For Anthony Kiff, who is 2017’s Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, competent, happy staff are vital to a successful farming venture.
“I could have the best farm, the best stock, but without the right people with a positive attitude supporting me, it would be impossible to grow any business,” says Anthony, whose excellent skills in leading a large team were acknowledged by the award judges.
“He leads with passion and sets a very high standard. He empowers his staff, who he also treats as a family unit. Anthony is motivated to be the best he can and this attitude flows through to his staff,” says the judges’ citation.
Part of Anthony’s success in achieving staff engagement and commitment has been giving unique and slightly amusing titles to their roles such as Action Man, Decuper, Cowboy and Cupper.
However, as he told those who attended the Central Plateau awards field day, Anthony takes his responsibility for the 30 people who live on-farm, including the six full-time workers, very seriously.
“Each employee has a GPS locator beacon. We have a buddy system for new employees, and radio or text check to confirm all staff are home safe.”
In the eight years Anthony has been in the dairy industry he’s progressed to farming manager of Pineview Farm for Landcorp, sharemilkers for a 385ha former Crafar farm now owned by Shanghai Pengxin, milking 1180 cows.
Anthony says after five years in receivership, the farm was rundown due to lack of maintenance including poor fencing, gates, old pastures, potash levels so high they couldn’t be measured and a cowshed in which it took 13 to 14 hours to milk the cows each day.
Today the farm has a 60-bail rotary with in-shed feed and a Protrack system. At the peak of the season 1180 cows are milked, producing 447,000ms/kg with the target being 500,000ms/kg from cows which average 1.6ms/kg per day.
Anthony’s roles include directing all capital projects on the farm and initially this involved upgrading houses as well as farm infrastructure. “From 2013 we have completed 55 capital projects.”
His responsibilities include leading a safe and profitable business; looking after landowner and sharemilker budgets and finances; feed budgeting and long-term planning; ensuring environmental requirements are abided by daily; rosters and payroll; staff progression and monitoring intensive grazing systems.
“We set a culture of pre-empting risk rather than dealing with mistakes or accidents.”
Part of that culture includes finding a life balance for all team members and this includes rosters to provide time off, regular staff meetings, a culture of leading by example, respect for each other, providing meals for staff in spring time and encouraging them to further their qualifications.
Anthony is married to Danelle and the couple have three children aged four, seven and 10 and Anthony’s younger brother has lived with them since he was 13.
“My short-term goals are to be a professional farm manager to create a productive business for the farm owners and to have a good work/life balance to support and watch my young family grow,” says Anthony.
“Being in a corporate farm management position enables me to gather the technology, resources and education to manage my own herd at a later date.
“I am open to anything, but my medium term goal is to be contract milking and long-term goal is to be a 50/50 sharemilker.”