Managing a farm with 40ha of flats that flood and hills that turn brown at the first hint of summer can be a juggling act.

But it's a challenge Sam Moscrip thrives on.

The Whangarei Young Farmers member is a herd manager on his parents' 160ha dairy farm at Hukerenui. The property receives an annual rainfall of two metres, with most of it falling over the winter and spring.

"Being back on the family farm, it would have been quite easy for me to cruise along under Dad's wing. [But] I wanted to benchmark myself against other farm managers in Northland to see where I was at."

"When it rains in the winter, it really rains," Moscrip says, laughing. "You're always keeping an eye on the weather forecast.

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"I'll often graze the flood country if a big storm's coming, even if it's not quite ready, because I know those paddocks will end up under water."

Moscrip was named Northland Dairy Manager of the Year in March. It was his first time entering the awards programme.

The 21-year-old also took home a whopping six merit awards.

"I just couldn't believe it. I'd go up on stage and collect an award, then while I was out the back getting my photo taken, my name would be read out again. It was unreal," he said.
Moscrip heads to Invercargill in less than a fortnight for the national finals of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards at Invercargill on May 12.

"I'm a bit nervous about nationals, but that's probably a good thing," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to the experience because the bulk of the judging will be over by then and it'll be an awesome opportunity to network with a few like-minded characters."

Family farm

Moscrip returned to the family farm in November 2016 after completing a bachelor of commerce (agriculture) degree at Lincoln University.

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"I wasn't planning on coming straight home. But an opportunity came up, so I grabbed it. I have a great working relationship with my family," Moscrip says.

Sam entered the NZ Dairy Industry Awards to get feedback on how he's doing.
"Being back on the family farm, it would have been quite easy for me to cruise along under Dad's wing," he says.

"I wanted to benchmark myself against other farm managers in Northland to see where I was at."

Mainly grass-based

The farm is made up of the original milking platform, which is connected to a runoff by a lease block of land.

It milks 400 cows through an 18-aside herringbone shed, split into two herds.
A herd of 150 heifers and lighter cows is milked once-a-day all year. The main herd of 250 cows is milked twice-a-day until mid-December when it also goes once-a-day.

"We'd probably need another labour unit if we kept milking them twice-a-day," Moscrip says.

"The average liveweight of the cows in the larger herd is 430-440kg. They produce 435kgMS a year."

"We achieve that by producing as much milk as we can before Christmas. We have a tight calving pattern and our six-week in-calf rate is 76 per cent."

The farm relies on very little imported feed. Production is mainly grass-based, with 10ha of maize grown on-farm. About 100-120 tonnes of grass silage is harvested each spring. Palm kernel expeller is used to fill feed gaps during droughts.

Historically three to five hectares of turnips has been planted to provide summer feed, but it wasn't this season.