The 12 regional finalists competing for the 2011 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title include six men and six couples.
The Canterbury North Otago representatives, Michael and Susan Woodward, stand out as they contract milk a Rakaia farm milking 2000 cows, nearly twice as large as any of the other finalists.
“The scale of our operation gives us the ability to manage stock, people and grass to our advantage in order to make the business successful,” they say. “Things such as cost savings through bulk purchases, brand recognition and building relationships are all part of what make us a successful farming business.”
The Woodwards, aged 30 and 28, are also the most experienced participants in the competition, having entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards three times.
Five of the finalists are first time entrants, while another four have entered twice and two other finalists have entered three times like the Woodwards.
National convenor Chris Keeping says previous experience in the competition is an advantage, although first time entrants had won in the past.
“We received about 150 entries nationwide in the farm manager contest, and our 12 regional finalists have been proven to be the best at using their available resources to gain maximum production from their herd and performance for their farm owners.
“It’s not about how many cows they milk, or how much each cow produces, it’s about identifying the farm manager or contract milker that is doing a fabulous job for their farm owner, themselves and the industry.”
The winner of the 2011 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year contest will be announced at a gala dinner in Queenstown on May 14 and take home cash and prizes worth about $15,000 from a contest prize pool of $35,000. Winners in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will also be announced and more than $130,000 in cash and prizes given away.
The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO (AgITO).
The farm manager finalists include seven contract milkers and five farm managers. A farm manager is paid a salary to manage the farm, whereas a contract milker is paid an agreed amount to manage the farm as well as to pay some costs associated with running the farm dairy.
Two herds have less than 300 cows, while six herds have 400 to 500 cows and three range from 625 cows to 1040 cows, with the Woodwards herd the largest at 2000.
More information on the finalists can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.
The 2011 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are:
Northland – Aaron Carter, aged 27, farm manager
Auckland/Hauraki – Brett Dunn & Emily McKeague, both aged 24, contract milkers
Waikato – Chris Numan, 23, contract milker
Bay of Plenty – Warren & Jo Lee, 43 and 45, contract milkers
Central Plateau – Scott O’Brien, 28, farm manager
Taranaki – Charlie & Johanna McCaig, 28 and 31, contract milkers
Manawatu/Rangitikei/Horowhenua – Jason Halford, 33, farm manager
Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa – Brad & Chantelle McNaughton, 30 and 28, contract milkers
West Coast/Top of the South – George Groenewald, 34, farm manager
Canterbury/North Otago – Michael & Susan Woodward, 30 & 28, contract milkers
Otago – Scott Levings, 38, farm manager
Southland – Mark & Rosie Olsen-Vetland, 33 and 34, contract milkers.