NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 37 nz dairy Natural growth for Ethan and Sarah Koch Sue Russell Y oung dairy farming couple Ethan and Sarah Koch are enjoying their second season share- milking on the Hauraki Plains. Together, they have a clear, well thought-out approach to cementing their farming businesses success and with a passion for the industry, no doubt, in time, will realise their farming goals. Prior to shifting on to the 96ha flat farm, Sarah and Ethan were 50:50 sharemilking at Onewhero, North Waikato. Leaving no stone unturned, in their pursuit for eventual farm ownership Sarah says the resources available through the Dairy NZ website, talking often with mentors and eventually grounding their vision statement, has enabled them to position themselves with confidence in these early years. “We just want to make sure we are always open to opportunities, whether we go equity or on our own.” Sarah taught at Hauraki Plains College, banking all her salary for three years and saving some of Ethan’s managing salary, to gain a foothold to buy a herd. “Sharemilking was always our immediate goal. It meant I could be home on the farm with our young children and be on farm where needed. It is also a wonderful upbringing for them. Looking carefully after their finances and criti- cally analysing the best use of limited financial resources has been a priority for them. The farm is roughly split into thirds of a blend of silt, peat and clay and their predominantly Friesian herd are great producers. “We have crossed slightly to a breed of more F12 to F14 animal with the idea of being smaller framed and producing slightly more fat, while not compro- mising on protein or capacity. We don’t have bobby calves and every cow is put up to either a Friesian or a Hereford bull,” Sarah explains. And while there’s a strong vision driving business decisions, there’s equally a strong vision for the herd, which currently sits just outside the top 10% in production. “We’re focussing on efficiency and production and breeding for a 490-500kg cow. We want to keep a uniform herd. We have our own Hereford Stud which produces bulls for our heifers to ensure ease of calving and a closed herd.” Approximately 20% of the lower BW animals go to a Beef bull and are not bred from in terms of replacement stock. The feed-pad has a capacity for 330 cows and if conditions do become wet through winter rubber mats a provided for comfort. At day-break maize is fed out to the cows and then they tend to sit down during the day. Paddocks have gates front and back, so the cows are not returning over an area they have travelled on. DAIRY PEOPLE » Ethan & Sarah Koch Ethan and Sarah Koch are focussing on efficiency and production and breeding for a 490-500kg cow. Dad’s helper lend’s a hand with the fencing. The 96ha flat farm on the Hauraki Plains. HAURAKI PLAINS MOTORS LTD For all new and used farm machinery 1 Pipiroa Road, NGATEA - Ph. 07 867 7021 e: Miles Shelley 027 227 1121 Michael Duffin 027 440 4681 In one gate and out the other, is a system Sarah says also preserves pasture quality and reduces mud in high traffic areas. Pasture grows well, in what Sarah describes as a fertile area. Peat adds to the fertility potential and the couple take good care of young pasture as it grows. Last season the couple milked 350 cows but have reduced this season to what they consider a more comfortable number for infrastructure and people. The intention is to reduce reliance on imported feed by growing maize and chicory. The chicory is really grown to off-set the summer-dry and to get more protein into the herd. “We do have maize silage grown on farm and on the support block and a contract for 90 tonne PK for Spring as an insurance to help get through that time.” Helping on the farm is a 2IC, and Sarah’s parents who own the farm live nearby. An experienced farm-advisor is also part of the human resourcing. “We always want to learn and to have ideas about how to farm better, so we are open to advice and trying new farm management systems.” Care of stock is a priority and the herd is split into two. The aim is to produce heifers with a 5.5 condi- tion score at calving with the cows calving at 5. “We take bloods to see what they need. Minerals such as Copper, B12, Selenium are administered via injection in the dry off prior to calving and other minerals get added to the maize in the feed-out wagon. We have an animal health plan which is seasonal and monthly for each class of stock and we carefully monitor cow-condition to ensure they receive what they need.”