12 March 2020
The 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through their ability to look at the ‘big picture’ and aim to be the employer of choice in the Hauraki district.
Brendan and Tessa Hopson were named the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion on Thursday night and won $11,470 in prizes and six merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Daniel Colgan, and the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown.
Brendan and Tessa (both aged 30), have backgrounds in building and hospitality. The first-time entrants felt ready for the challenge of putting together a presentation for the judging process.
“We wanted an opportunity to receive valuable feedback about our business and wanted to meet like-minded people on similar journeys,” they say.
Tessa and Brendan both grew up on family dairy farms and chose farming as they wanted to be self-employed. “We love working outside and with animals and being able to involve our son Toby (1),” says Tessa. “It’s very rewarding seeing the fruits of our labour thrive.”
The couple are 25% sharemilkers and 20% equity partners with Scott and Alicia Paterson and Stuart and Kaaren Dowey on the 102ha Paeroa farm, milking 340 cows.
A farm purchase and blending of three herds, together with run-down infrastructure and a large calving spread provided challenges that the couple are proud to have overcome.
They are both proud they have decreased the initial calving spread from 14 weeks to 9.5 weeks, and their current 7% empty rate is below the industry standard.
Tessa and Brendan chose to leave their respective careers and make the move into the dairy industry as they enjoy being part of the dairy industry and learning about what other farmers are trying to do.
“We work well as a team and enjoy pushing for better results every year,” they say. “We have the ambition to strive for improvements and to give ourselves options for our future.
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.
Runners-up in the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year category are Stephen Martin and Justine Fox, who are passionate about the dairy industry and entered the Awards to learn about their business and how they can improve. They won $6,145 in prizes and two merit awards.
Stephen has spent the past 16 years in the dairy industry and is in his fourth season contract milking. He has completed the PrimaryITO Effluent Management course, while Justine holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Agriculture.
Stephen and Justine have progressed through the industry and contract milk for Roger and Diane Fenwick on their 100ha Waiuku property, milking 400 cows.
The couple are proud of the success of their business after a challenging two seasons. “We’ve taken an unsuccessful business to a successful one,” they say. “That involved making a hard decision to leave one contract and take on a bigger one.”
Stephen and Tessa identify ownership of their milking herd as a strength as it allows them to build their herd slowly before moving to 50/50 sharemilking. “We have minimal debt so we are able to save money for when we are ready to go 50/50.”
It’s third time lucky for the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year has entered the Awards twice previously in the Dairy Trainee category.
27-year-old Daniel Colgan believes the Awards process has helped him to become part of the dairy industry community. He won $7,225 in prizes and four merit awards.
“At the beginning of my dairy career, I struggled to maintain a life/work balance and work would take over. I’ve found that balance now and activities off-farm fit in well with my job,” he says.
Daniel chose farming as he is passionate about animals and the outdoors. “I love the fact that every day I get to be outside doing what I love. I like seeing farms working well, producing good quality milk and having happy cows.”
Currently 2IC on Carl van Hallemond’s 316ha Mercer property milking 930 cows, Daniel has farm ownership in his sights. “I’d like to be an equity owner of my own farm so I want to upskill in all areas of dairy farming to help me achieve this goal.”
Daniel holds a Certificate in Agriculture Level 2 and 3 from Telford, and PrimaryITO Certificate in Agriculture Level 4 and considers entering the Dairy Manager of the year category as one of his biggest accomplishments. “I worked exceptionally hard putting together the presentation and I learnt a lot through doing it.”
“I’m also really proud I contributed to our farm having the best season on record and being 20% above the previous season.”
Daniel believes the farm’s work culture is one of its biggest strengths. “Everyone just gets on well and we help each other to always do our best. Because it’s so smoothly run, there are never issues, as everything is organised and discussed properly.”
Upskilling is another important component of the staff team working well together. “All staff are taught the skills needed to undertake jobs on the farm, and I have learnt a lot of new skills that I didn’t have before,” says Daniel.
“There are lots of opportunities to learn and everyone is willing to help you learn.”
The winner of the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year category, Crystal Scown, was runner-up in the Waikato Dairy Trainee category in 2019 and says entering the Awards have given her more opportunities in the dairy industry.
“I’ve met new people, expanded my knowledge and have gained recognition within the industry.”
The 20-year-old works on Adam Johnson’s 64ha, 165-cow farm in Paeroa. She won $5,550 in prizes.
Crystal was raised on a dairy farm and was encouraged by her dad to follow the career pathway in the dairy industry. “I’ve been working full-time for three seasons and I’m slowly moving up in the industry.”
A passion for animals and cows is what gets Crystal up in the morning. “They are my drive, my love and my passion for dairy farming begins with them,” she says. “Seeing them happy makes me happy.”
Being in control of staff management was challenging to begin with however Crystal successfully completed leadership courses and sought assistance from Dairy Connect. She has also completed PrimaryITO Husbandry Level 3, Feeding Level 3, Milk Quality Level 1 and Taratahi Level 2.
“Being runner-up in last year’s Waikato Dairy Industry Awards was definitely a highlight in my career so far,” says Crystal. “I’m also proud I was part of the Jersey NZ youth team that won the Holstein Youth Show in Australia.”
Rebekkah Hoskin was named runner-up in the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee category and won $2,750 in prizes and two merit awards.
The 22-year-old is Farm Assistant on Brian Lang’s 75ha, 260-cow property at Huntly.
“I’ve had to learn everything from scratch,” explains Rebekkah. “I grew up rurally but not in the dairy industry so everything from cupping a cow to putting up a break fence was new.”
Rebekkah thought further education was not something that would be within her reach, so is very proud she has gained the New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture (Milk Harvesting) Level 3 through PrimaryITO and the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) through WINTEC.
Crystal is clear on her future farming goals. “I want to continue to develop my skills and move into a management role.”
Regan Griffin was third. The 25-year-old is 2IC on Pouarua Farms Limited Partnership 215ha, 575-cow Thames farm and won $1,250 in prizes.
The Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 02 April 2020 at 10.30am at 109 Cadman Road Paeroa SN 75803 where Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Brendan and Tessa Hopson sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Daniel Colgan and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown. 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 – Brendan and Tessa Hopson
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Brendan and Tessa Hopson
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Brendan and Tessa Hopson
• Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Justine Fox and Stephen Martin
• LIC Recording & Productivity Award – Brendan and Tessa Hopson
• Meridian Farm Environment Award – Justine Fox and Stephen Martin
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award - Brendan and Tessa Hopson
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Brendan and Tessa Hopson
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• Nick Hoogeven & Associates Employee Engagement Award – Casey Meiklejohn
• Campbell Tyson Ltd Leadership Award – Daniel Colgan
• H R Fisken & Sons Feed Management Award – Daniel Colgan
• Delaval Livestock Management Award – Casey Meiklejohn
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Daniel Colgan
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Daniel Colgan
• Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award – Casey Meiklejohn
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Auckland/Hauraki DIA Most Promising Entrant Award – Joseph Barrett
• Franklin Vets Farming Knowledge Award – Kendal Wilson
• BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Rebekkah Hoskins
• Keeper Life Communication & Engagement Award – Rebekkah Hoskins
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Kendal Wilson