Kereru Station

July 2014

Danny and Robyn Angland manage a sheep and beef property where profits go to charity

Kereru Station is owned by two charitable trusts, and together these trusts distribute $400,000 a year.

Danny and Robyn Angland, who manage Kereru Station, recently won the 2013 Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year award at a gala dinner in Hastings. 320 people saw the couple take away a $17,500 prize package. They later had a field day attended by 300 people.

Judges Douglas Duncan of Marton, and Peter Keeling of Te Kuiti, were astounded at Danny Angland’s depth of knowledge of the business, convener Peter Tod said. They were also impressed at the flexibility built into the business by the couple, who have been managing Kereru since 2007.

Kereru Station is a large sheep and beef property at Kereru, against the Ruahine Ranges west of Hastings. It is a total of 2900ha, of which 2114ha are effective. It runs just under 10,000 Romney ewes of which 2300 are early lambing ewes, and 7500 are two-tooths and mixed age ewes on the breeding block. The aim is also to mate 2200 hoggets each year.

Tupping dates are 1 March for the terminal sired ewes, 1 April for the main flock and 1 May for the hoggets.

The objective is to keep the ewes an even weight through the year. One of the big changes they have made to the ewes is to winter 2000 on winter kale at the breeding block. These ewes are break fed on a two-day shift, and this move has allowed them to lift pasture covers to 1400kgDM/ha before lambing. This has worked very well and helped lift lamb survival.

“The ewes are in better condition and the lambs have shown more vigour,” Danny says. The ewes are only on the kale for six weeks.

The target is to finish all the lambs on the farm, and now having 72ha of lucerne has helped achieve this.

This year a record 71% of the early flock lambs were drafted off their mothers at a minimum of 18kg carcase weights.

From 1600 lambs drafted off their mothers at weaning, this year 1800 lambs were drafted.

Having the lucerne has allowed more lambs to come off the breeding platform and be finished on the lucerne. This block of lucerne has pushed up liveweight gains. “We haven’t killed any lambs under 18kg yet.”

They have also cut silage off half the lucerne area, and have nearly 700t of silage under cover to help minimise drought risks in future.

The beef side of the business includes 200 Angus cows which are mated to Angus bulls. The cows are used as a tool for pasture management.

About 70 heifers calve at 18 months, producing good results, while the bull calves are kept entire and finished in the farm’s bull unit.

From 500 to 1100 cattle are finished on the farm each year depending on the season and what class of stock they are buying in.

The farm’s 540ha of flat country is the engine room, giving a lot of finishing options, Danny says.

This year 72ha of feed barley has been grown. The crops are part of a campaign to minimise the effect of grass grub damage. The aim is to put about 50ha into a winter crop, then into feed barley, and then back in autumn into permanent pasture.

A strength of Kereru Station is the strong team, from the board right through to the shepherds. Danny has five on-farm staff. They use Farmax and Cash Manager to help make timely decisions. “There are no secret squirrels, and it’s an open business.”

Danny and Robyn have been at Kereru for seven years, and Danny says his role is a privilege.

Robyn is a chartered accountant, and helps out with administration of the farm. “She is amazing,” he says. Robyn has just started working off-farm as an independent contractor doing auditing work for PWC.

She also looks after the 2ha homestead garden, which is a big job on its own.

The couple have three young girls, Olivia, 14, Isobel 12 and Jasmine 10.

The farm was purchased in 1946 by two sisters Ruth Nelson and Gwen Malden, who were granddaughters of the original station owner. In 1968, rather than passing the farm onto family members, they decided to set up two charitable trusts, each owning 50% of the farm.

Each year the $200,000 proceeds from the AR Nelson Trust go to the Rudolf Steiner schools, while the Gwen Malden Trust proceeds go primarily to the Hawke’s Bay region for hospices and non-profit organisations.

Working for the trusts gives Kereru Station “a totally different feel” Danny says. They work for a really good cause and it’s good to be giving back to the community.

The trustees are all professionals who donate their time freely. The station chairman is Royden Day.

At the moment the farm is going through a strategic planning process to map out future directions. Four years ago 400ha of land was added to the farm, which has been a good project to work on.

Currently a book about the station is being written.

Winning the SFF Farmer of the Year was a surprise, and Danny was a bit shell-shocked about it at first. “It’s a great accolade for everyone involved in the station.”

He encourages people to enter the competition. “It’s pretty cool to be recognised and have your name on the trophy. And one of the big advantages of entering a competition like this is to step back and look at your business from a different angle – and it helps see how far you have come.”