Shaun and Fiona Fouhy are the winners of this year's Property Brokers Tararua Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year Award.
The couple farm 820ha at Marima, tucked under the Tararua Ranges, and will host a field day to showcase their winning approach on the property at 370 Kopikopiko Rd on May 6, starting at 9.30am.
Shaun is the fourth generation of the family to own the property, taking over from his parents, Joe and Lea, who also won the same award back in 1994 – a first in the history of the Tararua competition.
The Fouhys were not expecting to win but entered to learn from the feedback from judges and to see how their farm business lined up against the eventual winners.
"It was Fiona who twisted my arm and encouraged me to enter this year. We were very surprised with the win because I didn't think we were ready," Shaun says.
The field day will cover their livestock systems which the award judges said were generating outstanding physical and financial performance.
The couple winter 3700 ewes, 1000 ewe hoggets and 285 stud Angus cows and two-year in-calf heifers, plus their calves, along with about 40 trade cattle.
"We operate simple livestock systems. The sheep side is breeding and finishing, but we're not afraid to sell lambs store from April because we want to look after next year's lamb crop," he says.
Shaun says the cows are fully recorded but they are worked like any commercial cow herd, grooming pasture for the sheep operation.
"Our cows are here to optimise our sheep performance by improving pasture quality. As soon as their calves are weaned, they will work their way back through our easier country and then they spend another six weeks on our hill country until they calve."
The Fouhys will also explain the successful ownership transition process which culminated in their full ownership of the property. Shaun's parents still live on the farm and Joe provides time for tractor driving and any repairs and maintenance work.
"Our history on this farm and the success of our succession story is something we want to get across at the field day. Every farm business is different but we're pretty happy with how we've managed the transition," he says.
They will explain their cropping and re-grassing programme, plus their plans for further enhancing environmental aspects of the property.
"I feel we're at the start of the journey on the farm's environmental requirements. We've concentrated on ensuring the farm business is profitable for the past few years, but now it's time to tackle those other challenges."
Co-judge Sean Stafford, an adviser at accountancy firm MCI & Associates, says the Fouhys' succession plan is a great example for other farming families to learn from.
"The thing that stood out to me was the Fouhys had a vision for succession that was shared across the two generations and that is critical in terms of getting a successful outcome for everyone," he says.
He says the livestock performance is outstanding, an outcome he says is built on great genetics and a "light touch" system that matches the various land classes on the farm.