Being a dairy farmer means being on the job 24/7. Afterall, even on holidays, the cows still need be milked!
Kayserworth Farm is the location of the photo shoot for our first major advertising campaign, “Close to our Cows’. This was one of the original farms to supply the then Sunningdale Dairy and has shared our journey for over 20 years.
The farm is situated at Kaysers Beach, close to our plant based at the East London IDZ. Our relationship started with the original owner John R Sansom, who delivered his first load of milk to us in milk cans on the back of his bakkie. Today, his son Kim, continues this tradition with a modern day take on his father’s ranch style dairy farming technique and now Sundale collects milk from him in milk tankers that control the temperature from farm to factory.
Kayserworth is run by a capable and longstanding staff complement of 46 people, amongst whom are families who started out with his father. Dereck, Keith and Vosloo all celebrated 25 years at Kayserworth this year. In addition to the dairy concern, they also grow lucerne and oats on irrigation-fed land at the Fish River which is used to supplement the diet of the cows to ensure that all their energy and nutritional needs are met. According to Kim the cows stay healthy, then productive and then re-productive.
In keeping with the tradition and methods of old, Kim and his team take good care of the cows at Kayserworth. They practice hoof trimming to maintain the condition of the cows and there are a number of pasture cows on the farm that are currently 13 and 14 years old! The result is that today, Kaysersworth produces 630 000 litres of milk monthly and is a major contributor to the success of business in the region contributing to a strong partnership that supports job creation in the community.
Bradley Schwartz has been hard at work to move toward sustainable farming methods and has managed to halve the application of chemical fertilizer on the pastures over a 5 year period. He has noticed the return of moles and earthworms, evidenced by the abundance of busy Hadidas on the farm.
Hillview Farm is nestled in the rolling hills of the friendly N6 on the way to Stutterheim and is home to Bradley Schwartz, his wife Melanie and their three daughters. They share the farm with nine staff members who all live and work on the farm and another three members of staff from the community. Together, they tend to 300 jersey cows that roam the hills and dales all year round to produce the finest quality pasture-fed milk.
Rewind twenty-two years and Hillview was a start-up with just 30 cows supplying the informal market. Fast forward to 2018 and Bradley and his close-knit team supply Sundale with 145 000l per month from 250 cows.
Bradley has been hard at work to move toward sustainable farming methods and has managed to halve the application of chemical fertilizer on the pastures over a 5 year period. He has noticed the return of moles and earthworms, evidenced by the abundance of busy Hadidas on the farm. He says that “although higher levels of fertilizer give grass the deep colour, we’re achieving that good colour regardless and we continue to get a good growth rate on the pastures. By reducing the application of chemical fertilizers we’re also reducing the toxic side effects associated with high levels of nitrates. It’s a win-win.”
They also practice no-till planting of rye grass into kikuyu and have added chicory to the mix for density of nutritional value for the cows. Sustainability is the focus at Hillview and they are in the process of rolling out a program whereby they will pay for the schooling and associated costs for the children of their staff members who are of school-going age. There is a natural synergy with Sundale, where the focus is on educating young minds through experiential learning in the form of factory tours. The end result is a partnership that yields job creation and opportunity where it matters most in our communities.
Tradition and family values meet at Lillystone Farm, one of three original suppliers to Sundale Dairy.
Owners Ossie and Linda Ahlschlager, have supplied Sundale since their Meisies Halt days. They have a long and good relationship with Sundale and have increased production on the farm to meet the increasing needs created through Sundale’s massive expansion over the years.
The synergy between Sundale and Lillystone extends way beyond the cows. Like the Van Rensburg family, the Ahlschlagers are also intimately involved in the family business. Their three children, Vaughn, Roslyn and Leon all work at Lillystone which may account for the dedication and commitment demonstrated everywhere on the farm. From pasture to paddock and trough to truck, Lillystone is focussed on efficiency and growth.
According to Operations Manager, Billy Miles, Lillystone is well on the way to feeding their cows an exclusive diet of home grown fodder. The fields, visible from the N2 between East London and King Williams Town, are magnificent and this is achieved by rotating different grass crops for seasonal fluctuations in weather conditions. Billy says they are literally making hay while the sun shines so that they can maximise fodder efficiency.
The current 83 hectare platform for dairy cows on the farm will be extended to a much larger 320 hectares over the next three years. This will allow Lillystone to increase the size of their herds which should reach 850 happy cows by 2021.