Persistence pays off for manager

Persistence pays off for manager
Colin Tremain with the DeLaval Livestock Management Award at the NZ Dairy awards ceremony in Invercargill

Having chased the Dairy Manager of the Year title at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards for the past three years, Colin Tremain has taken out the title this year but says that goal now being achieved has left he and his wife a bit ‘up in the air’.
“I’ve been chasing the awards for three years and for that door to be closed, it’s almost a strange feeling,” he says.
“My wife and I are talking about what’s next for us and what we want to do now. We’re still up in the air at the moment.”
He says the award process changed the way he and Renee looked at setting their goals and direction, and looking at the achievements he has made he knows they will have value going forward, but that wasn’t his reason for entering.
“When I started out I wanted to benchmark myself against other managers in the region, then to see how far I could go in the award themselves. The personal development side of things, stopping and thinking about things, has been huge.”
As well as winning the Dairy Manager of the Year title, Colin took out the Dairy Hygiene, Feed Management and Personal Planning and Financial awards at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards.
He was runner up at the regional finals of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition, and also took out the DeLaval Livestock Management award at the national final. Colin is in a position on a farm that requires a lot of skill, innovation, and patience.
His role has grown with him since he started on the Tumunui Lands Trust farm at Rotorua as 2IC for sharemilker Matt Pepper four years ago.
In his first season the farm was milking 1700 cows through one shed, then in his second season a second shed was added and Colin was promoted to manager of one side of the farm with 700 cows to milk plus dry blocks to manage.
Halfway through the following season the other manager left, and Colin took over both cow sheds and all 1750 cows.
Colin had been working for Matt on a different farm the season prior to starting at Tumunui, and took the new job without seeing the farm.
“Every farm has its challenges, but there wouldn’t be many more complex than what we’re doing here,” he says. “It’s a steep farm, you can’t even ride a bike down some hills, let alone up them.”
One shed has 44% of its area able to be cultivated, while the other has 70%, and the dry block is about 30%.
As much as the contour means the cows work harder, on the hills Colin is stuck with browntop native grass, which has quantity or quality, but never both. Tumunui has been understocked this and last season with its 1750 cows.
Bringing cow numbers down and also milking once a day since mid-November 2016 has brought the empty rate back down to 11% this season, after a 19% empty rate last season. Per cow production has reach ed record quantities.
Cow numbers are set to increase back up to 1850 next season, which will help with the struggle to keep quality on the hills through the October and November flush of growth.
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