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Nicholas Bailey is living and working on a 600ha dairy farm in Temuka, where he manages one of two dairy operations for farmers Brent and Hayley Schrider.
Their family business milks close to 1500 cows.
Mr Bailey leads a team of three staff members on one 820-cow farm, as part of the wider team of 10 on a second farm that milks 675 cows and supports blocks with young stock.
Originally from the Wairarapa, he believed the opportunities in South Canterbury were more progressive than in other places throughout the country.
Mr Bailey got his start relief milking during his time at Chanel College in Masterton, quickly realising the speed with which one could progress through the dairy industry was "unreal" in comparison with other professions.
Post-school, he worked for one year as a farm assistant and then three years as a 2IC on a 1000-cow farm.
Then, after two seasons as a farm manager in the Tararua district, he travelled overseas before starting in Temuka last November.
"I had always looked over the fence at the neighbour’s dairy farm growing up and knew I was interested in it," Mr Bailey said.
"I considered the defence force or going to university and heading down the academic path, but I guess I was always drawn back to the lifestyle and variety that dairy offers."
He and fiancee Kerri Gardner were excited about their long-term prospects in the industry, looking for progression while keeping options open.
Work focused on having "the right tools in the toolbox" for when an opportunity came along.
"Some of the options we see as to how to get there are either sharemilking, leasing a farm, equity or joint-venture partnerships with investors.
"Surrounding ourselves with good people and constantly learning is what we see as key to achieving our goals."
In 2016 Mr Bailey won dairy trainee of the year for Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa and went on to be named national dairy trainee of the year, and he credits his ongoing success to his involvement in those awards.
He implored others to get involved.
"The awards are a great way to network with other farmers and rural professionals, push yourself, and put your name out there in the industry," Mr Bailey said.
"I am also a member of the Hinds Young Farmers Club and have been involved with Young Farmers for several years now.
"It too is a great way to meet new people, have some time away from the farm and broaden your skill base and knowledge."
Being the youngest person on a dairy milking team, while working in a leadership role, came with its challenges.
But he was confident that staff members respected his choices and did not take age into account.
"When you can walk the walk and talk the talk, proving yourself, people respect it.
"Taking an interest in people’s lives, as well as what we are doing on-farm, meant working relationships are a lot easier with very few issues."
He enjoyed the opportunity to work outside all day and in a "cool environment".
"It is satisfying to know that when I go to work, I am not only caring for the livestock and the environment, but helping to create a nutritional food product from the grassroots of the process that is enjoyed worldwide by many.
"If you are looking to get into the industry, take every opportunity possible.
"Networking and relationships are very valuable and do not stop learning. Never think you know it all."