NZ Dairy Spring 2021

22 | nz dairy Striving to achieve Richard Loader DAIRY PEOPLE » Bates Family Farm Motorcycles C HALLIS Specialising in farm & trail bikes Supply parts for most makes & models Ph 03 317 9521 Mob 027 373 9215 6 South Terrace, Darfield (next to Bridgestone Tyres) Big/Medium Square Balers Individual/Tube Wrapping Wheeled and Track Diggers Roller/Direct/Disc Drilling Strip Tillage ...and lots more! Roger Bates (top). Rodger & Sue’s son Martin Bates and his wife Vanessa who 50/50 Sharemilk on the Highfield Road Farm of 400 cows (above). When the neighbours 100-hectare farm came up for sale Roger bought it, adding it to the home farm. “I was also involved in a syndicate that owned farms in Invercargill and was flying down south once a month to supervise those farms. By then I had also married Sue. When I was thirty eight I de- cided that I’d enjoyed the progression from wages, contract milker, sharemiler to farm ownership so much that I wanted to do it again. So in 1996 we decided to move to Canterbury and go sharemilking for five years, leaving a sharemilker on our farm up north. We brought our herd of 300 cows down from Auckland and started with Tasman Agriculture, which had about 40 farms throughout Canterbury and Southland.” Eventually selling their northern farm, Roger and Sue bought 150 hectares in Wards Road, Burnham, subsequently adding two neighbouring blocks and milking 900 cows on 306 hectares. In 2013 Roger and Sue converted a 120-hectare grazing block nearby in Highfield Road to dairy, milking 400 cows on a 100-hectare platform. Nowadays, contract milkers Martin Panissa and Tatiana de Medina are in their third season on Wards Road. Roger and Sue’s son Martin and his wife Vanessa have just transitioned from contract milking to 50/50 sharemilking at Highfield Road, having taken over the herd of Jersey Cross cows that have been in three generations of Bates. Roger says Vanessa, an Aucklander who studied at Lincoln University, is passionate about cows and has a particular interest in genetics. Looking forward to a life in retirement, Roger says he and Sue will continue to live on their 40-hectare lifestyle block which is also used for running jersey bulls and winter grazing. “But we have friends and family all over New Zealand and so we love travelling around the country staying with them and we have two grand- children in Stewart Island. I want to be around and watch the next generation get ahead.” B eing a farmer is all Roger Bates ever wanted to do and he has spent his life devoted to his cows, the land and the family life that farming brings. Roger says he and his wife Sue have had a pretty simple lifestyle, but a strong vision and a desire to make things work as a team. “I think it is getting up every morning and seeing the beautiful sunrises. It is also about setting short, mid and long-term goals. I just enjoy the chal- lenge of striving to achieve them and ticking them off. We were always looking for new opportunities and trying to find the advantages — pushing the boundaries, and looking for the most efficient way to work.” But Roger has reached that natural stage in life where the hard work is done and farming is no longer for him. He and Sue are ready for retirement, new adventures, and leaving space for the next generation to grow while they are still around to support and guide them. Roger’s farming roots stem back six decades to his parents’ small dairy and beef farm in Northland half way between Dargaville and Whangarei. After attending an agricultural school in Kaikohe and spending a season wielding a shearers hand- piece, earning more money in a day than he would working for wages on a farm, Roger appreciated that dairy farming was his future. Returning to the family farm Roger worked for his father on wages, before being offered the opportu- nity of contract milking and then buying his father’s Jersey cross herd. At 20 Roger was appointed to the board of an experimental/demonstration farm in Dargaville, a position that he held for 13 years. Roger reckons that someone must have seen a future in him.