Business Rural Summer 2021

36 | MEAT & WOOL » Nigel Woodhead High performance pasture species key A hoggett with twin lambs at Remote Farm, near Milton. Sue Russell A t the end of Remote Road, near Milton, South Otago, is Remote Farm, a 400 ha (320 ha effective) sheep and beef unit, that Nigel and Leanne Woodhead lease from Nigel’s parents. The farm is in a beautiful situation; one of those spaces tucked away at the end of a road not too many people travel down. This season the farm is lambing 2500 ewes, with all bar 180 due to present lambs within a 17 day period and when Rural South spoke with Nigel late September, welcoming the next generation of lambs was occupying the bulk of his time. The farm also carries 700 - 750 replacement hoggets and 60 Friesian bulls, grown to 18 months. “Lambing is the biggest determinant of our financial performance. We save every lamb we can. We’re fortunate that with the land we have here we’re able to go around and check on all the ewes and Leanne helps out at this time. She also takes care of rearing the calves.” Also close by are Nigel’s parents Bronwyn and Stephen who are still actively involved in assisting on the farm. The farm also has about 40ha of pine trees which are due to come down from next year. Winter feed crops are also grown on the farm, including 13ha of Swedes and 3-4ha of Fodder Beet. “There’s also another 25-30ha which is definitely suitable for growing more Pines, however at the moment it is in gorse. We might also plant a few natives.” Nigel describes the farm as good rolling land with the tops of the ridges flat. “It’s a fantastic farm. My parents bought it in 1993 and at that time it had a huge amount of gorse. They worked very hard over many years to bring it into good pasture.” The farm is of average size for the district and Ni- gel and Leanne know they are reaping the rewards of a massive development programme overseen by his parents straddling some 25 years. Wairere is the choice of genetics Nigel says. “They provide a good mix between production and toughness. We can dry out and we need our sheep to be able to cope when things get tight. At 11 stock units/ha we need sheep that can handle a pinch.” The couple have been in charge of the farm for 5 ½ years and when not busy on the farm Nigel continues a decade long involvement with Young Farmers. In 2017 he was announced the country’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year – an experience he says he gained a great deal from. “You’re pitting yourself against the very best across a whole range of tasks and knowledge.” In fact, the association with Young Farmers extends to Leanne as well, who was the Otago Southland Territory Manager for the organisation for three years when they first moved to the farm. “I’m still quite involved and really enjoy it. I sit on the contest sub-committee, the contest’s govern- ance team.” Nigel says the value of Young Farmers cannot be over-estimated, particularly in this COVID era. Especially when social media makes it possible to connect, yet remain isolated, it’s important to have organisations that provide a platform for social engagement and to support young farmers coming through. “It’s been a tough couple of years from a contest point of view. There have been a lot of things we had to deal with, but I am hugely positive about where the competition is going to be in the future. We just have to think it out and adapt.” Nigel says the Contest Sub Committee are in the process of putting out a new strategy to guide its form and activity in the future. With a background in agronomy, through his de- gree at Lincoln University, Nigel is keen to focus on extending the footprint of high performance pasture species on the farm. He has introduced red-clover over about 40ha. “It’s a real power-house for finishing young stock on.” Prior to farming, Nigel spent five years working with Midland Seeds and acknowledges that while he may not be a particularly gifted stockman, he knows how to grow crops. Putting in the effort to get the very best perfor- mance from the land, at a time when the couple are not particularly indebted makes sense to Nigel. “This is the time for me to do the hard graft and get our pasture and farming systems really humming, so that when later on we are carrying much more debt, the farm is in the best position to produce income for us.” EBVs Here for your farm, your pets, your family. We are your Vet Club. We are your Vets. 24hr Em ergency: 03 418 1280 Animal Health Centre CLUTHA V E T S CLUTHA V E T S Nigel and Leanne are 100% committed to all they do. It’s been great helping them budget for the season ahead, as they trial new ideas and stamp their mark on the farm. “ Tom Hanning Rural Advisor - Polson Higgs 03 479 4816 Accounting | Business Advisory | Training | IT Payroll | HR | Tax | Business Systems Solutions “ Corner Eden and Elderlee Streets, Milton 9220 03 417 8485 Livestock Cartage Specialists • Fertiliser • Rock/Metal • Bulk Cartage • Wool / Timber