Setting high standards, hard work continue to pay off for Collingwood farm manager
Driven, particular and setting high standards are what define Clay Paton’s approach to his farming career.
But, he says, those positive attributes can also be his weakness—he is, all said and done, human.
“I will put a lot on my plate, expecting the highest of myself in all categories and it can be hard to achieve all of that sometimes. That’s where I will lean on my wife, Joy. She keeps me grounded and tells me it will be OK, it’s not the end of the world.
In the five seasons that Clay has been dairy farming, his career has been punctuated with achievements both in career progression and Dairy Industry awards.
Working on farms in the Tasman region, Clay progressed from farm assistant, to 2IC, to manager in the space of three years, and in 2017 was named National Dairy Trainee of the Year.
Not one to let the dust settle, this year Clay was a finalist in the Dairy Farm Manager Awards and won the PAMU Farms Employee Engagement Award.
Clay says that while the trainee awards were about what you bring to the table from a personal perspective – your goals, aspirations and personal skills – the Farm Manager Award is a lot more about the system and farm you are working on and how the different aspects and challenges of the farm are managed.
“There have been huge benefits. It was a very cool way of making sure I was running the farm the best way I could and improving systems along the way. It enabled me to reflect on why and how I did things, researching how I could improve things.”
“Networking has been another huge benefit—connecting with industry sponsors and professionals. That has been vital in building relationships and industry connections. Through involvement in the awards people can see that you are driven and they want to help you.”
Expressing a passion for working on the land, Clay says operating the farm in an economical, environmental and aesthetic way is important to his farming approach.
“Making a difference on all the farms I’ve worked on has been a key to success. The farms’ owners have shown me a lot of appreciation, wanting to help me because I worked hard for them.”
With two young children, providing a lifestyle for his family is another key ingredient in his love for farm life.
“To be able to come home for breakfast and lunches with the family, take the kids out on the farm for different tasks that we’re doing, that’s pretty special.”
Clay is currently managing a 220ha, 620-cow property just out of Collingwood in Golden Bay owned by Brent and Michelle Riley.
Next season, Clay and Joy will take up a contract milking role on the same farm – reward for Clay’s hard work.
While Joy’s role is first and foremost a mum, next year she will take more of a part time role on the farm and also help Clay with the business side of the operation.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Motueka Farm Machinery Ltd