Donna McKinley says a wise man once told her never to sleep in. “My worst has been until 7am,” admits 2018’s Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year at the Dairy Industry Awards’ field day on March 28.
“I’m not much of an early-riser – but the cows make it worthwhile,” says the 22-year-old, who is 2IC for Davison Trust Partnership milking 330 cows on its 116ha Marotiri farm but is moving to Mangakino to manage a small dairy farm on June 1.
“I entered to benchmark myself against everyone else and see where I was tracking. The feedback has been critical – it’s helped me to where I am today. Many think it’s just career-based but there is a lot of personal development too.”
Donna loves her cows. “I think most farmers have a soft spot for their cows – I probably spend 10 minutes each milking scratching the cows in the paddock.
“And I love the opportunities on offer. I mean what industry can you walk into and three years later be in a management position?”
For her, early wake-ups and seasonal changes are tough. “You can’t predict a good season; you get what you get. So it’s about how you handle the situation and deal with it – especially if you haven’t dealt with it before, it can be quite challenging. But I enjoy a challenge.”
“Moving into management next season, I hope to have a contract milking job lined up for the next season. My 10-year goal is share-milking. Land ownership is my end goal.”