Having won Canterbury-North Otago regional competition recently and qualified for the prestigious national Sharemilker, Equity Farmers’ title, Kilkenny man, Enda and his wife Sarah surpassed their wildest dreams by winning the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year.
The Ashburton sharemilker who has run the Johnson family 370 hectare dairy farm for the past four years said he was paralysed in his seat when their name was called as the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year.
“I could hardly get up” stated the Lamogue native, after he had been growing quietly confident of their chances after they won both the dairy shed hygiene and business performance awards and were placed second in the other subsections. In the final tally the placings ensured them, the national title as the winners were announced at Auckland’s Sky City Hotel in front of 680 people.
In his presentation address head judge Andy Ewen said. “They are both really enthusiastic about the industry and the attention to detail the Hawe’s gave to every facet of their business was also commended. “Enda is Irish” he added “ and has come over here and made every post a winner.”
Having won the environment award for the second year in a row the Hawe’s are extremely conscious of their environmental footprint and recycle wherever possible and aim to be smart about effluent usage where they use a GPS tracker that ensures their effluent application goes exactly where they intend it. In addition, in making sure every blade of grass is eaten and that no cow is hungry it gives each cow an equal opportunity to produce as much milk as possible. Elsewhere communication is another key factor in running such a large farm where Enda is on the farm every day, talking to his six staff and holding regular meetings with the farm owners to keep them informed with what is happening.
On the farm the day usually starts at around 3.30am with work in two sheds and they have the fourteen hundred cows out from milking by 7am. In New Zealand sharemilking has been part of the dairy farmer career path since the 1880s where the arrangement offers young farmers a way to build assets and dairy management skills without requiring a large amount of capital input at the beginning of their careers.
Through negotiable agreements in a highly competitive industry they can build equity early and relatively rapidly through owning cows, rather than through owning buildings and land. The Hawe’s bought 50 cows four years ago and have increased it to 700 cows to take to their new 50:50 sharemilk farm in Oxford where they start on the first of June. Their goal now is to grow their cow herd to a thousand by the third year and over the next decade build up their equity to buy their own farm. Having emigrated to New Zealand ten years ago Enda met his Mid Canterbury wife-to-be Sarah who also looks after the administrative, financial and any legal issues accociated with farming.
The couple have two young children, three year old Niamh and one-year-old Kayleigh and return to see his parents Stephen and Olive in Lamogue, windgap and brothers Alan and PJ, along with his grandmother Margaret, uncles Nicky and Gabriel in Coolhill, aunts Ellen Mary and Helen and their extended families neighbours and friends as often as they can. On the visits the former Windgap hurler and club All Ireland handballer and now rugby player in New Zealand, Enda never misses a session at his home club and likes to catch up with a county hurling game before he returns.