Home' Otago Southland Farmer : April 5th 2013 Contents 4
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Young farmer a dairy champion
Here I come: Glenham farmer Dean Rabbidge will represent Otago-Southland in the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest in
Auckland in May.
Targets: The cows are on target to produce 420kg of milk solids this season and
are now on 16-hour milking because of the on-going dry conditions.
FROM THE FRONT PAGE
Winning team: Dean gets a
congratulatory kiss from wife Sarah
after winning the Otago-Southland
regional final of the Young Farmer
Contest in Gore on March 23.
Glenham dairy farmer Dean Rabbidge will represent Otago-Southland in the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Auckland in May.
Diane Bishop reports.
If you had asked fifth generation
farmer Dean Rabbidge when he
was at school if he would be a cow
cockie one day the answer would
have been ''no way''.
But, the declining profitability of
sheep and beef farming encour-
aged him and his family to
convert part of their Glenham
property to dairy two years ago.
''I saw it [dairying] as a way to
grow the business and be involved
in the farm.
''I'm lucky my family has been so
supportive,'' Dean said.
That support has been unwaver-
ing since Dean won the Otago-
Southland regional final of the
2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest
with friends offering to milk his
cows when he competes at the
Grand Final in Auckland in May.
Dean, 27, who is now in his second
season milking 180 cows on wages
for his parents Steve and Bev,
always wanted to be involved in
the family farm.
''I would have left school and
worked on the farm but it wasn't
viable. There wasn't the work for
So after leaving Menzies College
Dean went to Lincoln University
and in 2007 graduated with a
Bachelor of Commerce in Agricul-
ture before he headed overseas on
He worked on a sheep farm in
Wales and a cropping farm, near
London, and then travelled
through Africa before he returned
technical field rep for PGG
Wrightson for two years before
the dairy conversion started in
The conversion included refenc-
ing and laning the property,
installing a water system and
construction of a 24-aside herring-
Dean operates a low-cost all-grass
system milking 180 cows on the
72ha gentle rolling dairy farm
which operates as a milking
platform with the cows wintered
on crop at Balfour.
He believes there are major
benefits to milking a small herd
including the low labour require-
ment, improved herd health and
reduced stress on the cows.
''Our animal heath bill has been
next to nothing.
''We rarely have a lame cow
because the furthest paddock
[from the cowshed] is 600 metres
away,'' he said.
While Dean could easily milk 250
cows in the shed, he has decided
not to grow the herd and instead
focus on growing per head
''We really want them to achieve
their potential,'' Dean said.
The cows, which have been on 16
hour milkings for the past three
weeks, are expected to produce
about 420kg of milk solids per
However, the aim is to increase
that to 450kg on grass and baleage
with no additional supplements.
An aggressive regrassing policy
has also been implemented and by
this time next year about 70 per
cent of the property will be in new
Dean spends about 70 per cent of
his time on the dairy farm and the
balance helping out on the
family's sheep farm which carries
2350 Romney-Texel-Cheviot ewes
and a handful of beef cattle.
The two farming operations
complement each other as Dean
helps out with lamb drafting and
tractor work while his parents
assist at calving and relief milk
Off-farm Dean is a keen rugby
player, although he is taking a
year-long sabbatical after getting
married earlier this year, and is
currently chairman of the Wynd-
ham Young Farmers Club which
has a strong following with 30 to
He competed in his first regional
final at Telford last year because
he wanted to challenge himself
and admits he was gutted to come
''I wanted to be in the top four,'' he
This year he went a few better to
win the Otago-Southland regional
final of the 2013 ANZ Young
''Winning the competition has
been a real bonus.''
He is now looking forward to the
Grand Final in Auckland in less
than two months time and many
of his friends have already booked
their tickets to attend.
The coming weeks will be spent
boosting his skills in various
aspects of farming, but with a
sheep and beef farming back-
ground, knowledge of the dairy
industry and having worked in
agronomy, Dean is sure to
provide some tough competition
for the other contestants.
Following the Grand Final, Dean
and Sarah are heading away on a
belated honeymoon to San Fran-
cisco, New York and London.
Otago-Southland young farmer
photos, pages 20-21.
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