The 2009 Waikato Sharemilkers of the Year Craig and Brooke Littin say their strong relationships with past and present farm owners are a key factor in their success.

“They are the people we look to for advice and support – they are our mentors.”

The Littin’s, both aged 32, who won $10,500 in cash and prizes, also value their professional relationships and opportunities to surround themselves with people with knowledge and skills to offer.

The couple is currently 50% sharemilking on a 168ha Putaruru property owned by John and Kerry Wood targeting 260,000kg milksolids this season ending May 31.

It was the third time they had entered the competition, doing so to benchmark themselves against other sharemilkers, to gain constructive advice and to network with other progressive and positive people.

“We have always had the philosophy that knowledge is empowering, so we are constantly upskilling ourselves and staff. Craig recently completed the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership Programme and this gave him the opportunity to network with a wide range of people from the agriculture industry and to work on his public speaking skills.

“Our motto has always been to pay for advice once, then to do it ourselves.”

Gordonton 22% sharemilkers Scott and Alicia Paterson placed second in the Waikato Sharemilker of the Year, winning $5500 in cash and prizes. Morrinsville 25% sharemilkers Hannes and Lyzanne du Plessis placed third, winning $3000 in cash and prizes.

The 2009 Waikato Farm Manager of the Year winner, Zarsha Osborne, and 2009 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year, Blair Jackson, were also announced at the awards dinner held at Bledisloe Hall, Mystery Creek, last night.

All three winners will now compete for the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year titles and a prize pool of more than $100,000 in Wellington on May 16.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, Honda, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO.

The 2009 Waikato Farm Manager of the Year Zarsha Osborne is making quick progress in the industry and bagging awards along the way – she won the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year title in 2007.

Ms Osborne is managing an 110ha Cambridge farm for Berg and Amanda Bergerson milking 380 cows.

“Entering the competition opens up a lot of opportunities that I might have missed otherwise and it’s a great way to put yourself out there. It’s free advertising.”

She and her partner Michael Richardson aim to own their own 600-cow farm within 10 years.

Tirau farm managers Pieter and Beth Ackermann placed second in the 2009 Waikato Farm Manager of the Year, winning $3500 in cash and prizes. Kevin White, a Te Aroha farm manager, placed third winning $1750 in cash and prizes.

Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year Blair Jackson is an assistant farm manager on a 260ha Morrinsville farm owned by Keith Holmes milking 900 cows. He was previously a national parts manager for Komatsu Forklifts and changed careers to enjoy the lifestyle benefits dairy farming offered him and his family.

For the past three years Mr Jackson has been studying for a National Certificate in Agriculture through the Agriculture ITO, helping his confidence and competency on the farm.

“I believe I now have the ability to manage a farm and apply new techniques to increase production and profit. I have found the combination of theory and practical implementation very valuable.”

Waikato Sharemilkers of the Year Craig and Brooke Littin will host a field day on Wednesday March 24, while Waikato Farm Manager of the Year Zarsha Osborne will host a field day on the Cambridge farm she manages on Tuesday March 31. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Sharemilker Merit Awards:

  • Honda ATV Safety Award – Carlos & Bernice Delos Santos
  • Animal Health Centre Animal Health and Welfare Award – Scott & Alicia Paterson
  • Piako Tractors Human Resource Management Award – Craig & Brooke Littin
  • Allied Farmers Best Variable % Award - Scott & Alicia Paterson
  • DairyNZ First Time Entrant Award – Hamish Ferguson
  • Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Hannes & Lyzanne Du Plessis
  • Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Leadership Award – Craig & Brooke Littin
  • LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Craig & Brooke Littin
  • Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Scott & Alicia Paterson
  • Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Adrian & Karyn Daines
  • Westpac Business Performance Award – Scott & Alicia Paterson

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

  • Effluent Irrigation Services Best Endeavour Award – Tristan & Karen Dalley
  • DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Pieter & Beth Ackermann
  • RD1 Farm Management Award – Kevin White
  • Westpac Financial and Planning Award – Pieter & Beth Ackermann

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