The Difficult Decision to Sell for a Dairy Farming Family | farm online
Dairy farmers Jason and Lorelle Heap made the momentous decision to sell the Cohuna property their family has owned since 1929, provided the price is right.
That’s not to say the family is asking for a royal ransom for their 828 hectares, said Ray White Rural agent Anthony Stevens.
“It’s a sale price,” he said.
“When people see the place, they say, ‘Wow,’ and can see it’s worth every penny.”
The aggregation is split between two locations: the 348 ha family farm, Balmoral Park, and the 480 ha cultivation and holding block, Flannery’s, just 5 kilometers away.
Mr Stevens said he expected Balmoral Park to attract at least $4.6 million and Flannery more than $2.6 million.
The couple and Jason’s parents, Carole and Gary, turned the farm into a self-sustaining dairy powerhouse, growing all of its own grain, raising replacements and milking 550 cows, most of them Friesian.
Fed 8 kilograms per head on bail, the herd produces around 4.5 million liters per year, with practical components including 4.5% fat and 3.6% protein.
It’s a well-oiled machine, with a state-of-the-art 50-stand rotary dairy at Balmoral Park, automated irrigation, three 600-cow feedlots and six family and worker houses.
Strategically positioned near major milk processing facilities, it also holds a lucrative fresh milk contract with Fonterra.
But running a large dairy farm can be very time-consuming and, at 50, Mr Heap is looking forward to a change of pace.
“Lorelle and I are thinking of taking a big trip to Australia,” he said.
“We’ve been working our whole lives, we’ve been in the industry for 30 or 35 years.”
As enticing as the open road and more free time might be, the decision to put the farm on the market was not easy.
“I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘Am I doing the right thing for my family?'” Mr Heap said.
“I’ve had these big ambitions since I was a kid because I grew up with them since I could walk.
“I achieved those dreams with the support of people around me, but now, I think, it’s not about me anymore. It’s about everyone else.”
Like many family farming businesses, it’s complicated. Mr. Heap’s parents still live on the farm and his 20-year-old son, Jai, wants to be a dairy farmer.
The good result of the auction, however, would allow all three generations to get a fresh start.
It’s been on the cards for a while now. The family first put their properties on the market in 2018, when the dairy industry was at an all-time low.
Mr Stevens said he advised the Heaps not to market properties heavily in the then buyer’s market and instead wait for the cycle to turn around. Turn it a.
Dairy properties are hitting a premium as unmet demand for milk plunges processors into bidding wars unimaginable just three years ago.
Still, the Heap family will only sell if the price is right.
“We don’t mind one way or another that it sells out,” Mr. Heap said.
“If it doesn’t sell, it’s not the end of the earth for us.
“But if so, fine, we’re moving on to our next business.”
The auction is scheduled for November 12 if it hasn’t sold before, with Balmoral Park and Flannery being offered as a whole or separately on a bare basis.
The successful purchaser will have the first option to purchase livestock as well as plant and equipment.
Contact Ray White Rural Agent Anthony Stevens on 0459 924 164.
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