Julie Sixtus is someone who likes to get the job done.
Based in Takaka, Julie and husband Neil decided to take the bull by the horns and tackle NAIT registration of their herd early on.
“We started the NAIT process about two years ago,” says Julie. “We’ve only got a small herd, just 320 dairy cows, but once we knew we had to get them tagged and registered, we thought let’s just get on and do it.”
There was only one problem: how to do it.
“Obviously, we were a bit unsure about how to get started and what we needed to do,” says Julie. “Tagging animals was familiar, but the whole registration business was new to us and we needed guidance.”
She and Neil were one of the first off the mark in their area in terms of NAIT activity, so there wasn’t a lot of guidance available from fellow farmers. So Julie did the next best thing: she picked up the phone and dialled the NAIT contact centre.
“That was the best thing I could have done,” says Julie. “Some people prefer going through a third party to get their database set up and the animals registered, but I prefer the hands-on approach and working through it myself.
“The NAIT contact centre people were amazing, so helpful,” says Julie. “It was perfect having a NAIT person actually take me through the process step-by-step with me while I was there in front of the screen, hands on the keyboard, actually doing it.”
Julie regularly interacts with NAIT, either by phone or email, and appreciates the updates and notifications that are part of the service.
“They used to be a bit overzealous with their notifications, but they’ve sorted that out now, so we just get the alerts we need,” says Julie. “I guess we’re all on a learning curve and that includes NAIT itself.”
Julie’s pragmatic approach means that she’s been able to get a good routine going with her grazier who takes her cows for winter pasturing.
“The NAIT database is really useful for simple things like immediately knowing how many cows have gone and how many cows have come back,” she says. “Even if we’re short one cow, you know immediately, and because our grazier does the whole NAIT thing too, he can check in very fast with me if something’s not quite right.
“While we’ve only got a small dairy holding, I can absolutely see how useful that would be for bigger herds coming and going all over New Zealand, and how important it is for people to register with NAIT and keep track of their animals.”
Husband Neil is third-generation farming stock, so Julie knows the importance of longevity and sustainability in the farming industry, and spreads the NAIT word as much as possible in her role with the Dairy Women’s Network.
“Right now, it feels more about compliance than anything else, but it’s obvious that one day we’ll look back and be very glad this happened when it did.
“It’s a bit like putting on a seatbelt when you get in the car, or arranging insurance on your house. Like anything, it’s about being aware of risk and making sure you’re ready for whatever might happen in future.
“It’s just something we all have to do,” says Julie. “So we did.”