The 2009 Taranaki Sharemilkers of the Year Paul Davidson and Lorette Astwood-Davidson are a good team – one knows how to grow good grass and the other identifies how much it costs to turn the grass to milk.

Paul Davidson, 28, is a qualified green-keeper and Lorette Astwood-Davidson, 26, is an accountant at BDO Spicers. “Together we have a good understanding of grass growth and grass performance and knowledge of our business from a financial perspective.”

The Davidsons were announced the winners at the Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards held in the Stratford Memorial Hall last night, taking home prizes worth $16,300.

The couple is 50% sharemilking 200 cows on 72ha for Arthur and Pauline Davidson at Waitara. They anticipate production of 75,000kg milksolids for the current season ending 31 May.

It was the first time they had entered the competition, doing so to critically evaluate their farm and review their business systems.

“We entered the competition ultimately to learn more and to gain more knowledge of our business. Within the next two years we would like to gain another 50% sharemilking job to get greater cash flow and grow our assets. In the long term we’d like to own our own farm.”

South Taranaki sharemilkers Shaun and Anna Baxter placed second, winning $8045 in prizes. The couple 50% milks 295 cows for Harry and Helen Bayliss.

“We’re still learning, so are always keen to up-skill and gain more knowledge. We share common goals and both have a desire to be successful,” they say.

Third place in the 2009 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year went to Stephen and Rhonda Lucas, winning $4380 in prizes. The Lucas’ 50% sharemilk 850 cows for Jane O’Neill at Stratford.

The 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 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Aaron Riddick, and 2009 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Alexander Dean, were also announced at the awards dinner.

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.

Aaron Riddick, 31, manages a herd of 210 cows for Kevin and Cindy Death at Eltham. He started his farming career when he was 17, building up to sharemilking before heading overseas where he spent some time on an Irish dairy farm.

“I entered the competition to challenge myself and it provides a great opportunity to get my name out there – hopefully it’ll open some doors for me.”

Mr Riddick is keen to take on a 50% sharemilking position in 2010 and increase his herd.

Michael Prankerd and Ruth Churchman of Stratford placed second in the 2009 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, winning $2550 in prizes.

Dairy Trainee of the Year, Alexander Dean, 19, manages a herd of 350 cows for Steven Nicholas at Kaponga. He won $2500 in prizes. Next month he’ll be competing in the regional final of the New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year competition, after placing second in the Taranaki District Final.

He is currently completing an Agriculture ITO Production Management course, having gained his modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture and Certificate in Agriculture.

“I enjoy having a varied range of jobs from day-to-day and I get to have a fair say in what happens on farm and I am able to get my opinions across effectively.”

Taranaki Sharemilkers of the Year Paul Davidson and Lorette Astwood-Davidson will host a field day on Friday March 13, while Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year Aaron Riddick will host a field day on the Eltham farm he manages on Friday March 20. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Sharemilker Merit Awards:

  • Top Variable Order Sharemilker – Aaron & Kate Murdoch
  • Reeves Middleton Young Communication Award – Greg & Hannah Topless
  • Abacus Group Best Endeavour Award – Carey Rielly
  • Blue Wing Honda ATV Safety Award – Greg & Hannah Topless
  • DairyNZ First Time Entrant Award – Amanda Jordan
  • Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Carl & Sharon Coley
  • Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Leadership Award – Greg & Hannah Topless
  • LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Greg & Hannah Topless
  • Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Paul Davidson & Lorette Astwood Davidson
  • Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Shaun & Anna Baxter
  • Westpac Business Performance Award – Paul Davidson & Lorette Astwood

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

  • Allied Farmers Livestock Outstanding Attitude Award – Marc Jackson
  • DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Adam Pearce
  • RD1 Farm Management Award – Michael Prankerd & Ruth Churchman
  • Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Aaron Riddick

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