pair has developed a good friendship over the 12 years Warren has worked on the farm, often going fishing and diving together.
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