11 December 2019
Previous entrants and winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards often comment that the Awards process enhanced their career progression and 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Hayden Kerr and his wife Megan would agree.
“We can give a big thanks to the Dairy Industry Awards programme for putting us in contact with good people within the industry, right when we were looking to progress from managing to contract milking,” explains Hayden.
“These people supported us by aligning us with our current farm owners who hold the same beliefs and philosophies in farming style and work and life balance that we do.”
Hayden and Megan have progressed from managing the family farm to contract milking 680 cows in Tahuna, milking once-a-day all season for Neil and Eileen Bateup.
“At first, we were very sceptical about once-a-day milking as we were unsure it would allow us to make the same financial gains as a more traditional twice-a-day system, but we are now strong advocates for once-a-day farming,” says Hayden.
“After running harder systems, that put a lot of pressure on people and cows, we have finally found our balance in our work and life.”
“We are grateful to have farm owners who are so supportive and forward thinking, and know that our team is happy and healthy, both physically and mentally, on-farm.”
The Kerrs strongly believe that social media is a necessary tool to use within the industry going forward as it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reach out, connect, share ideas and feel a sense of being a part of something ‘bigger’.
They use their ‘Kerr Pastures’ facebook page to promote the once-a-day milking herd, jersey cows, and in between that promote the importance of a work-life balance.
“We enjoy building relationships with other farmers throughout NZ on social media, and we make sure to meet up with them on our travels or at discussion groups,” say the couple.
“Social media does not replace being together as a team in person or meeting people within the community - it is just a tool to enhance connection.”
The 2020 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards comprise the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year programmes and received 360 entries before entries closed in November. Hayden suggests that entrants should be beginning to prepare for judging now.
“Once you have your first judging date, organise where you are going to graze your cows on the day, and practice your presentation on-farm, as if the judges are there in front of you,” Hayden advises. “Don’t be afraid to have some notes to read from, present in front of a friend first so you can ensure your timing is spot on and you don’t miss any essential points. Remember to back up your main points where you can with evidence.”
The Kerrs reflect upon their own time involved with the Awards as genuinely life-changing. “The programme put us in a position where we had no choice but to analyse our system and ourselves as leaders. We won some awesome prizes, but overall the networking was the best part of winning for our region, and that ‘prize‘ will continue on throughout our career.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partners Dairy NZ and Primary ITO.
Judging will begin in the new year for the 11 regional categories, with winners announced at dinners throughout the country in March next year with MC Hamish McKay.
The 33 winners of those categories will then progress through to the national finals in Auckland on Saturday 16 May 2020 where the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners will also be announced. The nomination period for this award opens in January 2020.
Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information and to view an events calendar of the Regional Awards.