27 May 2020
Matt & Sarah Bolton of Oete Goat Farm - Goat.
In a short period of time, the Boltons have established an exemplar goat farming operation that combines profitability with a broadly sustainable approach. The transformation of the Auckland property has been guided by a dual focus on producing high-quality products while reducing the farm’s environmental impact.
The Boltons saw the Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a good opportunity to showcase their commitment to creating a sustainable and financially viable business. They were also keen for guidance on how to improve the business further.
A farm manager and nine fulltime staff are seen as critical to the success of this intensive goat farming operation that was established six years ago and this is reflected by a strong focus on staff wellbeing. Pasture is cut and carried daily to feed 2,500 milking goats that are housed indoors and the judges were impressed with the high standard of animal health.
Sustainability and innovation are at the core of this business, with the Boltons embracing challenges and continually reassessing systems as they strive to improve farming practices. Accurate measuring systems are used to help them maintain a low environmental footprint – for example in relation to effluent application and water use. The judges praised Oete as a benchmark of intensive goat farming, with excellent sustainability across all areas.
Enhancing biodiversity is another focus and significant riparian planting has been carried out, including around a wetland. There is an active pest management plan in place, while shelter belts protect against soil and wind erosion. Numerous gullies have been retired and planted, and both soil structure and legume performance are closely monitored. Recycling and energy efficiency are priorities, for example the property uses solar panels to generate power.
The Boltons see their sustainable and eco-friendly farming approach as a way to safe-guard the land for both themselves and future generations.