New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Wairarapa/Hawke's Bay Winners' Field Day was held on the property of Andrew and Monica Arbuthnott, near Pahiatua on April 14.
Winners present were Share Farmers Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj, Dairy Manager Leon McDonald and Dairy Trainee Tony Craig, who faced a question and answer session by Abby Scott from Dairy NZ to start the day.
A convoy of utes did a tour of the farm to inspect cows in the paddocks and the feed system.
■ Tony Craig was born in Masterton and raised in Carterton on his parents' dairy farm. His favourite childhood memory was working on the farm with his siblings and parents.
He decided to go dairy farming after completing some agricultural courses. He chose between being a mechanic, a pilot or a dairy farmer - he chose the latter.
He started his new career working on the family farm for six months, then moving on to Pete Vollebergt's dairy farm with 290 cows in Featherston, where he worked as a farm assistant contract milking for Katie and Albert Van Dallen, "they taught me a lot", he said.
"Then it was on to an organic dairy farm as a 2IC for Shaun and Kirsty Rose with 400 cows. I found it quite interesting, all the different things we can do, it's not as scary as people probably think.
"I entered the contest last year, made it to the finals, but wanted to do better this year. The benefits of entering include a lot of encouragement to go forward and do new courses. I have already had two job offers.
"I enjoy in my spare time hunting and fishing. My short-term goal is to be in a 2IC role next season then look for a manager's position in two years' time. Then I want to go contract milking with my partner. My long-term goal is farm ownership for which I am keen.
■ Leon McDonald has been farming for 16 years, he left high school at the age of 16 and went straight into farming. He did a few courses to get kick-started.
"I've been 2IC for sharemilker Nick Bertram on a 450 cow farm at Papatawa, owned by Barry and Carol McNeill. My main responsibilities covered most aspects of the farm with all the team taking turns with roles to get experience on all parts of the farm, to understand what's going on," he said.
"You need drive and passion to do it, you need to commit to it. I didn't leave school till I had a job lined up for the season. I had the support of my parents and tutors from agricultural courses. I did Agriculture Level IIs two days a week on a farm and one day a week on a course in Palmerston North.
"This is the third year of entering the competition for me, being runner-up last year. I'm stubborn and didn't want to lose. It opened up my eyes to the wider picture of farming and to look deeper into what goes into the day-to-day running of a farm and to question more what's happening.
"It gives me a lot more trust in what I do in my decision making - I can get involved in discussions and have a say in what happens on the farm. Our team has been together for two years now, we know what each other's strengths and weaknesses are.
"My short term goal is to keep stability, I'm happy where we are. Long-term in three or four years I want to go contract milking and work up to 50/50 sharemilking.
"Regarding work/life balance, I work on a 10 day on, three day off roster, play rugby for Bush Senior B team and enjoy fishing.
"I entered the contest thinking I would give it a go. When you get feedback, it opens up your eyes. you are constantly learning, looking to how you can improve. You get to meet new people too," he said.
■ Brothers Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj were born in India where Manu finished an agricultural degree and worked for a fertiliser company for nine months. He came to New Zealand in 2010 to study horticulture for nine months.
"Then I decided to have a go at dairy farming, getting a job in 2011 on Andrew and Monica Arbuthnott's 285 cow Chessfield farm as farm assistant for six months, then being promoted to farm manager. I then changed to contract milking on the farm and with Sumit, we are now in the fourth year of 50/50 sharemilking on the same farm.
"Last year we started sharemilking on an additional farm, Windhoeak with 460 cows, owned by Geoff Arends and Ester Romp, we are in our second season now.
Sumit came over after Manu and gained a Diploma in Business Management in Tauranga. In 2012 he joined with Manu at Andrew and Monica Arbuthnott's farm.
The brothers' vision is to be ultimate farmers producing high-quality food that is valued and satisfying to produce. Their mission is: surrounding themselves with the right people. Educating themselves and the next generation. Supporting the community. Being passionate about they do. Using technology and being early adopters. Setting reasonable goals and incurring no bad debts.
Their business goals short-term are to pay off debt as quickly as possible. To be into farm ownership/equity partnership in two to three years, while keeping a share milking job or a bigger share milking job. Maximise the value of the herd through genetic gain, recording and production capability.
The brothers' long-term goal is to own multiple farms and set up an off-farm business.