The willingness of farmers to share their knowledge is one of the reasons a young Taranaki award-winner loves the dairy industry.
Ben Frost, who won the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year title, works on the 130ha Upper Glenn Rd farm of James Murphy, near Kapuni.
Murphy, who won the 2007 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year title with sister and brother-in-law Catherine and Chris Cook, said he was proud of Frost's achievements and believed the 21-year-old's attitude and willingness to learn gave him a big future in the dairy industry.
Frost, who loves farming and being in the outdoors, is progressing to a farm manager's position in June on Murphy's 450-cow split calving farm where he is currently second in charge and in the midst of calving 200 cows.
A member of Waimate West Young Farmers at Manaia, he says the organisation provides awesome networks with people with a similar mindset and who want to share ideas, stories and knowledge.
He also takes part in DairyNZ discussion groups which he sees as another opportunity to create contacts. "It's a good network and an opportunity to meet other farmers.
"What I love about the dairy industry is there are so many people willing to help and to pass on their knowledge."
He said the contest, which he also entered last year when he made the finals, was a great way to promote himself.
"The awards provide opportunities to network with other farmers, to practise for job interviews and are a great personal challenge."
This year he won the New Zealand Dairy Exporter Farming Knowledge Award. "Success in the competition is a good confidence booster," he said.
Focused on progressing in the industry, he intends to start building his own herd later this year. "I'm continually assessing my goals because I'm open to any opportunities that might come along."
Within five years, he hopes to be sharemilking a large herd or to be part of an equity partnership that owns a farm, and to progress to 50/50 sharemilking within 10 years as he works towards farm ownership.
The high-input Murphy farm, which has a 54-bail rotary cowshed, produces 1800kg MS/ha. Production in the 2011-12 season was 234,000kg MS.
The cows' intake of 18kg DM/day includes maize, palm kernel expeller, fodder beet, silage and turnips. "It's very dry at the moment, so they're not getting much grass," Frost said.
This season's production target is 240,000kg milksolids (MS). Last week production had reached 195,000kg MS, 10,000kg MS ahead of last season. "I think we'll meet the target, but it's quite weather-dependent."
Now in his second season on the farm, he's nearing completion of his apprenticeship through the Primary ITO. He's been in the dairy industry for three years and worked on a farm at Lepperton in his first season.
He spent his early childhood in Huirangi, near Waitara, before the family went dairy farming in Southland. As a former boarder at New Plymouth Boys' High School's Carrington House, he was disappointed to learn the hostel might have to be demolished because it's been deemed an earthquake risk.
Frost will join the other 10 regional winners vying for the national dairy trainee title on a two-day study tour before next month's final of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.
"I'd love to bring the trophy home to Taranaki," he said.
- Taranaki Daily News