Fresh eyes on farming support

2 May 2020

Originally from Ireland, Enda believes New Zealand’s dairy sector approach contributes significantly to its farmers’ successes.

Two dairy farmers – one from Ireland and farming here for two decades; and a sheep and beef farmer new to dairying – explain how they’re getting their money’s worth from DairyNZ’s levy.

Enda and Sarah Hawe:

“DairyNZ is my ‘phone a friend’!” That’s how Irish-born New Zealander and Mid-Canterbury dairy farmer Enda Hawe describes DairyNZ and its support for farmers.

“The levy’s value kicked in right from the start,” says Enda. “When I came here to live nearly 20 years ago, I had an Irish agricultural degree majoring in dairying, but I had to learn a lot about the New Zealand system. I became a very frequent

user of the DairyNZ website – Sarah and I still are, daily. It’s the encyclopedia of dairy for us.

“It’s good too to see that ‘TEAGASC’ – the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority – is catching up now to what DairyNZ’s been offering New Zealand dairy farmers over many years.”

Enda’s been involved in the NZ Dairy Awards (NZDIA) for over 10 years and in March this year he was a Canterbury/North Otago regional judge for the Share Farmer of the Year category. Enda also mentors other farmers through Dairy Connect, he was a member of the organising committee of SIDE (South Island Dairy Event) from 2015 to 2018, and he’s involved in DairyNZ’s Selwyn and Hinds project. He and Sarah have also hosted events on their farm, including discussion groups, an annual field day and a recent Milksmart workshop.

He says DairyNZ resources and tools help the couple keep on track environmentally as well.

“We have DairyNZ’s Farm Environment Plan (FEP) poster checklist on our dairy shed wall and by using their riparian planting guide, we’ve carried out double what’s needed for riparian planting on-farm. We build on that every year.

“As for DairyNZ’s brochures and booklets, we love them – our dairy shed is our library. It was very heartening to see so many farms had DairyNZ booklets and resources on hand when I

was judging for the NZDIA recently. We use them as a training resource for ourselves and our staff too.

“DairyNZ has also had some outstanding consulting officers over the years. They’ve greatly enhanced our business and we’re very grateful for that.

“We’d be lost without DairyNZ. Think about Zero Carbon, Mycoplasma bovis and the Essential Freshwater package – Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) and DairyNZ went in and batted for us on all of those.

“If people ask me about the levy, I’d say to other farmers,   ‘you need to get amongst it, or you’ll fall behind’. Farming can be a difficult challenge – but the support from DairyNZ is always there.”

Hannah and Richard have their hands full raising three children (Rosa, Patch and Eva – with a fourth on the way) and running both a dairy farm and sheep and beef farm.

Richard and Hannah Coop:

Dairying ‘newbies’ Richard and Hannah Coop bought their dairy farm at Kotema- ori in June 2019. Ten months later, the couple say they have no regrets.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning a new way of farming,” says Hannah. “It’s certainly been made a lot easier given the vast resources and support available through DairyNZ.”

Life is busy, balancing two farms and family life with kids Eva (4), Patch (2) and Rosa (1). The Coops also have a sheep and beef farm, Okepuha Station on the Mahia Peninsula, run with the help of a good team.

“We were well aware of DairyNZ,” says Richard, “as Hannah had worked for them as a consulting officer in the past. However, it’s always a different story when you’re trying to actually run a dairy farm for the first time!”

The couple has a strong focus on environmental management

– Okepuha was an overall regional finalist in the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2018, after winning livestock, agri-science and future farming categories at the  event. Richard says they’ll continue that approach on their dairy farm too. “We’ll be using DairyNZ’s Envirowalk app to help with that.”

Since taking over Kotema- ori, Richard and Hannah have also relied heavily on DairyNZ’s website for information, tools and resources while finding their feet. Like Enda and Sarah Hawe, the Coops say they use it daily.

“We’re consistently impressed by the website’s depth and level of detail on such a wide range of topics – all readily accessible online in one place,” says Hannah. “To a certain degree, we’re running our dairy farm based on these DairyNZ resources.

“We use a range of DairyNZ’s other resources. At our team meetings, we try and watch videos related to what is happening on-farm at the time, such as the heat detection video over mating. The  other week we  condition-scored our  whole herd, so we had a good look at the online resources related to that. We’re keen to try their training and courses too, once we’re more settled into the farm.

“I’m possibly a bit biased, being new to dairy,” says Richard, “but we’ve certainly had our money’s worth from the DairyNZ levy. I have no issues about paying it – and I’d recommend it to new farmers coming in, it’s really a credit to DairyNZ.”

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