NZ Young Farmers’ Auckland dairy farm holds first open day

Posted by on 6 March 2019 | Comments

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The Auckland dairy farm owned by NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) has opened its gates to members and neighbours.

An open day was held on the 74-hectare Donald Pearson Farm (DPF) last month.

The event attracted about 50 people, including a minivan full of NZ Young Farmers members from Northland.

“About 12 of us drove down for the open day,” said former regional chair Grant Shaw.

“It was fantastic to see members there from five of the six clubs in the Northern region.”

“I thought the farm was really tidy. I enjoyed hearing about the changes which have been made to the herd to increase milk production.”

Jerseys were a new addition to the farm's dairy herd this season.Visitors were told how the farm was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson in 2017.

They learned how it’s governed and managed. The property has its own board, which is chaired by dairy farmer Julie Pirie.

Visitors got to see the milking herd of 120 Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns, which are still being milked twice a day.

“The cows have been on an all-grass diet since the end of mating,” said Julie. “We started feeding silage when conditions got dry.”

The open day was facilitated by DairyNZ consulting officer Mike Bramley.

Answers were sought from visitors on two questions regarding the future educational direction of the Auckland farm.

“Firstly, we asked what age students should we be targeting and what’s the best way to connect with them,” she said.

Visitors broke into groups to map out their ideas.

They considered whether the farm should be trying to connect primary, secondary or tertiary students with the primary industries.

“The second question related to the farm’s future and what people thought we should be growing and producing on it,” she said.

“The answers for that question were quite conclusive.”

“Given the size of the farm and how it’s already set up, people thought we needed to stick with dairying, but perhaps try a few complementary things, such as bee keeping and honey production.”

“The overall feeling was that we should concentrate on doing one thing and doing it well, while trying to remain low-cost with minimal inputs,” she said.

The open day was also attended by teachers from Mount Albert Grammar School and Manurewa High School.