Motivated to succeed

Brayden Johnston - Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. By Anne Lee.

Brayden Johnston is taking every opportunity he can, eagerly learning on and off farm, growing both his practical and technical skills while at the same time reaching out and networking in the sector he’s excited to be making a career in.

The 22-year-old is this year’s Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year and works as a dairy assistant on Dairy Six on the Woodstock property, near Oxford, that’s part of the larger Turner family owned Rakaia Island enterprise.

The 1450-cow dairy unit is run by Brayden’s employer, contract milker Tom Turner. Brayden is also completing a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University – initially as a full-time student and a DairyNZ scholar and now largely online.

Brayden is from Southland where his parents sharemilk two neighbouring properties totalling 900-cows and are part of an equity partnership which owns one of the properties.

“My aim is to go back and be involved in the family business.

“Dairying and the different structures dairy farm businesses can operate under offer so many opportunities and options,” he says.

“It’s an amazing industry to be part of.”

Part way through completing his bachelor’s degree at Lincoln, Brayden’s Mum was diagnosed with a form of multiple sclerosis and he stepped away from full time study, instead now working full time onfarm in Canterbury and completing the study part time. He says he’s strongly motivated to build his capabilities so he can take on responsibilities and add value to the family business enabling his parents to take a step back in the future. The Bachelor of Agriculture is a broad degree that’s given him in-depth knowledge in a wide range of subjects applicable to farming, he says.

He’s particularly enjoyed animal science.

“It’s also given me a lot of skills in report writing and built my literacy in that area so I am pretty confident now that I can communicate and report on a wide range of farm management topics.

“That’s going to be a benefit when it comes to communicating with rural professionals or reporting information to others such as shareholders.

“The degree has also helped me build some good Excel skills which allow me to do analysis on different scenarios.”

Brayden says his job at Rakaia Island’s Woodstock properties has been a great opportunity for a lot of learning too.

His role initially centred on milking and helping identify animal health issues such as lameness or udder health problems.

More recently he’s been able to take on further responsibilities with a once-a-day milking herd.

“I’ve been able to do farm walks and learn more about the pasture management aspects – I’ve had great guidance and everyone is so willing to share their knowledge.”

He’s had a similar experience with the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Being able to interact with sector leaders at the awards, meet other entrants and engage with the judges had been hugely rewarding, he says.

“I’ve been soaking it all up through the whole experience.”

Runner-up was Abby Cook, with Hamish Kidd third.