For 21-year-old Matt Dawson, becoming a farmer was not a hard decision. As a small boy, growing up on the family dairy farm in Horsham Downs, and relief milking from age 13, he knew what he wanted to do.
“I wasn’t really into school work until I took Agriculture at NCEA level 2 and I loved it,” says 2019’s Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.
Since then there has been no stopping him and he holds eight agricultural qualifications, and is part-way through a NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management.
Winning the third category of the Dairy Industry Awards’ Waikato competition, Matt also took home the FarmRight Farming Knowledge Award, and was commended by the judges for his extensive industry knowledge – particularly in areas of animal health, feeding, calving and mating management.
Matt has been 2IC on the 230ha dairy platform on Henri Pennings’s farm near Hamilton. “I see Henri as a mentor, and someone who is also passionate about growing grass, and fully feeding the cows,” says Matt.
And his experience milking 620 cows on this System 3 farm has put him in good stead for his next role. For the 2019/2020 season he’s returning to his family’s farm for a low order sharemilking role. He’ll be taking over from one of his older brothers, who he views as another likeminded role model.
“I’m lucky to be able to build a herd within a herd on our family farm.”
Matt, and his wife Tayla, are expecting their first baby this month – and the couple have a 10-year goal to obtain an 800-cow farm in equity partnership.
“For me farming is different every day and you need a varied skillset,” says Matt. “You should strive to do what you love, you can’t put a price on happiness.” Wise words from this ambitious 21-year-old.