Tom Rawson reflects on his visit to New Zealand

I am writing this sitting in beautiful Taranaki, New Zealand, trying to gather my thoughts from the first of three weeks in the country with the Irish Blackwater Group.

The first seven days has been dominated by some of New Zealand’s biggest dairy players, the biggest being Colin Armer, involved with an amazing 70,000 cows. All these guys have one thing in common, they all started as sharemilkers milking about 100 cows and have built massive empires on the back of it.

The Blackwater Group has a regimented system of questioning farmers about the mechanics of their business. It’s been a mentally and physically challenging trip, but highly rewarding so far. The interesting situation in New Zealand is the ever increasing amount of people feeding supplements – fine in a high payout year, but uneconomical in the down cycle. Being Kiwi’s, each individual is quite prepared to tell you they are right and his neighbour is wrong.

Having finished my first notebook by the end of the first week, it is certainly creating headaches in deciding future strategy for our business going forward. Both my wife and my mother look forward to my return; however, both freely state they don’t look forward to the new ideas.

Tom and Catherine Rawson are involved in three separate dairy farming businesses. The core activity is sharemilking around 1,000 cows on a low input forage-based system over three sites. Tom is also a partner in a dairy consultancy company

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