They are also equity partners and 50:50 sharemilkers on a 148 effective ha property with 315 cows, which they also winter cows on. The large farm is system 3 and the small farm has been run at a system 1-2 whilst it has been redeveloped, next season it will milk 450 cows and grow 20ha of wintering beet and go to a system 3.
The couple joined the Grass into Gold programme, a predecessor to Tiller Talk in June 2014.
“I entered the Grass into Gold programme as grass is the most important feed in our business. The more we can grow and utilise the better the financial performance of the farm for both us and the farm owners, my parents. I wanted to gain more knowledge around species selection and how to best manage new pastures in their first season,” says Morgan.
Morgan studied at Lincoln and Cornell Universities for his B.Ag.Sci. and worked as a Dexcel consulting officer for 18 months before undertaking a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, Indiana, on a Fulbright scholarship.
Since beginning their sharemilking career eight years ago Morgan and Hayley have expanded their herd from 450 cows in 2008, to 1600 in 2016/17. In 2013, the couple were acknowledged as the Canterbury and North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Manager of the Year.
Non negotiables for Morgan are to keep the system as simple as possible, and run the farm as a business to make money.
The couple has learnt how to adjust supplement input based on supplement prices and milk payout.
“We manipulate supplements all the time,” says Morgan.
For instance, in 2015 when payout was low they milked fewer cows, and that autumn, they fed about half the amount of daily supplement (palm kernel & barley) compared to the previous year.
“It’s all to do with generating profitable production under the current payout, rather than making milk just to feel good,” Morgan says.