Halter will help combat the country’s acute labour shortage when it expands into Taranaki, Southland, Otago and the Central Plateau next month. The company’s rapid growth is in response to significant demand from the industry, and comes off the back of its launch into Canterbury late last year. Despite eased border restrictions and changes to the class exception scheme, demand for workers continues. In January, the industry predicted it would be short of between 4000 and 6000 workers this year alone.

Smart solutions like Halter, which can save farmers up to 20-40 hours a week, will relieve some of the unrelenting pressure to recruit. It means owner-operators can effectively, and sustainably run small farms single-handedly, and on bigger stations, it offers farmers the opportunity to operate at a higher level. Steve Crowhurst says Halter’s been a massive stress reliever, especially during the red setting of the Covid-19 Protection Framework.

“We’ve been able to support farmers to run 750-cow, three-mob farms with just two people, and still manage to maintain normal output and sustainable hours. Halter not only enables farmers to reduce their workload profoundly, but it also gives them the confidence to keep calm and carry on, regardless of the challenges thrown at them.”

Jo Sheridan, the demonstration manager at Owl Farm – a 160-hectare dairy farm, a joint venture between St Peter’s School Cambridge and Lincoln University, says Halter has given them greater workplace flexibility.

“Halter has not only enabled us to reduce hours but it’s also empowered all team members to make informed decisions using the data provided. Through Halter, the entire team can see everything that’s happening on the farm. By no longer needing two people milking and getting cows in we have more options to carry out other work on farm and offer flexible, sustainable time off.”

On larger farms like Canterbury’s Craigmore Group, one of the largest corporate farming operations in the country, Halter means they can offer farmers an improved work-life balance without compromising production. The current industry benchmark states one full-time worker is required for every 173 cows. But with Halter, Craigmore is able to manage 260 cows per full-time worker, with sustainable hours.

Matt Redmond is the Farm Business Manager on a 147ha, 520-cow Craigmore farm in the Culverden Basin, North Canterbury. He says the company adopted Halter because they’re passionate about sustainability and worker welfare.

“The human benefits are one thing, but Halter benefits the cows too – you can see it when they walk to the milking shed. They are so much calmer without having the noise and pressure of a motorbike and dogs behind them. It’s a whole new world.”

Halter is deploying onto new farms weekly. The system is currently on farms across the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Canterbury however farmers across New Zealand can prebook their deployment of the system. Halter collars are leased under a per-cow subscription model – based on the features farmers want to be enabled. Halter retains ownership of the collars and therefore takes responsibility for their maintenance.