Elaine Fisher

Alex Sainty, who grew up in urban Paraparaumu, thought farming might be a good career choice, but no one was willing to give the inexperienced teenager a milking job.

“So I spent six months at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre to find out if I did like farming, and to get some experience. Then I was offered a full-time job in the Waikato,” the 21-year-old says, who is the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Alex, who won $5250 in prizes and two merit awards, is now assistant manager for Peter Overdevest and Tania Akehurst on their 390-cow, 132-hectare Galatea farm.

“Dairy farming has allowed me the chance to prove myself. I thought farming would suit me because I like to be constantly on the move and I really enjoy working with animals. Now I love being able to work outdoors and with such amazing animals. The cows really do become your ‘beast’ friends.

“I also wanted to do something that had a diverse range of work and provided a lot of opportunities to progress. Dairy farming does that,” Alex says.

“I’d encourage young people not to limit what they want to do in life – don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything.”

Alex first entered the dairy awards after just four months in the industry as an 18-year-old. He entered again last year and was placed third in the 2018 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee category.

“That made me determined to win this year. Entering the awards has enabled me to test my knowledge and understand my strengths and weaknesses and work on them. I have proven to myself that I am more capable and confident than I believed.”

He won the community and industry involvement award for his participation in events at the local squash club and RSA.

“I’d also love to belong to a young farmer’s club but the nearest one is a 50-minute drive away.”

Alex says completing Level 3 Primary ITO courses and learning from his boss has significantly enhanced his farming knowledge.

“My boss explains why he does things on the farm and what the expected outcomes are, so that’s helped with my understanding.”

The Galatea farm didn’t dry out until February this year. “Then the rain just stopped, and things went brown. We went to once-a-day milking in the beginning of February and the cows have done well up until then,” Alex says. He has also enjoyed the more relaxing schedule than twice-a-day milking.

Alex has been largely responsible for the day-to-day running of the farm, with the help of a casual worker for milking and calf-rearing, all of which has helped hone his farming knowledge and self-confidence.

He is moving “just five minutes up the road” to an 1100-cow property where he will be the junior farm manager, working alongside a contract milker for the 2020/2021 season.

“In two years I’d like to be a contract milker and within 10 years be sharemilking. Buying a herd costs quite a lot of money but it can be done if you work hard.”


Bay of Plenty Regional Council Farming Knowledge Award, Pioneer Brand Products Community and Industry Involvement Award – Alex Sainty

Bay of Plenty DIA Communication and Engagement Award, DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Justin Bell