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Farming is a way of life for 33-year-old Teagan Gray, who is committed to building the family farm into a world-class business. Photo: SUPPLIED

Farming career all in the family

Dairy manager Teagan Gray is proud to be the fifth generation of farmers on the family farm in Hauraki. She’s coming into her third season as farm manager on the 160 hectare property, and was recently named 2024’s Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year. 

For Teagan, farming was always what she wanted to do, but it took a while to realise she wanted to follow in her family’s footsteps. 

“I’ve actually got an equine major,” she said. 

“At uni, for all our core papers we were in with the agriculture students. The more we did, the more I realised dairy farming actually aligned with a lot more of my goals and visions. I’m quite ambitious and quite career-driven, and I could see a lot more opportunity for myself in the dairy industry.”

The main draw for Teagan was being outside with the animals – so when the opportunity came to work for her parents Neil and Glenda, she took it. 

Teagan started on the farm, just behind her parent’s boutique raw milk dispensary Buttercup Dairies, in 2016, working her way up from farming assistant into management. Now, she’s putting her own stamp on the place. 

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Teagan plans to be 50-50 sharemilking in the next few years, with the eventual aim of putting equity back into the farm. With that in mind, she’s building on the solid foundation that comes with keeping a farm in the family for over 100 years. 

“I feel very fortunate that I’ve got very progressive parents,” she said. 

“We really embrace any new technology on the market in terms of using what’s available to really help drive the farm and its efficiency in production… There’s so much research that’s out there and best practice, and really, I just have to take that research that’s been done and implement it, what fits in our farming system that we’re running.”

One of the technologies she’s adopted is the use of virtual fencing collars, which helps her manage the 480-head herd from her phone. 

“All our information is in that app, our growth and our covers and our round lengths. So, we’re able to make very quick decisions… like, precise allocation of our pasture in terms of management. We’re pasture-first and really focusing on the pasture quality as our primary source of feed… It really helps us drive that pasture quality,” she said. 

“[And] I wholeheartedly believe our animals are happier and get to display more natural behaviours, because they don’t have that association with me and food.”

Teagan will be attending the national dairy awards in Queenstown at the beginning of May. 

“Just to be there in itself is such a fantastic achievement. What you learn about yourself, just your strengths and your weaknesses, and the benchmarking has been really good,” she said. 

“It’s exciting to be part of [the] industry, you know; we provide world-class nutrition all around the world that enhances people’s lives.”