Colin and Rachael / Keeping it in the family

Colin’s story

Colin and Rachael Phillips are a father and daughter team farming between Pirongia and Te Awamutu in the Waikato. Rachael has just taken up a position as a lower order sharemilker on farm, with Colin looking to scale back his involvement once she finds her feet.

Colin is the third generation to farm the property, and although in his younger years he was sheep farming in the South Island, he eventually saw the light and returned to dairying.

They are in their fourth season once a day milking, and the herd produces around 72,000 kg MS per year. The switch to OAD was partly a lifestyle decision, but Colin’s discussions with other OAD farmers convinced him that it could be a profitable option. “I went to see a few OAD farmers, and they seemed to be doing just as well as twice a day people. It is particularly beneficial in a low payout, and it is low risk.”

One of the first SMASH events Colin attended was a field day in the North Waikato, looking at OAD as an option, he notes, “That was a very good day and really encouraging.”

He first heard about SMASH right at its inception in 2010 though, and attended the very first conference in Hamilton. He says, “We saw a brochure about the conference, and went along to it at The Narrows. We had a really good day there, and I have been to a few days since then.”

Why a smaller herd?

Colin is a firm supporter of smaller herds and what they can offer the industry. He says, “I am quite passionate about smaller herds. With big herds I feel that large farming corporations are at risk of being bought by overseas investors, whereas many smaller farms are still family owned. I am a real fan of the family farm and what it does for communities.”

He believes smaller farms offer opportunities to young people starting out.

He says, “I think young people can still get into the industry, but it’s got harder. In our case, with Rachael coming through now, if she wants to carry on I would definitely make it happen.”

He believes there are other benefits to the smaller farm model. As he points out, “I also see an issue with larger herds, being able to keep Kiwi staff, so it’s not all rosy really. I know a number of people that have been in big herds and they can’t wait to get back to small herds and have a bit of a lifestyle with it.”

What has he gained from SMASH events?

Colin sees multiple benefits in coming along to SMASH events. He says, “I always enjoy the contact with other farmers. Every time I go I connect with somebody, or even people you have never met before, it’s cool. I always say to Rachael that if you go along to these events and you come home with one new idea, or one new bit of encouragement, then it is worth the day out.”