The Knowles’ farm is 110ha though effectively this is 90ha of farmed land. Their stock consists of 210 cows on a Dairy NZ Systems 3 and they are owners in their 3rd dairying season.
The backing boundary is the Waiwhakaiho River, approx 900 metres in length. The river is completely fenced and planted in native bush. We have an annual rainfall of 4m. We have a Redpath Wintering Barn. The cows are dried off on 31st May. They are wintered in the barn until calving. They go outside twice a week for 6-8 hrs a day. Once they calve they are back out in the paddocks. The payback (5yrs estimate) is in 3 weeks of extra milking and more pasture growth (because of less winter damage). The total expense was close to $250,000 with an annual cost of about $20,000 for woodchips and maintenance. Before we wintered half the herd off at huge expense – the cows had to be transported out of the district.
All the creeks that feed the Waiwhakaiho River are fully fenced and the Riparian areas planted. Effluent is irrigated back onto the pastures. There are two storage effluent ponds, a pump and irrigators to distribute the effluent back onto the pastures at a time of year that is safe and we will get maximum pasture benefit. This is a fully compliant system.
We need to look after the river. We are the first farm after the National Park. We have a sense of responsibility for the people downstream. I’ve seen good eels in the side creeks.
I didn’t grow up on the river but I rafted and kayaked down it from TOPEC, an Outdoor Pursuit Centre, it was a fun experience. TOPEC used the Tail Race from the Mangorei Power Station and the Waiwhakaiho River.