NZ Dairy Summer 2021

72 | nzdairy Ayrshires have more personality and Karen Phelps DAIRY PEOPLE » Waitower Farms: Bernard & Robyn Stachurski Being fellow red heads, Robyn Stachurski’s love of Ayrshires was always assured. Growing up on a Taranaki dairy farm, it was when Robyn was 13 that her dad bought her first Ayrshire calf. “I was a staunch Jersey girl until then but I swopped teams pretty quickly,” says Robyn with a laugh. “Ayrshires are hardier and have more personality plus they have red hair just like me.” Bernard was already an Ayrshire convert when Robyn met him through a friend years later. Robyn secured all the Ayrshires when her parents sold their farm adding to their herd, which now comprises 285 cows including about 150 Ayrshires and the balance Holstein Friesians. Bernard is fourth generation to work the land where they now farm together in the Taranaki hill country with their four children: Charlotte, 16, Grace, 15, Joe, 14 and Sam, 12. The family is in the seventh season of changing to a system one farm. Robyn says things are ticking along nicely and they have no regrets about changing from a higher input system. “We tried to do high input but all it did was make the contractors and the feed suppliers very rich, and me very tired,” explains Bernard. “Production increased, profitability did not.” Now their cows are looking good, they are doing good production (around 350kgsMS on all grass), and the stress is gone. Robyn says they are happier utilising their grass to the full to obtain maximum profit. But of course the cows are the ones doing all the really hard yards, each one pulling its weight. They plan to keep their Friesians but any cross bred goes back to Ayrshire because of the breed’s constitution, foraging ability and that the Stachurski’s have no problems selling their beef cross calves out to Ayrshire bulls. Robyn and Bernard says Ayrshires are a bit cheaper to purchase and are very adaptable to a new environment. They say more farmers are trying Aryshires as a third cross. “Other breeds can take 12 months before they are happy in the herd. Ayrshires adapt almost instantly,” says Bernard. “The Ayrshire will probably produce 20kgs of milksolids less than a Friesian as a two year old, but on their tenth lactation, they do a lot better than a Friesian that’s been dead for three years.” “Ayrshires either love you or hate you,” says Robyn reflecting on the breed’s personality. “They are really smart. Bernard, Grace, Charlotte, Sam, Joe and Robyn modelling the new Taranaki Ayrshire Club apparel. Photo by Hilary Jane. Our grazier told me the other day that he has to turn the fences on when he’s in the paddock otherwise they go up to it until their nose is just about touching it, maybe they sense the heat, then they know if it’s on or off. If it’s off then they push right through to the next break. They’re certainly good fun to work with!” Robyn says they are focusing on conformation with their breeding programme for even hardier cows – very important on a system one farm. She would like to increase production to 400-500kgsMS over time. The are also exploring the nutritional qualities of different grass species sown at various times of the year. The weather is their biggest challenge at present with a wet spring seeing uneven grass growth and plenty of mud. “You just have to get to the door, put your leggings on and carry on,” say Robyn pragmatically. “You just suck it up, don’t you, keep milking and keep the country going. It’s hard work but we love it.” Waitower Farms TARANAKI Office: 06 278 0020 Steve Roylance 021 287 5335 Peter Laurence 027 252 2174 Willy Moynihan 027 279 7099 STOCK HAY SILAGE BAGGED PRODUCTS Phone or text Jess JESS: 027 439 7698