New to dairy farming, Jess Moore was horrified when she found out she had to work on Christmas Day.

"I knew nothing about dairy farming. I didn't know you milked cows twice a day and I only figured out you had to milk them on Christmas Day in December so had to call mum and tell her we wouldn't be home for Christmas" she said.

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Now well entrenched and happy in the dairy industry Jess, her husband Don and their young family of two boys Harry and Lachie and daughter Violet feature as the fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network visual story telling project, Our People. Their Stories.


After leaving school Don worked as a deep sea fisherman off the coast of Nelson while Jess worked in a pharmacy.

Soon she wanted to see more of her "imaginary boyfriend" said Jess.

The fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project,
The fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project, "Our People. Their Stories." features Jess Moore, her husband Don and their children Harry, Lachie and Violet. Photo / Supplied

"I told him to get a job where he'd be around more and he said the only job he wanted was to be a dairy farmer in Southland, so here we are".

Between 2008 and 2010 the couple managed 850 cows on Benio Dairy for an absentee lower-order sharemilker.

They were looking for the next opportunity and recognised the Dairy Industry Awards could help them progress, so they entered - and won the 2010 Manager of the Year title for Southland.

Their employers concluded their position on Benio Dairy and the position was offered to the couple.

This gave the Moores the opportunity to introduce themselves to staff recruitment and business management while staying on the same farm.

As a result they were able to continue to strive for the goals they had set with the farm owners, the Cunningham's.


To continue their growth and career, they approached the Cunningham's about the opportunity to enter a 50/50 sharemilking agreement milking 1000 cows, which they accepted.

Watch Jess's story below:

The Moore's entered the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards in 2013 winning both the Southland and National Titles in the Sharemilker section while also picking up the human resources, farm environment and the business performance merit national awards as well.

Don joined Dairy Holdings Ltd as the Southland/West Otago farm supervisor in 2015.

The position started with seven dairy farms and a grazing block, and grew during this time by two further dairy farms via a purchase and a conversion.

The Moores star in the fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project,
The Moores star in the fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project, "Our People. Their Stories." Photo / Supplied

They successfully leased a dairy farm in an equity partnership and wrapped that up in June 2018 while also managing another contract milking position.

After almost nine years of marriage and three children the couple purchased their own farm northeast of Gore in June last year.

"After realising this farming thing was a 365 day a year job it really has been quite a journey so far, and we know there's much more to come" said Jess.

Dairy Women's Network CEO Jules Benton said there was still one more story to come in the current Our People. Their Stories. series with the potential for more in 2020.

Listen to Rowena Duncum's interview with Jules Benton on The Country Early Edition:

Inspired by Jess and Don's journey, Benton wanted to share their story as it demonstrated the couple's commitment and passion for the dairy industry.

"They have been so focused and goal-orientated [and] this has seen them achieve so much, including farm ownership at a young age - showing just what can be done when you have clear goals and determination" said Benton.

The Moores star in the fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project,
The Moores star in the fourth episode of the Dairy Women's Network project, "Our People. Their Stories." Photo / Supplied

The Moore's story also illustrated how they took every opportunity to immerse themselves in dairy farming, from a learning and leadership perspective, as well as their drive and determination to purchase their own farm.

"At Dairy Women's Network we do what we love and love what we do, so seeing families like Jess and Don's seizing opportunities and enhancing themselves and their business is extremely satisfying".

Jess is a Dairy Women's Network regional leader and part of its annual conference workshop committee.

"I wanted a tribe to keep me safe and secure and let me grow as myself. And these ladies get it; we're all the same and that's what I love about Dairy Women's Network" she said.