NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

108 | nzdairy Two farms and contracting for the win Hugh de Lacy RURAL SERVICES » Holdt Harvesting There are risks and sacrifices involved in running both an expanding contracting business and two farms but “that’s the job” Dan Holdt and his extended family perform near New Plymouth. “For five years now I haven’t had a summer where I and the staff haven’t been on a tractor working,” Dan says. “It’s a mammoth task juggling everyone wanting to cut at once, managing breakdowns, the weather, getting dinners out and juggling the work/family life balance, then racing round lease blocks and milking cows amongst all that.” The Holdt enterprise comprises three companies, Caldanair Group which works the top farm, Kenair Partnership the bottom farm, and Holdt Harvesting, launched in 2017. Of the farms, the 177.3ha top one is run by Dan’s father, Grant Holdt, and two staff, with Dan’s wife MacKenzie managing the dairy shed and the herd of 420 Friesian-cross cows. The farm, carrying 350 Friesians, is share-milked by Dan’s brother Blair Holdt and wife Kendra with two more staff. Holdt Harvesting leases a further 106ha scattered across six properties as feed blocks and winter grazing. “Our area is a good mix of flat, rolling and steep country, and each block requires a different approach,” Dan says. From the 1960s to the late 1980s the bottom farm was a town milk supplier while the top one was used for feed support and for bulls, but half of it was converted to dairying in 1994 and the rest later as Grant grew the dairy herd and added a neighbouring farm. Holdt Harvesting employs five operators and runs a fleet of eight predominantly John Deere tractors, plus an extensive plant inventory that includes round and conventional balers, Strautmann wagons, Claas mowers and swathers, Celli cultivation equipment and Aitchison drills. They’re supported by a 13t digger, an eightwheel truck and trailer unit, fertiliser spreaders and tractor-trailers. Dan started the harvesting business in 2015 with a $12,000 tractor on bald tyres, mowing with a $1200 mower he re-built, rowing and baling with his father’s farm gear and doing conventional hayThe Holdt Harvesting fleet includes an eight-wheel truck and trailer unit, eight predominantly John Deere tractors and an extensive plant inventory including round and conventional balers. baling, until taking the plunge in 2016 and buying the first 160hp John Deere and McHale baler. Dan’s youngest brother, Callum Holdt, became a key part of the rapidly growing business when their father fell ill in 2017 and had to quit work for a while. “From there on things kept growing: the tractors and the implements got bigger” – and so did Dan and MacKenzie’s family with the arrival of three children. Through the business process Dan has developed a political awareness that has left him with “no time for the current government,” he says. “They have not made it easy for people like myself trying to get ahead in the agricultural sector.” His biggest concern is urban sprawl. “Nowadays it seems too easy to chop up beautiful land for housing.” Dan sees the government’s Three Waters policy as “simply theft” and protest group Goundswell as “standing up for an industry that’s now under threat from ridiculous regulations.” 027 554 5008 Taranaki based stock and farm feed freight. Suppliers of quality straw, hay and silage. Holdt Harvesting Peter Laurence 027 252 2174 William Moynihan 027 279 7099