Wednesday, 03 April 2024 08:55

Share farmers with big plans

Written by  Mark Daniel
Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year, Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha. Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year, Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha.

With only about eight weeks to go before their cows are dried off, the 2024 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmers of the Year, Will Hinton and Kali Rangiawha are well on the way to their 140,000 kgMS production target.

Milking 340 cross-bred cows, currently made up of around one third heifers, the couple operate on a 113ha effective platform, complemented by an adjacent 60ha run-off block.

Located at Halcombe, north of Feilding, the property is owned by Tim and Victoria Gorton. Tim and Kali relocated to the Manawatu for the 2023- 24 season after contract milking in the Waikato region at four locations over the past four seasons.

Will grew up in the UK, then after agricultural college and university, headed to New Zealand in 2014, where he met Kali. Returning to the UK, after six months the couple realised that their farming careers would have much greater potential in New Zealand.

Their move to the Waikato saw Kali running the day-to-day operations on the farm, with Will working part-time on pasture and feeding plans, with time away from the property working in the consultancy space with Farmright and Rabobank.

As is often the case, the saying “if you want something done-give the job to a busy person” played out in the case of Kali, who juggled life on the farm, family life with three young children and operated as an LIC technician for the last six seasons.

Kali’s work ethic is summed up in a comment: “I was courageous and got back to work after having each of the children”. The couple go on to say, “Our vision is to provide a long-term sustainable business for our kids, while at the same time ensuring we have a strong work/life balance”.

Much of the couple’s success is built around attention to detail, which in Will’s case has seen him create a budgeting tool, from his time working in consultancy, that helps the business review opportunities, while also identifying profitability and highlighting any gaps that will hinder success. The tool provides a projected cashflow that the couple adheres to, alongside an annual budget that is reviewed regularly.

Looking at the Halcombe operation in more detail, Will and Kali are committed to remaining disciplined, while also being flexible enough to adjust projected plans as the season progresses.

This discipline is reinforced by weekly farm walks to collect, record and review farm data, making informed decisions, sticking to round lengths and adjusting where needed, alongside hitting key targets throughout the season.

Typically this might be an average pasture cover on June 1st of 2400kg DM/ha, strategic nitrogen applications and irrigation use, with further focus on higher in calf rates and a reduction in empties.

Feed utilisation is driven around average pasture growth across the platform of 12 tonnes DM/ha, rising to 14.5 tonnes/ha on the irrigated ground. Chicory is used to cater for dry spells, with 10ha delivering about 11 tonnes/ha.

This season imported supplements have included 264 tonnes DM of maize silage, 48 tonnes of PKE and 45 of grass silage, of which two thirds was made off the platform, and 100 bales of ryegrass straw. The cumulative total saw 2071 tonnes DM utilised, based on 80% home grown and 20% imported.

Looking to the future, the industrious duo are looking to head to 50:50 sharemilking, with 400 to 500 cows, purchasing some real estate to provide some security offfarm and over the next decade purchase a 400 to 500 cow farm, operating on low inputs, and at some point, if time allows, get married.

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