While Mr Cooper is best known for his role as chief executive of meat company Silver Fern Farms, it is perhaps lesser known that he owns a 245ha sheep and beef finishing farm on the Strath Taieri.
He might not manage the property on a day-to-day basis - that responsibility falls on the shoulders of young farm manager Charles Millward - but the move to farm ownership has proven very beneficial.
Mr Cooper described the purchase of Littlebrook Farm, on State Highway 87, near Middlemarch, as highly relevant, enabling him to "complete the circle" in the red meat sector.
While it goes without saying that he knew all about processing and marketing meat and procuring livestock, he acknowledged that before he bought the farm in May last year, he "could not honestly stand in front of farmers and have an informed discussion about farming".
Now, as a farm owner, he better understood farmers' problems and challenges and could use that knowledge to help shape Silver Fern Farms to meet those needs.
When he bought the farm, he was quite clear that it could not be a distraction.
Keith Cooper, chief executive, Silver Fern Farms
But it has ended up being far more productive for him, in his chief executive role, than he ever imagined, he said.
He admitted the company sometimes used to do things that "clearly were pretty dumb" and wondered why farmers got so aggrieved.
Now he could put himself in the boots of farmers, he saw things from a different perspective and, hopefully, had made some improvements.
"When you're on the other side of the fence, you do see it from a different perspective.
You see things differently, understand things differently."
It also gave him a greater understanding of the regulatory environment.
Previously, Silver Fern Farms did not get involved in that directly because it "wasn't us".
Having seen that environment, and using the Otago Regional Council as an example with its water plan, he said they were now adapting the business's advocacy model to be more aware of farmers' challenges.
The company was also working with Federated Farmers to partner the rural lobby organisation on advocacy.
There were several other reasons for the farm purchase.
As he explained, there was no fun in having a superannuation plan, receiving a quarterly report and not being able to influence or manage the outcomes of the fund.
There was also always life after being chief executive of a large company and, often, it was not being chief executive of another company.
Unfortunately, many did not rate the meat industry being a particularly fertile ground for a further career path, because of the public misconception of what the meat industry did, the complexities of it and the progress that had been made, he said.
Farming was not entirely new to Mr Cooper, whose family on his mother's side farmed in Canterbury, and he "semi-grew up" on the farm.
Littlebrook Farm appealed to him as it was only a 45-minute drive from his Dunedin home - his objective was not just to have a "once in a blue moon visit" - it was in a great landscape, the area had a proud history of being able to grow great livestock, and irrigation was available.
He was very clear about his vision for Littlebrook. It was to be an exemplar farm, demonstrating best practice, adopting the latest technology, trialling things, and meeting high levels of environmental standards and sustainability.
So in his other role, as boss of Silver Fern Farms, he was not only "talking the talk" but "walking the talk".
When it came to employing a farm manager, Mr Cooper wanted someone who was adaptive of technology, would give things a go and was not "locked and loaded" in customs and practices.
Enter Charles Millward, originally from Auckland, where his parents had a lifestyle block, and a graduate of Telford, in South Otago.
From a young age, Mr Millward (24) showed an entrepreneurial streak. He built a business while at school, running stock on various properties.
By the time he left school, he was looking after 1000-odd sheep and 500 cattle and that cemented his interest in farming.
He headed south to Telford in 2006 and was the top practical student for his year.
He worked on various farms around the Balclutha area before applying for a job on the sheep and beef unit at Telford, and worked his way up to stock manager, before shifting to Middlemarch.
Moving to Littlebrook, where he lives with his partner Jasmine Subritzky, a keen horsewoman, had been a huge learning curve, he said.
The farm abounded with opportunities and there was a "blank canvas" which enabled Mr Cooper and Mr Millward to develop the property in the way they wanted, Mr Cooper said.
Already, plenty of progress had been made on the journey to getting the property to what they wanted it to look like and how they wanted it to run.
Those developments included new sheep yards, rebuilding the wool shed, fencing, reforaging, drainage, and renovating the house.
In the first year, the focus had been more on the irrigated areas, rather than dryland.
FarmIQ - an initiative with a vision to create a demand-driven integrated value chain for red meat that delivered sustainable benefits to all participants, including farmers, processors and marketers - had been very useful in the development process, Mr Cooper said.
For Mr Cooper, getting the property to where he wanted was certainly not as easy, nor as fast, as he envisaged - "it just takes longer than what you think to change things ... getting things right" - but he expected by about next spring, they should be largely up-and-running how they wanted things to be.
On a personal level, he enjoyed his visits to the farm and found it therapeutic, away from his busy corporate life.
Mr Millward added it was also always helpful to have an extra pair of hands around.
And, while Mr Cooper was always asking his farm manager questions about farming, the flow of information was a two-way street. Mr Millward saying he now had a greater understanding of the meat industry.
Now he had a farm, Mr Cooper could see the challenge to transform the sector was bigger "when you see the issues on the ground" and the journey was going to be "a hell of a lot longer" to integrate farmers into consumers.
But he believed the future for the industry was particularly rosy - "we've just got to make sure we don't make judgements based on short-term things" - pointing out that today's problems were not tomorrow's future.
There was growth in developing countries and the world wanted meat. Production of red meat was decreasing globally and there was a "great place" for New Zealand in the future.
But that did not mean that the industry could sit back and do nothing, he said.
Consumers' expectations were growing and they wanted to know about the quality of their meat and the story behind it.
Silver Fern Farms was "trying hard".
"We're not talking about things, we are under way, doing it. At least we've started," he said.
And given his high-profile job, it was not surprising that a keen interest was taken in Littlebrook Farm.
But from what he had heard, those looking over the fence were "pretty happy" with what they saw.
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