NZ Dairy Winter 2022

74 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Ballyberg Farm New farm business a positive experience Noldy Rust and Bernard Kelly have collaborated in a new farming business – Ballyberg Farm Ltd. Sue Russell Simply through a conversation with a farmer mate, Bernard & Jo Kelly changed the course of their own farming journey, moving ever closer to their goal of farm ownership. And that farmer mate, Noldy Rust, a rural real-estate agent based in Pirongia, could see immediate bene ts for both he and wife Bev and the Kelly’s, by collaborating in a new farming business – Ballyberg Farm Ltd, established June 2020. Their association stems back many years when Bernard was manager on the farm at Te Pahu, west of Hamilton and north of Te Awamutu. It’s a smaller dairy farm size than is common these days at 59ha (52ha effective) and is home to 180 predominantly Friesian cows, with a few cross-breds in the mix. “The process of going into business went really well. It was completely transparent. We gave our books over to Noldy to review so he knew exactly our nancial situation and it was after looking at these that he suggested we create a business and become 50:50 equity partners,” Bernard explains. Last year the herd produced 510kgMS/cow and the farm is run to a system 5. Because the farm is small Bernard says its important each cow ‘punches above average’ for production. Noldy had run the farm to a system 5 since 2008 and when Bernard & Jo came into partnership the herd was reduced by 20 cows to its current number. The main supplement is maize silage, however additional meal mix is added whenever needed. “We still just have a feed-out wagon and to get any more production we would need to invest in more machinery.” It’s just Bernard and Jo running the farm and business, with Jo taking care of the paper-work, feeding calves and relief milking when required. Fortunately, a new relief milker, who had recently moved into the district, was keen to help out every second weekend, to give Bernard and Jo a break. When Dairy North spoke with Bernard, toward the business-end of the season in late March, feeding out supplements was a priority. Now in their second season in the new business enterprise Bernard says the farm is doing well and the experience has been a very positive one. “Noldy leaves me to get on and run the farm, making all the day to day decisions, but on any bigger strategic matters we would talk things through.” Planting trees in spare gully space and to provide shade for animals is a priority. Bernard and Jo are just beginning to look at species and draw up a tree planting plan for the property. Asked why the move to a smaller property Bernard says there are farmers, like he and Jo, who are drawn to the idea of living and working on a smaller property. “It’s a personal thing really and money isn’t the only key-driver for small farm owners. Jo and I talked about the idea for about 5 years before making the move.” Milk is produced through a 19 aside De Laval Herringbone shed which Bernard says performs well. Milking takes 1.5 hours to complete. “You don’t feel like you are stuck inside it. Noldy rebuilt it in 2003 and it has excellent cow ow.” In 2023, the ef uent pond will be upgraded to future-proof the farm’s milk production and to ensure it meets regional council regulations. Bernard plans to engage a certi ed surveyor to recommend the best system for their situation. This season the herd will dry off on the 31 May, with calving getting underway 15 July. The last two seasons, the empty rates have been higher than desired and one strategy moving forward is to change the farm policy on carrying over empty cows. “Getting the nutrition right on mating time is also really important to reduce the empty rate and something I’m looking at closely.” Maize is planted on 3 ha’s of the farm annually; this maize block is planted 3 years consecutively in a maize annual grass rotation. Then in year three it is returned to permanent pasture. “We’re not in any great hurry to move the maize around the farm too quickly.” For Bernard and Jo, who intend to see their farming journey out on the property, the future is full of engagement on the land, creating a rather special small dairy unit with their unique mark stamped on it. “It’s a personal thing really and money isn’t the only key-driver for small farm owners.” We are proud to support Noldy Rust, & Bernard, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours Office (07) 825 9870 Mace 0275 397 602 Graeme 027 451 8143 Email: 525 Te Pahu Road, RD5, Hamilton Goodwright Contracting Ltd is pleased to be associated with Noldy Rust & Bernard Kelly Diggers • Bulldozer • Truck & Trailers • Tractor & Trailers • Effluent Ponds • Feed Pads Ground work • Ag Lime & Fert Cartage • All Grades of Metal • Sand