Friday, December 8, 2023

YFC champ adds dairying venture

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The Kidd family has expanded its farming interests in the Auckland province with the purchase of a medium-sized dairy farm and some adjacent leased land for grazing at Shelly Beach on the south Kaipara Head. Hugh Stringleman went to hear about the new venture.
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The Kidds have gone to Philadelphia, in the United States, for the wedding of son Hamish, a New York-based investment banker, to an American woman.

Conversations on the long flights and while away among parents Richard and Dianne, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, their three sons and their respective partners will feature the latest expansion of the family farming enterprise.

David and his wife Janine have bought a 118ha dairy farm with considerable family support and employed experienced contract milkers James and Kylie Somerville.

The new 360-cow herd is well advanced in calving and the goal for James and David is to supply 120,000kg milksolids on contract to Fonterra this season.

They have also leased an adjacent 117ha to make an effective milking platform of about 140ha, about 60% of which is drained marine clay flats, plus on-farm grazing for dry stock.

It is near the 550ha McEwan-Kidd Partnership beef finishing business in which David and Janine now have a 12.5% equity share, Richard and Dianne 37.5% and the McEwans 50%.

Richard and Dianne are the 2016 Gordon Stephenson Trophy winners and won the Supreme Award in the inaugural Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Auckland province that year.

They are second-generation farmers of the now-enlarged 376ha Whenuanui Farm, an Angus cattle breeding and sheep breeding and lamb finishing showpiece property less than an hour from Auckland.

Richard has featured in many promotions for beef and lamb, mainly for Countdown supermarkets, supplied through Auckland Meat Processors’ plant at Otahuhu.

David is equally well known as the 2014 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, the first national winner from the Northern region in nearly 50 years.

He and Janine returned to south Kaipara Head in 2012 after six years in rural banking in Waikato and West Australia and have two children, Evelyn. aged 3, and Ava, 11 months.

Janine continues her work as an occupational therapist on contract to ACC.

David was also a 2017 Nuffield scholar and has a Massey University applied science in agriculture degree. He was the agricultural student of the year in 2005.

The Nuffield experience of meeting other scholars from eight countries and hearing about their entrepreneurial efforts set David buzzing.

“We spend a lot of time finding excuses for not doing things but while we are in the prime of our careers, opportunities should be grasped.

“Our subsequent decision to go dairy farming was partly because the nearby farm tender came up and with the support of Richard and Dianne we thought ‘why not?’.

“I am treading that pathway of farming and leadership that many earlier generations of NZ farmers have trodden before.

“It has always been a challenge but perhaps now what you can earn versus the capital costs of farming make it harder.”

Especially in Auckland province, where land valuations have a peri-urban dimension and the land-use environmental expectations are growing quickly.

Friesian and Friesian-cross dairy cows were sourced from several different herds in lower Northland at an average price of $1600.

James is rearing the herd replacements and David the non-replacements with a view to selling the dairy-beef weaners into the neighbouring beef finishing system.

Buyers have been found for the beef-cross heifers not needed by the Kidds.

Shelly Beach farm worker Mark Davidson on the ATV with boss David Kidd.

Some 80ha of the beef farm is drained marine flats but in winter the water doesn’t move laterally so just sits.

“Kikuyu comes back quickly no matter what else is sowed although tall fescue has been the most successful here.”

Ease of calving will be the main breeding value for Angus bulls over the dairy heifers and in the past the Kidds had bought from breeders John Bayly and Chris Biddles, both in Northland.

David isn’t averse to trying Simmental and Charolais but James had already impressed on him that milk is their number one product, not dairy-beef calves.

The new farm could be suited to winter milking, to fit the grass curve even better and to lift the payout.

David is a strong co-operative supporter and Fonterra’s contract route to share ownership will ensure his loyalty in return, despite the processor alternatives opening up in northern Waikato.

His milk is going to Takanini, Auckland but will soon switch to Maungaturoto or Kauri. Te Rapa isn’t an option because of motorway congestion in South Auckland.

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