Ashgrove - The Farm

Ashgrove is a 600 hectare sheep and beef property situated 55km west of Whangarei. The farm enjoys a long stream fed valley with 30 hectares of flats with some medium hill. The remaining 70% of the property is some of Northland's steepest hill country and receives on average 1800mm of rain per year.

The sheep studs are run alongside commercial Coopworth ewes. Apart from mating and lambing,  the stud Coopworth and Suftex ewes are run together with the 900 commercial ewes. Consequently the stud sheep are not pampered, but farmed commercially and well known for shifting anywhere. Over the last three years all Coopworth stud and commercial ewes averaged 190% scanning based on ewes to ram, at a 60kg tupping weight.

Along with the 200 Angus breeding cows the ewe flock are put to work to clean up pasture on a 100 day rotation through winter. This includes all stud and commercial ewes including the Suftex ewes. Typically close to 1 condition score will be taken off the ewes between tupping and 6 weeks pre-lamb.

The 200 Matauri Angus stud cows are run commercially, and expected to work. These are a moderate sized hill country Angus cow that are very hardy, achieve good performance and fantastic for their maternal traits such as birth weight and gestation length. Cows and heifers get in calf easily and have good temperament. Structurally they are very strong and Matauri Angus genetics are renown for shifting well. Bulls are grown out on the easier country post weaning to achieve suitable sale weights. Two bull sales are held - a Rising 2-year Old Bull Sale in June and a Low Birth Weight Yearling Sale in September. Surplus females are sold to other studs and discerning commercial farmers.

Innovation and environmental stewardship are important elements of the Hard Hill Country Genetics ethos. In partnership with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, the property was one of ten demonstration farms nationwide pioneering SpreadSmart variable fertiliser application via a plane. Hard Hill Country Genetics is also working with the Northland Regional Council to  improve waterways as part of the businesses focus on environmental stewardship.

The Hard Hill Country Genetics Team

Hard Hill Country Genetics is owned by three families - James and Janine Parsons, Chris and Hayley Parsons and Travis and Kirra Pymm. Chris Parsons chairs the farm board, James oversees the business as Managing Director, and Travis is the Farm Manager looking after daily operations assisted by  Shepherd  Zechariah Lowe and General Hand Bryce Hunter.

Growing up in a family of 6 children Chris and James were raised in the North Hokianga on their family farm. Which James and Janine later purchased and farmed through to 2013, whilst Chris and Hayley pursued a military and teaching career, Chris becoming a senior army officer. In 2014, assisted by family friends the two couples purchased Ashgrove, originally 478 ha's which increased to 600 ha's in 2020 with the purchase of an adjacent neighbouring block.

James and Janine at Ashgrove

After graduating from Lincoln University with a Diploma in Farm Management James went onto become a professional shearer, then moved into farm management and ownership. Along with overseeing Hard Hill Country Genetics, he also works as a farm consultant with AgFirst Northland. Also serving on the board of OSPRI and Chairs grower owned Wools of New Zealand. James is a 2008 Nuffield Farming Scholar and was a Beef + Lamb New Zealand director then Chairman from 2009 to 2018, also serving on the New Zealand Meat Board.

Chris currently works as the General Manager Commercial for MyFarm. He started his professional career with the New Zealand Defence Force, culminating as a senior army officer. His tenure included 13 years in the New Zealand Special Forces. Holding numerous postings overseas in various military roles. After retiring from the NZ Army in 2020 he led the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust as CEO based in Christchurch, before taking up his current role with MyFarm.

Hayley is a qualified teacher and more recently a health coach. She currently works full time as the Officer Manager for a south Auckland school. Janine is a registered nurse and lactation consultant working in Whangarei.

Travis and Kirra moved to NZ 5 years ago from California and have embraced Kiwi life. Managing a drystock farm in the Far North before joining the Hard Hill Country Genetics team in 2020 as managers. 2021 was a big year for Travis and Kirra, they became shareholders in Hard Hill Country Genetics and welcomed the birth of their first born son Sawyer.

Hayley and Chris on the front step of their rural Franklin property 'Huntly House' with Janine and James
Kirra, Travis and baby Sawyer, Matauri weaner bulls crowding in on the family photo

Hard Hill Country Genetics is governed by a Board of directors with quarterly board meetings. It was established as a farming company by the shareholders with the motto:

“Excellence through partnership”

We believe the pursuit of excellence is a never ending journey.

The Hard Hill Country Genetics team are driven by a desire to get a little better each day. We believe that benefits and potential for excellence is multiplied when we partner with others and seek to multiply value with and for them.

In addition to partnering with sheep and beef farmers, our philosophy is to sell only the best rams and bulls to clients. We do this by putting the stud animals through their paces on hard hill country in Northland and by using a rigorous culling regime.