The couple bought their South Head farm this season (2017-18) and are excited about the future.
“The timing is perfect – this is a fantastic opportunity to learn from local, like-minded farmers as we work at improving pasture species and pasture productivity on this farm,” says Don.
“I look forward to working with the agronomist on the different options for this farm to establish productive pasture species, and increase pasture quality and pasture eaten per hectare.”
The couple have both been on a steep learning curve over the last few years having only entered the industry 10 years ago.
They both grew up on sheep and beef farms, Don in Southland and Kirsten in Hawkes Bay.
They worked as vets here and in the United Kingdom, but when they returned home, Don wanted to go farming. He managed an intensive Hawke’s Bay dry stock property for three years while Kirsten continued as a vet, in between having their three sons, Riley, George, and Josh.
Ten years ago they relooked at their career options and worked through a DairyNZ dairy career pathway and goal planning tool. They saw the opportunities that were available in dairying so Don accepted a herd manager role in Central Hawkes Bay.
They built equity and worked their way up from lower order sharemilker in the King Country to 50:50 sharemilkers in Central Plateau.
This year they took the leap into farm ownership.
The farm they purchased is situated on the Kaipara Harbour's edge, on young marine clay. The flats (80% of farm) are very prone to winter water logging and pugging. Kikuyu typically dominates summer pasture on this farm.
Don's goals for the 17/18 season include:
- Adjust the stocking rate to maximise profitability at a system 2-3.
- Use a mix of chicory, plantain and clovers to increase feed quality and quantity.