Farmers: James and Helen Hartshorne
Position: 50:50 Sharemilkers
Soil type: Waikoikoi & Ardlussa soils
Effective Milking Platform Area: 172ha
Support Area: -
Peak Cow Numbers 2012/13: 540
Peak Cow Numbers 2013/14: 520
Farm System (1-5): 3
Supplement Types: silage, PKE
Production History 2012/13: 268,000 kgMS, 496 kgMS/cow, 1558 kgMS/ha
Production History 2013/14 (target): 260,000 kgMS, 500 kgMS/cow, 1512 kgMS/ha
James and Helen are our West Otago monitor farmers. They moved to New Zealand from the UK thirteen years ago and are into their 5th season of 50:50 sharemilking on their current farm.
Helen and James both manage and work on the farm, they also have 2 fulltime staff and 1 relief worker. During winter, the cows all go to Central Otago where they are grass wintered. James and Helen consider one of the key factors to their farm system is to always have fully fed cows. They achieve this by sourcing supplement feed early and always having at least half a year’s worth of silage on hand as contingency feed.
Helen does all the pasture monitoring on the farm, using a plate meter. Once the farm walk is done, a feed wedge is constructed and this allows Helen to view the farm’s average pasture cover, compare it to the target pasture cover; it also gives a paddock ranking, allowing the next week’s grazing plan to be formed.
Helen and James believe the benefits from pasture monitoring are that they can know exactly how much feed is on the farm at any one point, and it reduces the guesswork when it comes to decision making around supplement feeding and taking out surpluses.
When they are able to get off the farm, Helen enjoys being active and gets involved in a range of sports, running, biking and horseriding. James is a big fan of pigs, which he breeds, and he also takes pleasure in socialising. Together they like to spend family time with their two boys, Ben and Sam.