Piopio organic dairy farmers Nick and Jo Collins have found both personal and professional success in their holistic approach to farming, which includes decades-long use of homeopathy for animal health issues.
Milking 250 crossbred cows on 130 hectares effective, the Collins have been using homeopathy for all of their working lives and have had excellent results.
Nick was brought up on a sheep and beef farm north of Auckland. He went shearing for seven years after he finished school before going dairy farming, starting on wages then working his way up through variable order sharemilking.
Jo had been using homeopathy long before she and Nick met, so they decided to start using it on farm to treat animal health issues, and for any health issues that arose for themselves or their children.
The Collins were buying their homeopathic products from a Wellington company until a colleague recommended Hamilton-based Homeopathic Farm Support (HFS).
When the Collins bought their own farm nine years ago at Piopio, they faced a potential animal health crisis and tackled it head on with homeopathy. The farm had a history of rotavirus, and it was active on the farm when they bought it. The previous owner had been vaccinating against the disease but Nick and Jo decided not to. They administered HFS' rotavirus nosode and were pleased to find that not one case of rotavirus eventuated in their herd.
"That is just one of many examples of homeopathy working on our farm," Nick said. "It gives you faith in the process as really, the key is in the results. You can't use the placebo effect on livestock. At the end of the day, if it didn't work we wouldn't be using it."
Unless an animal is in critical condition, the Collins turn to homeopathy first. They use it for acute cases of poor health, and preventively when the likelihood of seasonal health problems increase. Whenever conventional medicine is called for, they use homeopathy to complement it.
Nick said many farmers struggle with the concept of homeopathy.
"Most farmers in our organic community are open to homeopathy, and many conventional farmers are too, but at the end of the day they will still choose conventional medicine first."
The Collins want to continue to farm organically and stay certified, and grow their business through improving what they are already doing well.
"We want to run a resilient, low-cost farming system that fits with our environmental, social and financial objectives," Nick said.
"Part of having a resilient system is the ability to balance work and family life well. And an element of that is having a proactive rather than reactive approach to animal health, avoiding issues before they crop up."
- © Fairfax NZ News