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2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious

6 May 2017
2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious
The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners and finalists represent a group of people who are acutely aware of environmental issues and the dairy industry’s role in farming responsibly.
In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last 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.
“There was an overwhelmingly strong theme among the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are acutely aware of the importance of farming responsibly, with regards to both environmental issues and animal management. It’s extremely positive to see such dedication to these issues within the industry.”
Share Farmer head judge Neil Gray, from Thames, 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.”
He says the O’Malleys are an excellent example of how embracing technology can enhance on farm health and safety practices. “An example of this was their use of a free app to communicate with their team to notify them immediately of a new hazard identified on-farm.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner PrimaryITO.
The 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year winners, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley, have a strong partnership on which to grow their business and to thrive on a challenge.
The former adventure tourism guide and former secondary school teacher were very balanced right across all categories. “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 Mr 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 with the DairyNZ Human Resources Award, Fonterra Farm Source Interview Award and the LIC Recording and Productivity Award.
“The O’Malley’s demonstrated very strongly that you can put together a high-quality herd of cows within a budget constraint. They put a lot of effort into finding the right cows and travelled many kilometres in the car around New Zealand to find the ones they wanted.”
“They have gone on to use this herd to add value to their business by thinking outside the box,” explains Mr Gray. “They DNA-profiled their herd and selected the A2 cows that were fetching a premium in the livestock market in the Canterbury region. Even though they weren’t receiving a premium for A2 milk, they were able to receive a premium for A2 cows by selling them to that market.”
“A clever, innovative idea to maximise livestock income that enabled them to come through a low-payout season without going into further debt.”
The O’Malleys, both aged 34 years, are 50% sharemilking 515 cows on Graham Brookers 138ha farm in Ashburton.
“They demonstrated a passion to give back to the industry and this was evident in their entirely selfless approach to their business and in their relationships with other people. They possess an empathy with their whole farm team.”
“They were very strong with their human resource management and have developed their team and delegated areas of responsibility to assist their staff to achieve. For example, one of the staff members was in charge of dairy hygiene, and when the operation received a Fonterra award for highest quality milk, it was their staff member that accepted it.
“They are also connecting with schools and trying to promote good, positive images of dairy farming which is fantastic to see in a couple so early in their sharemilking career,” says Mr Gray.
“The O’Malleys have strengths that complement each other as a couple and work extremely well together as a team.”
The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Ngakuru 50% sharemilkers Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos have a real drive and passion to prove themselves in the New Zealand farming sector. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award. “We walked into their cowshed and couldn’t believe it was over 30 years old, it looked fantastic. They lived and breathed their philosophy that the cowshed was the place where they produce the finest quality milk that goes onto supply food for the rest of the world” says Mr Gray.
The Delos Santos, both aged 33 years, are originally from the Philippines and began farming in New Zealand in 2001, progressing through the industry from farm assistant to their current sharemilking position, which they have held since 2015. They won $24,000 in cash and prizes.
Taranaki 50% sharemilkers Dion and Johanna Bishell, aged 42 and 36 years, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes. The Bishells also won merit awards in Honda Farm Safety and Health, the Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award, and the Westpac Business Performance Award. The judges noted they had outstanding policies and procedures right across their whole farm operation.
Dairy Manager head judge Richard Kyte from DairyNZ says the high calibre of the Dairy Manager finalists made judging very difficult.
“You could throw a blanket over the top six or seven, the marks were so close.”
For the first time, a sole woman has won the Dairy Manager competition. 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 was exceptional and her ability to set tasks and achieve targets were all linked to her people management skills,” says Mr Kyte.
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. She was the Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year in 2014.
“Hayley has a great understanding on how to empower people to work to their best potential to work in making the whole team more efficient. She is quite insightful for someone who is reasonably young.”
“She’s a young woman managing a team of men and does well motivating them to perform at a very high level. Her team hold her in high-regard and there is a great team culture. She understands all the different personalities of her staff and how they fit in with each other.”
“Her on-farm skills were exceptional. The farm business is performing well and her pasture management is excellent. Hayley is a hands-on manager and likes being out there alongside her staff.”
“Hayley empowers her staff to work together to meet targets. She has an excellent manner with animals and is concerned about the welfare of each individual cow. In her spare time, she is also extremely active in her community.”
There were several noticeable trends showing with the finalists, including ownership of their roles, care of staff and the desire to give back to the industry. “Some of the finalists are new managers and they are already wanting to support other people into the dairy industry and to promote it as a career pathway,” says Mr Kyte.
There was also a noticeable trend of increased awareness regarding health and safety practices. Mr Kyte also noted that there was a definite lack of entrants striving for farm ownership. “The industry needs to think about succession moving forward,” he says.
The Dairy Manager runner-up, Kerry Higgins, aged 32 years, also won the Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award, and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning Award. The Hororata farm manager won $11,000 in prizes. The judges noted that as a career changer he has brought a high level of professionalism with him to the dairy industry.
Te Kauwhata assistant manager Rachel Foy, aged 24, was placed third and won $5,500 in prizes and the Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award. Rachel is a quiet, determined manager achieving great results on farm and in her career, and the judges expect to see more of her in the future.
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 got a bright future ahead of him, says Dairy Trainee head judge Andrew Reid from DairyNZ.
“He has a clear balance between his work priorities and life and family balance. He is very driven but has a strong community focus and an awareness of the issues the industry will be facing in years to come.”
“Clay is very family-orientated and wants a healthy and fun lifestyle for his young children. He sees the dairy industry as a way to progress his career and reach his life goals, and his goals of farm ownership must be right for the family.”
Clay’s video for the judges really told the story of where he’s come from and where he wants to head. “He had a really strong interview with the judges and is very articulate. He had a good general knowledge as well as applied farm knowledge,” says Mr Reid.
“One of the things that stood out with Clay was his passion for the dairy industry. He believes that to be successful you have to fall in love with your work, and Clay definitely loves his work.”
“Clay is very professional and all the judges agreed that he will be a fantastic ambassador for the dairy industry and a great Future Leader.
“There wasn’t daylight between the top three finalists, but we had a clear winner in Clay. The overall standard of entrants was excellent, with a strong theme of environmental awareness coming through.”
Clay, aged 23 years, 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. He grew up on and around farms, but didn’t envisage farming as his career until he began studying Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University. Despite doing very well, he realised he was on the wrong career path, and shifted his attention to the agricultural sector.
The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Ben Haley, also won the Communication and Engagement Award. He impressed the judges with his ability to express himself clearly and is clearly passionate about the career he has chosen. The 24-year-old Ashburton 2IC won $5000 in prizes.
Third placegetter Taylor Macdonald is second-in-charge for Phil and Diane Herdman on their 470-cow property at Reporoa. He was very knowledgeable about the issues facing farming and had a very mature outlook on where he wants to go as an individual. He won $3000 in cash and prizes, and the DairyNZ Practical Skills Award.
Visit for more information on the awards and winners.
Full Results:
2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:
Winner – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley, Canterbury-North Otago
• Runner-up – Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos, Central Plateau
• Third – Dion and Johanna Bishell, Taranaki
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Jon and Vicki Nicholls
• Fonterra Farm Source Interview Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Russell and Tracy Bouma
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell
2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:
Winner – Hayley Hoogendyk, Manawatu
• Runner-up – Kerry Higgins, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Rachel Foy, Auckland-Hauraki
• Dairy Manager of the Year Interview Award – Greg Imeson
• DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Anthony Kiff
• Meridian Energy Leadership Award – Jack Raharuhi
• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Rachel Foy
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Shaun Neal
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Hayley Hoogendyk
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Kerry Higgins
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Kerry Higgins
2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:
Winner – Clay Paton, West Coast-Top of the South
• Runner-up – Ben Haley, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Taylor Macdonald, Central Plateau
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Taylor Macdonald
• NZDIA Communication and Engagement Award – Ben Haley
• Best Video Award presented by Spyglass – Clay Paton


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