Dairying big change from previous jobs

For Otago couple Glenn and Lynne Johnston, switching from their respective previous jobs of courier driver and hairdresser was a big change but they have no regrets.

The couple, who milk 550 cows just south of Waihola, have been in the dairy industry for 12 years.

Mrs Johnston, who is the new convener for the Dairy Women's Network, grew up in Milton, while her husband is from Dunedin, and the couple decided to have ''a whole lifestyle change''.

They started at Five Rivers and worked around Northern Southland for a couple of years before becoming managers in an equity partnership at Awarua.

In 2008, they won the Southland farm manager of the year title in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and came second in the national final.

Then they moved to Wendon, near Riversdale, where they were 50:50 sharemilking. Mrs Johnston opened a hair salon in Riversdale.

This season, they moved back to Otago with their four children, who are aged between 3 and 12, buying into a farm in another equity partnership.

Getting into the dairy industry had been a ''huge'' learning curve but they were impressed by the career pathways and progression that could be made.

Mrs Johnston was also impressed by how everyone in the industry was willing to help and how supportive it was.

She had been involved with the Dairy Women's Network for the past five years, attending ''when and where'' she could. It was a great opportunity to learn more and develop many different skills, she said.

DWN was established in 1998 by several dairying women after they attended the second International Conference for Women in Agriculture in Washington DC. The purpose was to develop and educate women to add value in the dairying business.

Mrs Johnston's convener role involved co-ordinating and promoting DWN events in the region and she was also trying to get small subgroups of women together.

The next module was an interactive session involving CRV Ambreed, Nait and Tru-Test at the Clinton Community Centre on December 3.

It would cover understanding and applying breeding tools; learning how dairy automation could be used as a tool for decision-making and planning, supporting seasonal activities and improving staff and plant efficiency; and learning how weighing and EID (electronic identification) could be used to effectively track the growth rate of stock on an individual basis to achieve target weights, plus accurately and efficiently manage stock movements and transfer data to third parties.


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