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Celebrating the past and looking to the future on Daisybank Farm

Celebrating the past and looking to the future on Daisybank Farm

Celebrating the past and looking to the future on Daisybank Farm

Last year, the Harvey family celebrated 100 years on Daisybank Farm, a sheep and beef operation in Martinborough. Purchased originally by Thomas Harvey, who moved up from Southland, the fourth generation is now running the farm. Owen and his wife Emma have taken the reins from his parents, John and Yvonne, who still live on the farm.

“It's a massive achievement for our family,” shares Owen. “Emma and I are extremely proud and fortunate to be the current custodians of this land and we'd love to think that the family will be here for another 100 years.”

To celebrate the milestone, the Harvey’s had ‘a bit of shindig’ and invited family, friends and rural professionals who have been involved with Daisybank farm over the years to celebrate the farm’s history.

Owen loves farming and has never shown an interest in any other career, leaving school to work as a shepherd both here and overseas before returning to the family farm. He enjoys seeing livestock doing well and thriving and shares this passion with his wife Emma, with whom he is raising two daughters, Annabelle and Mackenzie.

The Harvey’s own two blocks totalling 1,118 ha with 918 ha effective. Daisybank Farm has 800 ha effective and Waihou 118 ha. Purchased in 2020, Waihou is a former dairy block which the Harvey’s converted to sheep and beef. This block is flat land while Daisybank Farm has about 220 ha of flat, with the rest rolling to medium hill country.

With 9,000 stock units in total on both blocks, the Harvey’s have a 60:40 sheep-to-cattle ratio. To feed their stock, Owen outlines their crop and pasture programme.

“We used to grow winter crops but decided to phase them out. Now, we're nearly a full grass system, though we do a plantain and kale mix mainly as an insurance policy for ewe lambs as we historically experience dry summers. That crop is followed by either a plantain and chicory or chicory and clover mix.”

The Harvey’s run a finishing system, with around 5,000 lambs born last year along with 250 calves. Weather conditions can prove challenging throughout the year with the combination of wet winters and dry summers. Challenges though, go beyond just the weather, and Owen says the rising costs of farming and the dropping commodity prices have hit their bottom line.

Consolidating their business, Owen says, has proven a wise decision. “We sold a property that was an hour away from Daisybank and purchased Waihou which is only 15 minutes away along with an additional 32 ha from a neighbouring property. By doing so, we’ve made our business easier to run.”

As part of their animal health programme Owen and Emma use Outlaw pour-on drench to control susceptible internal parasites and lice in young cattle.

“We typically treat our calves with Outlaw at weaning, which is around March or April. From then, we probably re-treat every three to four months depending on their performance. Applying over winter means Outlaw controls lice too. We make a point of using it strategically to help prevent resistance from developing and I can do this as our ratio of sheep and cattle allows us to cross graze to help keep the worm challenge low,” says Owen.

“A few years ago, we used single active drenches on cattle but this had poor efficacy against the Cooperia worm, so having levamisole in the mix broadens the spectrum of worms we can control in young cattle. With Outlaw too, it offers the bonus of the lice knockdown as well.”

Owen does not find the 42-day withhold period a problem and always has this in his mind when it comes time to sell their prime cattle. He finds using Outlaw easy as it is a pour-on drench with a convenient dose rate of 1 ml per 20 kg body weight.

Helping the Harvey’s on-farm is PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative Jo Balfour. Based out of the Martinborough PGG Wrightson store, Jo works alongside Owen and Emma providing support with their cropping and animal health programmes.

“We work well as a team,” says Owen. “We have the same goal and the beauty of working with PGG Wrightson is that Jo has access to a technical team who she can just pick up the phone and ask questions whenever we need to.”

“Last spring, for instance, Jo was looking at our plantain and clover paddock and noted it was relatively weedy. She gave one of PGG Wrightson’s agronomists a call to confirm her spray recommendation was the best way to manage the issue.”

“Jo also works out pricing on products for use and this is important as every dollar counts. We then go through the best options and decide from there.”

Along with Jo visiting the Harvey’s on-farm, Owen and Emma regularly visit the Martinborough PGG Wrightson store. “To be honest, we're lucky with the team there. They do an outstanding job and it's seldom they don't have what I need. If it's not there, the team can normally get it within a day or two at the most. This makes life a lot easier for us.”


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