Friday, 12 April 2019 11:20

Enjoyable workplace builds team relationships

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West Coast/Top of the South winners: from left, Jeffery Hawes, Thomas and Hannah Oats, and George King. West Coast/Top of the South winners: from left, Jeffery Hawes, Thomas and Hannah Oats, and George King.

A Hokitika couple have won Share Farmer of the Year in the 2019 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Thomas Oats and Hannah Oats are 50/50 sharemilkers on Stuart and Adrienne Coleman’s 83.5ha farm in Hokitika. They won $6500 in prizes and three merit awards. They were the region’s Farm Managers of the Year in 2015.

It was their third entry in the awards. “We love what we do and work well together,” he said.

“Entering the awards gives us the opportunity to meet like-minded people.”

They aim to own a farm and are proud of owning well looked-after stock.

“One strength of our business is our low break-even point due to low costs and a good income from relief milking, Air BnB and Hannah’s extra work as an AI technician,” said Thomas.

“Our enjoyable work environment is good for building our team and business.  The cows’ well-being always comes first.”

The awards are sponsored by DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian, Ravensdown, Westpac, DairyNZ and Primary ITO.

Working two farms

Runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year were Jamie and Felicity Thomas, aged 37 and 40 respectively. 

The couple are 50/50 sharemilkers for Mark and Julie Freeman on two properties -- a 140ha, 380-cow farm and a 112ha, 300-cow farm, both at Atapo. 

Dairy Manager of the Year category winner was George King who is the farm manager for Alex and Julie King’s 103ha Westport property, milking 274 cows.

The Dairy Trainee of the Year, Jeffrey Hawes (23), is a first-time entrantand a farm assistant on the 449ha, 860-cow Landcorp property in Moana. 

The West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on April 15 at 10.30am at 1462 Kaniere Kowhitirangi Road, Hokitika.

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