About Us

Farm System Change

Cowhouse® Ltd is a company set up to provide intelligent and unbiased solutions for the modern dairy farmer assisting with what is referred to as Farm System Change (Cowhouse does NOT sell products!).

Your needs may be the housing of dairy cows or a beef feed lot, but can also be a new dairy shed, evaluation or support of dairy management systems, managing large amounts of effluent or sludge, feed pad design, covered feedpad options, feed storage solutions, yard layout and design, a new conversion or planning for integrated robotic milking (AMS).

In a nutshell, Farm System Change, represented by all infrastructure and support needs to ensure a future proof, sustainable and highly profitable outcome.

Cowhouse Ltd adds value by our total farm outcome approach by ensuring the Farm System Change is considered and well thought out. Everything needs to "work in synergy". Good planning, an independent feasibility study and possible finance applications to financiers are all part of the available package. Most farmers and bankers working with the Cowhouse Ltd team are so impressed with the total service they receive, that more often than not they commission our team for total project management.

The company was set up to provide a total solution that is not related to selling products. Cowhouse Ltd sells NO products, nor do we build projects in their own right. We provide a choice of services which may range from initial advice, bank finance applications, viability study, tender documentation, and/or complete design services and/or full project management for turn key solutions. We have a proven track record, and arrange and coordinate with all parties to "make it happen". Where possible we encourage and engage local suppliers, builders and trades people to ensure the best local input. With that we provide you with the security of ongoing service from these same people. Cowhouse Ltd has a list of "licensed" companies and people who are proven and qualified to deliver in partnership with us. They deliver the products, support and designs specified for the job. Where they do not have these, we train them.

The modern farmer no longer has the time to do all of the required research, and is not trained to be aware of all the pitfalls, skilled to simply chew through all the sales jargon. When it comes to new technology, Cowhouse Ltd is up with the latest and can contribute significant value to your project. Dealing with builders, milking machine companies and sub contractors can be frustrating and very time consuming. Just to get a quote that is comparable to another quote is a major challenge. Cowhouse Ltd takes all of those worries away from you, and lets you get on with the business of running your farm. Banks are now starting to demand that external experts are engaged with the management of larger projects, to ensure that all runs to budget and plan. When the project is finished we complete an audit for sign off by all parties, ensuring you get what you are paying for.

Cowhouse Ltd, "your Dairy optimizing partner and qualified Farm System Change manager".

Invest once and make integrated hybrid farming work for you.


Who Are The People At Cowhouse Ltd?

about image Cowhouse Ltd's office basis are in Lincoln and Rotorua, Field work is actioned by Dutch born founder and company owner Harmen Heesen . Harmen, a New Zealander by choice since 1981, was educated in Europe in Dairy Management and Economics. Harmen worked on a variety of farms in the Netherlands and France, including cropping, seed propagation, glasshouse roses and of course Dairy. After completing his study he traveled extensively around the world and spent time in North America on crop and dairy farms. Additionally he worked for the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and later in New Zealand was instrumental in the resurrection and growth of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 this earned him (as one of only 10 people in 100 years) an award for outstanding contributions to the business community. Harmen is also a current Board member and director of the NZ National Fieldays Society Inc, director of Stream EAM Ltd, and is a member of the NZ institute of Directors with a certificate of company direction obtained in 2011. In 2014 Harmen became an accredited director, and in 2015 he became a member of NZ institute of Primary Industry Management. In 2011 he was invited on an expert panel engaged by Dairy NZ evaluating animal well-being guidelines for housed animals.

Harmen dairy farmed for 7 years in Taranaki, and it was there that the seeds where sown for the now well known and successful Animal Handling and Farm Automation equipment company TechniPharm, which operates in both NZ and Australia and increasingly exports to the world.

"There would be few people in NZ whom have been on as many farms as Harmen has been".

At home he was exposed to what involvement in project management, building and architecture. He comes from a family background of builders, architects and farmers. So combine all these facets and a solid dose of his commercial background, and Harmen finds himself uniquely placed to deliver a lot of know-how and innovative design and management aspects to specialized agricultural projects. Harmen is a IOD certified director and has extensive director experience in Ag related companies

If you plan to house cows or convert a farm for 400, 1000 or more cows, there are many issues to consider. In particular animal welfare and the environment are majors. How and where can we, through design. save on labour and operation costs? What matters and what does not, and how does it all integrate?

In a freestall system you put cows in a more confined space, and social dynamics and behavior changes...if the design is not right big problems can arise, ranging from cows developing arthritis in the joints to not being happy in the shed and developing mastitis' to name a few. Harmen's role is to develop and help farmers to create sustainable integrated hybrid solutions. This is very different from just placing a large building in a paddock.

Its all about the cow! Put the cow first and all will flow from that.

A new dairy is for many farmers a once in a lifetime event.. where does it start and what is needed to pull this all off? Is robotic milking an option? What results do you expect?

Location is another major issue to consider. Where do we place these often large buildings in relation to other existing structures? Is there enough room for feed out wagons, silage pits and so on? Effluent is significant, or rather slurry (not dirty water), and is produced at a rate of 20-50 cube or more per day. This is not something you wash away with a hose. Pumps usually sold for NZ effluent simply do not cut the mustard, or 'crap' shall we say, so what are the options?

'When a farmer or building company, bank or equipment supplier engages me, we spend quality time going over ideas, plans, budgets, sustainability factors and cost benefits. At all times the focus is on animal well-being, the environment and overall farm production benefits and efficiencies. Getting to understand what drives a farmer and how to tailor the project is important. Cow size, feeding philosophy and future breeding plans are all factors that engineers, builders or ad hock suppliers do not talk about. However, Harmen does. The investment in a freestall, new Dairy, robotic milker or a conversion, is to increase the bottom line. It must also make working conditions superior for owners, share milkers, managers and staff, and create better cow health and production sustainability. Some think it's just a roof and some concrete, but Harmen's existing clients will tell you that is just where it all starts...

The future dairy farm can be built on a sustainable growth, best animal well being and environmentally responsible platform, and for some that means cows being outside and on grass all the time. For others it's a combination of NZ and European farm systems. Call it the hybrid integrated system.

Contrary to some beliefs and opinions of generally unqualified people, Harmen states, "in my view housing cows or taking cows off pasture in environmentally adverse conditions in New Zealand's pasture based conditions is the key to being environmentally sustainable and deliver future profitability and growth". This adds control to the previous 'always outside', uncontrollable environment. Not just for the inputs but particularly the outputs. Housing cows is a controlled activity... having cows on pasture is 'uncontrolled', so see it in that context and see where that brings you. What we need in NZ is a hybrid system, the best of pasture and the best of housing. Animal well-being for NZ cows in adverse weather is an undesirable picture that we need to be rid of. The world needs more protein, and we can deliver this more sustainably than most other countries on earth.

If you currently produce less than 700 kg MS/cow, call Harmen! You are cutting yourself and the country short. If you do over 700 kg MS/cow, lets talk about how we can get you to 1000 kgs/cow. Sustainably!

If you are thinking of embarking on the path of housing cows, a new Dairy, feedpad, robotic milking, farm conversion or have a major effluent issue and want to get to a sustainable platform of Dairy farming, Harmen invites you to give him a call. He guarantees that you will significantly benefit from his engagement.

In this new "prove you are green", "non capital gains" market place, it's about providing solutions which are animal friendly, as well as environmentally and economically sustainable. Want to be truly clean and green and use best of all pasture and other resources? Harmen will help you to find solutions and designs unique to your situation and farm conditions"

If you would like to know more, email Harmen Heesen hj@cowhouse.co.nz or call 0800 80 90 98 or txt me on Mbl +64 21 649049