White River Dairies Farm Philosophy
What Makes Us Get Out of Bed at 4 am
At White River Dairies we constantly strive for improvement, in all aspects of our farm business.
Every day and every season we try to do better than we have done previously. That is the challenge that drives us each day.
The key areas we focus on are the cows, staff, farm, environment, feed, financials, family, and ourselves.
Our cows are the most dedicated workers that we have on the farm so we treat them like the queens that they are.
We recognise that cows are sentient animals and as such are to be handled and treated with respect.
Our cows are handled and moved in a calm manner. We use automatic gate openers to allow cows to move to the feed pad at their own pace without pressure.
Our cows are allowed to express their personalities. We have many ‘pets’ that come up to us in the paddock, cow shed and feed pad for a scratch and a bit of human contact.
We use a covered feed pad to allow the cows to be sheltered from the cold snow, wind and rain of winter, and in the heat of summer it provides them shade.
Our focus is on breeding an efficient high producing cow that calves easily and then quickly gets back in calf again.
Our animal health plans focus on preventative medicine and vaccination to maximise health and reduce costly interventions due to disease.
We get great enjoyment out of training and developing our staff while they are working for us. We want our team members to leave us confident in their skills and ready to advance within the industry or any other career they may choose.
We encourage our staff to improve their skills though attending Primary ITO classes to gain qualifications.
We constantly try to work smarter and more efficiently with the aim of balancing the workload, reducing physical and mental fatigue and improving job satisfaction.
While we’ve introduced proven technology into the daily farm operation, we also believe in developing common sense, observation - using the grey matter upstairs.
We have a team approach in the workplace. Everyone gets the opportunity to work across all aspects of the farm to develop a broad range of skills.
Land & Environment
As landowners we are the temporary trustees of our tiny piece of New Zealand. We work hard to maximise the yield from our land in pasture and crops to feed our cows. We work even harder to ensure that any fertiliser, nitrogen or effluent that is applied to the land is done so in a way to ensure the maximum uptake by the plant with minimal loss of nutrients from our soils.
Our waterways and permanent drains have all been fenced off. We recognise the Heriot Burn and Pomahaka River as waterways of particular environmental sensitivity. We have recently joined the Pomahaka Water Care Group. A community based group working to improve the water quality of the Pomahaka River and her tributaries.
We have constructed our covered feed pad, effluent pond and rainwater storage ponds in a way to allow the cleaning of the cow standing areas with an environmentally friendly greenwash gravity flood-wash system. A fully fed cow is a happy cow. Cows like consistency in their diet and do not cope well with sudden changes in their feed quality or quantity. We try to fully feed our cows at all times of the year to support their body condition, production and reproductive functions.
We run a pasture based system with the goal of maximising our pasture growth, harvest and use by the cow. To maintain pasture quality, surplus grass is harvested into silage and bailage.
Striving to farm as efficiently as possible, we analyse and benchmark the farm finances against other similar farm businesses, budgets and against our previous performance. Also, we are a case study farm for the MPI Farm Systems Change Dairy Initiative.
The dairy farm allows our family to have an outdoor lifestyle that they wouldn’t be able to have in the city. They are exposed to both technology and dirt in equal helpings.
Our children attend small, high-achieving, progressive rural schools.
They are all involved in the farm in an age appropriate manner and all help with the calves, yard work, and, our oldest Kate is becoming quite useful in the tractor doing cultivation work.
As they get older they will have the opportunity to work on the farm at weekends and school holidays to earn money.
Our farm office is also our home, so our children have been exposed to farming conversations from a young age and are aware of many of the drivers and influences around farm economics and income. Work is not something that we leave behind at the front door at 5pm each day.
We attend training days and courses to improve our farming knowledge. Paul has attended the Dairy Production Services (DPS) nutrition course twice to gain a deeper knowledge of dairy cattle nutrition. He has also undertaken a co-operative governance course.
Kyllee regularly attends Dairy Cattle Veterinary Conferences to keep her knowledge current. We work with a great team of rural professionals who we rely on to give us advice we need to keep improving our farm business.