NZ Dairy Summer 2021

| 15 nzdairy South Canterbury farmer Arjan Van’t Klooster. The cow house for winter milkers. DAIRY PEOPLE » Arjan Van’t Klooster To invest or not ... that is the question Richard Loader Attaining ownership of his own farm in 2015 was a huge achievement for South Canterbury farmer Arjan Van’t Klooster. With the backing of his parents, he was able to achieve ownership at an age where most, in the dairy industry, are beginning their farming journey. The then 164ha farm is close to where his parents, Gert and Hermien’s own dairy farm is situated near Glenavy, on the northern side of the Waitaki River. When another opportunity presented in 2019 to jointly purchase the farm in between his own and the family farm, it spring-boarded an increase in stock number and production on both farms. “We split that farm in half and decommissioned the milking shed. On the family farm we have a fully automated 70 bail Waikato rotary with Allflex collars and drafting system. “On my own farm we have an old 36 aside herringbone and one day, when the time is right, I will invest in new plant,” Arjan says. The choice as to when to invest in new infrastructure is a slightly vexed one as well, as Arjan explains. “I am wondering always what new technologies are just around the corner. There are some companies working on new innovation such as selfcupping rotary sheds but I can see within the next two or three years I will have to make a decision and invest.” Now the two farms are 360ha and 270ha respectively, with 1450 cows on the larger property and 975 cows on Arjan’s own farm. On the original family farm production is running at 528kgMS/cow and Arjan is producing 425kgMS/cow. Currently a team of 13 full-time staff and 3 parttimers are employed. With such a large team and the economy of scale over the two farms, Arjan can employ dedicated irrigation personnel and tractor drivers. The larger farm is a higher input system 5 with a cow house for winter milkers. “We import a fair amount of potatoes, wheat and palm kernel. The cows just love the potatoes and they are a really good source of energy. We’ve been feeding out potatoes now for 10 years.” The farm’s are located about 15km from the coast right on the bank of the Waitaki River. Asked whether he would wish to be farming anywhere else Arjan says absolutely not. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We have wonderful free-draining soil and plenty of water for irrigation which is essential given the soil doesn’t hold the moisture long.” When the additional farm was bought in 2019, the decision was made to take out all the old border dyke irrigation system and replace it with centre pivot. This investment has future-proofed the farming operation, giving certainty to ongoing production levels. Arjan’s dad oversees the home farm and has another dairy farm as well. He takes care of all the young stock on this property. The herd is a 70% Friesian/30% Jersey mix. “We always AI with a pure-bred to capture the hybrid vigour. For a time the cows were getting too big as we went down more of a Friesian blood-line but we’ve pulled that back a bit now.” The opportunity to export live to China has given greater financial gain and the family has seized on this window which is closing next year. The area is wonderful for bringing up a young family with the river close by, boating, fishing. Arjan enjoys a spot of outdoor hiking and he and wife Kelsi have a two-year-old son Kees, who loves getting out on the farm as much as possible. “There’s no better life in my books for children than growing up on a farm.” Off-farm Arjan helps as a volunteer fire-fighter and attends weekly training sessions. “It’s a chance to catch up with people who are not all farmers and to contribute to the community. I really enjoy the interaction.” The herd is a 70% Friesian, 30% Jersey mix. Email: Website: 88 Treffers Road, PO Box 323, Sockburn Free On-Farm Delivery Free On-Farm Service Jess Williams (03) 684 5184 D&K ENGINEERING 20 Waihuna Rd, 7RD, Waimate 7924 SERVICING THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY General engineering & fabrication | Specialists in STRAUTMANN Ph. 027 459 2424 |