AB technician loves the busy country life
IN a career that started 16 years ago as an artificial breeding ( AB) technician, Heather Storey has helped generate thousands of bovine pregnancies and calves.
It is a career she first set her sights on as a child.
‘‘My father trained as an AB technician and did all the AB on our dairy farm in Taranaki.
‘‘There were five children in my family and we grew up knowing that AB was probably the most important time on the farm so I guess it’s no surprise that four of us eventually trained to be technicians,’’ Heather said.
Looking back Heather recalls how much she enjoyed her initial training.
‘‘I was 18 and loved the competitive side of it, each student striving to outdo the other.
‘‘Today I’m still competitive with myself ( always trying to better my nonreturn rate) and with one sister who is still a technician.’’
Heather and her husband Warren milk 250 friesians on their 53 hectare farm on the outskirts of Matamata. The farm has been in the Storey family for more than 40 years and, after working on it as sharemilkers, Heather and Warren had the opportunity to buy it four years ago.
‘‘ I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do – be a dairy farmer and an AB technician. I really like animals, particularly dairy cows, and enjoy being around them. As a technician you’re a critical component of the most important thing which happens on dairy farms – getting cows in calf so they produce, and the farm makes a profit, the following year.
‘‘As a farmer I live and work on our farm so it’s great to go out and see other dairy farmers every day. They’re the sort of people I relate to and you learn heaps from other people; it’s little discussion groups every day. And because you see your farmers five or six weeks of the year you end up being friends, which is another bonus.’’
With time off for the birth of her three children (now aged 12, 10 and 7), Heather has now clocked up 11 years as an LIC AB technician.
Calving, parenting and doing an AB run can be hectic and call for great time management.
‘‘ During the mating season, Warren gets the kids off to school after milking, freeing me to start my AB run – but this year’s going to be easier as we’ve changed our farm from spring to autumn calving.’’
Calving on the Storey farm was due to start on March 10 and finish by the end of April.
‘‘I’ll start AB on our herd in June and be well finished by the time my farmers’ mating season starts.’’
Outside of the benefit it clearly delivers to their own farm and the industry, Heather said there are a lot of benefits to being an AB technician.
‘‘The money’s good. You can earn a decent amount in a short period of time and while what I earn tends to go back into the farm, it’s also nice to know it’s there if I want to spend a bit on myself.
‘‘The job isn’t as physically demanding as it used