Organic NZ

LAND OF milk and harmony

The recent unpredictable fluctuations of the New Zealand dairy payout price has created a burgeoning interest in grass-pasture-based dairy farming. Yet for Mark Flipp, an organic dairy farmer at Oroua Downs (Manawatu) it wasn’t a case of returning to pasture-based farming; it was a style of farming he’d never left.

A family affair

Mark’s mother and father, Bill and Anne, bought the Oroua Downs property in 1980. It was then a 109 ha farm milking 180 cows. They gradually added onto the farm as surrounding properties came up for sale.

Mark now operates a 508-hectare (350 effective hectares), 550-cow Friesian dairy unit. Flipp Farms also operate a 81 ha heifer support block at Feilding, run by Mark’s brother Darryl who also manages a 121 ha bull beef block near Halcombe. Since 1983 the Flipps have planted 80 hectares of pine plantations as shelter and as a renewable cash crop.

The Flipps also operate a rural trucking business from the property. They have twenty-five staff in total. The farm is worked by four of the staff plus Mark and his father. Mark’s sister Deb handles the administration of the farm and rural trucking business.

The heifer support block is where the

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