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Oxford farmer overcomes challenges to win


Oxford farmer overcomes challenges to win regional dairying award

An Oxford dairy farmer has overcome the dual challenges of a difficult climate and managing a recent dairy conversion to win the Farm Manager Award category in the Northern South Island regional event of the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards.

Darin Bradley won the RD1 Farm Manager Award category at an awards function in Christchurch last night and will now go on to compete against six other regional winners for the national farm manager title in Hamilton on June 27.

Mr Bradley faced considerable challenges in achieving the award, including managing a dairy farm that had only recently been converted from sheep farming.

"I found this job in Oxford on a first year conversion that had loads of potential, but picked the hardest year, due to climatic conditions, to do it," he says.

Calving 695 cows on 75ha of sheep pasture proved to be a tough challenge while waiting for new grass to grow.

However, Mr Bradley and his staff have now turned the farm around.

The milking herd now contains 905 cows achieving reasonable production and mating results. A neighbouring 33ha farm has also been converted to dairying, assisting with the continuing improvements.

Mr Bradley says he is continuing to enjoy the challenges and responsibility of managing the farm, which is owned by five North Island families.

He is aiming to produce 1050 milksolids per hectare, a "good result" considering the tough spring and summer he faced.

Awards Chairman and Fonterra Director Jim van der Poel says the awards aim to assist Fonterra's 17,000-farmer supply base to maintain their on-farm efficiencies and position as the world's most cost-effective milk producers in the world.

"This underpins our ability to prosper in the global market," he says.

Westpac General Manager Business Banking Bruce McLachlan says another aim of the awards is to profile dairy industry excellence and promote information exchange, through benchmarking and best practice.

"We believe recognising the best the dairy industry has to offer encourages innovation and sets the benchmark for this country's drive into global markets."

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards are being run in seven regions, with the winner of each region progressing to the national final. Tickets to the regional dinners can be purchased by phoning 0800 273 759 or online at www.dairyexcellenceawards.co.nz, where information on the awards can also be obtained.

Other Northern South Island award winners were: * Farm Business - Russell and Leanne Clearwater * Business Growth - Russell and Leanne Clearwater * Quality Management - Russell and Leanne Clearwater * Environment - Doug, Marg, David and Helen Turner * Lifetime Achievement - John Roadley

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