NZ Dairy Summer 2021

20 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Awhi Dairy: John Lynch Challenges aplenty for Awhi manager Sue Russell Managing Awhi Dairy, owned by AtihauWhanganui Incorporation, these past four years has brought its fair share of challenges for John Lynch, who has spent all his adult life working on the land. In fact one of the reasons he applied for the role was to find solutions to a number of challenges the property presented at that time. “For a start, this is the dairy farm closest to National Park, near Ohakune, so it’s dealing with altitude, weather and extreme cold temperatures as a matter of norm.” Then, there is the shape of the 400ha farm, which is narrow and long, initially creating a walk for the herd at its extreme of 5 km. So, one of the things John did first was to cut off the back 95ha and use that as a run-off, given the farm rears all its young stock on the property. Now, the walk to the furthest paddock from the 44 aside Herringbone milking shed is 3.5km. The configuration of the milking shed has also been altered, with now two large gates and two water-powered backing gates to better manage the cows coming into the shed. The aim long-term is to build the herd numbers up to 720, but a series of serious health issues has meant substantial numbers of cows have been culled, so currently the herd sits at 645. “I inherited a lot of chronic health issues, including very high somatic cell count levels. As a result we had to buy in 170 replacement cows to replace culls.” There’s also a breeding policy in place to carryover any empty cows under six years. This year, that number amounted to 44 carry-overs. Staffing issues also present as challenges which John puts down to the location of the farm. Even though Ohakune is within two hours of Whanganui, Palmerston North and the Waikato, a lot of prospective staff perceive this as being isolated. Working with John at Awhi Dairy are a 2IC, currently on leave, a senior assistant who has returned and three other staff, working on a 6 on 2 off roster. Another new house is being built on the farm to offer as accommodation for staff and despite engaging a couple of recruiters John says filling positions is a challenge. “I’m really happy with one of the young workers we have who is really keen to learn as much as he can. • to page 21 I give him all the advice I have, that’s really satisfying to give back to the next generation of farmer in this way.” John has a condition known as ADHD and has developed effective strategies to support his responsibilities, including carrying a notebook and writing down issues and ideas. “My head gets full of lots of bits of information relating to the farm and the number keeps growing so having things written down is important, for me to return to and make decisions about.” The herd is largely Friesian/Friesian-cross and well suited to the tough climate experienced at 610 metres altitude. Atihau are sheep and beef farmers more than dairy, so one of the reasons he feels he was selected for the role was to enable the farm to reap the benefits of his experience. “We have dropped down to just 4% of the herd with milk-fever which has been a great achievement.” The Awhi Dairy herd in for milking (above). Manager John Lynch. Near Ohakune, managing extreme temperatures (below) is one of the challenges for John and his team. DA WINDLE LTD Raetihi for all your livestock transport needs phone kerry on 027 222 3431 Specialising in: Bulk grass & maize silage, maize planting, ground cultivation, making and supply of round and square grass silage & hay bales. Taumarunui Harrison Contracting Taihape Honda Proud Supplier of Awhi Dairy Unit 06 388 1211 89 Hautapu Street, Taihape w w w . o t o r o h o n d a . c o . n z Call us Today 0800 643 937 | Locally owned & operated. Proud to be part of your community. H E L I C O P T E R S • SPRAYING / LIFTING • GENERAL TRANSPORTATION • ENGINEERING • FERTILISER / SEEDING • FROST CONTROL • SPECIALISTS IN LIFTING