NZ Dairy Summer 2021

| 57 nzdairy A passion for animals and the outdoors Richard Loader DAIRY PEOPLE » Reece and Natasha Cox Bay of Plenty contract milker Reece Cox is now in his 11th year dairy farming and says the industry is everything he believed it would be. Growing up in a rural area with a passion for animals and the outdoors, Reece was set on farming from a young age. While doing a sheep and beef cadetship with PGG Wrightons Reece joined a local rugby club and 95% of the teammates were dairy farmers. One of them was a Landcorp manager on a 2000-cow dairy farm. Getting on well with the manager, Reece picked up some part time work, which led to full time work as a dairy assistant at the end of his cadetship. “He was a good manager and pretty quickly I could see there was a good career pathway. You could fast track pretty quickly to become a manager at a young age.” Following his boss to a 1200-cow farm owned by a Maori Trust, Reece realised his dream and became manager at the age of 21, before he and his wife Natasha reached a crossroad. “We were looking either at going out on our own and building our own farming business that we could both be involved in, or staying with the larger corporate farms. In 2017 we accepted a contractmilking role on the Tauranga Hills farm owned by David and Lesley Jensen. We’re now in our 5th season on that farm.” The following year Reece and Natasha entered and won the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Share Farmer of the Year award. “The awards played a big part in our business career. When we went through the process we saw the recognition the entrants got and the valuable networking. It also makes you appreciate you’re on the right track.” With the support of two full time staff and two part timers, Reece milks 720 cows off a 270-hectare platform. “We do 330kgMS/cow on a System two farm, all year, once a day. Because we’re milking once a day the cows are in better condition and we milk into June and calve in July.” One of the things that Reece values about dairy farming is the supportive network. Regardless of whom you ask a question of, everyone is on the same level playing field and open about offering help. There are also rewards that come from hard work. Natasha & Reece Cox (above). Some of the surplus ab heifers that they have brought off the owner to rear themselves (below). “Mating, calving and long hours can be hard work, but then you get young stock that you can be proud of. We’ve had our own lease block for the last two seasons and run our own heifers up there along with the farm owners’ young stock. Now we’re seeing the equity growth in those heifers, which is the rewarding part and leads into our future goals. The other thing about dairy farming is the range of skills. One day I can wear my office hat and the next in the shed being a mechanic.” While Natasha works as a school teacher three days a week, and a busy full time mum to the couple’s two young children, she also looks after GST returns, invoicing and general administration – all the work that no one accounts for but has to get done. Looking to the future Reece and Natasha are keeping their options open. “It’s harder and harder to find those larger 50/50 sharemilking jobs,” says Reece. “In the longer term we’re looking at farm ownership. Over the next two years it’s about building equity through stock to either join an equity partnership or go 50/50 on a 500 + cow farm. Equity partnerships are becoming more common – so putting capital into that and then contracting milking for the partner could be a good option.” Proud to support Reece and Natasha Cox Maize Silage Bulk Grass Hay Silage Bales Barley Straw Proud preferred contractors of Reece &Natasha Cox 0508 KAIMAI (524624) Proud to be supporting Reece & Natasha Cox