Words by Sheryl Haitana

The winner of the 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year category almost gave up farming last year because he was working too much and not having enough time for his young family.
Hayden Goodall and his wife Chelsea have three children, Amelia, 9, Lilla, 5, and Lincoln, 2 and time with their children is precious.
“We didn’t have the work/life balance where it should be and we talked about giving up farming and going down another route.”
Getting the opportunity to return to manage the farm for Matt and Laura Gow at Matata, where Hayden started his dairy career, was what kept him in farming.
“We know what this farm is like so we jumped at the opportunity. It’s good to come back to a high quality farm and enjoy farming and milking cows again.”
Hayden is milking 700 cows with three other fulltime staff, which is probably 0.5 labour unit more than a typical operation, he says.
“People probably would think we are overstaffed, but it allows everyone to have support and if a day turns to crap then there is always yourself and two others onfarm.”
It helps to look after staff well and ensure everyone has plenty of time off and is well rested during their rosters.
From calving until September they typically do an 8 on/2 off roster, and then switch to a 12 on/2 off roster, with everyone getting a sleep in and an afternoon off every week.

From labouring to farming

Prior to entering the dairy industry seven years ago, Hayden was in a labouring job and wanted to pursue a career to create a brighter future for his family.
“I had no prior background in farming and began as a farm assistant in 2014 and progressed to second in charge (2IC) over the next four years,” he says.
“We left this farm to manage a 500-cow property and have found our way back to where it all started to manage this awesome property.”
Hayden is proud of how much he has learned and grown as a person, going from a city boy to a farm manager in four seasons.
“I’ve been able to set personal targets to create a brighter future and explore new and greater possibilities for myself and my family.”
Hayden also won the 2017 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year. He believes the Awards helped him to communicate, develop his self-esteem and self-confidence and increase his farming knowledge.
“On a relational level, the Awards helped me make connections and network with other farms throughout the country and develop close connections with farmers and rural professionals in my own region,” he says.
Getting feedback from the judges on your operation and what your strengths and weaknesses are is hugely beneficial,but the people you connect with has been the biggest win out of being a part of the Awards, he says.
Entering as a Dairy Manager has helped open up cans of worms on certain areas of the operation you normally wouldn’t look at, he says. For Hayden, they have high value genetics in the herd that are producing about 94% liveweight to milk solids.
His goal is to maximise the efficiency of the cows in their DairyNZ System 3 operation by tweaking a few decisions at certain times of the year. The feedback from judges helps highlight those potential changes and the opportunity to do that.

Positive exposure

After the whirlwind of a year with Covid-19 in 2020, it was awesome to see the agricultural industries being recognised as big providers for New Zealand and its economy, says Hayden.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of and it’s great for the dairy industry to get some positive exposure.”
Hayden identifies finding a work/life balance as a huge challenge. He and his wife Chelsea have three daughters and trying to find time to spend with family, personal interests and keep on top of day-to-day running of the farm is a perpetual challenge.
“Over the past seven years I’ve had to learn and grow in an industry totally unfamiliar to me,” says Hayden.
“Every job has its ups and downs but tomorrow is a new day and job satisfaction outweighs those harder times,” he says. “Call it character building with light always at the end of the tunnel.”
“I’m grateful for my supportive wife and wonderful family unit – they have made the challenges doable and all play a huge role in helping me overcome times when I have been stressed and fatigued.”
Chelsea, who has a Social Work Degree has also completed Primary ITO Diploma in Agribusiness, is the calf rearer and Human Resources manager onfarm.
Hayden and Chelsea are going contract milking for Matt and Laura next season and they are grateful to have that opportunity to step into self employment on such a high quality farm.
“It’s a great place to do it, the kids are really happy here. We sat down and made sure it would work for both parties.”
Eventually the couple hope to gain equity and reach their goals of sharemilking and owning a runoff.
“We have a wonderful future ahead of us in the dairy industry.”

Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager Merit Awards

Bay of Plenty DIA Most Promising Entrant – Brendan Teka
BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Hayden Goodall
The Business Results Group Ltd t/a Stem Rural Accountants Leadership Award – Hayden Purvis
Vetora Bay of Plenty Feed Management Award – Hayden Purvis
DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Hayden Goodall
Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Thomas Houston
MyMilk Power Play Award – Thomas Houston
Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award – Hayden Goodall