Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winners Driven To Succeed
The winners of the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards are excited to see where the dairy industry will be in the next few years, with technology and science developments driving progress. Jonathon and Stacey Hoets were announced winners ... The 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards have announced the winners of the region's Share Farmer of the Year category, with Jonathon and Stacey Hoets winning the award. Other major winners were Jack Symes, the 20 23 Canterbury/ North Otago dairy Manager of the year, and Brayden Johnston, the2023 Canterbury and 2023 Dairy Trainee. The Hoets have entered the Awards three times previously and say they have grown their network and upskilled on areas that were challenging through the experience. They are 20% equity partners with John and Kelly Nicholls on a 178ha Hinds property, milking 760 cows, and have won $10,500 in prizes plus two merit awards. Reuben and Jaden Christian won $3,500 and two merit prizes respectively in the Canterbury and Otago categories. The couple believe their ability to develop people with their team is a strength of their business and they are looking for ways to improve themselves.
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The winners of the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards are excited to see where the dairy industry will be in the next few years, with technology and science developments driving progress.
Jonathon and Stacey Hoets were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at Wigram Airforce Museum in Christchurch on Saturday evening.
Other major winners were Jack Symes, who was named the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Brayden Johnston, the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The Hoets have entered the Awards three times previously and say they have grown their network and upskilled on areas that were challenging through the experience.
Growing up on his parents’ dairy farm in Papakaio, Jonathon entered the dairy industry as a farm assistant when he left school.
“I really enjoyed the lifestyle, working outdoors and with animals,” says Jonathon. “I love the challenge of producing a high quality product that’s in high demand and training up new staff.”
“We love that it’s a career that our whole family can be part of,” says Stacey. “The kids enjoy heading out on farm occasionally and enjoy being around the cows and calves too.”
The Hoets are 20% equity partners with John and Kelly Nicholls on a 178ha Hinds property, milking 760 cows. They won $10,500 in prizes plus two merit awards.
The couple (both 32) are very proud they have become equity partners in the time-frame they set themselves.
“Eventually we would like to own a farm and along the way we are open to opportunities such as increasing our equity or diversifying into rental property ownership.
Their goals to progress in the industry and succeed motivate the couple in both the challenging and easy times. “The drive to create something really good and open opportunities for our kids is strong,” says Jonathon. “I’m really motivated to perform in the top 5%.’
Intense weather events over the past five years including floods and lightning storms have been challenging however the couple say they were also good learning opportunities. “We’re proud we managed to push on and get through.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian, Ravensdown, and Trelleborg, along with industry partners DairyNZ, MediaWorks and Rural Training Solutions NZ.
Runners-up in the Canterbury/North Otago category are Reuben and Jaden Christian who won $3,500 in prizes and two merit awards
Reuben and Jaden are contract milkers for Simon Roy on his 300ha Leeston property, milking 1050 cows.
The couple believe their ability to develop people with their team so they are continuously learning and achieving their goals is a strength of their business.
“We are always looking for ways to improve ourselves to ensure we are good employers and farmers.”
Reuben (29) holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) and has achieved PrimaryITO Effective Leadership, while Jaden holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science.
“We chose dairying as our career as we could see the clear progression pathway and saw that it was an excellent opportunity to create a good life for our family.”
“As an industry, we are very adaptable and resilient, therefore able to overcome any challenge.”
The couple would like to see public perception of the dairy industry change. “It’s so much more than just milking cows.”
The Christians say their cows motivate them during challenging times. “They are the foundation of our business so it is important that we care for them day-in and day-out.”
Work/life balance is important for the couple who believe it keeps them fresh, allowing them to continue to enjoy the journey.
Third place went to Sam and Shannon Lovelock who entered to network with other people in the industry.
The first-time entrants say they are innovative people and feel the Awards programme has been an excellent opportunity to examine their whole business from the inside-out, and the outside-in.
The couple are contract milkers over two properties for Leighton and Michelle Pye on their (combined) 330ha Ashburton properties, milking 1320 cows. They won $3,500 in prizes and three merit awards.
The winner of the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year category knew from a young age he wanted to work with animals and outdoors and says choosing farming gave him the opportunity to pursue his passion.
Jack Symes won $6,875 in prizes plus three merit awards and is farm manager on Judy and Brian Symes’ 160ha, 630-cow property at Southbridge.
The first-time entrant grew up on a dairy farm and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University.
“The dairy industry is continuing to become more efficient and productive while becoming more sustainable through technology and science,” says Jack. “I see myself being a farmer who adapts to the changing environment as I move forward.”
During harder times, passion for the industry motivates him to keep going. “I know hard work pays off and I have a clear goal of where I want to be in the industry,” he says. “All the different challenges that I face make me better.”
Jack cites his strong staff team who are supported by the farm owners as a key strength of the business. “Dairying is a team event that needs a team who work well together, as every member counts on the other team members to do their job to a high standard.”
“We have a good environment where communication is key so everyone knows what is going on and the owners provide the tools and resources needed to get the jobs done and are also more than willing to fill in through the season if required.”
Ashburton farm manager Rajat Kumar, aged 36 years, was second in the Dairy Manager category, winning $2,375 in prizes and one merit award.
Currently working on Pete Williams’ 232ha property, milking 950 cows, Rajat credits the New Zealand dairy industry with helping him find his place in this country and grow as a person. “I will keep farming as a long as I can.”
The second-time entrant holds a Master in Business from Panjab University in India, as well as PrimaryITO Level 4 and Diploma in Business Level 6.
“I am still learning and I think I will always want to keep learning, as there is so much knowledge to gain!”
Rangiora farm manager Mahraaz Hussein placed third and won $1,500 in prizes and one merit award. Mahraaz works on Pāmu Farms of New Zealand 426ha, 700-cow property.
Brayden Johnston was named the winner of the 2023 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year category.
Brayden won $6,750 in prizes and two merit awards and is a farm assistant on the Rakaia Island “Turner Family” 540ha, 1450-cow Oxford property.
The first-time entrant entered the Awards programme as he saw an opportunity to potentially meet new people with similar passions for the dairy industry.
“I’ve also known people who have entered in the past and have heard unanimous positive feedback about the programme, in terms of interpersonal and business development.”
The 22-year-old grew up on a dairy farm and really enjoyed being on-farm with his dad, developing ‘soft-farming skills’. “It’s been awesome to work full-time on farm, develop skills and become more efficient.”
Brayden is genuinely interested by grass and cows and finds the theory very stimulating. “I like applying what we learn and achieving results is super satisfying.”
“I want to lead a team from the front, and find the ability to work with people and help upskill and train them exciting,” says Brayden.
“I’m also interested in how we can use new science and technologies to improve our production systems in terms of yield but also in ways that are beneficial to sustainability, the environment and relationships with people in terms of allowing better work/life balances and making the industry more appealing to broader audiences.”
Brayden says it’s exciting to see young talent emerging and taking innovative ideas and making big improvements in farming systems. “They’re achieving gains in productivity but also improvements for people and the environment.”
A DairyNZ scholar, Brayden has nearly completed a Bachelor of Agriculture through Lincoln University, which he plans to finish through distance learning.
“Partway through my studies my mother developed multiple sclerosis, which we are very thankful was not the progressive type,” says Brayden. ‘I have a strong desire to upskill and return home so my parents can take a step back while ensuring the family business is doing well, remaining competitive and upholding our values.”
Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was 22-year-old Ashburton farm assistant Abby Cook, who won $1,625 in prizes.
The farm assistant works on the Tait Family Trust 253ha 800-cow farm at Ashburton.
Abby grew up on a dairy farm in Southland until her father passed away in 2009, and the family moved back to the Waikato. “I grew up with farm chat around the dinner table, but I never had the hands-on experience.”
Abby holds a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Pharmacology and Forensics, from University of Otago and is an inaugural participant on the Dairy Management Graduate Programme, which had an aim of training young people straight out of university to be capable of managing within a year.
“DairyGrads has played a huge part in how much I have learnt in the last 12 months,” says Abby. “Learning about everything from people management to pasture management to financial development in the industry the range was huge and the networks and knowledge is invaluable.”
The first-time entrant entered the Awards programme to challenge herself and meet new people in the industry.
“The first challenge in starting my dairy career was moving to a whole new and unfamiliar part of the country,” says Abby. “To overcome this I threw myself at every social event, get-together and meet up I could find.”
Future farming goals include farm ownership. “I believe growing up on a farm helps to nurture hard-working values, active-outdoor spirits and love for the land and animals.”
Hamish Kidd from Carew was third. He won $1,375 in prizes and one merit award.
The 23-year-old works as a trainee farm manager for Leighton and Michelle Pye on their 241ha property, milking 900 cows.
The Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 12 April 2023 at 10.00am at 784 Surveyours Road Hinds Ashburton S/N Fonterra 37174 where Canterbury/North Otago Share Farmers of the Year, Jonathon and Stacey Hoets, sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Jack Symes and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Brayden Johnston. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.