Bay's creme de la creme dairy farmers win awards

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The Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards saw the cream of the crop awarded top honours in the local dairying industry.

Share Farmers of the Year Glen and Donna Sparrow won $13,000 in prizes at the region's annual awards dinner held on Thursday night.

Other major winners include Thomas Chatfield, Dairy Manager of the Year and Michael Simpson, Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr and Mrs Sparrow said increase in productivity comes through using the best farm practices and techniques.

"The dairy industry is continually coming up with innovative ways to use resources more efficiently so that our dairy is sustainable, which can lower our environmental footprint and give New Zealand's milk a competitive edge," they said.

The couple, aged 38 and 35 years and with four children, is currently contract milking 450 cows for Craig and Marianne Hammond at Whakatane.

The Sparrows said their strengths were their personnel and their focus on profit over production.

"Focusing on profit increases your awareness of costs and stock requirements, ensuring stock are well cared for and in good condition. It also means we use existing resources to their full potential, especially pastures."

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The runner-up in the Share Farmer competition was 28-year-old Matt Barr, a percentage sharemilker milking 450 cows on his parents Whakatane farm. He won $5400 in prizes.

It is two out of two for the 2016 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, Thomas Chatfield.

In 2013 the former physiotherapist entered and won the region's Dairy Trainee of the Year title and went on to place second in the national competition. This year he has been successful in the region's Dairy Manager competition, winning $7750 in prizes.

Mr Chatfield, aged 30 years, said the awards gave him an opportunity to assess how he was progressing. He is the farm manager for Bruce and Judy Woods on their 500-cow Whakatane property and is also positioning himself for his next opportunity.

"My farming goal is to be ready with the cash to take on my next farming job whatever it may be - contract milking, 50% sharemilking or an equity partnership. I want to build my assets to one day own a farm."

The 2016 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year, Michael Simpson, is passionate about his dairy farming work and seeks to make a difference.

"I am always looking for ways that things on farm could be done better or easier and am always willing to try new things. I enjoy learning and gaining knowledge on all things farming related," Mr Simpson said.

The 20-year-old is currently second-in-charge on Eddie and Kath Lambert's 450-cow farm at Whakatane. He won $4550 in prizes.

Mr Simpson planned to progress to a manager's position within three years and then build a herd of his own. "I have already started to acquire animals to make this goal a reality."

Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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