Friday, December 8, 2023

In it for the long haul

Avatar photo
The Absolom family farm has the next generation in mind. They want their Hawke’s Bay property to be with their family in at least 100 years so take a long-term approach to everything they do. Colin Williscroft reports.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Brothers Daniel, Jeremy and Ben are the fifth generation of the Absolom family to farm at Rissington where their family has been working the land northwest of Napier since the late 1880s.

During that time they’ve developed a proud history in the area but are not content to leave it at that, keeping a close eye on the future, seeking out and adopting the latest technology and science to put them in front of challenges facing farmers at the grassroots and the industry as a whole.

The three brothers and their respective families all live on the 1400-hectare property. 

The eldest, Jeremy, is managing director of Rissington Cattle Company while Daniel looks after the genetics and breeding side of the business with youngest brother Ben responsible for the day-to-day running of the farm. 

Mum Star and dad John also live on the property and an uncle and aunt are regular visitors who also have a house on the property. Star and John were heavily involved for a long period from 1970s but though still available with advice and support now have less day-to-day involvement.

Another brother, who also grew up on the property, chose a different path and is a successful builder. He also has a house on the farm, maintaining an affinity with the place where he grew up. 

As the name suggests it’s predominantly a cattle operation with a breeding cow herd of more than 600 cows calving annually to produce seed stock for the commercial beef industry.

They also finish sheep but the bulls are the lifeblood of the operation.

The bull breeding side of the business is made up of Angus, Simmental and Profit Maker, the latter a multi-breed composite developed by Leachman Cattle Company in the United States. The Profit Maker is a blend of British and European inputs including Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Gelbvieh and South Devon, combining the fleshing ability, marbling and moderate size of the British breeds with the muscle, milk and growth of the European ones.

The farm business uses technology from Canadian company GrowSafe Systems to measure feed intake in cattle.

“I’m proud to say I’m fifth generation on this farm and whether my three children choose to come into farming or not we want them and the wider family to know that they are always welcome as this will always be where they are from.

“We are a large family and we all get on well, even the family not involved directly in the farm. They still come back to the farm for Christmas and have a real affinity with the land and environment here. You don’t have to farm it day to day to have that connection.

“But the roots are there. We have a family cemetery on the farm that goes back over 100 years so there’s a there’s a deep understanding of what those in the past have contributed to allow us to have the opportunity now. 

“We hope that continues into the future.” 

People are also reading