When Upper Takaka dairy farmer Robert Rosser accompanied his young farm assistant/2IC, Sam Goffriller, to the recent West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards dinner he had a feeling Sam might do pretty well.
When the announcement came that Sam had won, Robert says he felt ‘absolutely stoked’ for Sam and proud that all the hard work had paid off.
Sam started working on the farm three years ago as a 19 year old. Robert says he arrived knowing the basics but, more importantly, he brought initiative, a good work ethic and a very positive attitude.
Always on time, always asking questions, wanting to go forward and not sitting in cruise mode typified Sam’s attitude from day one.
“We just kept showing him more things and he just kept building his skills up,’ says Robert.
“We showed him how to use Protrack’s Minda App, tractor work and feeding out. You only needed to show him once and he didn’t forget.”
Robert’s belief in Sam’s ability was demonstrated last spring when Robert underwent back surgery and Sam effectively ran the farm, doing much of the Minda work.
Peak milking 550 kiwi-cross cows off 165ha in two herds, 400 older girls are milked twice a day while 150 2 and 3 year olds are typically milked once a day from around Christmas because they have further to walk and their paddocks are not irrigated.
In consultation with Robert, Sam was making good decisions on pastoral management while Robert was unable to work.
“Now, Sam looks after the main herd. Once a week he goes around the farm and works out where the cows have to go. I just run my eye over it. Now and again I might change a paddock but if I change anything, I’ll give him a reason so he under-stands why. He always accepts the feedback.”
Robert says that because he and his team carry out much of the work often undertaken by contractors, such as fencing, mowing, carting and spraying, Sam has developed a good practical knowledge and skill level in doing those things.
Sam is currently completing his Level 5 AgITO; further evidence of his commitment to farming.
Robert makes a point of asking Sam what he has learned, discussing how and why things might be done differently on his farm.
“Without knocking what he’s learned, it provides Sam with a different perspective, showing that there is more than one way of doing things.” Robert says Sam’s learning over the three years has been mutual.
As well as learning about the latest and newest techniques taught at ITO during discussions with Sam, it has also given Robert confi dence that there are still young people who want to work.
With the pride in knowing that he has been a part of Sam’s learning journey, Robert says that Sam will be going to a farm with a larger herd at the start of next season, predicting he will be managing his own farm in the next year or two.
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