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2020 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Award Winners Announced

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2020 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Award Winners Announced

03 March 2020

First-time entrants who are passionate about jersey cows, animal health and helping others progress have won the 2020 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year. 

David Noble and Katy Jones were announced the winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua on Tuesday night. The other big winners were Chance Church, who was named the 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Emily Cooper, the 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

David and Katy are 50/50 sharemilking 275 cows on Andrew and Hazel Kusabs’ 94ha Horohoro property and won $15,180 in prizes and two merit awards.

With a background in dairy and sheep farming in the United Kingdom, David (34) arrived in New Zealand in 2012 from the United Kingdom with $4500.00 and a suitcase and is proud that he worked his way into sharemilking within two years. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Agriculture and is in his sixth season 50:50 sharemilking. Katy (32) is a Veterinarian and the couple consider animal health a strength of their business and a passion.

The couple entered the Awards to learn more about their business and how they can improve it physically and financially, as well as meet and network with like-minded farmers.

Whilst the low pay-out in their first two years of sharemilking was challenging, they persevered and future farming goals include farm ownership and having a bull accepted into an AB team.

David and Katy believe another strength of their business lies in human resources.  “We enjoy having a happy work environment and take pleasure from helping others progress,” they say.

The couple say dairy farming is all they have ever wanted to do. “It’s all that I know,” says David.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac along with industry partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.

Runners-up in the Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year competition was Maurice Bryant who won $6850 in prizes and two merit awards. 

The 26-year-old is 50/50 sharemilking on the Andrew and Hazel Kusabs’ 70ha property at Ngakuru, milking 220 cows.  He has entered the Awards once previously, in the Dairy Trainee category.

“I enjoy the whole experience of the Awards and gaining a feel for the process,” Maurice explains. “It’s an excellent opportunity to see how far I have come.”

Maurice considers one of the strengths of his business are the people in their team. “I have a very good relationship with the stakeholders,” he says.  “Technology is another strength, using digital apps and other technology confidently to keep accurate records.”

The third placegetters in the 2020 Central Plateau Share Farmer category are Anthony and Danelle Kiff, who are contract milkers on the Tauhara North No 2 Trust 195ha, 607-cow Ngakuru property. 

They won $4,830 in prizes and three merit awards. Anthony has entered the Awards four times and was the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year and 2019 Runner-Up Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year.

The Kiffs believe the strengths of their business lie in their ability to connect and network with others.  “We also have great mentors,” they say.

The winner of the 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year competition, Chance Church, was runner-up in the 2019 Dairy Manager category and says entering the Awards has put him out of his comfort zone and has been a great way to increase his knowledge of his business.

The 32-year-old moved from dry stock farming to the dairy industry in 2007 and is in his fourth season managing Richard Maxwell’s 378ha, 1250-cow farm at Taupo. He won $9100 in prizes and four merit awards.

Farming has always been prominent in Chance’s life. “I grew up around farming and feel it’s a good career to grow and support my family.  I love the outdoors, so farming fits with my lifestyle.”

“Every season has its different challenges, but if you have a good team, a good boss and a good wife you can go far!”

Alongside productivity and high performance, Chance credits his team as a strength of the business. “We have an excellent on-farm culture and my team respect me and each other,” he says.

Chance enjoys spending time with his wife Rachael (32) and their five children ranging in age from 3 years to 16 years old.  “We are a classic New Zealand family that works hard and makes the most of life.”

26-year-old Reporoa Farm Manager Alexandra Lond placed second and won $4,120 in prizes and two merit awards. Alexandra works on Glen and Paula Crafar’s 270ha farm, milking 780 cows.

Alexandra began in her current role in June 2018, after moving from England in 2016.  “Prior to coming to New Zealand, I had no farming experience,” she explains. “I love the outdoor lifestyle, interaction with stock and the variety of skills I have learned on the job.”

There have been many challenges faced and overcome in her career-to-date, including learning how to drive a tractor, back a trailer and calve a cow. “I really did start from the beginning, knowing nothing back in 2016,” Alexandra says. “A big strength of the business is that it’s a low cost, simple system that has big results.  We learn how to everything, because we do everything!”

Third place in the Dairy Manager category went to Ashley Morgan.  The 28-year-old is Herd Manager on Tauhara Moana Partnership Ltd’s 400ha Taupo property, milking 1087 cows.  She won $3045 in prizes and one merit award.

Ashley says it’s always been in her plan to enter the Awards at some point in her career and was encouraged to do so by her manager this year.  “The community and team environment are something I’ve always loved about dairy.  I love the bonds you create within the team that can last a lifetime and am proud that I still maintain relationships with previous workers from every farm I’ve worked on.”

Ashley believes her supportive employers have been the biggest boost for her career. “I always think of my team as my biggest strength and best assets.  Together we achieve the goals and targets on-farm and make each day more enjoyable through laughter.”

The 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emily Cooper, entered the Awards to further develop and improve her knowledge.  “It was also a way to contribute to my goals and ensure I’m on the right track, as I can use this experience in self-reflection and as a tool for goal-setting.”

Emily is 2IC for Peter and Wendy Hilhorst milking 671 cows on their 262ha Rotorua farm.  She won $5,770 in prizes.

The 23-year-old says she began relief milking and calf-rearing for her parents while at university studying for her Bachelor of Agricommerce.  “I love that I learn something new every day and there is high job satisfaction,” she says. “I like working outside whilst having the ability to think – farming challenges my physical and mental skills.”

Emily believes that a shortage of staff within the dairy industry and language barriers between staff on-farm has been one of her biggest challenges to overcome.  “I have learnt to explain and adapt a different approach in my communication skills to ensure jobs are done on-farm in a safe and efficient manner.”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was Georgia Cairns, who is Assistant Dairy Production Manager on Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (formerly Landcorp) 675ha, 870-cow farm in Reporoa. She won $2,220 in prizes and one merit award.

The 26-year-old grew up on a dairy farm and came back to the dairy industry after six years studying and working in the fashion industry. 

“After graduating with a Diploma in Fashion Design and Practice, I managed a designer boutique in Hamilton then in Auckland.  To progress in the fashion industry, I needed to be in a big city, which just isn’t me,” Georgia says.  “The best decision I have ever made was to return to my roots, to farming.”

Georgia has now completed PrimaryITO courses to Level 3 and is currently studying towards Dairy Livestock Feeding Level 3. 

Future farming goals include becoming a female manager within Pāmu. “Currently there are no female dairy managers in the pastoral complex.  I want to change that.”

Third place in the Dairy Trainee category went to 24-year-old Herd Manager Shivpreet Arora who won $1,520 in prizes and one merit award.    He works for Wairarapa Moana Incorporation on the 278ha, 1100-cow farm in Reporoa.

Shivpreet entered the Awards as he saw it as a way of meeting and interacting with other farmers while learning. 

“The biggest challenge for me was communication as English is not my first language.  The other challenge was working in farming when I have no experience,” Shivpreet explains. “All the staff I have worked with have been really supportive and doing courses with PrimaryITO has increased my knowledge of dairy farming.”

The Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on March 26 at 858 SH30, RD1, Horohoro, Rotorua where Share Farmers of the Year, David Noble and Katy Jones sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Chance Church and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emily Cooper. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Anthony & Danelle Kiff
  • Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Gerard & Marcelle Van Der Mark
  • Federated Farmers Leadership Awards – Anthony and Danelle Kiff
  • Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – Anthony and Danelle Kiff
  • LIC Recording and Productivity Award – David Noble & Katy Jones
  • Meridian Farm Environment Award – Maurice Bryant
  • Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – David Noble & Katy Jones
  • Westpac Business Performance Award – Maurice Bryant

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

  • Vetora BOP Employee Engagement Award – Chance Church
  • I.S. Dam Lining Ltd Leadership Award – Ashley Morgan
  • Castlegate James NZ Feed Management Award – Alexandra Lond
  • DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Alexandra Lond
  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Chance Church
  • PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Chance Church
  • Westpac Personal Planning and Financial Management Award – Chance Church

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  • Stretton & Co Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Rhys Prentice
  • T H Enterprises LTD Farming Knowledge Award – Georgia Cairns
  • Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Awards – Shannon Wood
  • Rotorua Lakes Council Communication and Engagement Award – Shivpreet Arora
  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Ben Purua