Moo-ve to vend­ing ma­chines

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

When John Vosper started rub­bing pep­per­mint cream on to his cows’ ud­ders to treat mas­ti­tis and drench­ing his cows with ap­ple cider vine­gar his old man was ‘‘ rea­son­ably re­luc­tant’’ about con­vert­ing the farm, which had been in the fam­ily since 1916, to an or­ganic dairy farm.

‘‘He was rea­son­ably re­luc­tant at first but is quite happy about it now,’’ he said.

Vosper changed from con­ven­tional farm­ing to or­ganic on the sug­ges­tion of his wife, Liz MacKay, after she had gone to a Fon­terra field day on the sub­ject in 2002.

Be­fore this they had been run­ning 270 cows on 80ha con­ven­tion­ally – 40ha their own and 40ha leased since 1999.

Now they run 256 pedi­gree jer­seys on 85ha, in­clud­ing a support farm in Gor­don for the year­lings.

The one thing Vosper hasn’t changed over the years is the breed of cow they farm.

‘‘It is a fam­ily story that my great- great- grand­fa­ther walked the first jer­seys into Mata­mata from Taranaki with many river cross­ings.’’

The farm is also very much a fam­ily af­fair, as Vosper leases half the farm from his un­cle who lives on the farm; his par­ents and a cousin also live on the farm.

Vosper said one of the big­gest chal­lenges of be­ing an or­ganic dairy farmer was the cost and time spent on com­pli­ance.

‘‘I know four farm­ers who have gone back to con­ven­tional farm­ing lo­cally and nine in the Fon­terra pro­gramme who have gone back be­cause of that.’’

In­stead of common brand name teat spray, Vosper uses a com­mer­cial mix­ture of fish oil and tea tree oil. Soil fer­til­ity is main­tained by reg­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tions of com­posted chicken ma­nure.

An­i­mal waste is also an is­sue; if he has to treat an an­i­mal with an­tibi­otics he has to then sell it and not many peo­ple are look­ing to buy one cow at a time.

This means they have to be more proac­tive with an­i­mal health, min­eral sup­ple­ments and feed sup­ply, as rec­ti­fy­ing mis­takes can be very costly, his son Michael who sharemilks for him, said.

Fon­terra’s pre­mium of $ 1.05 doesn’t off­set the com­pli­ance costs and pro­duc­tion lim­i­ta­tions so this has in­spired Vosper to buy his own pas­teuriser and vend­ing ma­chines.

He will soon pas­teurise and bot­tle milk on farm which will be sold in vend­ing ma­chines in Mata­mata and Tau­ranga.

Vosper doesn’t think there is big de­mand for more or­ganic farm­ers from Fon­terra but he does say that farm­ers should in­te­grate a mix of the best prac­tices of both or­ganic and con­ven­tional dairy farm­ing.

Con­vert­ing to or­ganic has in­flu­enced more than his farm­ing style.

‘‘We are more aware of pes­ti­cide residues in food and the ad­van­tage of hav­ing cer­ti­fied or­ganic food is that it gives you a guar­an­tee, we are more con­scious of what can be in our food and eat less preser­va­tives and less pro­cessed foods.’’

He hasn’t hippy though.

‘‘We don’t dance naked un­der the moon,’’ he said.




FAM­ILY AF­FAIR: Many mem­bers of John Vosper’s fam­ily, in­clud­ing son Michael, left, work on his or­ganic dairy farm.

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