NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

102 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Ben & Allie King Allie and Ben King with baby Lincoln. Allie King checks the herd. Sue Russell With the prospect this June of moving on to a new farm as 50:50 sharemilkers Allie & Ben King are happy with how their farming business has grown. “As far as ultimate land ownership is concerned, we don’t have a mapped out plan yet, but this opportunity to be 50:50 sharemilking is certainly a step in the right direction,” Ben says. They also know just how rare opportunities to go 50:50 are. The new farm is at Rotherham, in the Hurunui District, North Canterbury between Culverden and Waiau and they have signed up to a three year contract. “Three years gives us a good amount of time to look at our business and see where our debt levels are, so we’re really looking forward to this next step.” Their current situation as variable-order sharemilkers is tending to 850 cross-bred cows. Plans are to shift the genetics in their own herd toward a smaller, more efficient cow by mating the crossbreds with pedigree Jersey. Ben is originally from Te Awamutu, in the Waikato and Allie was brought up in Christchurch. “Overseas there’s more of a trend toward fat content and by adding jersey we up the fat content of the milk which meets the markets demands.” Their new farm has great irrigation and the herringbone milking shed is undergoing substantial improvement in preparation for the coming season. In-shed feeding will be introduced. Moving also means moving people as well as cows. Currently the couple employ three farm workers and one will be shifting with them. “Our farm manager says he will follow us wherever we go,” says Ben. With a background in admin, Allie’s been able to take care of development of farm policies and the necessary admin systems to keep the business ticking over. It was when the couple went contract milking that Allie took on more on-farm roles. Conscious of the divide in understanding that can exist for ‘townies’ toward the farming sector Allie says they have set up Instagram and a Facebook page to show and explain what dairy farming life is about, in a practical way. Building understanding for those not working on a farm is something the couple are passionate about. “I think it’s so important to put out real and positive messages and images about what farm life is like to counter the popular media’s interest in only showing the negatives,” Allie explains. Response, she says, to their endeavours to share real life and understanding with a wider audience, has been very positive. Understanding how dairy products get from farm to table is interesting to people outside of the industry. The couple say there is a strong impulse through farming communities to do everything they can to lessen the environmental impact farming has. This extends to research into the genetics that creates a lower Nitrate cow. “The data proves that we are far and away the most efficient producers of dairy products in the world, yet we are starting to feel more and more vilified by media and government. If we don’t produce the dairy products, then another ‘dirtier’ country will,” Ben says. “Farmers are in no doubt that practices need to improve, and are always striving to implement new ways of doing so”. Both Allie and Ben agree that the only way barriers of understanding will be broken down is to present data in ways that can be understood. Of concern is also the mental-load and tally the demands of farming and negative media brings. “I think just the little steps that we are taking to inform others is definitely the way forward. There are a lot of really good organisations, rural support, federated farmers, Dairy NZ who recognise the mental load.” And taking care to get good work/life balance for staff with rostering is another thing both Allie and Ben say is important and makes a difference. “Normalising people having sufficient time for themselves, to prevent burn-out. We sit with our staff, talk with them to get a picture of how they are feeling and where any stresses are,” Allie says. Just simple things like understanding that not all farm workers enjoy milking as much as they do being on a tractor have really helped Ben and Allie tailor roles that place staff where they most want to be, most often. “It’s not rocket-science. It’s just understanding everyone is different and creating opportunities for the team to get the most out of their working day,” Ben says. “The data proves that we are far and away the most efficient producers of dairy products in the world, yet we are starting to feel more and more vilified by media and government.” Rare opportunity seized by Allie & Ben King SemaLtd. Great Quality and Great Value Specialists in the design and manufacture of variable speed Milk, Vacuum, Water and Effluent Pump Controllers 3 Year Warranty on all our products Brophy Knight are proud to provide accounting and advisory services to B&A King LTD For accounting and financial advice, contact: Emma Hastings, Greg Wall, Brendon Adam, Marcus Schoonderbeek or Angus Lindsay FOR ALL YOUR ELECTRICAL NEEDS B&A King Ltd ELECTRICAL YOUR TRUSTED PROUD TO SUPPORT EXPERTS Ph 03 308 8049