More info, better results on BOP farm

Following recommendations from her vet has been a game changer for Janet Poihipi. She is managing 400 cows near Hawai on State Highway 35 on the East Coast of the North Island and has seen great gains in the herd’s performance after signing up to WelFarm.

"I see the cows every day so it’s been valuable having someone else come in and highlight what is really happening,” Janet says.

“I’ve got a good relationship with our vet, Ben Miller from the Veterinary Health Centre, and I trust his recommendations.”

Before becoming the manager, Janet had spent 17 years as a relief milker when there were sharemilkers on the farm which belongs to the Tunapahore B2A Incorporation. When the last sharemilker left in 2019 the trust bought their own herd and Janet became 2IC.

She had fallen into dairy farming after moving to the Bay of Plenty from Southland where she had been working in shearing sheds for at least a decade. The choice was between kiwifruit or cows and although she had never been around cows, she was keen to give it a go.

Janet ended up doing two roles in her third season after going full-time, as the manager was on sick leave for over a year. During a meeting with the trustees and their vets and other support people, the current manager said he would step away permanently due to his health issues and Janet was offered the role.

“We signed up to the WelFarm programme through our vets who come out three times a year to body condition score the herd, they do a tail score and look at lameness and a lot of other things around the herd’s health.”

“Along with the reports, it’s also a good way to talk with other farmers about what they are doing, problem-solving and just having contact and knowing I’m not alone has had a massive impact on my own well-being.”

She has been able to utilise their WelFarm results to help the trustees prioritise improvements, such as bringing in more feed to increase body condition scores, and do some work on the races to help minimise lameness challenges.

“The vets give us great feedback and it’s helped my communication with the trustees with updates about the herd and where we’re at and it empowers them to be more involved too.”

With the right support she is smashing her reproductive performance and production goals and the farm was a finalist in the Ahuwhenua Trophy Excellence in Māori Farming Award for Dairy in 2021.

“Being part of the WelFarm programme has lifted my own self esteem knowing the girls are looked after well which makes my job a lot easier.

“I’m very thankful to Ben and the team at the Veterinary Health Centre and appreciate their help.”