Winning Assets

Southland Sharemilkers Jono & Kelly Bavin

A passion for their profession and a constant focus on the long-game is what fuels award-winning Southland sharemilkers Jono and Kelly Bavin in pursuit of their goals.

This philosophy has already seen the Southland couple recognised as the 2015 Southland-Otago Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the year, as well as scooping up most of the merit awards – from leadership, health and safety, recording and productivity, environment and risk management.

Jono believes working with what’s in your control is key.

“We always look to do the best we can within our capabilities. You can only control what you can control – there’s nothing you can do about the payout or the weather, so we are looking forward all the time.”

As a result, the couple make a conscious effort to pour their energy into what they can affect – and what eventually sees an impact on the bottom line – their herd.

“We want the best for our stock, they’re our equity.”

The Bavins are heading into their fourth season 50/50 sharemilking 470 cows for Blair Evans at Tussock Creek, near Winton. This season they’re expecting to rear 150 friesian and friesian-cross for replacements.

Part of their forward-thinking strategy is looking at how they rear their animals, with the couple choosing to use Fiber Fresh’s rumen development FreshStart rearing system.

“There’s more demand on stock these days for reaching target weight, with a big focus from the likes of Dairy NZ and LIC. The industry is lifting in terms of more research and education out there on the advantages of growing out your animals properly and making sure they reach target weight is essential.

“We started using Fiber Fresh when we first went 50/50 sharemilking and were finally able to pick and choose what we used. It appealed because of the rumen development it generates and the benefits that come from that. And the calves do so well on it.

“They’re healthy, bright, put on lots of weight, have nice shiny coats, big stomachs and clean bums. They eat more grass once they’re on the paddock too.”

Kelly says they were a little dubious at first of weaning at 80kg, having always weaned at the 100kg mark, but after trialling a few different weaning weights, decided that the calves were well ready to be weaned earlier.

The Bavins weigh their animals fortnightly once weaned, but this season have decided to weigh a couple of calves per pen from day one all the way through, to monitor intakes and get a clearer picture of how much their animals are growing.

This season budgets are being tightened, but rearing is one area where there are non-negotiables.

“You get the results for the money you put into your young stock, so although we will be monitoring closely, we won’t be cutting back on budget – they’re our key assets. We use less milk feed overall on the Fiber Fresh system.

“We wean earlier, do better and use less.”