Case Studies

Building Confidence and a Career

Building Confidence and a Career

Kenyan Charles and Kiwi Ann-Marie Anainga arrived back in NZ in 2000 with only the clothes on their backs. Four children and a decade later they are 50/50 sharemilking 140 cows in Ohaupo.
Their goal is to achieve the best possible financial returns from their farm business, while ensuring they are also environmentally sustainable.

Why a smaller herd?
Ann-Marie says their dream is to achieve financial security with a smaller herd, “Our dream is to own a 200 cow farm, we don’t want to be big. We want to be sustainable for us and future generations.”

“We’re more accountable for what we do because we are not moving ourselves into a factory, commercial type environment. Charlie worked on a 1300 cow farm and it was all about OSH, health and safety and manuals, and all of those things were really important in how the place functioned.”

Charlie adds, “The animal health part was forgotten, the interaction between you and your animals was not in the forefront. We are more aware of what our cows are doing, I know every cow and they are like our kids, you know if something is wrong.”

Charlie says, “We heard about SMASH through Noldy, the chairman, he gave us the contacts for it and we took it from there, and we have never looked back!”

Ann-Marie takes up the story, ”And then we were approached to speak at the SMASH conference, we had been before to other industry events, and so we had a direct comparison - what we took away, the information and the relevance of what we got at the SMASH day far exceeded the other events we had been to. That made us more committed to attending SMASH events, and the events have certainly never disappointed.”

Building Confidence and a Career

Charlie notes, “There was a stereotype before that, where everyone would say, “How do you make money out of 140 cows?” but when we joined SMASH we met like-minded people doing similar things, and they had done it for years, it gave us confidence to know that there are people out there doing the same thing we are doing and it allowed us to put the stereotype out of our minds and to concentrate on what we do best.”

What have they gained from SMASH events?
The Anaingas have gained knowledge, information and confidence from attending SMASH events.

Charlie says, “Going to events has made us more confident in what we are doing. For example, with cropping, we were not experienced before, but now we feel confident to make decisions about it and we have the information to do that. This year we are doing ten percent of the farm knowing that we can achieve what we want, rather than doing a paddock here and there and worrying about things like, “What if there is a drought?”.”

Ann-Marie adds, “When the drought did come last year, because we had sat and talked to people at SMASH who were on 16 hour milkings we decided to give that a go. That was probably the thing that saved us and got us through the drought.

“Again, if we had never met those people and discussed things with them, we would have never had the confidence and knowledge to go ahead and do it. At the events we get to meet people that are a lot further on in their careers and they share their knowledge really easily.”

Charlie and Ann-Marie both firmly believe in the value of getting off farm to learn and gain new skills, Charlie says, “There are people out there who have a lot of knowledge, you need to get off the farm, get out there and talk and learn. Otherwise it just becomes about you, the cows, and the farm - before you know it the year is gone.”

Ann-Marie sees a range of benefits in going to SMASH events, “They provide a relevant and fresh look at concepts and ideas which is practical and is often hands on.

“The variety of opinions at SMASH events is really important and is especially relevant to smaller farmers. We don’t want to write down every number and fact and figure because we know all the cows in our head, if one comes in first when it is normally sixth in a row, we think “What is wrong with you cow?”. There is that element of not having kgDM per this or that shoved down your throat. That is enticing for us.”