Farm manager eyes ownership

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 11:01 04/04/2014
Jared Crawford
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

GROWING: Currently 125 hectares is under centre pivot irrigation at Waipounamu Dairies but this will double next year.

Jared Crawford
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ
QUICK PROGRESS: Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year Jared Crawford with wife Sara and son Lennox, one.

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Southland is the land of opportunity for Jared Crawford.

The former plumber and his wife Sara moved from the Waikato to Southland two years ago to further their career in the dairy industry.

They landed a job managing an 800-cow operation at Waimumu last season, but the chance to progress to a first-year conversion at Riversdale was too good to pass up.

"It was a great opportunity for us," Jared Crawford said.

The Crawfords are currently managing a 750-cow herd on 336 hectares effective at Waipounamu Dairies at Riversdale which is owned by Roger and Tracey Miller.

The Millers were keen to employ a farm manager rather than a sharemilker because they wanted to be involved in the running of the farm.

"Financially, we are better off with a manager," Tracey Miller said.

Jared Crawford grew up on a dairy farm near Paeroa but became a registered plumber while Sara, whom he knew from his school days, was a chef.

In 2010 he decided to pursue a career in the dairy industry and secured a position as a 2IC (second-in-charge) on a Waikato dairy farm while Sara, who had no previous dairy experience, became a herd assistant.

The following year they got a job managing a 370-cow herd, but they soon made the decision to open themselves up to more opportunities and made the move to Southland.

"We came here with no family and friends but they promised they would visit," Crawford said.

Crawford, who won the 2014 Southland-Otago Farm Manager of the Year competition, has started his own family with son Lennox recently celebrating his first birthday.

Waipounamu Dairies has a target of 300,000 kilograms of milk solids this season (400kgMS/cow) but a good growing season means production could reach 315,000kgMS.

"We're pretty sure we will pass our original production target," Crawford said.

However, production from the crossbred herd is set to increase dramatically next season when cow numbers increase from 750 to 950.

The cows are milked through a 60-bale de Laval shed which has "all the technology you need", Crawford said.

The farm, which situated in the drought prone area of Northern Southland, is partly irrigated with a centre pivot covering 125ha.

A second centre pivot will soon be installed taking the total area under irrigation to 250ha next season.

The Millers and Crawfords are aiming for a "black and white" herd and most of the cows go to a Friesian bull except for the larger cows which are mated to a crossbred bull.

As they were in the process of building herd numbers only the empty cows were culled.

About 300 cows were wintered at home on fodderbeet while 450 cows were wintered at the support block on kale and swedes and supplemented with baleage.

They were currently achieving a 72 per cent in-calf rate at six weeks and CIDRs were used on any non-cycling cows.

After winning the farm manager of the year title, the Crawford's next big goal is to secure a lower order or contract milking position in the 2015-16 season and to eventually form an equity partnership or own their own farm by the age of 40.

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They also hope to win the Southland Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition by 2020.

WAIPOUNAMU DAIRIES

- Owned by Roger and Tracey Miller

- Managed by Jared and Sara Crawford

- 336 hectares effective

- 750 cows milked

- 300,000 kilograms of milk solids a year

- 400kg milk solids a cow

- 60 bail rotary cowshed, fully automated

- 125ha under centre pivot irrigation

- 720mm rainfall a year

- Fairfax Media

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