NZ Dairy Summer 2021

56 | nzdairy Sixth generation on Radnor Lands Richard Loader DAIRY PEOPLE » Radnor Lands Kelsey Thompson (28yrs) and her husband Josh (30yrs) bought into Kelsey’s family farm as 50/50 sharemilkers five years ago. She’s the sixth generation to farm the land on Radnor Road in the lee of Mount Taranaki in Midhirst, half way between New Plymouth and Hawera. After studying Ag-science at Massey Kelsey moved to a job with an Agri-seed company in Christchurch which is where she met Josh who had moved down from his home town of Nelson. They saved for four years to get a foot in the sharemilking door with the purchase of 180 cows from Kelsey’s parents John and Sheree. They’re now in their fifth season and last year they managed to buy another 100 so that they now milk 280 cows and Josh has left his job as a diesel mechanic in Stratford to join Kelsey full-time on the farm. “He was a city boy moving here onto the farm,” says Kelsey, “but he loves it, I don’t think he’d be able to move back to town now.” Farming just two kilometres from the boundary to the mountain is not without its challenges thanks to the high altitude, and typically three metres of rain a year. “We’re lucky because we have decent run-off with two rivers but we farm with a lower stocking rate than other people probably would,” explains Kelsey, “and we shift the cows if it’s too wet. Plus we have a lot of shelter belts around the property with trees and hedges so they can shelter from the conditions, and the animals we farm have been bred to the conditions.” Their herd is Kiwi-X with a tendency towards the Fresian side which Kelsey believes makes them more robust, but the Jersey helps keep their size down.” With our rainfall we don’t want those big cows that are going to make a mess on our paddocks,” she says. Paying careful attention to animal condition lies at the heart of Kelsey and Josh’s approach to farming and to mating in particular. “The whole idea we farm with is that the happier they are, and the more content and well-fed. the better because they won’t be using the condition off their backs to keep warm.” The warmth in Kelsey’s voice as she talks about the cows gives weight to her notion of “happy cows” and it’s clear it’s not just an abstract idea to her. “I love my cows,” she says with a laugh, “I’ve got 280 pets that I milk.” They like a minimum body condition score of 5.5 for their young stock going into mating, while targeting 5.7, and a minimum of 5 for their mixed age cows with a target of around 5.3. “We start planning for going into mating at dryoff the previous season,” explains Kelsey “So we start identifying cows that are a bit lighter and might need to be dried off a bit earlier, and we also move to a three in two milking regime towards the end of February which is less stressful on the cows than twice a day so they put condition back on.” Having their cows in great condition through winter helps them go into mating in top condition without stretching their winter resources and as far as Kelsey’s concerned it helps keep her stress levels down too. They’re a system three farm and they feed their cows in-shed 2 kg a day adding any trace elements or minerals they might need, for where they are in the annual cycle, according to the advice they get from the grain company or the vet. This spring has seen particularly abundant rainfall which adds time to every chore and could be stressful in itself, but the mountain that brings the rain is what keep Kelsey going. “We’re so close to the mountain which is absolutely beautiful,” she says. “When the rain starts to get you down it only needs a few nice days and you see the mountain and it makes up for everything so you forget the bad week and everything’s good again.” 94 Broadway, Stratford 4332 E-mail: Free Phone: 0800 756 8626 Phone: 06 765 5131 Mobile: 0274 960 685 Fax: 06 765 5232 Steve Bruce and Central Milking & Pumping are proud to support Radnor Lands Kelsey with husband Josh Thompson. The couple now milk 280 cows (below). 101 Broadway PO Box 137, Stratford 4352 Phone: 06 765 8643 Email: admin@ Website: www. Proudly supporting Radnor Lands Taranaki’s only authorised dealer for Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Valtra & Iseki