Bay of Plenty | Dairy Trainee of the Year

Dayna Rowe is looking to the future and plans to work with her parents on their family farm to bring in new initiatives around sustainability and efficiency.

The 22-year-old winner of the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year award won $6000 in prizes and three merit awards after coming runner-up in the same category in 2020. Growing up on the family farm in Pongakawa, Dayna spent a lot of time learning about farming and animals. She had begun studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies when she realised she’d rather be stomping through paddocks than treading the boards.

“I am still involved in competitive dance, it gives me a chance for some female company after working with lads on the farm, but I don’t have as much time for practicing for shows.”

Dayna loves the aerial form of circus performance and dance – with hoops and silks.

“But I’m very passionate about farming and I’ve discovered more and more aspects within the industry that I’m interested in.”

She is currently herd manager for Grant and Ngaire Rowe on their 289ha Pongakawa farm milking 1000 cows and is looking forward to taking on the position of farm manager in June.

“I am really lucky that my dad is really open-minded about us trying new things, and we talk alot about what we could do on the farm – he lets me run with my ideas.”

The future is green

“I’m excited for the future generation of dairy farmers in New Zealand,” says Dayna. “I believe we grew up being involved in conversations where we had to think deeper regarding our environment and sustainability.”

“I plan to continue to be open minded about what we can achieve and to help to encourage people to be comfortable with these conversations and to be part of the solution.” They have been talking about the opportunities for planting trees, destocking cows and learning about more regenerative agriculture.

“We have already planted the main waterways with help from the council.”

“We just had to fence up the block, then a work party of 50 people turned up and helped us plant the waterway – its something we are looking to do more of – we only have about five farmers on this stream so it would be great to get them all involved.”

Along with her parents she has been looking at ways to reduce their bobby calf numbers and they used sexed semen for replacement heifers for the first time last mating.

“All of the females in our family think that all the calves are really cute – we don’t like sending them away.”

“But by reducing the number of males calves we get and then inseminating with beef semen we can increase their value and get into the beef market.

“We have even been thinking about the possibility of dropping our stocking rate and running beef animals behind the cows – it’s great to be able to spitball things and try things out with my dad.”

Dayna’s biggest future farming goal is to get to a point where her parents can completely retire from the farm and hand it over to her. “I’d say that’s my dad’s goal too!”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was Thomas Lundman, who works on a 550-cow Whakatane property. Third place went to Quinn Morgan who is farm assistant at Otakiri, milking 570 cows.

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

Bay of Plenty DIA Most Promising Entrant Award – Rachel Billinghurst

King Farm Services Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Dayna Rowe

Archway Group Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Dayna Rowe

I.S Dam Lining Communication & Engagement Award – Dayna Rowe

DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Georgia O’Hanlon