Dairy farmer off to an early start
This Glen Oroua farmer left school one day and began milking next morning. Now he’s a Young Farmer finalist
Three years ago, if anyone had asked David Reesby where he thought he’d be today, he probably would have imagined harvesting somewhere in Australia or Canada and enjoying an overseas experience. Fast forward to June 2022 and the Taranaki/Manawatu¯ FMG Young Farmer of the Year instead finds himself using the global pandemic to his advantage, hunting opportunities in the workforce and taking aim.// He rarely misses either, as this sharpshooter once represented New Zealand in small-bore rifle shooting. The 21-year-old already has a Dairy Industry Award on his/honours/board, named 2020 Manawatu¯ Dairy Trainee of the Year.// Reesby got into dairy farming early. “The day I finished high school, the next morning was my first milking. “We were short of a worker at the time and I had been working a fair bit after school, just helping out. “I knew that when school finished, I’d be coming to work and I haven’t regretted it.”/ He’s still based on the home farm in Glen/Oroua, milking 420 cows across 180 hectares and estimates it’s running somewhere between a system two and three.// /While working, Reesby’s also on his way to completing Primary ITO Level 4 dairy papers.// The farm runs all young stock as heifer replacements and takes a small amount of Hereford/dairy cross beef calves through on a separate 80-hectare block, which also grows supplement for both farms. Parents Sandra and Gareth Reesby and his late grandfather Don expanded three dairy operations as David and his two sisters grew up. They own another 200-cow farm just up the road, which is run by contract milkers and farmed alongside the support block. Despite being only 10km from the beach,/Reesby/reckoned it had “some pretty good dirt”./ He is keen on contract milking and working his way through the dairy industry to share milking and farm ownership. “I’d love to have my own herd one day.” Reesby has an eye on the future and always tries to stay one step ahead of the ever-changing agriculture industry. “You’ve got to keep moving with it, otherwise you’ll become extinct like the dinosaurs and be left behind.” He says New Zealand’s pasturebased systems and the ability to graze stock outside every day of the year is crucial to the industry’s success on the world stage./ / “The grass we grow is pretty amazing and we can efficiently convert it to milk, meat and/fibre/and we do it the best in the world. “We produce a lot of food and feed the world, all while looking after what we’ve got.”/ Reesby/ wanted to see employers in the ag sector value young staff a bit more.// “You’ve got to keep investing in the right areas, investing in workers and getting them trained up. Young people are a huge investment.” He is keen to use his platform as an FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand finalist to encourage more young people into the industry. “There’s really a job for everyone under the primary industries umbrella, it’s the backbone of our country.” Expecting the grand final to be the hardest challenge he will have had to conquer, Reesby aims to “grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it”. Reesby is no contest “newbie” despite his young age. Competing has long been a dream of his after he was introduced to the contest at just 8 years old, when he watched his neighbour Chris Will compete in the 2009 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final on TV. Reesby competed in the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Invercargill in 2018, coming third nationally alongside one of his friends.// Despite his previous success, qualifying for the grand final at his first regional final this year exceeded his expectations. “I didn’t think I was going to win at regional finals this year, I was pretty surprised to see my name up there. “I was going into the day to win, but I wasn’t actually sure how I would go because/I didn’t get quite as much prep in as I wanted to.” Now, he spends his evenings sharpening his business and theoretical knowledge, something he has identified as a weakness.// However, he knows his strong practical skillset, along with being a stickler for the finer details, would play to his advantage across the three-day contest. “I’ve definitely got an eye for detail, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It might take me a bit longer to do things but I can see the job through at a high quality. “Being young is a good thing, too, it’s a good experience and I’ll be pretty pleased at the end of the Grand Final. “I’ll have a lot of new learnings and have met a lot of people. It’ll be a great opportunity.”/ When asked about his goals and ambitions in life,/Reesby’s/first answer is “to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year”. “Being known and acknowledged as a good farmer, a good custodian of the land would be pretty cool.” The 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series grand final takes place from July 7 to 9 in Whanga¯rei, with seven regional finalists competing for the title.