West Coast Dairy Award Winners

Published date13 April 2022
Publication titleWest Coast Farming Times, The
Lisa Peeters of Hokitika was named the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year, and Kevin and Kyla Freeman of Nelson won the Share Farmer of the Year category

Robyn Mare says she is proud to be a New Zealand dairy farmer producing a quality product in the most environmentally sustainable way.

Robyn won $6500 in prizes and two merit awards and is farm manager for Rob and Michelle Little on their 155ha, 310-cow Greymouth property.

A former property valuer for QV Valuations, Robyn entered the dairy industry full-time in 2017 as a farm assistant.

"I love cows and being outdoors in the elements working hard physically and mentally," she says. "I enjoy working with machinery but mostly it's all about the cows which are beautiful, gentle animals."

A second-time entrant in the awards, Robyn, 43, says the programme encouraged her to think about her future and plan to progress in the industry.

"I'm going contract milking next year and I'd like to eventually be in a position to buy my own herd."

Robyn identifies confidence as her biggest challenge. "My husband Vince isn't farming and I have two sons Troy (16) and Regan (14), so taking the steps up in progression has been hard on my own."

"I'm heading to a contract milking position and the Awards programme, Primary ITO courses and a great employer where I work now have helped a lot."

"I love this job," says Robyn. "A bad day on the farm is still better than a good day in the office."

Robyn is proud she's in a position where she is confidently running the day-to-day farming operation and of improving postcalving animals' health and general wellbeing.

"One of the strengths of this business is that the cows are treated top-notch, they're relaxed, well-fed and not stressed at all," she says. "I have lots of pet cows waiting for cuddles!"

Robyn also identifies staff training and support and encouragement from her farm's owners as a strength. "Rob's encouraging and approachable which helps hugely for learning."

Robyn would love to improve public perception of the dairy industry starting with school children.

"We need to let them all see what we have achieved so far and continue toward improving sustainability, animal welfare and employment practices.

"We need to encourage our youth to see dairy farming as an attractive future career."

Runner-up in the Dairy Manager category was Coenraad Jacobus Groenewald, who immigrated to New Zealand in 2016 from South Africa, when he entered the dairy industry.

"I was...

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