Central Plateau | Dairy Trainee of the Year

Tayla Flight got into dairy farming as a career when she was filling in the university holidays with a relief milking job.

“At first the money was really appealing, but then I realised how the harder you work the faster you can progress through the industry.”

Now the winner of the 2021 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year, Tayla is planning her future in the sector, including a move to a 450-cow manager’s position next season which will become a contract milking role the following year, if all goes to plan.

After that she and her partner plan to work together to set themselves up to take on a 600-cow sharemilking job “and then work really hard to get together the money to buy into a farm of our own.”

Tayla is farm manager for Jared Seymour, milking 220 cows on his Atiamuri farm. “I’ve always wanted a job where I’m happy. I love animals and get to hang out with 220 cows and my dog every single day. If they’re happy, I’m happy,” says Tayla.

Born in Kuratau, on Lake Taupo, and schooled as a boarder at Whanganui Girls College, she embarked on study to become a vet but decided against continuing.

“I excelled academically at school and was always expected to go to university. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a dairy farmer, but I love that you are rewarded depending on how hard you work and you can progress at the pace you’re willing or feel comfortable to,” she says.

“You don’t have to study for years to prove yourself. You prove yourself when the cows come into the shed happy and healthy and milk is going into the vat.”

Inspired by female leaders

The amount of women taking leading roles in the dairy industry makes Tayla feel excited about the future of the New Zealand dairy industry. She cites Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year for 2020, Ash- Leigh Campbell, and former DairyNZ Environmental Leaders Forum chair Tracy Brown, as inspiring women in dairy who are also environmental forward thinkers.

“Fitting in with women like this would be an honour.”

“I’d like to change the mindset of some farmers who look at a dairy farming couple and assume the woman is the calf rearer and ‘looks after the books’. This can be quite frustrating,” she says.

Planning and goal setting are huge for Tayla who says she has a couple of diaries and writes lots of lists – both for work and fitness goals.

“I have always been a keen goal setter – I always have my big goals in mind and am constantly setting little goals to work towards and help me achieve the big ones.”

Even if she is having a bad day, seeing her goals and achieving them helps her keep going, she says.

“Every time I achieve a goal it gets me closer to where I want to be. That’s what drives me every day.”

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was Tata Jed Te Aho, who is second in charge (2IC) on Wairarapa Moana Incorporation’s 355ha, 1050-cow farm in Mangakino. Third place went to 25-year-old Herd Manager Shivpreet Arora who also works for Wairarapa Moana Incorporation in Mangakino.

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

Piako Tractors Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Tata Jed Te Aho

T H Enterprises LTD Farming Knowledge Award – Shivpreet Arora

Rotorua Lakes Council Community & Industry Involvement Awards – Tata Jed Te Aho

Stretton & Co Ltd Communication and Engagement Award – Du Jean Williams

DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Tayla Flight