2017 Waikato Dairy Industry Award Winner Strives To Achieve

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2017 Waikato Dairy Industry Award Winner Strives To Achieve

10 March 2017

The major winner in the 2017 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, Phillip van Heuven, strives to achieve in every area of his business and always looks for ways to progress.

Phillip was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at Mystery Creek Events Centre last night. The other big winners were Euan McLeod, who became the 2017 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Kobus Liebenberg, the 2017 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Phillip van Heuven, aged 30 years, is 50% sharemilking 230 cows for Brett Coubrough at Tirau and won $14,050 in prizes.

His goal is to continue to progress through the industry by obtaining a bigger 50% sharemilking position, and he believes the strengths of his operation are in pasture and animal management.

“I am always monitoring the pasture and achieving correct residuals and have an established regrassing programme,” he says. “For me, happy cows equals a happy farming life. Cow condition is a priority and growth rates of young stock are closely monitored.”

Phillip has been in the industry seven and a half years, and is a qualified Joiner, working as a builder’s labourer before making the career change. “I entered the dairy awards to see where and how I can improve.”

Putaruru contract milkers Eoin O’Mahony and Sian Cecil, both aged 28 years, were runners-up in the Share Farmer competition, winning $8,125 in prizes. They work on Trinity Lands Ltd 165ha, 600-cow farm. Eoin is a sixth-generation dairy farmer from Ireland, who has spent the past six years farming in New Zealand. They believe the awards experience gave them good insight to improving and building on their farming career.

John and Kathryn Blythe, both aged 36 years, placed third in the Share Farmer competition. The couple are 50% equity partners and 25% sharemilkers for the equity partnership on Wayne and Jenny Earwaker’s 160ha Otorohanga farm, milking 450 cows. They won $6,250 in prizes.

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.

The winner of the 2017 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year competition is grateful for a farm owner with a wealth of experience and knowledge who is completely open to trying new things on farm.

Euan McLeod, who won $8,925 in prizes, is currently farm manager for one of Waikato’s most established AB dairy farming operations, Murray and Janet Gibb’s 122ha farm, milking 380 cows in Taupiri, where he has progressed from farm assistant to farm manager.

“The herd on this farm have been bred to AB since the 1960s, and the heifers have been getting AB done since the early 1980s. As a result, the herd is one of the top Jersey herds in the country for body-weight, so not only do I have fantastic cows to milk, the farm also has an extra source of income from selling excess cows for which there is a strong demand,” explains Euan.

“The farm owner allows staff to take responsibility for their jobs and to have the freedom to make decisions within those roles. That kind of environment is great for business.”

It was the first time Euan, aged 35 years, had entered the awards, doing so to assess his operation and identify positives, as well as where there is room for improvement.

Cambridge farm manager Joshua Monks, aged 28 years, was second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $5,050 in prizes. Joshua sees the awards as a stepping stone to better opportunities in the future, and is proud to be managing the 250ha 860-cow farm his grandfather bought in 1965.

34-year-old Hamilton farm manager Greg Silvester placed third and won $3,975 in prizes. Greg works on JD and RD Wallace Ltd 200ha farm, milking 700 cows.

The 2017 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year, Kobus Liebenberg, is a young farmer committed to the dairy industry, who is determined to be a farm owner.

“Long term I would like to own a chain of farms and be a Fonterra board member. Short-term I would like to obtain a farm manager position.”

The 23-year-old has been in the industry for three seasons with the first six months being free labour and relief milking to ‘get a foot-in-the-door’. He is currently herd manager for Campbell and Susan Thomas on their 420-cow property at Ohaupo and won $6,575 in prizes.

He says entering the awards is an opportunity to reflect on strong and weak points. “Areas that need work are highlighted by judges, allowing me to improve and strive for better.”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was 22-year-old Otorohanga 2IC Mikayla Welsh, who won $3,050 in prizes. She enjoys seeing both animals and people thrive and develop as new technologies and methods become increasingly available. “I think it is a privilege to work in an industry that contributes so much to the New Zealand economy.” Mikayla works for Campbell and Helen Clarke on their 550-cow property.

Third place in the Dairy Trainee competition went to 20-year-old Te Puninga 2IC Hamish McDonald, winning $2,050 in prizes. He works on Harry Mourit’s 480-cow Tatua-supply farm.

The Waikato Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on March 23 at 164 Webster Road RD2 Tirau, where Share Farmer of the Year, Phillip van Heuven, sharemilks. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Euan McLeod and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Kobus Liebenberg. 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 – Glenn van Heuven & Georgie Cameron
· Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Phillip van Heuven
· Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Glenn van Heuven & Georgie Cameron
· Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Eoin O'Mahony & Sian Cecil
· LIC Recording and Productivity Award – John & Kathryn Blythe
· Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Phillip van Heuven
· Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Phillip van Heuven
· Westpac Business Performance Award – Phillip van Heuven

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
· Ultra-Scan Most Promising Entrant Award - Storm Burrows
· Blackman Spargo Rural Law Ltd Leadership Award – Scotty Davison
· Wanna Internet Employee Engagement Award – Euan McLeod
· Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Josh Monks
· DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Euan McLeod
· Primary ITO Power Play Award – Josh Monks
· Fonterra Farm Source Farm Management Award – Greg Silvester
· Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Josh Monks

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
· Farm Right Most Promising Entrant Award – Kerren Straker
· Bayleys Real Estate Farming Knowledge Award – Tom Kirkbride
· Waikato Federated Farmers Charitable Trust Community & Industry Involvement Award – Sandra Sturgess
· Blue Grass Contracting Communication & Engagement Award - Mikayla Welsh
· DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Hamish McDonald