Niall McKenzie is celebrating 25 years of ROMFC (Rock on Milking Friesian Cows).
Twenty-five years ago after the Northland Field Days, I left school and embarked on my journey as a dairy farmer.
I did all my Primary ITO training. I joined Young Farmers – tried to balance my time with my town mates. It hasn’t been plain sailing. I wouldn’t change any decision or action I have done in the past – it makes me who I have become.
Advice I have been giving along the way: (disagree or agree, both are effective).
If you want to make a profit – Don’t follow Dairy NZ.
If you want to go farming you need a year’s supply of hay, silage and cash.
The bank is not your friend, they are a salesperson.
Surround yourself with quality friends (when the shit hits the fan they are there).
You don’t ever want to be the test pilot. Let someone else have all the crashes and bashes.
Profitability not production.
Breed, weed and feed. Breed your herd. Get rid of your weeds. Feed your animals well.
You don’t have to do what your mentor suggests.
The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.
Big is not necessarily GOOD.
A cow bought for more than $2000 can die just as well as a $750 cow you have reared yourself.
How good are you… Have you got your farm yet?
Avoid overdrafts as much as possible, once you get in them it’s hard to get out.
Don’t ever owe a stock company money.
Avoid third-tier lending.
Don’t outbid yourself at an auction.
Farm owners are not your friends, but you need to have a great relationship with them.
Work hard, play hard.
You have lasted 14 years without a ute, what makes you think you deserve one now?
Feed your animals before you feed yourself.
Talk to others – apart from you Niall McKenzie, you can just be quiet.
FIG JAM (F.. I’m good just ask me!!)
You can do it.
Don’t be a prick, be an inspirational good fella.
Do a lamb skull, Niall.
Twenty-five best things about living in Northland:
- It’s such a great place – everyone wants to be here in summertime (our beaches).
- Very little free draining soils (nitrate leaching not a major issue).
- It is always warm enough to have a beer.
- We can grow grass all year round.
- No winter cropping needed.
- The people are great, friendly, do anything for you and they love talking shit.
- It’s where I was bought up surrounded by my mates and family.
- I have lived away from Northland for six years and after coming home you really appreciate it.
- Great fishing – I have been told.
- Farming is the backbone to Northland’s economy.
- The connections with your friends is not diminished from the length of time you have seen them. The people you grow up with become your family.
- Fantastic holidays and breaks in Northland to see the sights (i.e: road trip to Cape Reinga or Tane Mahuta.)
- Memories from young to old (i.e: Mangawhai Tavern or Danger Danger).
- The great sporting facilities and schools we have.
- If you can farm in Northland you can farm anywhere (due to the dry summers and wet winters.)
- Low property values compared to rest of the country.
- Going to your local shop and seeing at least four people you know.
- Where I met my wife (at Mangawhai Tavern.)
- Split calving.
- Few frosts.
- First dairy farm in New Zealand at Waimate North – Mission Station.
- The Kaipara Harbour, one of the largest harbours in the world, is in our backyard.
- The last two NZ share farmers of the year came from Northland.