Day 3: Farms farms farms

Well folks its Aaron here I was given the privilege to do the blog for today! Our day started nice and early with most of the tour group up and out of bed by half 4… Brekkie was dealt with and the bus rolling by 5:50!!


So on to our first farm for a 6:30 meeting at Peter and Adele King “SANDBROOK FARM” this farm was beautifully presented with 640 cows doing 4.7% fat and 3.5% protein today! We were able to see this on the farms inline milk metering!


Peter and Adele’s farm was a system 4 approach, it was mostly a pasture based system with about 1.8 kg of grain going through the bail.

Production at the King’s family farm this season to date:

– 1.76 MS/per day/Per cow.
– Budgeted 318000 Kg/ms for the season.
– On Target to Achieve 330000 kg/ms season end.

The farm is irrigated through centre pivots and lateral sprinklers, the farm operates this a farm manager, 2IC farm assistant plus 2 part timers.


Future plans are to go into consolidation mode after developing for the past 13 yrs taking the land from sheep to dairy.

Then we trucked on to Woodward farms LTD (Michael & Suzie) who are 50:50 share milkers on a 1050 crossbreed farm!!! “And wait for it” also contract milk on a 2000 farm some 25 kms away Michael’s time is split between the two farms he is able to do this with the help from 5 full staff members!


The Woodward’s are in partnership with Synlait which is a company with Chinese investors which own and operate 13 farms. Michael has being working with Synlait from 2003 and has worked his way to the position he has now!


The farm is a grass based system with some corn/cereal silage fed in autumn 1st August calving date with the herd wintered off farm on kale and straw!!

Michael talked about the value-add products that Synlait produce including ‘sleepy milk’ that is harvested at night and is high in melatonin! And the ‘Lead with Pride’ best practice accreditation in animal health, social responsibility, environmental stewardship and milk quality that is just getting up and running and farms receive a premium for being in the program.


We then moved on to (Riverstone Farms) Hayden and Jessie our first system 5 operation feeding 1.8 tn of grain through the bail… this couple were a very inspiring people. Hayden has gone through the ranks farm worker/manager/and leasing 420ha with 750 cows going through one unit and 850 cows going through a 2nd unit! 1600 cows on one farm 2 milking sheds!!! WOW.


Production and type are a big focus for Hayden with the herd made up mostly of Holstein cows doing 600kg/ms 100% of body weight jerseys are starting to be introduced with Hayden hoping for a 50:50 split in yrs to come.


Hayden did confess he is a cow man very much focused on his cows which he seems to be bucking the kiwi trend! Come to think of it Hayden and Jessie’s operation was much like an Aussie farm!!!


Hayden also had an Aussie trait (tell it like it is), a very hard working couple and great cow man!!

At the end of the day and after a 3hr drive which turned in to about 5 hrs (oops) it was off to the Van Leeuwen Dariy Goup! WOW WOW WOW….. This indeed was a mega dairy words cannot describe what we saw today it was massive in every way.. Some of the facts I will list down.


The Van Leeuwen Group operates a 12,000 cows over 7000 ha. The farm we visited was currently 1 of 4 robot farms all of which were 1000 cows to 2500 cows!!



– The free stall barn is 1.3 ha in size.
– 24 robots milking 1152 cows this will be taken to 1500 still growing.
– All the cows area is under rubber!
– The office is suspended in the middle of the barn.
– 21000 ltrs of milk per day day! 9% milk solids per day.
– 4.5 million tn/dm are stored in concrete bunkers.
– Effluent is sent to a 12 MILLON ltr tank and pumped on the crops.
– The cows were feed a dry diet of corn/grass silage 2kg of soy and rye grass straw and a grain mix through the robot!!
– The herd has a rolling BMCC of 152000.

9 staff members run the barn on a daily basis and while walking through the barn you could see that the cows were so relaxed as we moved through their space…


This farm was something else with the fleet of JD and Fendt tractors and the 870 Jag also parked there it really gave you the scale of the place!!!


Aad also told us about his 1500 jersey cow herd that is at the home with free stall robots the whole shooting match!! (This made my ears prick being a jersey man) but they are his hobby farm/herd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT!


Thanks for reading.

1 thought on “Day 3: Farms farms farms

  1. Thanks Aaron for your very informative snapshots of your farm visits. Great photos to boot..and no doubt learning heaps of handy hints ot impart & inspire others on your return. Fantastic experience for you all…so sap it all up! Just wondering whether the NZ farmers have time to interact with family and or become involved in communtiy!

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