Job satisfaction among the birds

Bill Hamilton - Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year. By Elaine Fisher.

Bill Hamilton

“One of my favourite animals is the stoat because they are physiologically so cool, but unfortunately they don’t belong here, so I have got to kill them,” the 2023 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year says.

Employed by Andrew and Vicky Booth as farm assistant on Richard and Sharon Booth’s 395-cow, 174-hectare property at Titoki, Bill’s roles include setting and checking possum and mustelid traps.

“We have some nice pockets of bush and in the past three years have caught well over 500 pests. It’s so good to see the birds thriving including bittern and the kereru pair which have nested in the tree outside my farmhouse.

“It’s cool to have bosses who see that it’s important to be farming profitably and look after the place at the same time.”

Billl (24), who won $7250 in prizes and two merit awards, has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science majoring in agriculture from Massey University.

“What I learnt at uni gives me a lot of job satisfaction because I have a basic knowledge to build on including understanding why we are doing things such as break-feeding a paddock to budget pasture and manage residuals and how that impacts on regrowth.”

The last year of study, 2020, was impacted by Covid lockdowns and Bill says while learning remotely was challenging, it fostered good self-discipline and time management skills as well as the ability to take part in and learn in different ways including webinars and Zoom conferences.

While at university, Bill suffered a life-changing injury.

“I had played rugby for 16 years and had two head knocks, the last one was pretty bad. I have very vague memories of the six months after the injury and for the first six weeks struggled to tie my shoelaces. I still have symptoms now; mainly fatigue.

“It was not rugby’s fault but one of those things you learn to deal with. I’m luckier than many people who have had a head injury, and pleased to be able to do most things in life again.”

The referee at the game, Bill’s team, friends, family, the university and the medical profession took his injury seriously and he had the help and support he needed to recover.

“The experience also knocked my mental health around a bit. I was trying to get back to what life was like before but that’s not completely achievable. I think I’m a better person for it as it made me look at myself, what makes me tick and what’s really important.”

Bill’s farming goals include progressing to herd manager within the next 12 months before deciding whether to continue the path to share milking or take up a rural professional role.