FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalist: Andrew Wiffen

Posted by on 30 May 2018 | Comments

Last spring Andrew Wiffen accomplished a breeding goal many New Zealand dairy farmers strive for, but never achieve.

One of his bull calves, Wiffens Chester, was bought by the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC).

It was a proud moment for the 30-year-old who 50:50 sharemilks 200 cows on his parents’ farm on the West Coast.

“It’s awesome,” said Andrew, who was named Tasman FMG Young Farmer of the Year for a second time in April.

“It takes some people years of breeding to get to the stage where a company, such as LIC, wants one of their bull calves.”

LIC genomically screens 1,700 bull calves each year, buying 200.

If all goes to plan, semen from Andrew’s bull will be used to inseminate cows in sire proving herds this spring.

The contest veteran farms 100 hectares near Hokitika. Almost a third of the coastal property is “sand country”, which has irrigation.

“That part of the farm can turn brown within five days if we haven’t had rain,” he said.

“This summer I irrigated for 20 days in a row. That’s unheard of here.”

A cyclone in January dumped much-needed rain, but it also left 10 hectares of the farm submerged under salt water.

It’s been a challenging and busy 12 months for Andrew.

He competed in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final for the first time last July, placing third. He married his wife Kate a fortnight later.

He’ll get another attempt at the prestigious title in Invercargill this July.

“I’m stoked to be heading to grand final again. I’m pretty lucky to get that opportunity,” he said

“It’ll be a chance for me to rectify errors I made last year. I will probably have an advantage, but only if I use my time wisely in the lead-up to the contest.”

The Grey Valley Young Farmers member has unrivalled competition experience, having competed in numerous regional finals.

The keen white baiter grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Marlborough and has a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University.

He visited Scotland in 2014 as part of a NZ Young Farmers exchange.

“I stayed in five different parts of Scotland, experiencing everything from sheep, beef, dairy and even pig farms,” he said.

“Attending the Royal Highland Show was amazing.”

“One thing I noticed is that communities in Scotland seem more vibrant. Possibly it’s because there are more people to take part in events,” he said.

The exchange is an experience Andrew encourages other NZ Young Farmers members to take part in.