NZ Dairy Summer 2021

| 47 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Jarrah & Sheree Sheehan / James Courtman Focus on breeding worth • from page 46 Couple plan to ‘free up some time for the kids’ After 20 years in the industry, Waikato dairy farmers Jarrah and Sheree Sheehan have been making some big decisions lately, as they seek lifestyle improvements in a business environment that is quite different to the one they started out in. As their children, Devyn, 18, Rylee, 16, and Charlytte, 14, are getting older and starting to go a bit further afield in their lives, Jarrah and Sheree have seen the need to free up some time to allow them to continue to support the kids in their endeavours. “Devyn has started university at Lincoln this year, while Rylee is doing well in his showjumping and we travel around a bit with him. Charlytte has started high school this year, and she’s into cheerleading which takes her around a bit as well. We really wanted to free up some time for the kids.” Milking 600 cows across two farms and two sheds, the Sheehans put some thought into their staffing situation and offered contract milking positions to existing waged staff. This opportunity has been taken up by the young couple on one of the farms, and Jarrah is now getting pretty comfortable with not going to the cowshed every morning. “But I’m nervous about being too comfortable,” he says. “I’m at an age where I could be taking one or two more things on.” Contract milker Conner Peterson by new effluent pond. Staff member Ethan Shadbolt left and Farm manager Phil Hurd by new maize bunker. Part of the Sheehan milking herd grazing. Around 600 cows are milked across two farms. He says during the past two to three years, growth has been hard yakka as the banks made changes to agricultural lending agreements which saw farmers moving from interest only repayments to 20-year amortisation. “The banks have been tough, but it has come from the Reserve Bank which is controlled by the New Zealand Government, and I wonder if it was a backdoor way to weed out a few farmers.” These changes have made it hard to grow in the dairy sector in recent years, but Jarrah and Sheree managed to buy one run off and lease one as well. “Now we think, with a combination of the payout and where it’s forecast to go, we are where we need to be and it’s a good time to consolidate those dry stock blocks into more dairy land.” The Sheehans consolidation plans also extend to the home farm, where they have subdivided off four lifestyle sections of almost 1ha each. “Primarily to make some money, but also to help the housing crisis. Social pressures on dairy farming have affected our land values, and farmers are now having to find another way to generate capital. “We’ve got productive dairy farms, but they’re worth about the same as a beach house at Whangamata, even with a couple of houses on each property.” On these social pressures, Jarrah says today’s dairy farmer has been disproportionately shouldering the blame for animal welfare issues, then global warming issues, and now water quality issues. But the new Groundswell NZ movement and its conspicuous protest action has seen a rise of public support for farmers “The Groundswell guys are playing a big part in that. Farmers can be a bit more proud of what they’re doing. We’ve started to feel like we have got public support again, and have got the social licence to farm again.” Kelly Deeks Contract milker Nikia Peterson arrives in a tractor to get married on farm due to Covid restrictions. importance is the break-even milk price which is usually about $4 to $4.50kgMS “with a reasonable amount of debt.” The farm has access to excellent genetics through LIC’s sire proving scheme, but James is more focused on breeding worth rather than specific genetics, especially as there is good uniformity in the herd. Profit is about $1000/ha against farm working expenses of $4. “The main financial metric we focus on is break even milk price and have been able to keep this around the $4.50 mark even with a reasonable amount of debt.” Due to the great uniformity of the Jersey breed the business has been using various sire proving scheme options across the majority of the herd. This helps to keep breeding costs down but also access to the next generation of genetics at an affordable price. FOR ALL YOUR SALES, SERVICE, REPAIRS & SPARES! Waikato dealer for Landini McCormick & Lemken cultivation equipment Giant Loaders · Husqvarna · Masport · Polaris · Aakron Trailers · Stewart Agricultural Trailers Pearson · Rata · Ryco Hydraulic Hoses · Tyremax · Baybat Batteries · Aichi · Strautmann Tractor Sales · Servicing & Repairs of all makes and models · Farm Machinery Sales & Service (new & used) · Hydraulic Hoses & Fittings · Truck & Digger Servicing · Automotive Servicing WOF’s & pre COF Auto Electrical & Air Conditioning Service · State Roadside Rescue · Breakdown Service EWP & Crane Specialists · Sales, Parts and Service for all Garden & Lawn equipment Diggers Trucks Bulldozers Draglines Excavation & Drainage | Farm & Commercial FREE QUOTES Call Tim 027 493 2115 | O ce 07 8263478 Email