North Canterbury woman Tayla Steele is the joint winner of NZPork’s Stockperson of the Year award.
Ms Steele, who works for Patoa Farms, was named alongside Regan Driever, of the Stanley Brothers pig farm near Opunake, in Taranaki.
She worked for thoroughbred racehorse studs before joining Patoa Farms 14 months ago and has gone on to gain her level 3 qualifications in pig husbandry.
"I was looking for a change and wanted to move to North Canterbury because it’s a lovely location to live," she said.
"I’d never had anything to do with pigs but knew a few people in the industry and they enjoyed it. I really like working with pigs. They are inquisitive, smart and playful."
She saw herself in the industry long term, Ms Steele said.
"It’s a good way to step into farming if you have no farming background. For anyone interested in farming, I’d say give pig farming a go. You don’t need any experience — you’ll get help to learn everything as you go along."
Mr Driever plans to study for his level 4 qualification next year and also wants to stay with pig farming.
"I’m always learning something new," he said. "There’s so much involved — nutrition, pig welfare, biosecurity — and I really enjoy working with the pigs."
The Industry Lifetime Achievement award went to Canterbury farmer Chris Trengrove.
- By Tim Cronshaw