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Agriculture

Can do attitude pays off for Jaime

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Can do attitude pays off for Jaime
Southland Dairy Manager of the Year Jaime McCrostie placed third behind Gerard Boerjan (Hawke’s Bay-Wairarapa) and Will Green (Canterbury-North Otago) at the NZ Dairy Industry Awards.

Nobody was more surprised to hear that Jaime McCrostie had taken out the Dairy Manager of the Year title at the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards than her first employer: “He said that he vividly remembered a 14-yearold sitting on the edge of the platform saying ‘I hate cows but I like the money so I’ll keep doing it’.

He thought it was quite ironic to learn I had received the award,” says Jaime with a laugh.

Jaime not only took out the main title but also won half of the manager merit awards as well, including the McIntyre Dick & Partners Employee Engagement Award, Shand Thomson Leadership Award Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award and the DeLaval Livestock Management Award.

But it was not a straight-forward course into the dairy industry. Jaime grew up on a sheep farm in Southland and says that as a teenager it was not long before she realised she loved milking cows.

Her parents insisted she go to university so Jaime studied PE and teaching before heading back to complete three seasons as a dairy farm assistant and six months as second in charge. Just to make sure a dairy career was what she wanted there were stints in other jobs and volunteering overseas.

She also worked for 2 1/2 years as an AI technician and hoof trimmer before securing her present position as manager for employer Steve Smith and AB Lime near Winton.

She admits initially she wondered if she had bitten off more than she could chew: “I didn’t have much faith in my ability to do it by myself. But a really supportive environment changed that mindset. Steve is really encouraging. He’ll bluntly admit I was the applicant with the least amount of experience but it was my attitude that got me the job. I’m super organised and I didn’t try to make out I knew it all and was willing to learn and open to new ideas.”

Jaime manages a 374ha effective/453ha total farm peak milking a herd of 930 cows through an 80 bail rotary shed with automatic cup removers, Protrack, walk over weighing and inshed feeding system.

She also manages most of the young stock with R1s run on the platform and most of the R2s at a 50ha run off located nearby. The farm is unique in that it surrounds a lime quarry with one third of the farm in steep hills.

The herd is split into two with the young cows going up the hills. Jaime says health and safety requirements are particularly rigorous due to the dairy farm being part of the quarry business.

This is where her organisational skills and attention to detail really come to the fore. She has also been putting these skills to good use and is putting together a farm bible so that anybody could step onto the farm and be able to run it fairly quickly.

Jaime has just completed her second season as farm manager and says she has learned a lot.

“For example creating a team atmosphere so everyone feels valued and understands why they are an important part of the process to achieving the overall farm goals is important. When I first came here I was probably guilty of seeing staff as robots that do a job,” she says with a laugh.

“But I have really realised the importance of including everybody in as many decisions as possible and also identifying what gets them out of bed in the morning and what aspects of the job they are passionate about and putting the focus on that as much as possible.”

She says that her successes have shown her that she is on the right track: “Managing a farm is a time-consuming job and sometimes there is not a lot of work/life balance. So it’s definitely good to be recognised.”

Although Jamie is self-deprecating it is also apparent she is very determined and ambitious.

For example she first entered the awards just six months into the job. Although not successful it didn’t deter her from trying again.

Her next goals are an environmental project on the farm’s 63ha block of native bush and the farm will also take part in Dairy NZ’s partner farms project aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Her personal goal is an equity partnership and her advice for others is simple: “Have a supportive team around you who can give you that push when you need it. You have just got to back yourself, jump in the deep end and do it.”

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