Building equity towards herd ownership next year

The 2019 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year, Tom Bridgens, with his proud parents Pete and Sally Bridgens.

Twenty-two-year-old Tom Bridgens is working and saving hard and investing in young stock to achieve his goal of becoming a 50:50 sharemilker with a 260 to 280-cow herd by June 2020.

The 2019 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year already has a healthy savings account – with help from parents Sally and Pete Bridgens raising 56 calves for him, and is building his equity growth towards sharemilking and the goal of farm ownership within 10 years.

Tom outlined his financial plans to the 80-plus people at the NZ Dairy Industry Awards’ Central Plateau Winners’ field day on the 300-cow, 80ha farm near Tokoroa owned by Rex and Loris Bates, where he’s contract milking.

Tom is grateful for the opportunity Rex and Lois gave him in 2018. He was working for a contracting company in Australia when he decided to return to NZ and farming, but arranging job interviews from across the Tasman wasn’t easy.

However, Rex was impressed with Tom, particularly his communication skills, and is happy with how he’s managed the farm and herd, including through the challenging dry summer of 2019.

Tom is from a dairy farming family and began relief milking at age 13. He left school at 16 to become a farm assistant before leaving on his OE. “My vision is to create a business where I never stop learning and developing new skills, to further my own growth and set up a farm that’s sustainable, environmentally-friendly and profitable for myself and family in the future,” says Tom.

“I want to be able to wake up every morning, go outside and work on my own farm that I’ve purchased through many years of hard work.”

Tom is the farm’s only full-time staff, employing relief milkers when required. The property operates as a System 3 with 1TDM/cow, with 17 per cent of imported supplement for the 2018-2019 season, including PKE blend, maize and grass silage.

Tom uses a plate meter to augment his daily visual assessments of the amount of feed in each paddock and uses MINDA land and feed programme to create a feed wedge to determine upcoming surpluses or deficits. The aim is to hold a 100-day round through winter with autumn milkers. Pasture growth is monitored and rotation length sped up as cows come back to the milking platform to calve.

Tom also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene, LIC Recording and Productivity, Ravensdown Pasture Performance and Westpac Business Performance awards.


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