Great Farming Stories

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Malcolm & Sally Lee and Kevin Burke - Burklee Limited

15 February 2019

Malcolm & Sally Lee and Kevin Burke - Burklee Limited

A special partnership between husband and wife, Malcolm and Sally Lee, and Kevin Burke has given rise to a special business.

Burklee - a portmanteau hybridising the last names of its two shareholders - is a 496ha sheep and beef business which spans two farms. The team has strong principles and clear goals for its operation.

The guiding vision at the heart of the business model is to provide a safe, profitable and sustainable environment for all shareholders, with a focus on producing quality products that match the environment. Transparency, team, trust, respect and management are the pillars upon which this vision rests.

The shareholders contribute a comprehensive range of skills and expertise to the management and operation of Burklee. Sally has a degree in agricultural science and has been in various roles including working for the Regional Council and is now with Synlait Milk Ltd. Malcolm’s background includes shearing and fencing and he is also a qualified engineer, bringing valuable practical skills. Having owned a successful animal Health business, Stockguard, for 25 years, Kevin brings business experience. This year, the team has also employed a farm hand who works three days a week.

Comprised of 297ha at Dixon Road and 200ha at Woodleigh Road, the farm’s stock is diverse: a Romney Coopworth mix ewe flock, with half to a maternal ram and half to a Suffolk terminal sire; trade bull beef, predominantly Friesian; and dairy grazers.

Comparable to the respect it shows its animals, the team strives to do right by its environment and this remains a key goal for the future including more riparian planting and fencing. The farm focuses on matching stock class to land class and Burklee’s stock rotation is dictated by the contour and soil type.
There is an ongoing poplar pole programme of 50 poles per year planted on steep slopes to help improve soil stability, and a diverse range of native plants are present for revegetation.

The judges commended the team for undertaking soil testing every two years and were impressed by their proactive approach to caring for the farm’s water. Rainwater is collected off the house and covered yards, providing 53,000 litres of storage. Dams and wetlands act as sediment traps, with reticulation on the finishing country and alternative water sources in the steeper country.

Of entering the awards the Lees say it was a opportunity “To provide the business with a WoF and to continue to learn from others and the awards process.”
Their advice to others contemplating entry is to “Give it a go! It’s a great opportunity to showcase what you are doing, no matter how far along the journey you are. and you will more than likely learn something.”  

Awards Won

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

Waikato River Authority Catchment Improvement Award