NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

12 | nzdairy DAIRY GOATS » Milkabit Goat conversion the right move for couple Virginia Wright In 1968 Jean and Alan Noakes purchased a small dairy farm on the Manukau Harbour from a returned soldier who had settled on it at the end of the war. By 2003 their son Hamish had returned to the farm with his wife Tina and their two children. It was becoming increasingly difficult to make a living from the 40 hectare home farm so in 2013 the decision was made to change to dairy goats. They were still milking cows when they made that decision and they set about sourcing the goats by collecting surplus doe kids from other farms. “I’d milk in the morning then I’d drive out and pick up the kids and bring them back and nurse them so it was quite busy,” says Hamish in what is clearly an understatement given he was picking up anywhere from 20 to 50 kids in a day. They started their operation with 700 kids and now, eight years later, what used to support 170 cows supports no fewer than 1400 mixed age goats. It’s a family affair involving not just Hamish and Tina but his children Casey and Tiernan and a very supportive team. “Tina does people and I do the animals,” says Hamish, “and we had all hands on deck feeding the kids to start with.” Getting the kids through the winter was just the beginning. The cows were milked through to February then dried off and sold as the conversion got underway, which meant converting the 16 bale cow rotary to a 34 bale goat rotary. The shed has since been replaced with a GEA 80 bale rotary which has reduced milking times from 9.5 to more like 5-6 hours with twice the number of goats. On the land it meant moving all the wires from the top of the fences down to the bottom as goats like to shimmy under the wires; moving all • to page 14 Kids at play on the Noakes’ Manukau Harbour goat milking farm (above). Feeding grass to the goats (below). 0800MOLASSES (0800 665 277) 03 236 6089 FEED IMPORTERS NATIONWIDE Molasses Proud to work with Milkabit Proud to be preferred supplier to Milkabit Dairy Shed Installa�ons, Altera�ons and Upgrades. Dairy Maintenance and Consumables. Dairy, Commercial and Domes�c Water Treatment. Dairy, Commercial and Domestic Pumping. Pool & Spa Chemicals, Water Tes�ng and Valet Service. Pool and Spa Installations and Maintenance. 311 Pollen Street, Thames | 07 868 6214 | | COME TALK TO THE TEAMAT THAMES FARM FOR THE BEST ADVICE ON THE PENINSULA, HAURAKI PLAINS & FRANKLIN DISTRICT