03 March 2018
The 2018 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the appeal of being part of a progressive industry was the key to leaving their roles as a contractor and a veterinarian technician.
Richard and Wendy Ridd say that entering the dairy industry awards has given them a better understanding of their business. “We both love working outside on the land and with the animals, and the lifestyle farming enables us to create, for our family,” say the couple.
The couple were named the 2018 Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North last night, and won $8,875 in prizes. The other major winners were the 2018 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year Angela Strawbridge, and the 2018 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year, Samuel White.
When not working on the farm, the Ridds remain active and Richard (30) enjoys hunting and fishing trips with friends, whilst Wendy (29) has been training for the Taupo Half Ironman. The couple also have a one year old son, George.
The Ridds currently 50:50 sharemilk 410 cows on a 209ha Ashhurst property, owned by Richard’s parents, Andrew and Caroline Ridd. This is the couple’s third season sharemilking on the farm, with Richard coming back to the dairy industry seven years ago, having previously owned a contracting business with his brother-in-law Brendan.
“There was a lot of pressure placed on our business in the first year with the lower payout,” remembers Richard. “We overcame that and have a big focus on equity growth through both herd value and debt reduction now.”
The couple say they found this season’s wet winter and spring, followed by a dry December, challenging, however aim to excel in the dairy industry by being profitable and sustainable while enjoying a healthy work/life balance.
The couple say they have built a strong foundation in human resources. “We realise the importance of having strong positive relationships, both on-farm with our awesome team, and off-farm with the fantastic professionals we use,” says Wendy. “We are open to change and willing to receive feedback and act on it to better our business.”
The Ridds both have degrees in Applied Science from Massey University and are proud that their rate of genetic gain is twice the national average. “Over the last two years we also have planted 7500 native trees and shrubs, with support from Alastair Cole at Landcare Trust and Horizons Regional Council.”
Runner-up in the Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year competition is Lisa Hicks who won $6,125 in prizes.
Lisa has entered the Dairy Industry Awards nine times previously, and believes the Awards provide a good platform to review her own progress in business. “There is that competitive edge that kicks in and drives you towards success. I enjoy working towards getting better at the farm visits, the collation of information and the presentations every year.”
“I am passionate about the dairy industry and gain huge satisfaction from the business. It’s important to have that passion to support continual learning and subsequent improvement,” says Lisa.
Since entering the dairy industry in her mid-40s, Lisa has progressed through the industry and is now in her fourth and final season of contract milking 620 cows at Atihau Whanganui Incorporation at Ohakune. She is actively looking for a larger contract position for the 2018-19 season, and the 51 year-old aims to generate an increased dairy operating margin to support her business and personal needs.
Lisa places huge value on people within the business, and aims for complementary outcomes between employers and staff and supports their personal development in the dairy industry. “We often employ people from multi-cultural backgrounds which can provide a good challenge to standard management practices on farm,” she says. “This helps us grow as employers and makes us think outside of the square to ensure a fully functioning dairy unit daily.”
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 2018 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year is Angela Strawbridge. She won $6,500 in prizes.
Angela has entered the Awards three times previously and says that there are numerous benefits to entering, including making new connections with other contestants and using the judges feedback to improve and progress.
The 37-year-old believes pasture management is fundamental to their system of being free range, having grass-fed animals and working with the natural environment of producing cost competitive feed. “It is a privilege and great responsibility to be able to make a living from the land,” says Angela. “Great care and good management practices are needed with on-going education to limit farming’s footprint.”
Angela is the Herd Manager for Stewart Dairylands, on James and Debbie Stewart’s 180ha, 420 cow property in Bunnythorpe. A work/life balance is achieved through coaching and umpiring her children’s sport teams.
“People are what hold all our values together. Culture is important with trust, respect, honest and responsibility being the key traits held by people involved with operations,” explains Angela. “Health and Safety is part of having a happy work place. We work together to ensure hazards and risks are identified so we can all finish the day safely.”
23-year-old Awahuri 2IC Karl Wood placed second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $3,000 in prizes. Karl is 2IC on Kevin Adin’s 640-cow, 263ha property. He won the 2016 Dairy Trainee competition and aims to be sharemilking in 5-7 years, milking shorthorn cows which he is passionate about milking, breeding and showing.
Third in the Dairy Manager Competition for the second year running was Renee Howard (nee Washington), who won $1,750 in prizes. Renee is Herd Manager on Andrew Hoggard’s Kiwitea property and holds a Bachelor of Agri-Science majoring in Agriculture from Massey University.
“There have been a number of benefits entering the Awards. I have increased my self-confidence, and it has given me opportunities to analyse my current employment and personal goals,” says Renee. “Before entering the Awards and coming third last year, I didn’t understand my worth and lacked confidence. I now understand I am making a difference.”
The 2018 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year is 22-year-old Samuel White, who is a Farm Assistant on Colin MacMillan’s 150ha Palmerston North farm. He won $6,305 in prizes.
Through entering the Dairy Industry Awards in previous years, Samuel has met many like-minded people and was introduced to the Fitzherbert Young Farmers club, which has become an important part of his dairy career.
Despite being born and raised in the city, Samuel has always had an affinity with the land, and believes he was born with a passion for the dairy industry. “I’ve always loved animals and being outdoors, and there is nothing better than watching the sun rise and smelling the fresh air!”
Samuel is very passionate about the environment and believes that it is possible to have successful farms as well as caring for our planet. “I want to get myself into a position where I can have an influence on farm practices, and intend to continue my learning through the various courses available.”
2IC Emma Kearins, aged 20 years placed second in the Dairy Trainee competition for the second year running and won $1,700 in prizes. Emma works on Hamish Campbell’s Rongotea property. She had major heart surgery in 2016 and continues to flourish and thrive in the dairy industry. “I am proud I was runner-up in the 2017 Manawatu Dairy Trainee Awards and of how much I have achieved in a short amount of time,” says Emma. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Linda Wood was third in the Dairy Trainee competition. The 20-year-old is Herd Manager on Malcom Wood’s 220ha Opiki farm. She believes the dairy industry holds many lucrative and exciting career prospects, with Farm Management and Farm Consultancy her ultimate goals. “My experience thus far has provided me with a solid base to begin and my Bachelor of AgriCommerce, which I’m about to begin at Massey University, will provide that next layer of knowledge and skills.”
The Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 22 March 2018 at 710 Ashhurst Road, Palmerston North where Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year, Richard and Wendy Ridd sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Angela Strawbridge and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Samuel White. 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 – Lisa Hicks
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Lisa Hicks
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Lisa Hicks
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Lisa Hicks
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• Naylor Lawrence and Associates Most Promising Entrant Award – Christian Simons
• Fitzherbert Rowe Employee Engagement Award – Angela Strawbridge
• I.S Dam Lining Ltd Feed Management Award – Karl Wood
• Tailorednz Ltd Leadership Award – Brenna Wynn
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Renee Howard
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Michael Terpstra
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Renee Howard
• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Renee Howard
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Karl Wood
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Totally Vets Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Dan Bell
• Levno Farming Knowledge Award – Samuel White
• Cervus Equipment Feilding Communication & Engagement Award – Samuel White
• Institute of Agriculture & Environment and Institute of Veterinary, Animals & Biomedical Sciences Community & Industry Involvement Award – Samuel White
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Emma Kearins