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What does it take to become an award-winning dairy farmer? A head for business, an adaptable approach to technology, and a love of land and livestock are all vital, say 2022 Central Plateau Share Farmers of the Year Todd and Renee Halliday.
A sound head for business, the ability to multitask, a focused approach to risk management and, above all, compassion for your livestock. Reporoa dairy farmers Todd and Renee Halliday believe these are key attributes to successful farming.
And they should know, having recently won the 2022 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year Award, and taken out second place in the coveted national title.
Given the rigorous, multi-faceted judging process involved in taking out the honours, the achievement is significant.
While Renee grew up on a dairy farm, Auckland-raised Todd had never set foot on a farm until he met his future wife.
“I never imagined I’d get into dairy farming, but all-of-a-sudden we’ve been farming for 13 years now so I guess I can call myself a dairy farmer,” says Todd.
Renee says the decision to enter the farming sector was spurred by wanting to start a family.
“In running a family farm, the lifestyle and the balance between the business and having the kids there really appealed,” she says. “It is obviously hard work running a dairy farm, but even during our busiest times there are so many benefits from a lifestyle aspect as well.”
Today the couple, who farm 153 ha and milk 520 jersey cows, have four children.
An environmental focus is a large part of the Share Farmer of the Year Awards – and a division which Todd and Renee also took out top honours in.
“The judges analysed how our farm deals with environmental constraints, how we manage these and what plans we have in place to improve on them,” says Renee.
Smart decision making has been a hallmark of the Halliday’s operation, including the decision to retain their property’s jersey cow herd when they purchased the farm. Today, they consider the jersey breed, along with their pure grass-based feed system, to be a significant strength of their business.
“Jersey cows are farmed few and far between in New Zealand. But they are smart animals with good temperaments, easy calvers and efficient converters of feed that produce higher milk solids than other breeds,” says Todd.
Smart decision making around the health of the Halliday’s livestock is bolstered by significant advances in farming technology.
“There are many different technologies we use every day that help run our operation with more efficiency than ever before,” says Todd. “For example, Fonterra sends us a daily pick-up alert to tell us when the tanker is on the way, when it has been, and what the volume of milk onboard was, all sent straight to our smartphones.”
“Technology is extremely helpful from a risk management perspective as it alleviates any uncertainties around milk temperature before there is an actual issue,” says Renee.
“It’s awesome in that it allows us to utilise the land more efficiently, and understand our animals so much better,” says Todd.
“You don’t need any specific qualifications to get into farming, you need to care for the land and the animals. And with good management practices, modern technology, and the right advice, you can learn on the way and be successful at what you do.” concludes Renee.
“Farming has changed so much, and it will continue to change. It’s awesome in that it allows us to utilise the land more efficiently, and understand our animals so much better.”
Rural insurance broker Maria Jamison, from Crombie Lockwood's South Canterbury branch, has been Halliday’s insurance broker for the past three years, and says that managing or working on a farm comes with a wide range of risks; many specific to the type of farming operation being undertaken.
“Having the right insurance cover is vital so you are financially covered if something were to go wrong,” says Maria. “While successful farmers like the Hallidays do their utmost to mitigate risk, there are many aspects to farming – such as weather, machinery breakdowns, accidental livestock death – that are often outside our clients’ control.”
In conjunction with Farm Source, Crombie Lockwood has developed a comprehensive insurance package for both dairy and dry stock farming operations. Farm Source Farm Cover can cover farm assets, production interruption, farm liability, farm and private vehicles and home and contents.
We have a team of rural brokers across the country who understand the risks you face as an agribusiness.
Our brokers work alongside you to regularly review your cover, ensuring it still works for your business as things change.
Contact one of our specialist rural brokers to discuss the right cover for you and your farm.
Published August 2022