Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Sound footing

Sound stockmanship and farm management can be found on the farm of Chris and Laura Hunter.  

Chris Hunter credits his father Boyd for teaching him many of the skills he uses in operating a successful sheep and beef farm business.

“Dad was a good stockman and did the basics very well.”

Now retired and living in Mosgiel just south of Dunedin, Boyd has handed to reins to Chris and his wife, Laura, who are continuing this tradition of sound stockmanship and farm management.

Nestled among the rolling hills at Awamangu situated between Clydevale and Balclutha, visitors don’t need a GPS to tell them when they have reached the Hunter farm boundary. The pasture quality and the conformation of the sheep grazing it will alert them.

Talking with Chris and Laura, several key traits stand out as to why their farming business performs so well. Along with excellent stockmanship skills and the ability to do the basics well, there is an undeniable eye for detail, and a business mind-set. They are always thinking things though and planning ahead.

Not that the Hunters readily admit to any of these things; they take a modest view of how the business operates.

Benchmarking is an important aspect of their business. They do this by using the annual Clutha District Farm Statistics released by rural accountancy firm Shand Thomson and by comparing on-farm production figures year-on-year.

There is a strong desire for continued improvement in production, but more crucially, all improvements must add to the bottom line. Hence a calculator is usually within easy reach.

Another trait that shines through is the ability to retain flexibility within the tightly run operation in order to manage seasonal pressures. The Hunters always farm for an average season but have to be mindful of external pressures, particularly during the summer when it can dry out quickly. Between 5-10% stock units are treated as tradeable when under pressure. 

The clan: At the back David and June Voldseth(Laura’s parents), Chris and Laura, Oliver(8), Elliot(5) and Eva(1).

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