Suzanne and Terence Brocx
Northland dairy farmers Suzanne and Terence Brocx run 650 KiwiX cross cows on two farms plus a run-off in mid Northland, twenty kilometres from Kerikeri.
The farms, which are 20km apart, are run separately with autumn calving on one, and spring calving on the other. With five staff plus relief milkers Suzanne says there’s plenty to keep them busy.
“Terence manages cows, grass, and staff while I manage financials and anything paper - invoices, tax, and GST. We have implemented automated processes right across the business to help deliver time savings on-farm, and in the office.”
She says tech automation has made life easier for the whole team.
“CowManager (an electronic heat/health/temperature sensor), and Protrack drafting has streamlined day to day processes from stocktaking animals, animal health and simple drafting for health and mating all of which increases accuracy and saves time for the team.”
Suzanne says switching to Farm Focus was a simple decision and, after attending a local workshop explaining what it could do, we switched our farm business right away!”
She says managing planning, budgeting and financials has changed since the business moved to Focus but in a good way!
“I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t monitor it and if you can’t monitor it, you can’t manage it’. We’ve been in the industry since the late 1980s and we still plan well ahead so we know where we’re headed.
“With Focus we can see how constraints on- and off-farm will impact our bottom line! Right now, we know where we’ll be by end of May 2022 and then May 2023 which takes stress out of the equation. We can plan expenditure and know what the impact of ‘surprise expenditure’ means to the bottom line.
“Focus is a brilliant application because it simplifies processes and encourages you to be more proactive in managing information. I love the invoice scanning and the bank feeds almost force you to stay up to date. I can check in and out from anywhere so there’s no end of month madness sorting invoices because they’re already saved in the system. I’m so up to date I now reconcile way ahead of months end!”
Suzanne says today’s farmers have more hoops to jump through via reporting and around risk management.
“Compliance is an important part of doing business and the paperwork involved is time consuming which is another plus for Focus users. All our information is saved in the system so we can check back and compare prices, stock health applications or stock numbers across any given period. It’s all there for us.”
Suzanne also has Focus working hard on another of her forays. She is on the farm committee that manages the local Northland College Farm in Kaikohe. Northland College has an AgTrades Academy where students can develop a good base level of skills before moving into industry, or on to tertiary study taking with them valuable practical experience on the 300-cow farm attached to the school.
Farm Focus Ltd has been a great supporter of the farm for the last nine years. “Using Focus, we know where we are financially which helps the farm committee make choices around infrastructure investment, or the donation of funds back to the college. Focus also enables the committee to report financials back to the Board of Trustees, so they have an overview with transparency over expenditure and financial direction.
Suzanne says while tech applications such as Focus provide advantages for any business both know that their team make a big difference. “We’re fortunate to have a great team – on our farms and at Northland College. We try to provide a great working environment and remuneration because, at the end of the day, staff can make or break a business.”