Karen Trebilcock

The 2020 Otago/Southland Dairy Trainee of the Year has only worked full time on a dairy farm since June 2019.

Nikayla Dodd, 24, studied vet nursing and to be a vet technician at SIT in Invercargill and then went on to work at Combined Veterinary Services in Gore.

At the same time she was relief milking in the weekends for Andrew and Catherine McGregor on their 160-hectare Gore property which has 420 cows.

“I loved my weekends so much. On Mondays I just wanted to be back on the farm so when Andrew offered me a full-time job as a farm assistant last year I took it.”

At the end of March she watched the awards online with her partner Shaun Goble, a sharemilker at Tisbury, who had helped coach her through the competition.

“I was super shocked when my name was called out. We were both pretty excited.”

It was a busy few weeks for Nikayla. As well as going into lockdown with the rest of the country because of Covid-19, she started a new job as 2IC at Dacre milking 560 cows for Brayden and Nicole Kyle.

“It’s a bigger farm with more cows and more opportunities for me to grow.

“Every day is different. I really love that. Today we were putting out balage on the crop paddocks for wintering and tomorrow there will be milking and the next day something different.

“And I love being able to work outside. There are a lot of people shut inside at the moment with the lockdown so I think I’m pretty lucky.”

Nikayla’s parents have a sheep and beef farm near Gore and she grew up “being dad’s sidekick” on the farm.

With some more experience she hopes to become a farm manager and then step up to contract or sharemilking in a few years.

She has enrolled in a level 3 dairying paper with Primary ITO which is to start soon.

“I suppose I’ll still be able to do it with the lockdown.”

She’s hoping the national awards, now delayed, won’t be in the middle of calving in the south.

“We didn’t get to dress up for the regional awards, we missed out on that, so hopefully the national awards won’t be too close to calving and I’ll be able to go.”

Question: Why did you want to work on a dairy farm?

Answer: Every day is different. I really love that.

Runner-up was 19-year-old Woodlands Farm Assistant Jakeb Lawson who works on Eoin and Jayne McKenzie’s 300ha, 700-cow farm. Third place went to 22-year-old 2IC Josh Cochrane who works for Roddy MacInnes on his 140ha, 520-cow farm in Winton.

Dairy trainee merit awards:

DairyNZ practical skills award – Nikayla Dodd

MilkMap farming knowledge award – Josh Cochrane

AWS most promising entrant award – Nicole Barber

Advance Agriculture communication and engagement award – Nicole Coulter

Agricentre South community and industry involvement award – Krishan Ranui and Dick Karetai