About Us Rearing high-quality
calves since 2003.

Top Notch Calves started out in 2003 when Jonathan and Joanne Leigh brought the 40 hectare block, situated near Tirau, to rear calves. Now, alongside their business partners, Chris Horan and Karin Scott, the business has evolved over the last 20 years and is now rearing more than 7000 calves a year.

We pride ourselves on rearing high quality, well cared for calves. Our dedicated team now rear a mix of Friesian bulls, Charolais, white face bulls and heifers as well as heifer replacements raised on contract for dairy farmers.

Calves in our care spend their first four to six weeks in the purpose built calf sheds which boast inside and outside areas. The sheds are designed to maximise calf health and easy cleaning. It’s a winning combination for both calf welfare and the environment. Following their time in the sheds they are moved out onto the paddocks where they continue eating meal as well as pasture to set them up for a great transition to a dry stock farm or back to their home farm for the contract reared calves.

Top Notch Calves is proudly owned and operated by Joanne and Jonathan Leigh along with their new business partners Karin Scott and Chris Horan, who joined in March 2023.

Joanne and Jonathan both grew up on dairy farms and share a love of animals. They started Top Notch Calves in 2003 as they had a passion for rearing calves and the lifestyle farming brings. They wanted their children to have a rural upbringing which Cameron, William and Beckie have enjoyed over the years, while Jo and Jon have developed Top Notch Calves into the success it is today.

Karin and Chris look forward to their two girls Esmae and Sienna, being part of the business and living the rural dream. Karin grew up on a sheep and beef farm and had a career in agribusiness banking. Chris too spent many years on dairy, sheep and beef farms in his younger years before pursuing a career in agribusiness banking as well. Both have now returned to their grass roots, after rearing a few hundred calves of their own over the years, they look forward to the adventure of being a part of Top Notch Calves and taking it to the next level.

Karin Scott and Chris Horan

Karin Scott – Chief Financial Officer
Chris Horan – Chief Operations Officer

Joanne and Jonathan Leigh

Joanne and Jonathan Leigh
Founders of Top Notch Calves

Meet the rest of the Top Notch Calves team

Ashley Cox-Milne and calf

Glenn McMillan
Calf Buyer/Truck Driver

Ashley Cox-Milne
Senior Calf Rearer

Amy Judson
Calf Rearer/Truck Driver

Lydia Timmins
Calf Rearer

Walter Brown

The New Zealand dairy industry is relatively disease free and we always strive to ensure biosecurity remains a top priority. Our farming operations (including farm tours) are run according to our biosecurity policy, ensuring we are constantly working toward reducing the risk of diseases, weeds and pests entering, spreading, or leaving our farm.

Or exceptional system sets calves up for success in their lives and has been developed during our farming lifetime – over 25 years! Key steps along the Top Notch Calves way include:

  • We always begin with a quality calf (we either buy or rear a strong, healthy calf who has had good colostrum).
  • Calves are then reared in our purpose-built facility, which has been specially designed to protect calves from wind and rain, while still allowing good airflow.
  • Every calf goes through our robust Animal Health Programme. We have strict vaccination protocols to protect calves from disease and focus on picking up any animal health issues at an early stage.
  • We always use high quality feed (milk, meal and pasture) and clean water.
  • We employ a team of people who care about our calves and we provide a fun, supportive work environment. We love to see our staff growing in their roles and responsibilities.
  • Any changes in the calves lives, e.g. weaning, is done slowly and with thought and consideration.
  • We care for our land and are always striving to be more sustainable in all aspects of our business (environment, financial, people).
  • We like to build close, long-term relationships with clients and suppliers.

We have a range of close business relationships, here are a handful that we do business with regularly.

Nutrinza (calf meal)

NZ AgBiz (milk powder)

Probiotic Revolution (Calf probiotics)

Tirau Vets (animal health)

Fonterra, Open Country Dairy, OFI and Miraka (milk supply)

Blue Grass Contracting (milk and cultivation/harvesting requirements)

Peach Teats

Milk Bar

Farm Source (farm supplies)

Carrfield’s (calf supply and calf sales)

PGG Wrightson (calf supply and calf sales)

Livestock Marketing (calf sales)

Findlay Livestock (calf sales)

Central Scanning (calf disbudding)

Taylor Brothers Transport (sawdust)

Laurent Contractors (calf transport)