I grew up on a small herd dairy farm, but when I looked at taking over the family farm, I realised that traditional dairy farming just didn’t stack up. Not the way my parents did it. Not they way others were doing it.
I figured out that the dairy industry was less about farming and more about property investment. The people who were making money were doing it, not from selling milk, but from large-scale farm conversions.
The current model isn’t environmentally or financially sustainable. I could see that as environmental pressure tightened up regulations, the existing model would struggle. High-volume, low priced milk doesn’t have enough margin to be done in a low-impact way.
I walked away. I tried a few other things. But the problems of the dairy industry were never far away - cropping up every day in the news.
THERE MUST be
a BETTER WAY
One day, I sat myself down in a cafe and dove into the research. There must be a way to run a dairy farm sustainably. It turns out it’s not that hard. We already know how to farm sustainably. It just doesn't fit the current New Zealand business model.
Sustainable dairy farming is simple. You lower the stocking rate, move the cows around and rotate grazing with growing nitrogen hungry plants like barley or wheat.
I thought that if I could make sustainable dairy work, others might give it a go, and we might find a way for New Zealand to farm that doesn’t keep taking more and more from the environment.
The first part was to steer clear of the property development trap. I decided to build a mobile milking shed and lease paddocks for grazing.
We keep the stock rate low and when the cows move on, we mop up the the nitrogen the cows leave behind by planting wheat, oats or barley. These plants provide feed for the cows over summer and the cycle can start again.
The way we farm is one part of the equation. The way we sell is the other. We milk once a day and do a minimal amount of processing. This means our milk is delicious and fresh, even though it has a shorter shelf life. That’s fine, because we sell all our milk locally. It’s milked, bottled and delivered daily. Cafes use our stainless cans, other customers use our reusable glass bottles. No plastic. No waste. Minimal transport.
So that’s our story. And we haven’t even told you about our happy cows. You can read all about them here.
The point is, we’ve gone to great lengths to give you a better alternative – a great tasting product that puts back as much as it takes out. We’re hoping this is just the start of a local, sustainable farming revolution for New Zealand. You are the most important part of it.
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