Personal challenge a success

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Peter O'Connor set himself a personal challenge, which saw him named a New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year finalist.

Mayfield dairy trainee Peter O’Connor was named the winner of the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year at an awards ceremony last week in Ashburton.

He is currently second in charge on Leighton and Michelle Pye’s 242ha, 900-cow Mayfield property.

The first-time entrant entered the awards programme to challenge himself and see how he compared with other people at a similar stage in their dairy career.

The 23-year-old grew up on a dairy farm near Westport and was actively involved in the family farm and its development. He obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (First Class Honours) from Lincoln University and worked a variety of jobs during holidays.

“I worked as a silage contractor, an Australian harvest in Victoria, sheep and beef work in Otago and relief milking during term time at university,” Peter said.

“After graduating at the end of 2020, I went silage contracting for another season before beginning my current role.

Peter believes the new technology being developed to make dairy farming better across many different measures will make the dairy industry more efficient and even more competitive on a global scale.

“In the future I want to embrace technology where possible to make my business a better place to work and be more profitable.”

Peter is frustrated by the negative way the dairy industry is portrayed in mainstream media.

“They make examples out of the worst 5%, which spoil it for the majority,” he said.

Peter is proud that he placed third in the 2022 Aorangi Young Farmer of the Year. Future farming goals include farm ownership and he’s keeping his options open to work out the best pathway to do that.

“I am currently on the Grassroots Dairy Management Graduate programme and am always looking for ways to further my knowledge and put me in a better position to progress through the industry,” he said.

“Next season I will be managing a 400-cow farm near Lauriston which I’m really excited about. I hope I can continue to learn and put myself in a position to take my next step when the right opportunity presents itself.”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was Ashburton farm assistant Leilani Lobb. The assistant manager/second in charge works on the New Zealand Rural Property Trust 180ha 700-cow farm at Ashburton.

Leilani Lobb

Leilani, 22, was brought up on a dairy farm and holds a Bachelor of Agriculture through Lincoln University. The first-time entrant entered the awards programme to meet new connections and test her skills and knowledge.

She is moving to a contract milking position next season and wants to create a sustainable operation that will be fit for future rules and regulations.

prominent in our farming systems.

George Lysaght-Dodson, 20, of Lincoln was third. He works as 2IC for Tony Dodunski on his 180ha Lincoln property, milking 650 cows.