It is fair to say Norm Humbert knows his Calivil dairy farm pretty well, after all he has spent the past 44 years of his life building it up and farming it.
He has certainly ridden the highs and the lows of the industry over that time but he has hung on and is still farming.
“There used to be a dairy farm on every block milking around 90 cows, now there are just larger dairy farms milking more cows and there are less farming families left in the district. Dairy businesses have just expanded over the years,” Mr Humbert said.
Three years ago the family decided to build a new 44-stand rotary dairy after growing out of their previous shed.
“If we were going to stay in the job we needed something better. We were spending way too much time milking in the old shed, but it did take us a few years to be in the financial position to afford it,” Mr Humbert said.
“Some land came up for sale which we bought first and then it was so dry. We wanted to make sure we had water right and the reservoirs were full before we invested in a new dairy because we thought there was no point continuing if we didn’t have water.”
Building the dairy has made a huge difference and will allow the business to comfortably milk 400 cows in the future, if they decide to expand.
The 300-cow herd is total spring calving, starting in July.
The carryovers and late calvers are milked through because, as Mr Humbert said, “You have to keep paying the bills.”
The mixed herd of mostly Holsteins and a few Jerseys is joined for 10-12 weeks; six to seven weeks is AI and the balance is joined using mop-up bulls.
The cows are milked off 100ha and the balance of 335ha is used for growing out young stock, cutting hay and growing cereal grains.
Mr Humbert is a big supporter of industry events and he firmly believes you are never too old to learn new things.
“The industry is changing all the time and you can always learn new things. We pay our levies for research anyway and if we don’t attend these days they will stop running them.