North Canterbury dairy chairman going to Waikato

Michael Woodward
Michael Woodward
Michael Woodward is about embark on a new journey of farm ownership.

The Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman stepped down earlier this month. He and wife Susie are preparing for their return to the North Island on June 1, where they have bought a 170ha farm.

''It is Gypsy Day, but this is definitely a long-term move,'' he said. ''Hopefully this is the last move for a long time.''

While he was originally from North Waikato, the new farm was located just south of Otorohanga and to the southwest of Hamilton.

''It's a nice property with a good milking platform and it's pretty well laid out,'' he said.

''It has a good soil structure and good rainfall, so it will be a matter of getting used to different growing times.''

The couple planned to work full-time on the farm until they became established, milking 340 cows once a day, and no irrigation was required.

''Our focus will be on sustainability. It's all fully self-contained and we will keep running some goats.''

The couple has been 50/50 sharemilking 1000 cows for Purata Farming Ltd for the past four seasons, and won share farmer of the year in 2016 and farm manager of the year in 2011 in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards.

Mr Woodward said the bulk of the herd was being sold off as the cows were dried off, to ensure only the best cows made the trip north.

They would continue supplying to Synlait and will be one of the first suppliers to the new North Island factory, supplying A2 milk.

He said North Canterbury's dairy farmers were in good hands with vice-chairman Karl Dean - who was about to take up a sharemilking position at Leeston for former Selwyn Mayor Kelvin Coe - ready to step up as dairy chairman.

''I know for the first year or so I will be getting my head around the new farm, but Feds is sure to be on the cards in the future.''

This past year has had its challenges with a ''volatile payout'', but he was confident the milk price ''looks to be strengthening a bit'', Mr Woodward said.

''Farmers around North Canterbury have been pretty lucky with the weather this season. Dryland crop yields will be a bit lower, but a lot of the guys cut baleage early on and, with the temperatures still hitting the high 20s, there's still plenty of feed around.

''From a North Canterbury dairying point of view, it's been a pretty good season. Most farmers will be within 5% of budgeted figures.''

-Michael Woodward was a regular columnist for Central Rural Life last year.

-By David Hill

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