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Dairy industry award winners look to future

2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards Dairy Trainee of the Year Jacob Maxwell, Dairy Manager of the Year Andre Meier, Share Farmer of the Year Adam and Maria Barkla. Photo: Supplied

The major winners in the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Adam and Maria Barkla, hope their win will portray dairy farming as a professional career choice for young people leaving school, instead of a ‘last resort profession’.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Awakeri Events Centre on Wednesday March 4.

The other big winners were Andre Meier who was named the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jacob Maxwell, the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

2020 BOP Share Farmer of the Year Adam & Maria Barkla

Adam and Maria are contract milkers for Robin and Claire Barkla on their 490ha, 1720-cow Galatea property and won $8550 in prizes and six merit awards.

“We have a close relationship with our farm owners and because of this have aligned goals, which makes setting farm policies and KPIs very easy,” say the couple.  “We both know where we are and where we want to go.”

Adam grew up around dairy farming however it wasn’t until 2013 that the couple made it their career, moving into contract milking in 2015.  The Barkla’s acknowledge their rapid growth is also one of their greatest challenges.

“Over the past five years we have worked really hard to develop systems through networking and educating ourselves,” says Adam.

“The dairy industry is unique in that everyone is willing to help anyone – we now have amazing staff and a tremendous culture and are ready for the next phase.”

Adam, age 31, holds a National Diploma in Civil Engineering and has gained PrimaryITO Level 4. He loves the constant challenges and need for problem-solving on-farm, while Maria (35) enjoys the lifestyle dairy farming provides and that Adam can be involved with the family.

Future farming goals include contract milking over all farms owned by their current farm owners and with an ultimate goal of buying into the farms by 2025. 

“We’re proud that we have the confidence to grow and develop a large business in an industry that is under constant scrutiny and at a point in time where confidence and morale seem to be low,” say the couple.

“One of our greatest strengths is our scale.  It has many positives, one of the biggest being that it allows us to work on our business rather than in it.”

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

Runner-up in the Bay of Plenty Share Farmer of the Year category was Dylan Riddell, who won $3,725 in prizes.

The 29-year-old is a contract milker on Monty Kora Raroa Lands Trust 404ha Waimana farm, milking 930 cows.  Whilst he has always being involved with farming through his family, Dylan has only been full-time within the dairy industry for the past four years.

“I’ve always enjoyed being on the farm, especially when helping my grandfather.  Now, I especially enjoy being my own boss and the lifestyle it gives my family,” says Dylan.

Nick Overdevest, age 29, and Kelly Hughes, age 26, placed third in the Bay of Plenty Share Farmer category and won $1,625 in prizes and one merit award.

The couple are 50/50 sharemilkers for The Estate of PA & RK Edelsten, milking 230 cows on their 74ha Galatea property. 

Nick and Kelly count their ability to work as a team and run an efficient business as one of their biggest successes.  This year they diversified their income stream with a small free-range egg operation added to their existing business.

“We have built a moveable chicken trailer and currently have 60 chickens.  They roam around the grazed paddocks and help to spread out cow pats, eat lots of bugs and leave behind their manure,” explains Kelly.  “In return we get delicious free-range eggs which we sell locally to family and friends.”

“This small diversification adds to our family-run business.  Our kids love it and the hens have a really lovely life.”

2020 BOP Dairy Manager of the Year Andre Meier

The winner of the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year category has entered the Awards twice previously and sees them as an excellent path to networking and upskilling.

Andre Meier won $6,725 in prizes plus three merit awards and is Farm Manager on Ao Marama Farms on 250ha Te Puke farm, milking 800 cows.

Andre identifies staff injuries during calving as both one of his biggest challenges and successes.

“Two of us continued to calve down 800 cows, we got through it and then were rewarded with the news we had the top mating results for our area.”

The 30-year-old believes being once-a-day milking is a strength of the business. 

“We have seen an improvement in animal health, mating and staff morale,” says Andre. “Our farm systems are clear to staff and therefore efficient, meaning staff can work independently.”

Previously tractor contracting, Andre chose dairy farming as his career as he enjoys working with animals and being outdoors. 

“No day is the same and there are challenges every day,” says Andre. “Now that I’m managing, I enjoy striving to achieve the best results.”

Future farming goals include contract milking with his partner Natalie in the coming season.

“We would like to build a good foundation and grow our business to achieve our long-term goal of farm ownership.”

2020 BOP Dairy Trainee of the Year Jacob Maxwell

Jacob Maxwell is the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year and won $5,250 in prizes and two merit awards.

“I was inspired to enter the Awards after my brother-in-law and sister’s success in winning the regional share farmer title,” says Jacob.  “I thought it would be a good learning experience to further my knowledge and position within the dairy industry.”

“My passion for farming began growing up on our organic, small-scale family farm.  Ever since I can remember, I was going to be a farmer.”

The 20-year-old is 2IC on Bill Scott’s 470-cow, 210ha property at Pukehina and considers one of his biggest successes this season was the 92% in-calf rate with a 64% conception rate, after he oversaw mating of the main milking herd.

“I love working outdoors and with animals and delving into the science behind improving production through feeding and genetics.”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was 21-year-old Pongakawa farm assistant Dayna Rowe, who works for Grant Rowe on his 286ha, 970-cow property. Dayna won $1500 in prizes and two merit awards.

The first-time entrant was encouraged to enter by her employer, Thomas Chatfield, the 2013 Dairy Trainee and 2016 Dairy Manager of the Year.

“He told me about the benefits of entering and I love to challenge myself.”

Dayna had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.

“I love being outdoors with animals, getting my hands dirty and actively learning on the job,” says Dayna.

“I’d like to be a role model that encourages young, intelligent people to look at the New Zealand dairy industry as an intellectual, beneficial and important career option.”

Third place in the Dairy Trainee category went to 20-year-old Nashi Floyd, who is farm assistant on Mike and Linda Mexted’s 140ha property at Whakatane, milking 550 cows.

Nashi has completed PrimaryITO Milk Harvesting and Livestock Husbandry (both Level 3) and is proud of achieving this.

“I have gained valuable information from the PrimaryITO courses and this has been reflected in my work.”

“I’m proud to have been awarded a PrimaryITO Scholarship for Level 3 and 4 and see this as a fantastic opportunity to advance my career.”

The Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on March 24 at 436 Haumea Road, Galatea where Share Farmers of the Year, Adam and Maria Barkla contract milk.  Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Andre Meier and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Jacob Maxwell. 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– Adam and Maria Barkla

  •   •  Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Mike and Sabrina Mear

  •   •  Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Adam and Maria Barkla

  •   •  Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – Adam and Maria Barkla

  •   •  LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Kelly Hughes and Nick Overdevest

  •   •  Meridian Farm Environment Award – Adam and Maria Barkla

  •   •  Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Adam and Maria Barkla

  •   •  Westpac Business Performance Award – Adam and Maria Barkla

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

  •   •  Bay of Plenty DIA Encouragement Award - Simon Hose

  •   •  Bay of Plenty DIA Employee Engagement Award – Simon Hose

  •   •  BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Leadership Award – Andre Meier

  •   •  Pioneer Brand Products Feed Management Award – Hayden Purvis

  •   •  DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Hayden Purvis

  •   •  Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Andre Meier

  •   •  PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Andre Meier

  •   •  Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award – Hayden Purvis

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  •   •  The Business Results Group Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Jacob Maxwell

  •   •  King Farm Services Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Dayna Rowe

  •   •  Bay of Plenty DIA Communication & Engagement Award – Dayna Rowe

  •   •  DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Jacob Maxwell

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