Sam & Jo Spencer-Bower of Claxby Estate


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2024 Canterbury Finalists: Sam & Jo Spencer-Bower of Claxby Estate – Dairy

Farming efficiently, with an increasingly light environmental footprint, is a key driver behind this 920ha farm that has been in the Spencer-Bower family since 1852. 
Located in North Canterbury, Claxby Estate was converted to dairy in 2012 and today is comprised of two dairy units with 970 cows each. Sam is the fifth generation of his family to farm the property and he and Jo are continuing to nurture it for future generations. 
When the farm was converted to dairy, the couple took the opportunity to install high-quality irrigation and other modern infrastructure. This has laid the foundation for them to farm more efficiently, while reducing their environmental footprint. 
The milking platform is across 606ha of irrigated land, complemented by a 270ha support block. Sam and Jo oversee the business and operate the support block, with Will Gard managing the dairy units.  
On the milking platform, they run up to 1,940 cows and, in the 2022/23 year, produced 956,000kg of milk solids. The support block is used to raise wagyu beef calves, graze replacement heifers, winter all the cows and produce silage. 
Building on the family’s farming history, they have developed a positive team culture which includes high standards for the business and the environment.  
The team uses innovation to stay ahead of the game. New technologies and farming methods are used to optimise the farming system, with feed, water-use, genetics, soil and herbage all carefully tracked and managed.  
The judges were impressed with the property’s wellmanaged pastures and native plantings, including around dairy sheds and water features. The well-maintained property is regularly showcased through the couple’s extensive community involvement.  
Doing right by the cows is a key driver for this couple, equally balanced with care for their staff and the environment. Their journey looks set to ensure Claxby Estate thrives well into the future. 

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