‘Your hard work gets you places’ - dairy industry award winners

At the 2024 Southland and Otago Dairy Industry Awards in Invercargill last week are (from left)...
At the 2024 Southland and Otago Dairy Industry Awards in Invercargill last week are (from left) dairy trainee of the year Shannon Butler, share farmer of the year Nicole Hanning-Smith and Cameron Smith and dairy manager of the year Andrew Hazlett. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dairy farming has endless opportunities for growth, say the winners of the 2024 Southland and Otago Dairy Industry Awards share farmer of the year category.

Cameron Smith, 27, and Nicole Hanning-Smith, 26, were announced the category winners in Invercargill last week.

The contract milkers said they had a huge love for the land and the animals and there was never a dull moment on farm.

"It is challenging but so rewarding – your hard work gets you places.

‘‘The endless opportunities for growth is the best part, as the dairy industry allows people to easily move up the ranks."

The couple contract milk for Steve and Tracy Henderson on their 215ha, 580-cow Awarua property near Invercargill.

They won $7900 in prizes and three merit awards.

Mr Smith placed second in the 2021 Southland/Otago dairy trainee category.

He said the awards allow personal growth and development.

The couple both come from farming backgrounds and attended Lincoln University, where they both achieved a bachelor of commerce majoring in agriculture.

Their passion and drive motivated them during harder times as well as reflecting how far they have progressed in a short amount of time, he said.

"We want to be in a position when opportunities come knocking, we can grab them and run."

The couple are proud of their successes including the purchase of a house and land and increasing production immensely on-farm.

"We are young and motivated which helps us seek opportunities and better ourselves,

"We can take high-risk opportunities because we have time."

Runner-up in the Southland/Otago category went to Oliver and Lauren Badcock, who won $4500 in prizes and two merit awards.

The couple contract milk for Andrew and Heather Tripp on their 275ha, 850-cow Kaiwera farm near Gore.

The first-time entrants felt like they were in a position on-farm where the growth from entering the awards would benefit them and their farming business.

"We work for supportive owners, and we felt the awards programme would help us fine tune our business."

Mr Badcock was raised on a beef and cropping farm in the United Kingdom and Mrs Badcock is a self-proclaimed townie who studied law at the University of Gloucestershire.

"With clear goals, there is a pathway to success in New Zealand dairying."

The couple cite their ability to see the small incremental changes across the whole business as a strength that enables them to run a more efficient business and farm.

"This has a flow on effect throughout the business with staff, environmental, cows and grass."

Third place went to Hayden & Alienor Diack, who won $2500 in prizes and two merit awards.

They are 18% sharemilkers on 455ha farm Mahia Dairies in Wyndham, milking 875 cows.

Andrew Hazlett was crowned the dairy manager of the year.

He won $6950 in prizes plus one merit award and works for Paul and Rachel Diprose on their 208ha, 570-cow Thornbury property.

The 35-year-old has entered the awards programme previously and found the experience confidence-boosting.

He credits his dad with passing on his love of farming and has progressed through the ranks since beginning in the industry 21 years ago.

"I’m excited about the new technology coming in and am working to own my own farm, passing my love of farming down to my kids."

Challenges had included struggling with numbers due to dyslexia, however Andrew’s strengths lie in his people and pasture skills.

"This whole awards experience has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m proud to be in the top five."

Invercargill farm manager Regan Smith, 27, was second in the dairy manager category, winning $3500 in prizes and two merit awards.

The first-time entrant previously studied business and worked in tourism.

"I never considered farming when I was at school as it was never offered as a subject,

"At career expos, dairy farming was not a career that was represented like it should be.

"I didn’t come from a farming background; it wasn’t until I visited a friend’s family farm that I decided that farming would be my future career.

Regan began work as a dairy assistant with Kayne Smith and has progressed to second-in-charge on the 200ha, 590-cow farm near Gore.

Future farming goals include sharemilking and farm ownership. "I would like more education on agriculture in city schools because we have a staffing shortage in the dairy industry, and I know it could be filled by more people like me who haven’t been introduced to this career path."

Winton farm manager Dilpreet Singh placed third and won $2000 in prizes and two merit awards.

He works on the 194ha NZ Superfunds Ltd farm, milking 660 cows.

The 2024 Southland/Otago dairy trainee of the year winner is Shannon Butler, who was inspired to enter after attending the awards dinner last year and then hearing 2022 winner Laura Murdoch speak at a PrimaryITO class.

"I thought ‘why not do something out of my comfort zone’, and meet other people in the industry."

She is a farm assistant on Allan and Kaye Wilson’s 200ha Invercargill property, milking 600 cows. She won $6950 in prizes and one merit award.

The 28-year-old was excited about the technology in the dairy industry, which would help in many different aspects of farming.

She cites balancing work and life as very important as it enables her to perform at her best on-farm.

During challenging times, she was proud at how the team pulls together and motivates each other.

Future farming goals included completing a diploma in agricultural business and continue progressing into an assistant manager position.

Runner-up in the dairy trainee category was farm assistant Samuel Welsh, who won $3000 in prizes. He works on Andrew and Heather Tripp’s 283ha, 850-cow farm in Gore.

The 19-year-old comes from a farming background in England where his grandparents own a small beef and arable farm.

"Growing up around that helped me to see a future in agriculture and I decided to go to Reaseheath Agricultural College in England for three years.

"I made the move to New Zealand in June 2023 where I have worked at Nithdale Dairies for the last nine months."

Future farming goals include progressing from farm assistant to managing in five years’ time and share milking in 10 years.

Third place in the dairy trainee category went to farm assistant Corey Hirst, who won $2000 in prizes and one merit award.

The 22-year-old is second-in-charge on John and Teresa Van Hout’s 235ha, 630-cow farm in Winton.

The Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held at 10.30am on April 10 at 245 Awarua School Rd, Woodend, near Invercargill.

Share farmer merit awards

People and Culture Award: Hayden and Alienor Diack

Farm Hygiene Award: Hayden and Alienor Diack

Leadership Award: Oliver and Lauren Badcock

Health and Biosecurity Award: Oliver and Lauren Badcock

Animal Wellbeing, Recording and Productivity Award: Jerome Montes

Environmental Sustainability Award: Cameron Smith and Nicole Hanning-Smith

Sustainable Pasture Award: Cameron Smith and Nicole Hanning-Smith

Business Performance Award: Cameron Smith and Nicole Hanning-Smith

Emerging Talent Award: George Mushchamp


Dairy manager merit awards

Livestock Management Award: Andrew Hazlett

Dairy Management Award: Regan Smith

Environmental Sustainability Award: Jeremy Tyler

Pasture & Feed Management Award: Dilpreet Singh

People & Leadership Award: Regan Smith

Personal Planning & Financial Management Award: Dilpreet Singh

Emerging Talent Award: Baljit Singh

Dairy trainee merit awards

Practical Skills Award: Corey Hirst

Emerging Talent Award: Erin Harland Christie

Farming Knowledge Award: Shannon Butler

Communication and Industry Involvement Award: Sharna Durry