NZ Dairy Spring 2021

| 63 nz dairy Guardianship plus DAIRY PEOPLE » Peter & Robyn Askey / Pouarua Farms D oing what’s best for the land – and its people - is of fundamental importance for iwi-owned Pouarua Farms, which runs the largest com- bined dairy platform in the Hauraki region. Kaitiakitanga (‘guardianship’) lies at the heart of this 2200 hectare farm operation that takes a long term holistic view on sustainable farming, now and into the far future. Pouarua Farms, which has nine dairy units and a drystock unit, is owned and operated by five iwi - Ngati Maru, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Tara Tokanui and Te Patukirikiri. Un- der their careful stewardship, Pouarura is evolving into an outstanding intergenerational asset. Pouarua Farms was one of three finalists for this year’s prestigious Te Ahuwhenua Trophy that recognises excellence in Maori farming. Over the past five years alone, approximately 50,000 native plants have been planted as part of Pouarua’s forever planting project. Riparian planting in priority areas is improving the health of farm drains and waterways. As well, specific species are being established, such as specialist harakeke that can be used by local weavers. Along with a strong focus on the environment, Pouarua is committed to its people. When Covid-19 levels were really starting to impact, Pouarua Farms quickly stepped up to distribute food to vulnerable whanau through the Hauraki Maori Trust Board’s manaaki hub. As well, Pouarua is working with iwi to employ at risk youth and help them into farming careers. Diversification is a big part of the Pouarua Farms story too with milk giving ground to other ventures including a new 9-hectare fully canopied blueberry orchard. Pourarua is also producing Manuka honey; food grade maize grain; and Wagyu beef for First Light. Jenna Smith is Pouarua’s first chief execu- tive, who moved up from the South Island with husband Brian and their two children Charlotte, 7 and Lachlan, 5, to take up the role and is enjoying the scope that comes with it. She has led some big changes in recent years, such as reducing the overall herd from 5500 to 4600 cows and retiring 200ha for a dry stock and crop operation. “Nothing is off limits when it comes to innova- tion and I’ve had the support of the board to move ahead with new strategies. I come from an invest- ment farming background. Being able to set priori- ties that are not all about profit has been refreshing. Kim Newth They feed between 1 and 2kg per cow per day of a meal mix, which sometimes includes Palm Kernel. “We don’t feed a lot of meal, but we found it saves the pasture covers a little bit if the cows have had something to eat before they go on to the grass. And, at the moment we are a little short of grass, so it is helping.” They pregnancy tested in March to confirm their calving dates. That information has helped them prepare their spring feed plan. They have more young cows available through their closed system because the export market – which used to be an important part of their busi- ness – has taken a significant hit. “By putting an above average number of heifers in the herd this season, which often calve in the first three weeks, we have not had so many late calving cows,” Robyn said. “To do that we sold a number of those later calv- ing older cows, and the cows with lower BWs and PWs to other herds. Now we’ve got a stable BW, and we’re building on that. “For the remaining later-calving cows that we did keep, if we can keep the feed up to them this spring, hopefully they will cycle early. Sometimes September calvers will calve in July the following year. “We might also possibly bring more young cows in again next season, since we have plenty of R1s right now.” Robyn said this spring has been more typical weather for their region. “The grass is not as good as the marvelous spring we had last year. But before that we had two springs when the grass didn’t grow at all, so you just never know what you’re going to get.” • to page 64 The herd is fed maize and grass silage. Trailer for molasses with solar panel (top). • from page 62 0800 800 380 FAR_10341 Quality Feed Guaranteed The NRM Calf and Dairy Range has been formulated by experts, to provide a choice of feed solutions, that will help you meet and exceed your targets. Choose NRM for a quality, safe feed guaranteed. FEED TO SUCCEED 490 Te Ngae Road, Rotorua I 07 345 8560 Contact 07 889 7055 | 24/7 Service Manager Simon Levings | Parts Manager Glen Autridge Mike Kitching 021 735 665 I Glenn Greay 021 862 169 I Todd Hewitt 020 194 5817 Thank you for being a Piako Tractors customer. Proud to support Pouarua Dairy Unit Jersey girl from Farm B of Pouarua Farms.