10 months ago

Selwyn Times: April 25, 2017

10 Tuesday

10 Tuesday April 25 2017 Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Our People SELWYN TIMES Kerry Higgins Farm to Beehive and back to farm Hororata’s Kerry Higgins is a national finalist in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ manager of the year category. He spoke to Tom Doudney about what’s involved with managing a large herd and his former job working security at Parliament Do you live in Hororata or just work there? Yes, I live on the farm. How big is it? We are 528ha with a milking platform of 433ha with two sheds on that milking 1340 cows. Is 1340 quite a large herd for a manager to handle or is that quite normal? I guess it’s relatively large. We’ve got two sheds and I’ve got two herd managers underneath me looking after each shed, so I’m a bit more of a hands-on operational manager overseeing them and still getting amongst it with the day to day jobs. With a herd of 1340 do you recognise individual cows or is it just impossible with that many? A lot of people probably don’t realise that cows actually do have quite a personality for themselves so you definitely have animals that you recognise. You are milking them twice a day every day for 300 days of the year so you do get to see them a lot and get to know their traits. They all have their funny old things, some of them need a scratch behind the ear before they come into the shed and others are always the slow ones that are going to be at the back of the pack. What does your day to day job entail? For myself it’s probably team management, making sure that the daily jobs are done and the cows are fully fed and nice and happy. Stockmanship – making sure there are no lame or sick animals. Then, general farm duties – I’m halfway through a pasture walk at the moment just gauging how much feed we have got for the cows and whether we need to be putting in supplement. Then just machinery maintenance, environment management of making sure our effluent and fertiliser and everything is not breaking restrictions. What is the biggest challenge in your job? Right now it’s managing my time through to the end of the season because myself and my wife Anita are actually moving on to a contract milking position in Culverden at the end of the season (June 1). I am trying to manage my responsibilities here on the farm for the next manager coming in and also my responsibilities of going on to nationals [in the Dairy Industry Awards] and then also organising myself for next season. How long have you been working on this particular farm and what has led you to make the move to the next one in Culverden? This is my fourth season on this farm, my third as a manager. I started out six years ago with Anna and Sam O’Reilly near Darfield. I did two seasons with them and then wanted to progress so I got a list of good operators in the area from a farm consultant and started cold calling them to tell them who I was, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go in the industry. Leon and Bronwyn, who I work for now, were some of those people that I called. They have known from the beginning of this season that we were looking to move on and go contract milking to just be able to grow our own equity and push forward to WITH THE HERD: Kerry Higgins says the 1340 cows on the Hororata dairy farm he manages all have their own personalities. ​ that ultimate goal of farm ownership for ourselves. Do you have a time line in mind for when you might own your own farm? We have got a goal that by my 40th birthday which is seven years away that we have about 20 per cent equity in a property. As to how we get there, the industry is changing all the time, so our first step is this contract milking position. Have you had jobs off the farm in the past? I actually had a range of jobs FAMILY TIME: Kerry and Anita Higgins with their daughters Mackenzie, 3, and Emerson, four months. in the security industry and finished up as a senior security officer at Parliament. I’m from a high country station initially. My parents own a station down near Lake Benmore in the Mackenzie basin and I went off to university in Dunedin where I met my wife Anita. Then we did a couple of years in Wellington. We always wanted to come back farming but didn’t know how we were going to do it so we just decided to have a crack at dairying. We have got two daughters, Mackenzie, who just turned three, and Emerson who is four-months-old. When you were doing security in Parliament were you on a first name basis with many of the MPs? A few of them, they were pretty busy guys and girls really but it’s like everyone, they would chat away when you saw them. People like John Key were probably a wee bit busier so you wouldn’t bug him too much. In your time there were any exciting or interesting incidents like if someone tried to bring something into Parliament that they shouldn’t have? No, there was the odd protest around banning 1080 or different things like that, but I suppose the busiest day was when Hillary Clinton came over. That was pretty full on because she had all her secret service guys who were running around like the movies. How do you feel about being a finalist in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards? I’m over the moon. It’s a massive opportunity for [Anita and I] moving forward in our careers. How do you get entered in that? You put your own name forward and you have a first round of two judges come on to your farm and then you do an hour and a half presentation and show them what you do. What are your hobbies and interests off the farm? I dabble in a bit of squash and then spending time with my girls. I’m big on family time. Keep active through winter Term 2 Recreation Classes - May to July 2017 With over 20 types of classes on offer there is really something for everyone. Look out for the brochure in your letterbox* or pick one up from your local library, service centre or the Selwyn District Council. Also available on our websites. Lincoln Event Centre New this term is our 10 week enrolled Pilates course, Step (aerobics) and Beginners Spin. Plus over 15 other weekly activities! 15 Meijer Drive, Lincoln 347 2983, Rolleston Community Centre Try one of our 8 weekly Spin classes – a 45 minute cardio endurance session where you control the level of your workout. Pre-book and pay to secure your spot and enjoy term enrolment savings. 94 Rolleston Drive, Rolleston 347 2882, *Rolleston and Lincoln residents only Event Centre Community Centre

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