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He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region's Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton.
''I guess we wanted to be winners but it was a bit of a shock,'' Mr Crawford said.
''We are the only managers in the six finalists as the rest were contract milkers.
''We thought that might be bit of disadvantage but we are stoked.''
He said his wife was thrilled.
''There is no way I would be able to do it without her,'' he said.
He also won the McIntyre Dick and Partners Leadership and the Fonterra Best Practice merit awards. Woodlands contract milkers Callum Stalker and Hanna Barley were second and Aparima contract milkers Hadleigh and Jolene Germann were third.
Mr Crawford manages a first-year conversion 740-cow, 300ha, 300,000kgMS target property near Riversdale for Roger and Tracey Miller and it is the second time he has entered the competition.
He was pleased about the success for his employers as it was their first year in the industry and ''we wanted to show them how wicked'' [exciting and awesome] the industry was.
He worked in the industry for a year after leaving school, then spent seven years gaining his plumbing qualifications before he and Sara moved back into the industry for the lifestyle.
As he was from a dairy background, they wanted to raise their family in a similar environment.
They have an 11-month-old son Lennox.
They hope to go 50/50 sharemilking in the next year or so, eventually moving to farm ownership.
The Crawfords' field day will be at 160 Waipounamu Rd, Riversdale, on March 27, and they will also be ''tweaking'' their presentation for judging, before going to Auckland in May for the national competition.
- by Yvonne O'Hara