Home' Otago Southland Farmer : July 12th 2013 Contents 14
Manager with triple the ideas
Wyndham farm manager Murray Kennedy won the 2013 Rabobank Farm Managers Programme prize for his project focused on efficiency
and productivity gains, while jointly building his own farming aspirations. Diane Bishop reports.
Looking ahead: Jedburgh Station farm manager Murray Kennedy with his mainstays Angus, Kay and Ted.
By hand: Triplet lambs are taken off their mothers where necessary and reared on milk.
Big country: Jedburgh Station, in the Venlaw Valley, is 1850ha effective but has a total area of 3500ha.
The pathways to farm ownership
in the sheep industry are not easy.
But Wyndham farm manager
Murray (Muzza) Kennedy is
building equity through one of his
innovative ideas -- hand-rearing
It might not be everyone's idea of
fun but his wife Marcia, and their
three young children, are more
than happy to feed the troops,
which last spring numbered
Murray, 35, and his team farm
11,000 texel-romney ewes, 3250
replacement hoggets, 300
hereford-angus cows and 60
replacement heifers on Jedburgh
The 3500 hectare property, situ-
ated in the Venlaw Valley, is only
1850ha effective with the balance
made up of regenerating scrub
Originally from Brydone, Murray
spent time as a shepherd and
stock manager on various proper-
ties around the country, including
Mt Linton Station, before he took
up the reins at Jedburgh 10 years
Jedburgh was once part of
Venlaw Station and both
properties have been owned by
the Story family for more than 100
''To work for a family who has
farmed the same property for
generations is quite special.
''I feel extremely lucky to have
this opportunity,'' Murray said.
Murray has a close relationship
with Tim Story, who owns
Jedburgh, and while he oversees
the day-to-day running of the
property, any policy changes are
The team at Jedburgh also
consists of shepherd, tractor
driver and full-time fencer.
Upskilling off-farm is just as
important to Murray and he has
just completed the 2013 Rabobank
Farm Managers Programme with
the support of Tim.
''The goal was to make the
running of our operation more
efficient through better leader-
ship, time management and
''I learnt that by making a small
difference with a whole lot of wee
things, that a big difference can be
made overall,'' Murray said.
Murray went on to win the prize
for his Rabobank project which
was focused on efficiency and
productivity gains while jointly
building his own farming aspira-
tions, which has included hand-
rearing triplet lambs.
''Not every ewe can rear three
lambs so we like to intervene
before there is a problem and we
will take a lamb off a ewe where
appropriate,'' he said.
The triplet bearing ewes were
preferentially-fed but Murray said
it was almost impossible to feed
them enough on a pasture-based
''We have to learn how to manage
triplet bearing ewes because they
are here to stay.''
It cost Murray about $29 to rear
each triplet lamb on milk last
season and if it was feasible and
profitable he would rear more
In recent years he has switched
from a romney to a texel-romney
flock using Motonui and
Wharetoa genetics which suit the
land topography and his pro-
''Our genetic base is pretty good
''It has allowed us to develop the
land by clearing scrub and
turning it into productive land.''
The inclusion of Texel genetics
has lifted meat yield and Murray
was disappointed if he did not
achieve 55 per cent carcass yield
from his 18kg plus lambs.
''We're within the ballpark but it
depends on the year,'' he said.
His breeding philosophy was
''If it looks like a texel then it goes
to a romney ram and if it looks
like a romney it goes to a texel.''
Murray said the Rabobank Farm
Managers Programme, which was
based in Melbourne, made him
realise the inefficiencies in the
''There is huge potential to grow
carcass yield and to be paid for
it,'' he said.
Murray treats Jedburgh as his
own property and the enthusi-
astic dog trialist loves nothing
more than spending time with his
eight canine companions.
However, his ultimate goal is to
own his own farm.
''My long-term goal is farm
ownership or to have a vested
interest in a property.''
Murray highly recommended the
farm managers programme to
''It will not make you a better
manager but it will give you the
tools to become one,'' he said.
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