Lisa Groen is gradually taking over the reins of the family farm, near Te Aroha in the Waikato. She is the second generation on the 65 ha, 225 cow farm, following on from her parents, Klaas and Annette, who purchased the property in 1998. Lisa has been on the job now for ten years, learning the ropes. “Mum and Dad have slowly started to step away and I have started to step in; the plan is for Dad to have his last calving this season.
“Farming is all I ever grew up with and I enjoy the lifestyle, you get to work from home. It has its challenges for sure, there are some days when you think “Why am I doing this?” but I enjoy the challenge, every day and every season is different dairy farming, it is rewarding.”
What can smaller herd farms offer?
Lisa appreciates the extra control she can have managing a smaller property.
“Smaller herds are easier to manage, on a bigger farm you’ve got a lot more area to keep an eye on management-wise.
“I couldn’t see myself farming more than 300 cows, because of the one-on-one animal side of things. Having it simpler, you don’t have the risk. If you have a bigger farm and you get your pasture management wrong it will really hit you. There is a bit of room for error on a smaller farm.
“Also, nobody works harder than someone who is self-employed, whatever I do is going to impact on my future here.”
What has she gained from SMASH events?
Lisa appreciates the value of getting off farm to learn at industry events – a valuable piece of advice handed down by her father.
“Dad said, “You are not going to come home and work on the farm unless you go to discussion groups and farming events”. It is one way to benchmark and it is how Mum and Dad started off. They didn’t really know too much about New Zealand and farming when they came out, so how they progressed was through networking and benchmarking themselves against other people. That is how you improve.”
There are a plethora of events to choose from, but Lisa has learned which events are the most valuable for her. “You have to pick and choose the events you go to, depending on the relevance to you and your system.
“My first SMASH event was a local field day. I found out about it through the SMASH flyers and DairyNZ. SMASH events relate to me. There is no point in me going to an event for people with 1000 cows. Being involved with farmers who are also farming smaller systems is more relevant for me as they have the same sort of challenges.
“There are little things that I have picked up from SMASH events. Where I have thought, “That is a good idea, that is something that we could do here.” It has been valuable looking at the financials of farms that are similar to here and how they do it, what they do to get there.