June 26, 2008

Sharemilking Paves the Way for Farm Ownership

By BISHOP, Diane

DON'T skip 50 percent sharemilking in the quest for farm ownership, said Murchison dairy farmers Dave and Jane Field.

The young couple, who bought their own farm a year ago, recommended every farmer go 50:50 sharemilking before they bought their first farm.

"It gave us the ground we needed to become farm owners.

"I've seen people go lower order and they've struggled financially," Mr Field said.

Mr Field became involved in dairying by rearing calves, relief milking and doing summer work on a dairy farm while at high school.

His parents had a small deer farm and he would rear friesian bulls on milk powder in the spring.

"Raising a dozen calves, doing budgets and working out the final profit was a good introduction to GST and being in business," he said.

From there, he spent two years working full-time on dairy farms; first as a farm worker and then managing a 160-cow first-year conversion in the Golden Bay area.

It was while studying commerce and farm management at Lincoln University that he met his wife Jane.

Following university, Mr Field spent four years managing farms (250 through to 800 cows), including a corporate property, before he 50 percent sharemilked 500 cows for three years.

In his last year managing, 91 in-calf heifers were bought and leased back to the company he was working for.

"It was a great step towards sharemilking." A $100,000 loan from family helped the Fields reach their goal of owning their own 400- cow farm sooner than expected.

"It's important to make the most of the opportunities that are given to you," he said.

Mr Field said to achieve farm ownership, he and his partner had to have common goals.

"If your wife isn't into farming then it's going to be very difficult," he said.


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