Proud to be a dairy farmer

Jay Arifin - Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year. By Sheryl Haitana.

Winner of the 2023 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year competition, Mohammad (Jay) Arifin, came from a farming background in Indonesia before arriving in New Zealand in 2008.

He worked on a dairy farm for five years in Indonesia and has progressed up the ladder since moving to NZ and has been farm manager since 2014.

“I began at the bottom of my career in NZ and have had good support and progression opportunities from my employer,” he says.

“I’m proud of where I am in my current role.”

He works on the Wairarapa Moana Incorporation’s Mangakino 289ha property, milking 1055 cows.

“Farming is my passion, and I love being onfarm and seeing my cows healthy and happy. Especially looking after big numbers of stock.

“What I love the most is when I see my cows are looking great so I am able to see the outcome of my work.”

Having a happy team is a big part of having healthy and happy cows, he says.

“Having a good dynamic and communication in the team is one of the keys for me, also having a clear plan in place for feeding and animal health throughout the season is really useful.”

The 42-year-old is proud of his achievements in the Wairarapa Moana Awards over the past few years, including: Dairy Unit of the Year, Nga Tangata (Developing People), Financial, Values and Farm Pride and winner of Whakamaru School biggest bull calves competition for three consecutive years. This is his first time entering the Dairy Industry Awards. He entered to gain more experience and be involved with the wider dairy industry.

“I gained a lot from entering the awards, the experience with the judging process and meeting knowledgeable and professional people in the industry,

“I’ve been able to benchmark myself which makes me feel confident toward my future in dairy farming and it’s helped me grow.”

He won three merit awards, including the DeLaval Livestock Management Award, Fonterra Dairy Management Award and Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd Personal Planning & Financial Management Award.

The farm has automation in the farm dairy which helps with livestock management, Jay says. “The technologies help me to get the job done properly and efficiently, monitoring stock performance, to minimise the errors or mistakes and help maximise stock performance.”

Sticking to a budget is a big part of being a good farm manager and Jay checks his budget against the monthly financial reports.

“To make sure I stick to budget, I review what I have done, minimise mistakes and also make sure the budget is in line with the actual.”

Jay has four other full time staff he manages on the farm. The responsibility of managing staff and a large operation drives him every day.

“I like seeing my staff grow and improve. I’ve had people who can’t drive a tractor when they start work. If people want to grow in the industry I like being a mentor to them and transferring my knowledge.”

During challenging times onfarm he tries to have patience and stay motivated to achieve his goals.

“I always try to do my best to get my job done. Everything in dairy farming is my favourite. Working outdoors with my stock and producing good quality milk product for the world make me proud to be a dairy farmer.”

He has always challenged himself to succeed and keep stepping up in the dairy industry and is currently doing the Level 5 Farm Management Diploma through Primary ITO.

“One of my biggest challenges was the process to upskill myself to get where I am now. To get through those, keep learning and love what I am doing.

“I have had a lot of support from people around me who I met and worked with since I started in dairy farming 15 years ago. My employer takes a part of my development and gives me an opportunity to improve.

“I just want to thank to Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, especially to Kingi Smiler as chairman who has been giving me plenty of opportunities to progress.”

His next goal is to go sharemilking or move into an operations manager role.

Runner-up: Gavin Humphrey, Mangakino. Third: Ben Purua, Tirau.