6 Jul 2018

How two 'townies' became premium dairy farmers

From Country Life, 9:30 pm on 6 July 2018
Wendy and Lance Main

Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Canterbury dairy farmers Wendy and Lance Main are former 'townies'.

After working their way up the share-milking ladder, the couple now farm on their own 250 hectares near Oxford.

Wendy has some words of encouragement for other people starting out.

"Write your goals out and put them where you can see them daily and you'll get there."

Wendy and Lance supply the Canterbury-based dairy processing company Synlait.

They were the first of its suppliers to be awarded the company's Gold Elite status for their farming practices and, as a result, are paid a premium for their milk.

"It encompasses four pillars; the environment, animal health and welfare, staff and social responsibility."

The couple's herd of about 540 cows has been bulk milk tested and cleared for Mycoplasma bovis.

To protect them, they beefed up their bio-security.

Tree-lined borders around the property separate cows from other herds, contractors are asked to thoroughly wash and clean their trucks before shifting stock onto the farm and visitors must go through a "sanitation station".

Wendy feels for farmers who have infected cows.

"It must be so hard for them. I can't imagine having to sit there and watch my animals being trucked down the road."

Lance thinks the government has made right decision to try and eradicate the disease, even though part of the cost to do it will come from farmers in the shape of a levy.
"They've got one chance to do this and to do it now is the only opportunity," he says.