NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

36 | nzdairy Farming operation a real family affair Richard Loader DAIRY PEOPLE » Oraka Farms Blair and Brooke McKenzie thrive rather than survive by talking about everything to do with their farming operation together. But Blair admits this wasn’t always the case. “I used to not talk about things and just keeping my head down then I’d blow up. But Brooke has pushed me to talk about things rather than letting myself get overly stressed. Because we work together we’re lucky. We need to both know everything that is going on so we can offload to each other,” he says. His other recipe for mental health on the farm is to take time each day to do something he loves. For Blair one of these things is playing rugby, which he finds a good stress release, along with spending time with Brooke and their three kids Abel, 6, Aggie, 3 and Delilah, 18 months. Blair and Brooke are operations managers of the McKenzie family farming business, which comprises an 820ha dairy platform at Oteramika milking 2390 cows spread over three dairy sheds, each with a separate manager. There are also three run offs in Colac Bay and Tuatapere, which are overseen by Blair’s brother Brad, who is also the farm business manager in charge of budgeting accounts and the ‘big picture’ aspects. Blair, Brooke, Brad and other brother Graeme along with father Gordon are all shareholders in the family farming company Oraka Farms. It’s a multi generational business with Blair’s grandfather also a dairy farmer. Blair says the aim is to be self-sufficient and limit stock coming onto the farm to safeguard the operation. All of the replacement heifers are raised on the run off blocks – taken there when they are weaned and not leaving until they are ready to join the herd. This season they raised 720 replacement heifers. They also raise all of the young stock, run a small beef herd, and winter all of their own cows on the blocks. They also buy 50 jersey bull calves each Blair and Brooke McKenzie with family Abel (6), Aggie (3) and Delilah (18 months) • to page 42 Proud to be making balage for Oraka Farms for 20 years We specialise in: Balage making | Sales of balage & hay | Sales of NRF (net replacement film) Simon McKenzie 027 457 8911 John Curran 027 347 3008 Contracting