A Buddhist couple whose personal philosophy forbids them owning cows has taken out the Canterbury/North Otago Share Farmer of the Year title.
“It also enabled us to strengthen our industry network by getting to know others in the industry and our rural professionals,” they say.
They won the award at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera last week, scooping $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 payout -- which coincided with a new farm, increased cow numbers and a high empty rate -- has strengthened them in every aspect of their business.
“That was a year when our health and wellbeing 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. If we hadn’t worked together as a strong team it would have been a completely different outcome.”
Teamwork and the ability to work towards a common goal are the strengths of their business, “also extended to others involved in our operation such as farm owners and professionals,” says Leah.
They 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; Leah (26) is studying for the Diploma of Agribusiness ITO.
“Our short-term goal is to move onto a larger-scale farm of 500 cows as 50/50 sharemilkers,” Jacob says.
“Dairy farming is a great career, letting you push yourself to see what you can create and produce from different farms.
“Being challenged in this industry keeps it exciting and we are forever learning and evolving.”
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 to come.”
Vet, consultant turn to farming
Runners-up in the Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year competition are Sophie Parker and Matt Thomas who won $7355 in prizes and four merit awards.
The Oakura 50/50 Sharemilkers work on Norton and Coral Moller’s Oakura Farms Ltd 84ha property milking 280 cows.
The first-time awards entrants entered 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,” they say.
Matt is B.VetSc and was a large animal veterinarian; Sophie is B.Sc, M.AgSc and was a private consultant and DairyNZ consulting officer.
After working as rural professionals they both (age 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.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards sponsors are DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, Westpac, Dairy NZ and Primary ITO.