NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 15 nz dairy Coming out the other side of M.bovis DAIRY PEOPLE » Jon & Hayley Dampney M id Canterbury contract milker Jon Dampney and his wife Hayley have arguably had a tough couple of years after mycoplasma bovis was discovered on their Kainui Farms share- milking operation in 2019. “We were devastated,” says Jon. “We had a really good herd with decades of breeding that was producing 470-480kgsMS mainly on grass. To have to cull them was awful.” But fortunately for the couple there has been a silver lining. They managed to purchase two replacement lines from long time farmers in the Bay of Plenty. Both closed herds, one had also been established from the famer’s stud herd meaning good genetics. “We wanted to get back to what we had as close as we could. I’ve always been interested in breed- ing so now I’m hoping, once we get back on track, to be able to form a stud from the genetic base of this herd,” says Jon. Kainui Farms is a 50:50 sharemilking operation for Hayley’s parents Robbie and Diana Bennett on a 115ha property with a herd of 400 cows and a 24-aside herringbone shed. There is a manager and two other staff on this farm. As well as their sharemilking operation, Jon and Hayley have also been contract milkers on Deebury Pastoral’s Ealing Dairy near Hinds since 2015. Ealing Dairy is a 286ha effective property running 1100 crossbred cows, milked out of an older 50- bail rotary shed. At Ealing Dairy Jon is managing four staff. “The two farms are only 10 minutes apart which helps with logistics,” says Jon. The Ealing Dairy farm has just integrated ad- ditional hectares of previously unfarmable land into the dairy platform. When they had to upgrade their border dyke irrigation system on the farm they chose to expand the area irrigated with a mix of additional centre pivots and fixed grid. Now all 286ha is under irrigation and water is used more efficiently. The couple is presently focusing on safeguard- ing the Bennett’s farm by tightening up processes including operating a closed herd. The fact the farm is bordered by a road and a headrace helps. “The Mycoplamsa Bovis Programme can still not confirm how our herd contracted the disease, so we are trying to do all we can to protect it,”says Jon. They recently sold their Northland farm, which they owned with Jon’s parents. They have consoli- dated their debt and are looking into the future with the technology that is now available. They have just added Allflex cow collars to this herd. Karen Phelps “Being a herringbone it’s very labour intensive and easier to miss things. The collars help the staff and also give us good information to drive reproduction and animal health targets.” In terms of production they aim for 500-520kgsMS on Ealing Dairy and will target 480-500kgsMS on the smaller farm although Jon acknowledges with being a new herd it will be a case of seeing how it performs to get a benchmark. Jon grew up on a Northland dairy farm before moving south with his parents as a teenager. Hayley grew up on a sheep and crop farm but has come to love dairy farming. She is hands-on rearing the calves over the two farms and she looks after the administrations and financial requirements for the farms. As well as their farm duties, Jon and Hayley have responsibilities at home as parents to George, 6, Angus, 4 and Sophie who is 2. Farm ownership is the ultimate goal and they are actively seeking this opportunity. They certainly haven’t let mycoplasma bovis put them off. “You’ve got to keep your head down and keep going,” says Jon. “If you worry too much it’ll get the better of you. You have to remember that it’s not your fault; it’s just something that’s happened. At first we were scared to tell people our herd had mycoplasma bovis. “You don’t know how much support is really out there until you need it and everyone’s been great. In the end you will find a way out the other side.” Photos: Contract milkers Hayley and Jon Dampney with Sophie, George and Angus. Jon getting to know the new herd. 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We had a really good herd with decades of breeding that was producing 470-480kgsMS mainly on grass. To have to cull them was awful.”