NZ Dairy Winter 2022

22 | nzdairy Dairy awards .... ‘just go for it’ Sue Russell “Put yourself out there and benchmark yourself. The feedback you gain is really valuable and through networking you get to meet a lot of like-minded people.” It’s the second time Manawatu dairy farmer Joel Peterson has entered the region’s Dairy industry awards, Dairy Manager section and second time round he proved to the judges just how seriously he takes his farming career, taking out stop spot and four of the six merit awards. Joel is employed by Pamu on one of their seven farms owned by the corporation located at their Moutoa complex between Foxton and Shannon. The 194ha effective farm calves down 530 kiwicross cows and peak milks a minimum of 510. When NZ Dairy spoke with Joel the plan was, all going well, to continue milking through to late May. The start of the season brought its fair share of challenges with ongoing and extensive ooding on the farm from July to December 2021. This season calving is due to get underway 20th August and is expected to take 10-11 weeks to complete. The Dairy Industry awards are broken down into six merit categories and Joel says he was thrilled to take out top spot in 4 of these. These were: • DeLaval Livestock Management Award • Fonterra Dairy Management Award • IS Dam Lining Ltd Environmental Sustainability Award • McIntosh Bros Engineering Ltd Pasture & Feed Management Award Adding to the dynamics, this year is the rst year the farm is transitioning to an organic dairy system. “The team and I have been focussing on old farm infrastructure and getting up to scratch on weed control. Now we’re concentrating on pasture management and animal health through the transition,” Joel explains. On the animal health front last March the transition really began with the team discussing how best Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year Joel Peterson. The Pamu Moutoa farm complex near Foxton. DAIRY AWARDS » Joel Peterson to navigate the shift away from more traditional interventions to the use of homoeopathic animal remedies. “This season we’ve just been really proactive monitoring cow condition and looking for any early problems. It was certainly helpful to have two seasoned managers from two other organic dairy farms to seek advice from.” Out of these conversations a planned strategy was formed. Joel says the biggest thing about going organic is changing the mindset to detect early issues and, once discovered, to allow more time for a cow to come right before being introduced back into the herd. Working with Joel are three other full-time staff, all rostered to do less than 95 hours work per fortnight. “The team each get 104 days off each year, and we all do the same tasks.” Joel milks each morning to provide an opportunity to assess cow condition, milk production and a general feel for what’s going on with the herd, leaving time later in the day for other necessary Farm Manager responsibilities. He says the milking shed works well. “We use the technology and tools we have effectively throughout the season to get the most out of the farm and herd, most recently new technology in the form of OmniEye lame cow monitoring cameras have been installed.” Joel says the technology will be really useful, particularly as the focus in the new organic system is in detecting issues early. Looking back on his experience entering the Dairy Industry awards Joel says it was thoroughly worthwhile and he would recommend it to any young farmer. “I guess just go for it. Put yourself out there and benchmark yourself. The feedback you gain is really valuable and through networking you get to meet a lot of like-minded people.” Agricultural Contractors - Levin Contact Garry 027 232 2380 Rowan 027 452 2562 Serving the Horowhenua since 1924 • Fertiliser spreading • Cultivation • All bulk silage requirements • Round baling & wrapping • Bulk cartage • Square baling & wrapping • Hay - large rounds / large squares • Stockists of Hatuma Lime • Ravensdown consignment store with certified weigh bridge SERVICES OFFERED: