Niall McKenzie signs off, having gone for expansion in his sharemilking operations.

In many of my columns I always try to include honesty and hope. Often we need people to tell us “No” and question us. This makes us better and it’s always available in 2021, as everyone has thoughts on what you do and how you do it these days. Plus all the regulations and rules we have to abide by. Use these as your strength and not a weakness – otherwise, it will do your head in.

Two and half years ago we approached our bank at the time about the possibility of expansion. The idea was going from our 300-cow sharemilking job to the 500-cow sharemilking position next door. He said we couldn’t do it. The cash flow wouldn’t support it, although the equity was there.

Nothing like being told you can’t do something. We worked on cash flows, approached the banks and kept the small job and acquired the big position a year earlier than planned.

As well as big achievements you have to reflect on personal highlights or your days when you are busy don’t seem to count. By September 15 we had done half of last year’s total milk production from the old farm, Mahi (which we still have, plus the new one called Mana).

Last year we got to 96,000kg milksolids (MS) to the factory so if we have a half-decent summer and some autumn growth the season could be great. We probably need a good year to help pay for the tax – sad but true. By the way, Jacinda, what do I get for our $62,000 of tax?

Del and I both have recently just had four milkings of work, which is incredibly good although I am writing this at 4am and wide awake. It’s a staycation at our place as we live in the Auckland region. One of the local vets is married to a Russian and he said she had more freedom there growing up than we have in New Zealand now. Scary but true.

A recent highlight was the following: We recently pregnancy tested the last 51 spring cows that were not springing up yesterday. With very pleasing results there were only 17 not in calf, which is a fantastic result as we wintered 811 cows and bought them in from eight different places.

Shine baby shine.

Our farm team is reasonable out on the farm. We haven’t employed staff in the last 10 years so this takes some getting used too. Basically means not sweating the small stuff, but still checking up on everything. At last week’s staff meeting the focus was on accountability and what it means to them. A lot of the time I like them, sometimes not so much.

In the last three months a lot of things have happened down on the farm. I am trying hard not to be a drama queen as I type this. We have had the fire brigade out for a circuit board fire on a Saturday night, during which thankfully Delwyn was scrubbing buckets and I was out on the farm hunting turkeys with our nephew. We got the fire out eventually. This took our Mahi cowshed out for 10 days, so all the cows got moved over to the other farm, same owner. These are just moments in life but at the time they seem a lot more important.

As this is my last column in NZ Dairy Exporter I would like to say thankyou to the team there, for making my stories look great. Considering I only got 52 in School C English and left school at 16 I think it’s pretty amazing.

To the NZ dairy industry thank you for all the opportunities you have given Delwyn and me. And my last thank you is to our friends and family who are always there when we need them.

Nialtor, Gone Baby Gone.

  • Thanks Niall, it’s been fun reading of your adventures, Ed.