Tucker Dairy and Pigs
Bryan Tucker is a dairy farmer, piggery owner and environment award winner
Dairy farmer and piggery owner Bryan Tucker has made a commitment to his environment with a focus on tree planting and a high grade effluent system.
Bryan is a third generation dairy farmer. He owns a 1000-cow dairy unit and a 250-sow piggery, southeast of Greytown. The piggery is managed by his son-in-law Gary Healy and produces about 5500 baconers a year.
He says two income streams help provide a steady cashflow through the year and there are some synergies with an integrated pig/dairy farm. One is the saving on dairy farm fertiliser by the use of piggery manure, another is the ability to feed young pigs with the reject milk from the dairy farm.
Morrisons Bush is on the outskirts of Greytown, on the way to Martinborough beside the Ruamahanga River. There’s a picnic and camping area which is located on Bryan’s property and the bush itself is very popular with campers and picnickers in summer.
Bryan’s dairy unit milks 1000 cows in two herds through a rotary shed. The herd is Friesian, Jersey and kiwi-cross cows. Production sits at around 370,000kg MS. The dairy platform is 330ha and there’s a 270ha run off.
The dairy unit is irrigated by way of centre pivot, K-line and long lateral irrigation, with water coming from 4 bores on the property. Around 150 ha is irrigated, mostly the lighter country.
Bryan says manure is a valuable resource which he doesn’t like wasting and estimates that it makes up as much as 50% of his fertiliser. He also believes that pig manure is more balanced that straight urea.
Bryan has been developing a system that will enable piggery and farm dairy effluent to be applied via a pivot irrigator. This innovative system will enable nutrients to be applied to the pasture without ponding or leaching. He also says slurry from the sheds is pumped to the ponds and then irrigated onto the pasture. The pond is de-sludged every year and spread with a slurry wagon.
The used bedding from the pig sheds is stock piled, the leachate is diverted to the ponds and bedding is then spread out over the paddocks. The centre pivot has an effluent line on it and pig and dairy effluent can be put through it.
Bryan says they are fastidious about only spraying in the dry spells. “If it’s too wet we go somewhere else.”
Bryan has spent a lot on tree planting over the years. He says he believes it adds value to the property and he gets a lot of pleasure out of doing it. Feedback he got from BFEA judges during a visit to his farm encouraged him to keep going with the tree planting programme. Bryan says the first plantings were designed to screen his piggery from neighbours in a new subdivision. He then moved to fence off along the river frontage and terraces. The planting programme, which was devised with help from the Greater Wellington Regional Council, was then extended to the milking platform. Bryan says the trees offer significant benefits in the form of stock shelter and aesthetic appeal. They are also providing a habitat for birdlife.
In 2002, during the early stages of the planting process, Bryan was encouraged to enter the 2003 Greater Wellington/Wairarapa Farm Environment Awards. Much to his surprise, he was named winner of the LIC Dairy Farm Award. “It was very pleasing to win. I enjoyed the judging process and the judges made some very positive comments about how well we were doing.”