NZ Young Farmers member looking forward to NZDIA national finals

Posted by on 24 April 2018 | Comments

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James Holgate can often be found striding across the Taranaki farm he manages armed with a rising plate meter.

“I do weekly farm walks during the spring to measure pasture growth rates,” said the 26-year-old.

“Once the spring flush has passed, farm walks are done fortnightly.”

James Holgate.The data collected is used to determine when paddocks should be grazed and to help create feed budgets.

James is a herd manager for Tony and Lorraine Lash on their 130-hectare Midhirst property milking 350 cows.

He joined the business in June 2016.

The Central Taranaki Young Farmers member said the Lash’s encouraged him to grow his pasture management skills.

“Tony and Lorraine are really good at what they do,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity to jump in the deep end and expand the pasture management skills I had.”

Those skills and knowledge helped him win the 2018 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year on his first attempt at the title.

James took home merit awards for feed management, livestock management and financial management.

“The win was a big surprise,” he said. “I entered to learn more about myself and identify areas where I needed to improve.”

“The detailed judges’ feedback we receive as entrants has been a huge confidence booster.”

The farm’s herd is run in two mobs. The planned start of calving for next season has been pushed back to August 7th.

“Calving used to start in July, but that puts too much pressure on feed demand in early spring,” said James.

The calving date won’t be the only change on the farm.

In June, James and his partner Tracy Kivell, who works at CMK Accountants, will step up to a contract milking position.

“We have always been saving money where we can to prepare for this opportunity,” he said.

It will mean James will be responsible for running the entire farm and mentoring a new staff member.

James and Tracy are planning to be 50:50 sharemilkers within four years on a farm of a similar size.

The couple is excited about attending the national finals of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards in Invercargill on May 12th.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience, meeting new people and networking,” said James.

“Whatever happens, I’m proud of what we have already achieved.”