15 February 2019
The dedication and loyalty the Espin family has to their dairy farm - and each other - is apparent as soon as you meet this passionate clique.
A highly-efficient trio, husband and wife, John and Sheree, and daughter, Kelsey, are proud to continue a family legacy that began in 1885 when Sheree’s family purchased 220ha to start the business which today has 174ha effective. Just over a century later, in 1989, John and Sheree took the helm, and a strategic succession plan will one day see Kelsey calling the business her own.
The farm is currently run with two herds - 280 cows on 105ha, overseen by John, and 164 cows on 69ha, managed by Kelsey and fiance Josh Thompson as 50/50 sharemilkers. Kelsey is currently working towards a two-year timeframe to begin investing in the rest of the business as her parents start to take a well-deserved step back.
Beyond their clearly special and productive dynamic, the judges were also impressed by the partnership’s production, with 1139-1080kgMS/ha achieved in a high altitude environment, with strong cow production of 410-430kgMS/cow at a stocking rate of 2.45-2.7 cows/ha.
It is evident that farming and production practices are thriving in a way that is practical and sustainable at the Espin farm. Sustainability, in particular, is a key focus for them with stocking, the rate breeding policy and cow size all taken into account when making operational decisions. The judges noted the team’s strong understanding of their different soil types and how these impact the business.
Ahead of the game, the Espins elected to fence their waterways, even before regulation took effect. They did so willingly, and to the highest standard, with plants that would not only survive but thrive. Sheree loves to spend her time enjoying the waterways and the entire family cares deeply about what is in the best interest of the farm and business, with the environment an integral part of this.
Two well-cared-for areas of natives are remnants of the original bush on-farm with a number of saplings taken to seed other areas of the farm. Having created a farm with strong biodiversity and conservation values, with a strong production record and a considered succession plan in place, the Espins can be reassured the farm will not only stand the test of time, but continue to fulfil its potential.
Of their decision to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards John says, “We were encouraged to enter, and as we went through the process, we could see more and more we had a story to tell. We are confident in and proud of our business. We have good staff and people around us. We are thrilled to be a finalist.”
Predator Free Farm Award