By Kent Weston-Arnold

The team at DairyNZ recently caught up with a leading young Waikato farmer in our Talking Dairy podcast.

Twenty-three-year-old Jimmy Cleaver won the 2022 Auckland Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year at the Dairy Industry Awards, and also received our DairyNZ People and Leadership award.

Jimmy manages a 360-cow farm in Rangiriri in the Waikato and owns 66 cows in the herd he leases to farm owner Grant Clune.

Creating a good workplace and enabling his two staff and himself to enjoy a good lifestyle, is a focus for Jimmy. He recommends finding out what your team enjoys doing most onfarm, then encouraging them to build their knowledge. Jimmy focuses on easing staff into difficult tasks, while offering advice to support confidence.

We know finding out what your farm team enjoys doing on-farm and off-farm is a simple but great way to build a positive relationship with them, and support them to achieve their goals.

To support both managers and farm teams, DairyNZ has a guide called Giving Quality Feedback to help with giving employees advice that helps them develop.

Jimmy Cleaver

We also have resources on coaching and mentoring, and a training plan template to map out the skills your staff want to develop.

For Jimmy and his team, regular team meetings are often held at the local bakehouse. These provide them all with the chance to talk about issues happening on-farm and other things – like the latest rugby or cricket, thereby getting to know each other better.

When he’s not working, Jimmy is hunting and diving. Getting a break from the farm means he comes back refreshed and open to new ideas and different ways to look at things.

He encourages his team to also get off the farm, take part in local activities and get away for regular breaks.

Taking time off is particularly important now for both farm teams and owners, after coming through the busiest time of year, so you can recharge your batteries for the rest of the season.

Encourage your team to plan some leave and make sure they’re getting good, regular breaks from the farm now that there might be more time available.

To listen to the podcast and hear more from Jimmy, visit

DairyNZ resources to help build a top performing team. DairyNZ has a range of resources to support people management on farm. These include:

  • resources to help with advertising and interviewing for jobs
  • checklists to support employers and staff when new staff join the team
  • templates for performance reviews
  • a draft farm policy manual example, and health and safety policy template
  • a leave calculator
  • Workplace 360 – a tool to help identify opportunities to improve your workplace, for yourself and your team.

To access these resources visit

  • Kent Weston-Arnold is DairyNZ extension partner – Waikato North.