After winning the Southland-Otago Sharemiker and Equity Farmer of the Year competition, Steve and Tracy Henderson, of Winton, are preparing for the national final in Auckland in May. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara.
Steve and Tracy Henderson, of Winton, barely had time to take
a breather after winning the region's top dairy award before
they were in the middle of their wedding arrangements.
A week after winning the Southland-Otago New Zealand Dairy
Industry Awards Sharemilker and Equity Farmer of the Year
title in Gore on March 1, they got married on the farm, and
the following Thursday they hosted a field day on their
They also intend to talk to past winners and the regional
judges, and tweak their two-hour presentation for the
national judging in Auckland in May.
''We want to keep it honest and real - it's our story,'' Mr
In their second season as 50-50 sharemilkers on a 110ha
property owned by Adrian and Bev Simmonds, they wintered 325
cows and peak milked 310. There is also a 65ha run-off block.
Their target was 125,000kg of milk solids but they expected
to do 128,000kg.
They have their goals - farm ownership or equity partnership
- outlined and have identified just how they want to get
Mr Henderson, originally from Edendale, was the Southland
Farm Manager of the Year in 2009.
''From there my goal was to get into sharemilking,'' he said.
Mrs Henderson is from a sheep, beef and deer farm in the
North Island. They met while at Lincoln University.
The Simmonds allow the Hendersons to rear extra calves, so
they can develop their herd. They also keep farm costs low,
down to $2.13/kg of milk solids, compared with the Dairy Base
average of $2.42.
''Keeping it low is one way for us to get ahead and the bank
can see we have got some common sense,'' Mrs Henderson said.
Their average production was 393kg of milk solids/cow/season,
although this year it was looking like about 410kg or
1140kg/ha, comparedwith 1080kg/ha for last season, Mr
Their animal health costs are about $60 per animal compared
with the Dairy Base average of $82.
''Both of us are very much hands-on,'' he said.
They do their own milking and stock shifting and the cows are
wintered just down the road so they can keep an eye on their
weight and health. However, they do have a relief milker and
employed a Lincoln University student to help while they
prepared for the finals and their wedding.
The Hendersons make their own silage using borrowed equipment
and make about 100 tonnes of dry matter and 800 bales of
baleage, and winter their stock on kale. Their cows are
recorded and they are increasing breed worth and production
''We want to keep a saleable, high-yielding herd that the
market wants,'' Mrs Henderson said. ''That is our asset.''
They also won the Westpac Business Performance and the LIC
Recording and Productivity merit award.
The couple also take advantage of the advice and experience
of business representatives.
''They are the knowledgeable ones and we make the most of
people like the vets, LIC, fertiliser [companies] as it is no
point in reinventing the wheel,'' she said. ''We get them
out, question them and take advantage of them.''
The Hendersons said entering the competition was a good move
as they had to explain what they were doing, why they were
doing it and what they were going to do.
They hope to progress to a bigger sharemilking job and
eventually be in a position to take advantage of any
opportunties that arise, including farm ownership or equity