When five cattle died after falling into a steep gully on his Pikowai Rd farm, Ray Hayward decided it made not only stock safety but also economic and environmental sense to fence it off.
"The animals were worth around $800 each so that was a significant loss," said Ray, who with wife Shirley now lives near Pukehina on a 14 ha block of flat land they own about 20 km from the drystock farm.
However, the family still owns the 265ha Pikowai property, most of which the Haywards bought in a ballot 35 years ago. Currently it is being run by Ray and a manager but his aim is to eventually lease it.
The original Lands and Survey Department developed block of 258 ha was fenced into just 14 paddocks, four of which totalled  179 ha. Today there are 90 paddocks and only three of the original fences are left.
Ray believes in 'do it once, do it right' and that's how he has tackled every job on the farm, including fencing and the installation of a robust reticulation system which pumps water to reservoirs he has installed on high points which in turn gravity feeds troughs.
Like all the hill country in the Pikowai area, the land is medium hill and fragile. The Hayward farm rises from 75m above sea level to  165m and while the farm often fares better in years which see lower country dry out, El Nino weather patterns usually mean drought.
"We have suffered four droughts since we owned the farm. The last was in 1997-98 and the worst in 1982-83 and each time it was an El Nino weather pattern so I keep a close eye on weather predictions and reduce stock numbers if I think it's going to be dry."
The reticulation system Ray has installed gives him confidence in water supply for stock, even in the driest of years.
He never wants to experience again the effects on stock he saw during a severe drought in the Waikato in his early farming years.
This winter's unusual weather patterns have been hard for the Pikowai farm with Ray feeding out 2200 bales of hay compared with 700 bales in an average winter.
"We were lucky we had a wet October even though November was very dry."
Severe weather of the opposite kind has also caused problems.
"The three big storms of '04, '05 and '06 all hit the farm hard. We had up to 300mm of rain over a 10-hour period in '05 and '06," said Ray.
That much rain on such steep country was bound to leave its mark and the worst affected areas were the gullies which eroded rapidly.
Those are areas Ray has targeted with fencing and planting, putting in hundreds of native trees, including rimu, kauri, totara, puriri, matai and kahikatea. "Many of them are probably not native to the area but they are doing well, the kauri in particular, and provide food for native birds."
The development plan was drawn up with John Douglas and more recently Peter McLaren of Environment Bay of Plenty. Ray said he found both excellent to work with.
"There was only one patch of native bush on the farm when we bought it and I fenced it off but it was pretty poor so I've planted more trees in there too."
Ray believes the land was probably bare of bush when Lands & Survey began its development, after being burnt by early Maori settlers.
Ray's farm is part of the Meat and Wool Board's Economic service survey and his meticulous record keeping adds to the information the service draws from farms throughout the country to track how the industry is performing.
Ray finds the information he receives from the service on the national average figures useful in benchmarking his own operation but his decisions are far more closely aligned to the needs of his stock and the peculiarities of the land he farms than keeping up with what others. That his management systems are effective is evident in the fact that in many areas his performance is above the national average.
The Pikowai farm has 150 rising two year-old steers, 125 rising one-year-old steers, 135 breeding cows, 63 rising one-year-old heifers, 593 ewes, 160 ewe hoggets, 10  wethers and six rams.