NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

30 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Maxnco Farms Building staff morale Off-farm activities play a major role in building a strong and cohesive team. Shaun and Nikoia McKelvie with award-winning trainee Sophie White. Sue Russell Shaun & Nikoia McKelvie contract milk 1600 cows over two farms for Bathan and Jane Muir. The farms are situated 5 minutes from Edendale, Southland. Shaun knows the farms well, having been on the properties for 14 years, the last three seasons as contract milkers. Prior to this he was managing for Alic and Sandra Hunter on the neighbouring farm. “As far as our business goes we are still reasonably young. It was the right time for us to advance our farming journey and go contract milking and so far the season is going well,” Shaun says. Milk production is slightly ahead of the goal set, boosted by some young additional cows boosting the herd’s total output. When NZ Dairy spoke with Shaun, the additional volume amounted to 30,000kgMS. Milk produced is supplied to Fonterra. There are two herds of 800 cows across the two properties, milked through 54 and 60 bail rotary plants. To take care of the day to day operation the couple employ two teams of four, one on each farm. The herd is predominantly Friesian and the farms are classed as a System 3 operation. “It’s not an overly high input system. We import most silage and a small amount of PKE & DDG as supplement feed when required,” Shaun says. Last year saw one of the team, farm-assistant Sophie White take out line honours in the Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year award, something Shaun says the aspirational young farmer thoroughly deserved. Shaun gave Sophie as much support as possible when she indicated to him her interest in competing; enabling time off to concentrate on studying for the event and giving her plenty of encouragement. “We also put her in touch with the real professionals that we have dealt with through our farming journey. People who understand the industry and have a lot of experiences to share.” And while Nikoia and Shaun are both busy parents with three growing girls Ellie, Mya and Madden, Nikoia also finds time to teach Hip Hop and works with Gore Musical Theatre in the local community. Off the farm, Shaun is currently President of the Southland Branch of the NZDA New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association A herd manager is appointed to each shed and Shaun says though they tend to work in the separate farms in terms of milkings and general farm work, there are plenty of activities when the team combine. Milking is twice a day generally for the whole season and post-Christmas two staff are rostered on to the milking shed at any one time. Calving gets underway this year on the 8th August and runs for 12 weeks and once calving proper begins it’s a busy time for the team. The farms are on a flat terrain with good Edendale soils underfoot. Fonterra’s milk processing plant is just 5km away. Maintaining staff moral and supporting the team as much as possible is a priority for Shaun and Nikoia. They see the merit in ensuring individuals feel valued and are given opportunities to progress their own farming pathway. “We have a shed team meeting every week and once a month a whole farm team meeting where we also get together for some off-farm team building activities. “We’ve done claybird shooting, ultimate archery at Venture Southland, ten pin bowling, darts tournament, golf, paua diving, orienteering, rifle shooting, an on farm skills course that the team set up to challenge each other. We’ve also been to watch a theatre restaurant show that Nikoia choreographed and had a bbq at the beach. It gives the team a chance to do something that has nothing to do with the farm and unwind.” Shaun says he and Nikoia are very settled in their current situation. He was brought up in the area and has been farming ever since leaving school. Scott Hutton 027 355 0818 – General Manager Ben Halstead 027 203 7542 – Operations Manager Brock Payne 027 715 1734 – Livestock Coordinator Justin Robertson 027 600 4049 – Liquids Coordinator Dean Moore 027 779 9449 – Bulk / Spreading Coordinator SIMPLICI TY - PASSION - TRUST - INNOVATION