2023 Finalists: Alistair and Genna Bird of The Grange – Sheep and Beef
The Grange is built on a foundation of five different income streams, blended by an approach that successfully balances the farm’s environmental and financial aspects.
Since 2014, Alistair and Genna Bird have been in charge of The Grange – a North Canterbury business that is comprised of sheep and beef farming, horse riding, accommodation and hay sales. They lease the 565ha (475ha effective) property from Genna’s family trust.
Their focus is to build on the hard work undertaken by the previous generations to continuously improve The Grange, ensuring it is both financially and socially successful. Their business plan includes using YouTube and Facebook to promote the positive aspects of New Zealand’s agricultural lifestyle to a global audience.
About three-quarters of The Grange’s income is derived from sheep and 20% from cattle, with the balance coming from horse riding and accommodation.
In 2022, the business transitioned from finishing all lambs to a store system where the only lambs sold prime are off mum at weaning. The remaining lambs – excluding replacements – are sold store at weaning. They also run an Angus beef herd, with calves sold at weaning.
Ewe numbers are being increased following the addition of a lease block in 2020 and the development of more hill country from gorse and broom into pasture. There’s also a strong focus on using the property’s pasture more effectively, including implementing a stock water reticulation system and subdividing hill country.
Waterways are protected through fencing and the installation of culverts across the main water crossing. Farm reviews are undertaken every six months, to ensure plans stay on track.
As well as enjoying the property’s views, nature and wildlife with their children, Genna and Alistair love sharing it with numerous recreational walkers and horse riders who stay at The Grange.
The Birds plan to further diversify income streams and offset greenhouse gas emissions by registering large areas of regenerating native bush with the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Genna and Alistair are the winners of the Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award, NZFET Biodiversity Award, NZFET Innovation Award, and Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards