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Top trainee strives to be the best

Tom O'Leary Oct 10
Top trainee strives to be the best
Daniel Waterhouse holds the silverware after being named Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year.

When Daniel Waterhouse’s Primary ITO tutor Pip Howard suggested that he and his partner Jessie McLeish enter the Dairy Industry Trainee Awards for their Northland Region they agreed.

They figured that if nothing else they’d work out what they did and didn’t know and learn more about the industry in general.

Two rounds of interviews and practical challenges later it turns out they both knew more than enough to get by: Jessie won the Bryant Tractors Most Promising Entrant Award, while Daniel walked away with the Northland Fielddays’ Farming Knowledge Award, the Building and Fire Services Community and Industry Involvement Award, the Dairy NZ Practical Skills Award, and to top it all off he took out first place in the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

They’ve put the combination of vouchers and cash prizes to good use.

“The money’s allowed us to buy what we need, like a suit and tie, for the big finals in Wellington.”He may only be 23 but Daniel already has a lot of farming experience under his belt.

“I’ve basically been farming since I was five,” he explains, “when I was out there with Dad working on his sheep and beef farm.”

After he left school with NCEA level 2 Daniel did a lot of fencing with his Dad up in Waimamuku where the family farm is, and where he also started doing a bit of relief milking.

“That’s when I met my partner so I decided to take a job in Whangarei to be near her but when my appendix burst I had to come back home. I ended up fencing and relief milking again until this year when we both got full-time jobs with West Coast Dairy as farm a ssistants.” While Daniel really only went into dairy farming to be near his partner he fell in love with it immediately.

“It’s a lot more hands on with the animals, every day you’re with them, and I love the breeding side of it. Being able to see what cow had what calf and following them right through is pretty interesting. I like the idea of being able to get a better cow each season with the traits you want.”

At the same time as they help with the day-to-day milking, tractor work, irrigation and twice a year calving they’re both enjoying the chance to be studying and learning the theory behind what they’re doing.

With the Level Three Animal Husbandry course completed by the end of the season they’ve decided to move on from their current position at West Coast Dairy’s Ltd. farm.

Next season they’ll be in Kerikeri, on Marsden farm, where Jessie will be farm assistant and Daniel will take the step up to herd manager.

“So my goal is to be the best herd manager I can and learn as much as I can and we both really appreciate that Grant and Danielle will be allowing us to become apprentices on Marsden farm to complete our future primary ITO courses.”

Daniel’s a firm believer in the benefit of learning the theory to support what he’s doing on the farm.

“Basically everything we’ve done on the theory side I’ve been asked to use practically on the farm. Like when the cows get mastitis we have to treat the cow and write it all up which we learn how to do on the course so it all matches up.”

So far Daniel’s year is shaping up well as he works to move through the ranks with one clear goal in mind.

“Ultimately I want to own a dairy farm in Waimamaku where Mum and Dad still have their sheep and beef farm.”

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