Steve and Paula Holdem of Holdem Farm

17/07/2022

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2022 Finalists: Steve and Paula Holdem of Holdem Farm – Dairy 

Science and technology are being used to advantage at this Rotorua dairy farm, resulting in a property that is environmentally and financially sustainable – and a great place to live.

After years of sharemilking, the Holdems purchased their farm in 2017 in partnership with Steve’s parents, Jeff and Glenys. While it needed a lot of work, they could see its potential and have realised their vision of making it profitable while caring for the environment.

The first few years were tough but fun as they tackled significant infrastructure upgrades across the 308ha property, including pastures, houses, and effluent and cowshed upgrades. The property now boasts a great living environment for the family, employees and animals alike – complete with lake views.

The layout makes it easier to manage and this is enhanced by the use of science and technology – tools and data that are enabling production to exceed targets while reducing Nitrogen leaching.

There weren’t many trees on the farm when they arrived but they have planted a significant amount of stock shelter. In addition, the Holdems are continually planting native species and have plans to install detainment bunds to help with phosphorus runoff.

The team spring calves about 700 cows, with all young stock grazed off. For six weeks, 200 cows are wintered off-farm, while re-grassing is done by under-sowing with annual grasses and plantain. To increase production, animals are fed a maize silage and meal blend, supplemented by grass silage and hay that is grown on the farm.

As they look to the future, the Holdems plan to further develop their herd to fit the farm, and to adopt new management practices. Both of which will focus equally on environmental outcomes and profit – aiming to create a truly sustainable future.

Steve and Paula are the winners of DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award and Massey University Innovation Award.

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