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Winners of 2017 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards push boundaries

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Winners of 2017 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards push boundaries

03 March 2017

The 2017 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners hope the win will help them to achieve their future farming goals.

Dion and Jo Bishell say that entering the dairy industry awards enabled them to push the boundaries of their business. “We’ve been able to analyse our whole business at one time. Experts have critiqued us and our processes, which will help us secure future opportunities,” say the couple.

The couple were named the 2017 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera last night, and won $$17,346 in prizes. The other major winners were the 2017 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Shaun Neal, and the 2017 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Tim Bonner.

The Bishells believe their strength lies in their team approach to business. “We are a good team with a good balance of theoretical and practical knowledge,” they say. “We monitor our business closely and make informed decisions based on information collected and good science, to make profitable steps for everyone involved in our business.”

The couple are in their fourth season 50% sharemilking on the Drought & Kalin Family Trust Partnership 150ha Hawera property, milking 470 cows. Jo (36) grew up on a dairy farm in the Waikato and holds a Bachelor in Applied Science majoring in Agriculture and a Post Graduate Diploma in Farm Systems and Management. Dion, who along with Jo has studied for the PrimaryITO Grow Safe Stages 1 & 2, started farming at the age of 16 for his grandparents in Taranaki.

They have been farming together since 2004. Future farming goals include increasing their equity and investing in a 400 cow equity partnership or smaller farm with the potential to expand, from 2020.

Good communication with owners and staff is a priority for the couple. “We have put good processes in place to keep all parties informed about operation and tactical management on the farm,” says Dion (42). “Everyone is involved in the planning of the farms management to achieve their own goals.”

Runner-up in the Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year competition was first-time entrant Matt Guigi, who won $7,322 in prizes.

The Kapuni contract milker works on Grant and Marina Gopperworth’s 70ha property, where he milks 230 cows. Matt would like to obtain a 50:50 sharemilking position by June 2018, and entered the dairy industry awards to assist this career progression. “This has been a fantastic opportunity to analyse my business and receive feedback to improve. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge,” he says.

Matt (38) has 20 years farming experience, however 16 of those were spent farming in Switzerland. His four years New Zealand farming experience has seen him gain experience as Assistant Manager, Herd Manager and Farm Manager.

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

Winner of the 2017 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year competition is 23-year-old Shaun Neal, who entered the awards with the hope it would help him improve his theoretical knowledge. He won $10,657 in prizes.

“I wanted to learn through questioning,why I am doing what I’m doing. This competition has forced me to evaluate both my short and long term goals,” he says. “I also entered Dairy Manager to move out of my comfort zone and gain some feedback from experienced farmers and industry professionals.”

After graduating from Massey University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Agricommerce, Shaun entered the dairy industry, and is currently farm manager on Simon and Gillian O’Connell’s Auroa 97ha property, where he milks 325 cows.

Shaun believes the strengths of the business lie in the basics. “The farm has good fertile free-draining soils. This base allows for maximum pasture growth and utilisation year round when combined with good rainfall and correct management,” explains Shaun.

“We also have a strong efficient herd that is the backbone of our business. They are fully fed on 18kg and produce very well at all times of the year.”

Shaun’s next goal is a 50:50 sharemilking position by 2020 season, with a long-term goal of farm ownership. “My overall farming goal is to run a simple, profitable system that allows for a balance between work/life and is sustainable for the future.”

20-year-old Hawera farm manager Sam Hughson, placed second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $5,930 in prizes. Sam works on Steve and Maria Poole’s 800-cow, 210ha property. He won the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Trainee competition and says the judges’ feedback made him look harder into the reasons he did things on the farm. “It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

Third in the Dairy Manager Competition was Kyran Muller, who won $3,440 in prizes. Kyran (23) works on Alan and Gael Muller’s Patea property and believes everything that happens on the farm is a learning curve, including the failures. “We make sure we learn from every mistake to prevent them from reoccurring.”

The winner of the 2017 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year competition, comes from a dairy farming family, and has always been around agriculture.

Tim Bonner learnt his general farming skills from a very young age and it has always been his aspiration to become a top New Zealand dairy farmer. “While my peers were buying fancy utes, I was saving for my own dairy herd and still driving my ’96 Corolla,” he says.

A love of cattle and knowledge of animal welfare was instilled into Tim and his brothers from an early age, by Tim’s father. “Dad taught us a lot about animal welfare and what to look for in terms of stock health. I was very fortunate to have an agricultural upbringing which gave me some solid life values.”

The 23-year-old is Assistant Manager for Steven and Maria Poole, on their 210ha, 800-cow farm in Kapuni. He won $7,313 in prizes.

Farm Assistant Marshall Jane, aged 19 years, placed second in the Dairy Trainee competition, and won $2000 in prizes. Marshall works on Cameron Burke’s 210ha property milking 570 cows. Jerome Grey was third. The 24-year-old is Herd Manager on Ian Armstrong’s 296ha Opunake farm.

The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 16 March 2017 at 123 Kearin Road
RD 11 Hawera where Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year, Dion and Jo Bishell, sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Shaun Neal and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Tim Bonner. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found on this website.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Ian & Natalie Butler
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Matt Gugi
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Andrew & Tanya Dobbin
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Dion & Johanna Bishell
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Conna Smith
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Andrew & Tanya Dobbin
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Dion & Johanna Bishell
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Dion & Johanna Bishell

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• NZME – The Country Most Promising Entrant – Kyran Mullerz
• Bayleys Real Estate Taranaki Engagement Award – Sam Hughson
• I.S. Dam Lining Ltd Leadership Award – Matt Kelbrick
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Shaun Neal
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award - Shaun Neal
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Shaun Neal
• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Shaun Neal
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Sam Hughson

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Risk Management Taranaki Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award - Neil Hunter
• Figured Farming Knowledge Award – Tim Bonner
• OnFarmSafety New Zealand Communication & Engagement Award – Jerome Grey
• Primo Wireless Community & Industry Involvement Award – Benjamin Phillips
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award - Benjamin Phillips