14 December 2005
She’s a Solo Sharemilker Standing Out
She’s 25, a single woman, and every day she milks 580 cows with the help of just one worker and a relief milker.
Sharemilking is a unique New Zealand phenomenon. It’s a means by which hard working, goal setting ambitious young people
can build equity and buy a farm.
But usually, these sharemilkers are couples: husbands and wives who share the hard work.
That’s why Lydia Smith’s achievements are especially remarkable.
At one time, Lydia thought she was headed for a career as a bank manager or a consultant.
Having grown up on a sheep, beef and crop farm in South Canterbury, she went to university, but as part of her degree
she did 12 weeks in the dairy sector and saw the potential in sharemilking.
“If I had stuck with banking I’d never have built up the equity I could, by going sharemilking.”
Murphy Farms Ltd, owner of the 194ha Canterbury farm on which Lydia was placed to do her 12 weeks practical paper for
her degree, was so impressed with her ability, the company offered her a full time placement. She accepted.
“I couldn’t refuse. It was such a great opportunity – there aren’t many chances like that offered to single women,” she
says. “I have a lot to thank them for.”
She’s now in her third season and has never looked back.
Last year she took the advice of a former employee, Jeff Walker, a past national title holder and later chief judge for
the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, to become involved in the competition.
“He told me it would be an excellent way of bonding with a network of like-minded people and getting my name out there.”
He was right.
“I really enjoyed the experience. It enables you to compare yourself and the way you operate with other people. The
judges point out your strengths and weaknesses so you learn how you can improve your performance.
“It was also fun. I loved the awards dinner and meeting all the people.”
To top it all off, Lydia won the First Time Entrant Award which she said was a real thrill.
Taking part for the first time was a “bit of a learning curve”, she says.
“But now I know what to expect. I am entering again this year and I will prepare better knowing what I know now.”
She encourages all sharemilkers to become involved.
“Even if you don’t think you have a chance of winning a prize, by taking part you benefit from what you learn from other
entrants, from the judges and from taking an objective look at your business. I’m looking forward to having another go.”
If Lydia wins the Canterbury competition, she will go on to represent the region in the national final to be held in
Christchurch on May 13.
The 2006 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year Competition is run in association with Federated Farmers of New Zealand
(Inc) and is sponsored by Dairy InSight, ACC, Bank of New Zealand, Blue Wing Honda, Dexcel, Ecolab, Fonterra, Livestock
Improvement and Ravensdown. Entries close on December 20, 2005.
Entry forms are available from Federated Farmers PH 0800 327 646, or by contacting the regional convenors and sponsor
representatives or can be downloaded from www.fedfarm.org.nz/smoty