Sunday, July 3, 2022

Pots on the boil

Richard Laugesen is in his eighth year farming the Marlborough property Craiglochart and has plenty of pots on the boil.

It has been full steam ahead on the flat land with a 90,000cu m dam built in 2009, pods and Rotorainer irrigation installed over 75ha, and new pastures established.

Adding to the workload and debt levels, a 30ha vineyard was established in 2007. Richard and his wife, Anna, developed this together. Anna was a winemaker at St Clair Wines before leaving work to help set up the vineyard.

Richard said the past five years had seen a major transformation on the farm.

“When I came home from uni in 2002 I realised we needed more farm income to support a couple of families,” he said.

In 2010 Richard and Anna started a family and now have William (almost two) and Archie (four months). The couple are fortunate to have Richard’s parents Brian and Jenny still helping on the farm but, with only one staff member for the farm and vineyard, it is very much owner-operator.

It is not surprising that Richard lists one of his business goals as “to operate during the normal working week wherever possible”.

A group of 50 farmers and industry people toured the 1300ha property in October and saw how the Laugesens managed to bring it all together. The tour was through the Marlborough Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit Programme.

The list of products produced off Craiglochart is longer than many farms. In order of gross income it includes grapes, lamb, beef, wool and seeds. The most profitable in terms of net return on capital is lamb and Richard is chasing the meat dollar with a change from Corriedale to Romney ewes.


Craiglochart key facts, Malborough

  • Steep Waihopai and Wairau hills but recent focus on 60ha flats

  • 1300ha (including 30ha sauvignon blanc vineyard)

  • 2600 ewes (most Corriedales, 600 Romney-Corriedale)

  • Currently 20% lamb prime at weaning (34kg) andrest finished over summer

  • Tailing 130%, mixed age scanning 155% and two-tooths 166%. Aiming to life weaning weight

  • 200 steers and heifers taken through to rising two-years as stores

  • 190 Angus mixed-age cows

  • 4.6su/ha and 700mm rainfall

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