Key is cost control and good product
Keep it simple and do the essentials well.
That is the philosophy Warren and Cindy Clayton-Greene farm Glenview Station by. It has resulted in the hill country property becoming one of the Waitomo district's top performing farms.
As the venue for a recent Beef+Lamb Farming for Profit field day, it was revealed the 870 hectare sheep and beef farm is 600 hectares effective with the balance of the farm in forestry and native bush.
Key to their business is cost control and ensuring a good product leaves the farmgate. Their farm expenses per stock unit is $45.08, well below the average for Waikato-King Country hill country farmers and below the region's top 20 per cent for hill country farmers, which is $53.22.
The farm's gross farm revenue per stock unit is also above the region's average and top 20 per cent at $105.43.
Key to this performance was Warren and Cindy's decision to lower their stocking rate and move away from farming store lambs when they bought the station 25 years ago. They had been at the station for 35 years, having started off as a partnership with Warren's brother and father. When the husband and wife team took it over it was heavily stocked with more ewes and cattle. It grew store lambs, the lambs were light and they would lose cows to staggers around calving.
"We decided to lighten the numbers and go for a quality of stock and we finish all our cattle," Warren says.
Ewe numbers were dropped from 3500 to 2000 and cow numbers dropped from 300 down to 200, where it remains today.
All of their cattle are now finished. The heifers are taken through to two years old at 220-230kg carcass weight and the yearling steers are finished at 24-30 months at 340kg carcass weight.
He mates his yearling heifers to a texas longhorn for ease of calving.
He also changed his lamb farming policy.
Their five and six-year-old ewes are now kept instead of being sold in ewe fairs. These ewes are mated to a terminal sire poll dorset ram to provide them with early lambs, which are born on July 25 and are targeted for the Christmas chill trade.
These lambs leave the farm in November and average 17.7-17.5kg.
Getting rid of those lambs lightens the farm up for when the bulk of the lambs come forward.
"We have less pressure on all of the lambs trying to fatten at the same time because farming is priorities."
Their main crop comes from 1500 of their mixed age ewes that are mated to a maternal romney sire, which lamb on September 1.
The rest of their lambs go in February right through to July at a rate of 200 a month to Lean Meats. The cut off weight for the lambs is 33kg live weight.
He runs the hoggets on the farm's harsher country where the cattle cannot go and any that get into lamb was a bonus, he said.
Warren also mates 500 of his ewe hoggets to a perendale terminal sire. He said they do not get good production from them with only 50 per cent of them in-lamb.
"Still that's a bonus," he says.
The front part of the farm is where the stock are finished and the cows calve and he weans the lambs on the back country where they have plenty of shade and shelter.
The yearling steers are also put in this country but are set stocked to separate them from the cows and calves.
He avoids putting cattle mobs in the steeper country because the stock tend to fall off the cliffs.
"We try and maintain our permanent pastures by the way we graze."
'We do send our lambs off heavy, we weigh them at 44kg but this year we will go up a bit because we have more grass."
They mob-stock their sheep and cattle to maintain the quality of the grass. The exception to this is during lambing and calving when the sheep and cattle are set stocked.
Warren said he wanted to avoid a farm system that he was tied to seven days a week. "I don't want to go there, that's not the style of farming I want to do. I like the more station style of farming where you have the space to take time off and go and watch the kids do something or go to the beach," Warren says.
- © Fairfax NZ News