Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Farming Fast Five: Monique Radford

Farming Fast Five: Monique Radford

The farming fast five: where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Monique Radford.

  1. What did your journey into farming look like?

I was born into farming, growing up around the Taranaki region.

My first love of cows started when I began doing calf club. Following this I fell into the A&P showing world helping out my great uncle who had the jersey stud, Truday.

This has been a huge part of my life and is a major reason why I have culminated such an appreciation for the dairy cow.

I chose to go to University after high school to pursue a Bachelor of Agriculture Science at Massey University in the hopes of getting a role in the dairy genetics sector.

However, when the Grassroots Dairy Graduate Management Programme came up in third year I decided it would be the perfect opportunity. I knew it would challenge my thinking and increase my skill level which is what I was looking for straight out of university.

This landed me in my current role as a Herd Manager on Leighton and Michelle Pye’s, 241hectare dairy farm near Ashburton. I am employed by contract milkers Steven and Rosie Ketter.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your farming operation.

The farm is 241 hectare  effective area and we ran 876 peak cows in the last season. It is located near Mayfield, about 20 minutes south/inland of Ashburton.

The cows are milked through a 54 bale rotary with inshed feeding and automatic drafting. Allflex collars are also used especially for calving and mating management. We supplement with grain, PKE and silage when needed.

We winter the stock on fodder beet and kale with oat silage and straw on the nearby runoff.

  1. What challenges have you faced in your farming business, and how have you tackled those challenges?

I’m very early into my career, so the challenges I’ve faced haven’t been too many yet.

One of the biggest challenges for me so far was moving to the South Island, knowing no-one and only visiting the place once prior to shifting.

As well as this, was the challenge of building my confidence on farm.

However, both of this challenges have been relatively minor as I have had a supportive farm team.

In the future, I know I will be challenged in many ways, but I’m excited to build on the skills and knowledge I have gained.

  1. What has been a major highlight for you in your farming journey

One of my major highlights, that is farming/agriculture related was being in the winning Jersey NZ team that travelled to Australia for International Dairy Week in 2019.

Of course, winning the Dairy Trainee of the Year 2024 for the Canterbury/North Otago region has been the biggest highlight in more recent times.

  1. What advice would you have for the next generation of farmers?

Align your values with your future employers, ensure that you are on the same page.

Back yourself and ask plenty of questions not just about what people do, but why they do it. Don’t let work be an excuse, for going out and doing things outside of work.

What you do outside of work is just as important as what you do on it.

Enjoy what you do and success will follow.