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Nick Bertram

2014 Dairy Farm Manager of the Year, Featherston

  • Plan to grow your business
  • Budget ahead to achieve your goals
  • Model different payout scenarios

Young dairy farmer Nick Bertram has big plans to own his own herd – and Cashmanager RURAL is playing a key role in helping him grow his business.

Nick, 27, turned around a low performing Featherson dairy farm, the only farm that would take him on as a manager, and in the process bagged the top prize for farm managers at the 2014 Dairy Industry Awards.

Not only did he win the title, but he also picked up the merit award for financial planning and management. If you want to do well in the awards, having a good grasp on your financial performance is a must, Nick says.

“I use the cashflow and budgeting side of Cashmanager RURAL most. I use it every month and like being able to compare the actual cashflow over your budget and see where you’re at.”

He plans to work his way up to herd ownership by rearing calves and building up his cow numbers, which can be used for leverage with the bank. He is currently contract milking 260 cows, with the goal of 50/50 milking in two years.

Cashmanager RURAL is vital to helping him achieve these goals. “I’m trying to grow as much equity as I can. I want to know how much I can spend on calf rearing and how many more calves I can buy.”

Nick has invested in the best calves he can afford and his first crop of heifers are just getting mated now. Understandably, he can’t wait to see the results. “I bought them at four days old, reared them right through, sent them out grazing and now they’re getting in calf. It’ll be quite special when they start calving.”

The other strength of Cashmanager RURAL is being able to do his own GST and PAYE returns. “It makes it easy for me. I try to use the accountant less, but it’s also good that the accountant can have access at any time and see where I’m at, rather than call me in for an expensive meeting.”

Not only is the programme helping Nick grow his business, his use of it also made an impact on the DIA judges.

“Being able to print off the seasonal budget and cashflow and show a breakdown of my costs was great.

“As well, I was able to do projected budgets to go with my business plan, showing how I was going to get to 50/50. Being able to print everything off from Cashmanager RURAL saved a lot of time.

“My accountant helped me and we did budgets for the next 10 years to show, once I was 50/50, how I would make it work.”

They printed out a number of different milk payout scenarios and worked out how quickly Nick could repay his loan. They were able to demonstrate that, even at a $5.50 average payout, it would work.

When he showed his bank they gave Nick a letter of undertaking that, if he performed according to the projected budgets, they would lend him the money. “I think the judges liked that. It’s also a great incentive to keep rearing the calves!”

Numbers appeal to Nick and he has a real passion for the financial side of his business. “I like to think I’m a businessman, not just a farmer. I get a kick out of growing equity and pushing the boundaries.”

“I like to think I’m a businessman, not just a farmer. I get a kick out of growing equity and pushing the boundaries.”