Stacey Hendricks fondest childhood memories are the days spent in the stock yards with her Dad, swimming in the Border Dyke irrigation races with her sisters in summer and the many hours spent chasing, feeding and caring for cows. Farming was a way of life for her as a kid, something that she’ll always be grateful for.

Stacey feels lucky to have grown up on a farm. She saw her parents pour every ounce of their hearts and souls into the farm, as well as every penny. No matter the mood, the weather or the day of the year, they were out there working hard. Watching her parents grow their business taught her a lot of valuable life skills. It taught her about budgeting, taking calculated risks, how to care for and grow healthy animals, how to drive tractors, motorbikes and trucks, how to read the weather…..the list goes on!

It also taught Stacey about loss and grief. She learnt that not all animals would grow to be healthy and there wasn’t always an obvious reason why one didn’t make it or one slipped through the cracks. She learnt that after trying every possible remedy and trick in the book, sometimes your efforts weren’t enough. You would have to walk away knowing you can’t save them all but still feeling like you failed. From these experiences she learned some of the hard realities of farming and little did she know that one day these experiences would shape her future.

After finishing school Stacey moved to Palmerston North to study Animal Science and Agriculture at Massey University. At this time she knew she wanted a future in the dairy sector, although wasn’t sure of the best fit for her in the industry. At school and university Stacey was never exceptionally intelligent, but she had a passion for learning and discovery.

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Stacey wanted to have a role in which she could help farmers have healthier animals, or at least understand why some animals didn’t do as well as others. Aiming to arm farmers with the tools they need to prevent animals from ill-health, she wanted to build the fence at the top of the cliff rather than be the ambulance at the bottom. This really encouraged her into further post-graduate study where she started developing an interest in dairy cow health with a particular focus in preventing ill-health.

Stacey was lucky be invited to be part of a lifetime productivity project, and find a PhD project befitting of her goals. Her PhD project focuses on identifying subclinical diseases in dairy cows through the use of precision technologies and to provide solutions to mitigate early animal attrition and productivity losses. Ultimately, this research will allow Stacey to assist farmers in improving dairy cow health and welfare, and subsequent farm productivity so that farmers and their stock can lead happier, healthier lives.

We love your journey Stacey, it just goes to show that you should follow your passions and your dreams. We look forward to seeing where your PhD research will take you in the future!