Region's top dairy farmers named

Nicola Blowey (left), Ruwan Wijayasena, and Matt Redmond are the winners in Canterbury-North...
Nicola Blowey (left), Ruwan Wijayasena, and Matt Redmond are the winners in Canterbury-North Otago. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
This year's finest dairy farmers from the east and west of the South Island are off to the national finals in Wellington next month.

The Canterbury-North Otago region's dairy trainee of the year is Nicola Blowey (25), assistant herd manager at Keiran and Leonie Guiney's Fairlie farm where 600 cows are milked on 175ha.

"Two and a-half years ago I knew next to nothing about strict grass-based systems and now I deal with the day-to-day management of 600 cows on quite a challenging dryland farm. I am really excited to progress further and achieve more," she said.

The runner-up was Claire Ritchie, of Hororata, and third was Amy Charman, of Westerfield.

Ruwan Wijayasena (43) is the share farmer of the year. The Sri Lankan agricultural sciences graduate is contract milking 1840 cows for Theland Farm Group Ltd on a 537ha Darfield property.

"My wife and I are Buddhist and have a religious barrier of not being able to own cows and make decisions to kill them," he said.

"We have found a way to grow our business without following the traditional footsteps. I am not planning to become a 50-50 sharemilker and then a farm owner.

"I can prove that there are other ways to grow than the traditional ladder and wish to share my knowledge with the industry."

Runners-up were Shaun and Andrea Wise of Rangitata Island, and third was Elizabeth and Lyndon Grant, of Ashburton.

Matt Redmond (25) is the dairy manager of the year. He is the farm manager at Craigmore Farming's Pahau Flats Dairy - Landsend, a 232ha Culverden property milking 830 cows.

Jeffrey Hawes (left), Thomas and Hannah Oats, and George King won the West Coast-Top of the South...
Jeffrey Hawes (left), Thomas and Hannah Oats, and George King won the West Coast-Top of the South titles.
He gained a Lincoln University bachelor of commerce degree majoring in agricultural management and rural valuation before entering the dairy industry four years ago.

The runner-up manager was Mohit Pandya, from Christchurch's Terracostosa Ltd. Waimate farm manager Robert Reyes was third.

The three winners will give presentations at a field day tomorrow at 912 Te Pirita Rd, RD2, Darfield.

In the West Coast-Top of the South region, first-time entrant Jeffrey Hawes (23) won the dairy trainee of the year title. He is a farm assistant on a Landcorp farm at Moana that milks 860 cows on 449ha.

"When I started dairy farming, I faced challenges due to a lack of training.

"However, I overcame those by studying and teaching myself from the internet, as well as asking other people in the industry for advice."

The runner-up was Wakefield's Dallas Bradley and third place went to Jarrod Rae, of Greymouth.

Hokitika couple Thomas and Hannah Oats are the share farmers of the year, after being farm managers of the year in 2015. They are 50-50 sharemilkers on Stuart and Adrienne Coleman's 83.5ha property.

"One strength of our business is our low break-even point due to low costs and a good income from relief milking, Air BnB and Hannah's extra work as an AI technician," Mr Oats said.

Jamie and Felicity Thomas, of Atapo, were second and Springwater's Justine Kelly came third.

George King was named dairy manager of the year - one better than being runner-up last year. He manages a 103ha Westport farm for Alex and Julie King, where 274 cows are milked.

"The lifestyle makes it more than a job; anyone who can spend their life doing what they love is truly lucky," he said.

Second place went to Rachael Lind, of Cape Foulwind, and Laurens and Leigh Foulger, of Harihari, were third.

A field day will be held at 1462 Kaniere Kowhitirangi Rd, Hokitika, on Monday from 10.30am.

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