Blair and Brooke McKenzie
“It’s about cows and grass. If we are to move forward it’s about getting the right grass.”
Fourth generation dairy farmer Blair McKenzie keeps things simple when he talks about taking his family’s Southland farm to the next level.
“It’s about cows and grass. If we are to move forward it’s about getting the right grass.” And that’s why as operations manager of Oraka Farms he intends to stick with Seed Force.
“Our relationship has only just started but I can see that it will go on.”
Blair and wife Brooke are part of a family-run large scale dairy farm milking 2200 cows on 711 ha effective. The farm is 20 minutes out of Invercargill and incorporates three milking sheds. The McKenzies run a mainly all-grass system, utilizing some sileage and a small area of SF Brigadier fodder beet, as a winter forage crop.
For the past two years Blair has used a mix of SF Stellar ryegrass and SF Quest white clover and has been very happy with its yield. He’s also trialed the addition of SF Greenly II cocksfoot following a recommendation from Seed Force Central/Southland representative Mike Fairbairn.
“The manager on the farm we put it into was happy with it, so we did three more paddocks this year,” says Blair. “The cows were cleaning it out really well every grazing. They seem to find it palatable and that’s what we want to see.”
As well as a quality product the McKenzies are thrilled with the ongoing relationship with Mike. Blair says right from the start he listened to their pasture needs and he’s always got time to look around. Blair is impressed with the sound advice and recommendations on cultivar selection. He says Mike listens instead of talking the whole time and comes in with fresh perspectives. “That’s why we went with Seed Force. They have people with expertise and provide an excellent on-farm service.”
Blair says he’ll catch up with Mike every two months and more regularly as they monitor the fodder beet crop; and at the start of winter when the seed order is due. He says it’s great having someone to bounce ideas off and Mike works hard for them.