You’d be hard pressed to pick dairy farmer Hayley Hoogendyk as someone who grew up in the sunny beach town of Mount Maunganui, and not rural Manawatu, where she has farmed for the last 10 seasons.
She not only looks as comfortable on-farm as someone born and bred to the job, but she has also acclimatised to the cooler weather the Manawatu experiences year-round – so much so that visits home in the summertime can be a challenge.
“I just can’t stand the heat anymore,” she laughs.
Based at Kairanga, just outside of Palmerston North, Hayley is a farm manager for Craig and Raewyne Passey of Aron-Amy Holstein Friesians. Milking 500 cows on 180ha effective, Hayley has worked for them since 2017.
Hayley attended Massey University, graduating with a Degree in Business. She worked as an events manager for the student association before she was made redundant due to the removal of funding for the role.
Bored without a job, Hayley went milking with a friend; and, after applying for a relief milking position, the farmer offered her a fulltime farm assistant position.
“I told him I knew nothing about farming, but he said, ‘you’re not stupid, and you’re not on drugs’,” she laughs. “I thought that was funny at the time, but I now know that he kind of had a point! I started as a farm assistant in 2011 and never left.”
As an animal lover, Hayley has loved dairy farming from the start. She shrugged off the odd comment that she was unsuited to farming, due to her slight frame; it hasn’t been a problem, she grins.
Hayley spent 18 months in the farm assistant role before moving into a 2IC position for the next two years. The farm manager at that property went sharemilking so Hayley took over their position, before moving to the Passeys’ in 2017.
The Aron-Amy herd is purebred Holstein Friesian with the exception of the yearlings, which are mated to crossbreed bulls.
“We have a handful of F12/J4, but the majority are F15/16,” Hayley says. “The Holstein Friesian breed in general is easy to work with, has good staying power throughout the season, and excellent sale-ability of surplus calves.”
Hayley says because the farm is a pasture-based system 2-3, the traits they breed for are strong udders, capacity and good muzzles, to ensure cows can efficiently eat a grass-based diet without high inputs.
“A good rump angle and fat and protein milk components are also important to us – and friendly is a bonus!” she says. “To be able to look out into the paddock and say, I really like the look of that cow, is awesome.”
LIC semen is used on the herd.
“I like the progeny of the bull Meander SB Arrow-ET S2F, and we also have a lot of cows by Fairmont Mint-Edition and San Ray FM Beamer-ET S2F, and they are all stand out cows,” Hayley says. “We never have any issues.”
The herd is milked twice a day, and instead of moving to once-a-day before Christmas, milking times are adjusted instead: cows go through the shed at 5am and 11.30am.
“This means the cows are off duty during the hottest parts of the day,” Hayley says. “It works so well. We don’t lose any production and we are done by 2pm, which is great for both the cows, and team wellbeing.”
The farm sends 500kgMS/cow to the factory annually.
Hayley has her own stud, SuperSolid, the beginnings of which were established during her first job as farm assistant.
“There was a friendly cow in the herd that I really loved, Apples, and I bought her,” she says. “I just went from there, and I have been breeding for the last few years, buying contract cows from different sales.”
Hayley bought two cows from the Waiau sale in October 2020, and one more from Waiau in October 2021.
“They have all been outstanding,” she says. “Waiau Gaunt Alana-OC S1F GP83, who is contracted to LIC, has been amazing in particular; she did 605kgMS in 301 days last season as a heifer, plus she’s super friendly.”
Hayley says she’s not actively trying to grow her own cow numbers, but rather, increase cow quality.
“I’m trying to get a handful of top animals that will form the nucleus of my future herd,” she says. “I’ve done some embryo work and I have two yearling contract cows coming through. A bull I’ve been impressed with in my own stud is Westcoast Alcove; I have a yearling and two calves by him.”
SuperSolid has a number of contract mating agreements: three out of eight cows are contract cows, both yearlings are contract mated, and three of four calves are in the HFNZ/CRV Genetic Leaders Superior Female Programme.
Hayley is now focused on continuing to build the nucleus of her herd, and if the opportunity to grow her cow numbers arises, she’ll consider it – with the view to eventually going 50/50 sharemilking.
“I’d also like to do more embryo work, so if I go 50/50 sharemilking, I will have a number of embryos stored to use in the herd,” she says.
While Hayley doesn’t currently show any of her animals, she may consider it in the future as she’s “seeing some lovely cows coming through”.
And while she might have found herself some way from where she grew up, Hayley is happy calling Manawatu home.
“It’s a great dairy farming area.”
|Owners||Craig & Raewyne Passey trading as CG & RM Passey Ltd|
|Farm size||180 hectares effective|
|Cows||500 cows (348 registered Holstein Friesian)|
|Stud name||SuperSolid (Five registered Holstein Friesians)|