This month’s farmer story dives deep into a small rural town of Taranaki, Okato.
Matthew Grayling is a NZ Equestrian Olympian and winner of the prestigious 2001 Adelaide 4*. Pictured above riding Trudeau.
Rolling back, Grayling mentions he comes from a “family of farmers”. He could see that you were able to do such a wide variety of skills and no two days are the same. “Some days you can be a stockman, fencer, accountant, plumber, contractor, agronomist, builder.”
“Horses have been a big part of our farming journey. I have been fortunate to have represented New Zealand in equestrian activities and selling some horses helped fund buying my first herd.”
Grayling owns his spring calving farm with wife Susan. Farming 310 Jerseys running through an 18 aside herringbone. “We use ProCow30 from the day they calve, and this has certainly helped them bounce back from the stress of calving and when the weather is a challenge. Just seems to give them that extra energy they need.”
“Our jersey cows have certainly grown since we started using ProCow30. First calvers especially have been able to milk and carry on growing. Empty rates have also seen big gains. From 10-12% down to 5-6%”
When we asked Grayling about challenges that have arisen this season, he says “Most seasons have a challenge somewhere along the way. Most challenges are weather related because that has the biggest impact. September seemed to be challenging with some prolonged wet periods. After that things settled down and we have had a good year.”
A pot of luck! Escaping the majority of the weather most of the rest of the North Island has endured, Grayling says “Weather challenges can be mentally draining for many farmers and wears them down. Being able to have surplus feed in the system certainly helps when things are tight. I’m always slightly conservative about giving away grass too early so we try to keep our round out for as long as we think necessary in the early part of the season. Cover is king when it’s wet.”
We spoke with Darrel McCracken, GrainCorp Regional Feed Partner for Taranaki about the challenges he has worked through with Grayling and he states that it has been predominantly the “Challenging spring weather.” McCracken says “Altering the blend regularly to try and match energy requirements, production this season has improved, and overall cow condition has been maintained at a higher level in a very difficult spring.”
McCracken enjoys partnering with Grayling as he is very open to new ideas. “Tracker has allowed us to monitor the herd more closely allowing us to make some informed decisions regarding the mix (blend) we use. ie in monitoring FEI levels, MU levels and production.”
Grayling mentions “Biggest thing is to try and keep costs under control.” McCracken supports this with “attempting to lock in product at the right time and working to lift the production level of the herd” Is one of the ways he partners with Grayling in meeting goals moving forward.
A loyal customer, having been with GrainCorp 10 years, Grayling comments on what makes a good feed company. “Someone who can consistently supply the product when required and give the right advice to benefit the farmer and not just the feed company.”
“Provide good communication, getting product when needed, having a knowledgeable Feed Partner on the road who is willing to partner with you.” supported by McCracken.
To wrap up, we asked Grayling if he had any advice to give any up-and-coming farmers. “Do the basics well. Learn to have good time management by being organised and thinking ahead. If you are doing 12 hour days you are not being smart. A 12 hr day is starting at 5am and-finishing at 5 pm with no break. Keep a good diet. Do not think you need energy drinks to keep you going. Not every day is a good day but look to the next day as one that may be better. Keeping fit by doing some physical work is actually good for mind and body.”
We wish Matthew Grayling best wishes for success in his up and coming Three – Day Event Championship in Taupo.
Photo by KAMPIC/Sarah Lord