Young farmers battle it out
These days, young farmers need to know how to do more than just ‘‘pulling tits in a cowshed’’ .
Eight contestants battled it out to be the best of the best in the Waikato/bay of Plenty region’s Young Farmers final in Te Awamutu on Saturday.
The winner was Richard French from Reporoa, who earned a spot in the grand final in July.
There were five dairy and three sheep farmers put through their paces, having already done an exam on Friday night. On Saturday they had eight modules to complete, including an HR interview before a quiz on Saturday night.
Waikato/bay of Plenty regional manager and judge James Bryan acknowledges there are many more career options within agriculture these days, so it’s important to expose upcoming industry leaders to those options.
‘‘Agriculture is more than pulling tits in a cowshed,’’ Bryan said.
‘‘Twenty years ago, they [competitors] would be out there doing a bit of ploughing or a bit of work with horses. These days we have HR modules as people leadership becomes more important. We have interviews where they talk about their involvement with technology on the farm.’’
Bryan had strict criteria he was marking on.
‘‘Health and safety is a major thing for us these days so, we want to make sure the competitors are being safe and are looking after the safety of others. We’re looking at the quality of workmanship, in terms of shearing, the quality of shearing. We’re looking for their knowledge of the products, knowledge of animals.
‘‘Every module is different and every contestant has a different level of skill depending on what the module is.
‘‘We have university graduates to guys who have been milking cows their whole life.
‘‘There are some who haven’t handled a sheep before. But at the same time, it’s about developing those contestants,’’ Bryan said.
One of those who hoped his lack of sheep handling wouldn’t hinder him was Waikato/piako representative Eion O’mahoney.
‘‘Being a dairy farmer, it’s a bit difficult.’’ There were a few tricky questions, but otherwise it’s kind of as expected - nothing too out of the ordinary.’’
The Young Farmer of the Year competition began in 1969.
Contestants built a bar leaner as one of their tasks in the Waikato/bay of Plenty Young Farmers regional final