Home' Otago Southland Farmer : May 3rd 2013 Contents 4
Farming couple attract attention
2013 Southland Sharemilker-
Equity Farmers of the Year Don
and Jess Moore are vying for
the big prize. Diane Bishop
Green pastures: 2013 Southland Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the Year Don and Jess Moore.
Method: The Moores milk 950 cows through a
50-bale rotary cowshed.
Three years ago Don Moore was managing
Benio Dairy, near Gore.
He had just won the 2010 Southland Farm
Manager of the Year title and had set a goal
of being named Southland Sharemilker of
the Year by 2015.
He and wife Jess achieved that goal two
years ahead of schedule when they won the
2013 Southland Sharemilker-Equity
Farmer of the Year Award and now the
young couple are set to represent the
region at the New Zealand Dairy Industry
Awards in Wellington later this month.
The Moores also won the DairyNZ Human
Resources Award, Honda Farm Safety and
Health Award and Westpac Business
A lot has happened since the Otago-
Southland Farmer caught up with Don and
his then-fiancee Jess in 2010.
They went from managing Benio Dairy to
lower-order sharemilking and in the
2011-2012 season they developed a plan to go
50 per cent sharemilking for farm owners,
Jeff and Edith and Bruce and Sue
Cunningham, which has involved leasing a
large number of cows.
They also got married and had their son
Harry, who is now 3 months old.
The Moores signed a five-year contract
with the Cunninghams and are now in
their second season milking 950 crossbred
cows -- a mix of friesian and on a
324-hectare milking platform.
The cows are wintered on a neighbouring
This season they expect to achieve 295,000
kilograms of milk solids, down from an
anticipated 300,000kg because of the
ongoing dry spell.
The Moores, who have vastly different
backgrounds, are quick to credit their team
of four staff -- Marcus Reay, Dave
Matthews, Brad Butcher, who is in charge
of the farm's K-Line irrigation system, and
Harry Cotter -- with helping them achieve
''They've helped us get to where we want to
be,'' Don said.
Don, 28, who grew up in the Nelson-
Marlborough area, left school to become a
deep sea fisherman before he started
milking cows for his father at Edendale.
He spent two years in the dairy industry
and he was about to go back fishing when
he met Jess, 26, on a Young Farmer's bus
trip to Invercargill Breweries.
Originally from Governors Bay, near
Christchurch, her previous farming experi-
ence had been limited to a 2ha farmlet her
After a year spent working in a pharmacy
in Melbourne, Jess moved to Gore to live
with a friend and it was there she met Don
and suggested he stick to a land-based job.
Don followed his previous employers,
lower order sharemilkers Max and Stu
Telfer to Benio Dairy, where he has been
employed in various roles for the past five
Situated just out of Gore, Benio Dairy is not
your typical dairy farm.
Its rolling hills provide challenges for those
who farm it with the cows often enduring
long walks of up to 3km to get to the
milking shed, a 50-bale rotary.
''The length and the topography of the farm
is a real challenge,'' Don said.
At 600 feet above sea level, the property is
cold and exposed and it gets lots of snow
To reduce the impact of the farm on the
cows the best producers are kept close to
the cowshed so the maximum walk they
endure is 2km.
The Moores have operated a once-a-day
milking herd for the past two years which
helps maintain good cow condition.
The couple are focused on breeding a ''good
black cow'' with great capacity, a good
udder and longevity in the milking herd.
The mating programme has been increased
from four to six weeks of artificial
insemination with friesian cows mated to
jersey bulls and vice-versa.
''We don't want big cows because of the
distance they have to walk to the cowshed,''
The Moores are achieving an in-calf rate of
76.4 per cent in the first six weeks and a 6.4
per cent empty rate over the first 12 weeks
of mating, which they aim to reduce to 5
They operate a roster of eight days on two
days off and the staff get regular sleep-ins,
which Jess says keeps everyone fresh and
The 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/
Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand
Farm Manager of the Year and New
Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year winners
will be announced at an awards ceremony
in Wellington on May 24.
Sharemilkers: Don and Jess Moore
Owners: Jeff and Edith and Bruce and Sue
Area: 323ha milking platform
Pastures: Mainly ryegrass and white clover
Shed: 50 bale rotary
Altitude: 600 feet above sea level
Rainfall: 976mm long-term average
Staff: Marcus Reay, Dave Matthews, Brad
Butcher and Harry Cotter.
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