Clean sweep for Co-op's farmers at NZ Dairy Industry Awards


Fonterra farmers have swept the board at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, winning all three national titles for the second year in a row.

In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre on Saturday night, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000.

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The 2017 Share Farmer of the Year winners, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley, who are 50% sharemilking 515 cows on Graham Brooker's 138ha farm in Ashburton, have a strong partnership on which to grow their business and to thrive on a challenge.

“They presented themselves very well in the interview and were able to articulate their desire to not only progress their career but also to give back to the industry.  They had a very unselfish attitude to their whole farm business,” says Share Farmer head judge Neil Gray.

In winning the national title and $50,700 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in human resource and herd management.  They won three merit awards - the DairyNZ Human Resources Award, Fonterra Farm Source Interview Award and the LIC Recording and Productivity Award.

All 11 finalists in the Share Farmer of the Year competition were Fonterra farmers. Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos were second with Dion and Johanna Bishell third.

Neil Gray says the judges were impressed to see all finalists had a strong focus on environmental issues and they understood the impact agriculture has on the environment. “They had some fantastic systems to manage dairy farm effluent and were aware of the public perception around these issues as well.”

“There was also a strong focus on animal welfare coming through.  The condition and health of the herd was a priority for all finalists and they are genuinely aware of their responsibilities around animal health and welfare. That was definitely a strength for every finalist.”

“This is my third year judging and it’s been wonderful to see the use of technology on farm increase over that time, and used so well. The younger people are using the advances in technology to their advantage and there is just so much you can do with it now, from data collection through to communicating with their staff.”

A ‘quiet-achiever’ is how judges described the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk.

“She has an all-round solid approach to the way she manages the farm she is working on.  Her staff management is exceptional and her ability to set tasks and achieve targets are all linked to her people management skills,” says Dairy Manager head judge Richard Kyte.

It's the first time a sole woman has won the Dairy Manager competition.

The 28-year-old former event manager is farm manager for Te Paratai Farms Ltd, on Nigel, Roger & Noelene Taylor‘s 220ha, 600 cow property in Rongotea. She won $22,600 in cash and prizes.  Hayley also won the PrimaryITO Power Play Award.

Dairy Manager runner-up, Kerry Higgins won the Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award, and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning Award. Te Kauwhata assistant manager Rachel Foy was placed third and won the Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award.

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Clay Paton, is very focused on his career goals, and is a passionate advocate for the industry. He has a bright future ahead of him, says Dairy Trainee head judge Andrew Reid.

Clay won $11,095 in prizes and the Best Video Award.  He is 2IC on Brent and Michelle Riley’s 163ha Wakefield farm milking 450 cows.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Ben Haley, also won the Communication and Engagement Award. The 24-year-old Ashburton 2IC won $5000 in prizes.

Third placegetter Taylor Macdonald is 2IC for Phil and Diane Herdman on their 470-cow property at Reporoa. He won $3000 in cash and prizes, and the DairyNZ Practical Skills Award.