Tania Riddington loves what she does. These days she can be found sharemilking 450 cows on one of the 130ha Culverden properties that her family owns. Knowing every cow in her herd, she thrives on learning and challenges and likes that she is running a business that is part of a world leading dairy industry. An advocate for the industry she has found dairying to be a rewarding career option.

Although Tania grew up on a dairy farm she didn’t initially plan on making a career out of farming. On leaving school she attended Otago University and gained a Bachelor of Science (Hons) which led her into working in microbiology. “Although I did this at University and ended up in a career that I studied, I was always wanting for something else.” Working in a lab wasn’t to be Tania’s thing and after travelling for a bit it wasn’t until she returned home in 2010 that she really found her passion.

Always having a love for animals, Tania had also considered becoming a veterinarian at a few points along the way, but an opportunity to sharemilk in partnership with her father Ken helped cement her decision to make something out of dairying.

Tania is aware of all the debate around the dairy industry at the moment and is fully mindful of the perception surrounding the sector. She runs a low-input pasture focused system, with the focus on profit not production and is always looking for ways to improve. A meticulous record keeper and planner, detailed information allows her to make better sustainable decisions. The farm she runs has fenced off all of the waterways and have had stringent nutrient testing in place for the last five years to help reduce environmental impacts from dairying. “I am in the dairy industry because I really enjoy what I do. I would also like to be good a role model in the industry by leading through my actions.”

After six seasons Tania decided to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. With the financials based on the $3.90 payout she thought it was a good time to benchmark her operation against other 50/50 sharemilkers to see how she compared. “This was one way I could challenge myself against others in the industry. “ And entering the competition paid off- she was named runner-up in the Canterbury-North Otago 2017 competition.

Overall her aim is to run a long term sustainable farming business. Not one to get complacent, in March 2016 she and her partner Tim purchased 120ha support block as part of a long term goal of owning their own dairy farm and to diversify their equity portfolio.

Tania, you are a fantastic role model and advocate for the industry. We love the way you prioritise sustainable practices on your property, and we all agree it is important to plan and farm with the future in mind. Congratulations on your recent success in the Dairy Industry Awards!