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Winners of 2019 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward

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Winners of 2019 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward

04 March 2019

The 2019 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe the strength of their team and learning from past experiences, combined with their genuine love of cows and enjoyment of being outdoors has contributed to their success.

Jacob and Leah Prankerd say that entering the dairy industry awards enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of their business. “It also enabled us to strengthen our industry network by getting to know others in the industry and our rural professionals,” they say.

The couple were named the 2019 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera last night and won $12,750 in prizes and one merit award. The other major winners were the 2019 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Kenneth Harrison, and the 2019 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Marshall Jane.

Jacob and Leah believe their ability to overcome challenges such as the low pay-out which coincided with a new farm, increased cow numbers and a high empty rate has led them to be stronger in every aspect of their business today.

“That was a year that our health and well-being really got pushed aside, just so we could get through. The repercussions of that year followed through into the following years, however we are now back on our feet,” say the couple. “If we hadn’t worked together as a strong team, then it would have been a completely different outcome.”

The couple say that team work and the ability to work towards a common goal is one of the strengths of their business. “That strength is also extended to others involved in our operation such as farm owners and professionals,” says Leah.

The couple are in their first season as 50/50 sharemilkers on Jill and Andrew Adlam’s 195-cow, 69ha Stratford property. Jacob (27) grew up on a dairy farm and holds a Modern Apprenticeship Level 4 ITO while Leah (26) is currently completing the Diploma of Agribusiness ITO.

“Our short-term goal is to move onto a larger-scale farm of 500 cows as 50/50 sharemilkers. Dairy farming is a great career, letting you push yourself to see what you can create and produce from different farms,” says Jacob. “Being challenged in this industry keeps it exciting and we are forever learning and evolving.”

Future farming goals include farm ownership, and the couple acknowledge that everything they do now is because they have learnt from past experiences. “We have become more adaptable to our environment, proactive not reactive, and we can still see a lot of learning and experiences yet to come.”

Runner-up in the Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year competition were Sophie Parker and Matt Thomas who won $7,355 in prizes and four merit awards.

The Oakura 50/50 Sharemilkers work on Norton and Coral Moller’s Oakura Farms Limited 84ha property, milking 280 cows.

The first-time Dairy Industry Award entrants decided to enter to challenge themselves. “The Awards were recommended by a lot of people as a way to analyse all the parts of our business and take stock,” say the couple.

Matt holds a Bachelor of Vet Science and was a Large Animal Veterinarian, while Sophie holds a Bachelor of Science, Postgrad Diploma of Science and Masters of Agricultural Science and was working as a private consultant and DairyNZ consulting officer.

After skirting around the fringes of the dairy industry as rural professionals, Sophie and Matt (both aged 31) decided to try their hand at running a farm. “We enjoyed the challenge of bringing all parts of a farming operation and business together to achieve a good result and see animals healthy and performing well,” they say.

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

Winner of the 2019 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year competition is 33-year-old Kenneth Harrison. He won $7,288 in prizes and one merit award.

Kenneth is currently Herd Manager for Ian and Judith Armstrong, on their 539ha, 1000-cow Opunake property. He began his career in the dairy industry in 2004, before leaving for Perth, Western Australia, where he spent time in the mining industry as a Senior Driller and Rig Manager. “That is where a lot of my health and safety background comes from,” Kenneth explains.

“Having to start from the bottom again after having a successful drilling career has presented some challenges, however I’m no stranger to hard work,” says Kenneth. “My passion and drive for farming comes from my family, seeing how much they’ve grown and how much they love the lifestyle makes Nicole and I determined to succeed.”

Kenneth believes the strengths of the business lies in team work. “Every member of the team is on board with trying to reach our farm goals. We also look out for one another, be it farm-related or otherwise.”

“I’m also really lucky to be working for such great employers,” adds Kenneth. “Charlie and Jody McCaig are great role models for people coming through the industry. They are an open book when it comes to information and always give you encouragement to drive the passion.”

Future farming goals for Kenneth and his wife Nicole (32) include contract milking in the next three years, and a long-term goal of 50/50 sharemilking within the next 10 years. “And then, we’ll reassess,” grins Kenneth.

22-year-old Okato Farm Manager Matthew Moffitt placed second in the Dairy Manager category, winning $4,275 in prizes and three merit awards. Matthew works on David and Nicola Moffit’s 430-cow, 135ha property.

He entered the Awards because he felt doing so showed his intent and passion for progression for his career within the dairy industry and believes one of the strengths of the farm he works on is that the infrastructure allows for efficient labour use. “It’s profit-driven to service debt, however there is also a strong sense of enjoyment in farming and working with livestock.”

Matthew comes from a farming background and pursued his passion for genetics by completing a degree in Agricultural Science from Massey University. “I gained experience in managing and coaching teams of staff on large-scale farms by joining the OB Group grad programme for five months. Upon completion, I began managing the family farm in Coastal Taranaki.”

He chose between a career in dairy farming or with a breeding company such as LIC. “Farming is a challenge that can be extremely rewarding, especially when a desired outcome is achieved and is shown directly through performance,” he says. “It’s outdoors and involves nature and animals all of which appeal to me at this current stage in my life.”

Third in the Dairy Manager category was Matthias Hipp, who won $2,050 in prizes and two merit awards. Matthias (24) is currently Farm Manager on Dani and Jacqui Meier’s Hawera property and was Runner-up in the same category in 2018.

“There are many benefits to entering the NZDIA programme. Not only does it look good on your CV, it’s a great opportunity to network – with judges, like-minded farmers, and many off-farm support people such as the sponsors,” says Matthias.

“It’s a great learning opportunity as it helps you fill in gaps in your own knowledge, set and review goals and encourage you to think about how those goals will be achieved.”

The winner of the 2019 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year category comes from a dairy farming family and began relief milking at age 15.

Marshall Jane chose dairy farming because he loves how different every day is. “I love being outdoors and mucking in and getting my hands dirty,” he says.

This is the second year Marshall has entered the Awards programme and he believes the Awards have helped him understand how he performed as a worker on a farm and within a team. “The Awards helped me realise where I needed to focus on to become a better trainee and to identify my goals and plan to achieve them.”

“I’m really proud of accepting the opportunity to become Shed Manager during my first five months in the new job,” says Marshall. “Whilst in charge of the shed, we have had a successful QCONZ shed inspection.”

The 21-year-old is a Shed Manager on Christine Good’s, on his 222ha, 750-cow farm in Otakeho. He won $7,421 in prizes and two merit awards.

Farm Manager Beauden Fleming, aged 21 years, placed second in the Dairy Trainee category, and won $2,683 in prizes. Beauden works on Ed and Melissa Whiting’s 82ha Stratford property milking 240 cows.

Sam Dodd was third placegetter. The 22-year-old is Assistant Manager on Michael and Viv Joyce’s 350-cow, 112ha Hawera farm. He won $2,183 in prizes and one merit award.

The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held at 10.30am on 27 March 2019 at 116a Croyden Road, Midhurst where Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year, Leah and Jacob Prankerd, sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Dairy Trainee of the Year, Kenneth Harrison and the Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year Marshall Jane. 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 – Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – James Lawn
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas
• Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Ryan Goble
• Meridian Farm Environment Award – Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Ryan Goble
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Leah and Jacob Prankerd

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• I.S. Dam Lining Ltd Encouragement Award – Diego Raul Gomez Salinas
• Primo Wireless Employee Engagement Award – Kenneth Harrison
• SHARE Leadership Award – Guy Cowan
• PGG Wrightson Livestock Feed Management Award – Matthew Moffitt
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award - Matthew Moffitt
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award - Matthew Moffitt
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award - Matthias Hipp
• Westpac Personal Planning and Financial Management Award – Matthias Hipp

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Bayleys Real Estate Taranaki Most Promising Entrant Award – Calum Black
• Taranaki Veterinary Centre Farming Knowledge Award – Marshall Reweti Jane
• Taranaki DIA Community and Industry Involvement Award – Kate Thomson
• Staples Rodway Chartered Accountants Communication and Engagement Award – Sam Dodd
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Marshall Reweti Jane