Q&A with 2024 Next Gen Sheep Producers farmer Olivia Ellis

// Staff and Training

Two young farmers have been selected to participate in the 2024 Global Sheep Forum Next Generation programme, scheduled to take place in Australia from 3 to 10 August 2024.

image of Olivia Ellis

The programme is made up of two interlinked parts: Firstly, participants from partner countries form groups to focus on a specific aspect of sheep farming, collaborating online and presenting their findings at the Global Sheep Forum. Secondly, participants visit a partner country, with the 2024 visit hosted by Australia. This will include visits to farms, processors, and meeting with senior leaders of the Australian sheep industry, with participants finishing the trip be attending Australia's LambEx conference in South Australia, the biennial event highlighting their sheep industry. 

Get to know Central Hawke’s Bay farmer, Olivia Ellis, who has been selected to join the 2024 programme below. 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

My passion for the industry has grown from being raised on a family sheep, beef and cropping farm in Central Hawke’s Bay. I grew from a young age to understand what farming was to my family, to the region and to New Zealand.  

After graduating from Lincoln University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours, I went on to work for ANZCO Foods as an Agribusiness Developer and Farm Quality Assurance Manager. Over the university holidays and after my role at ANZCO, I worked on my family farms and for Te Whangai Romneys. I then went to the United Kingdom on my overseas experience, where I travelled and gained an understanding of farming in England and Scotland. 

Now based back in Hawke's Bay, I am employed by Kelso Genetics as their Operations Manager. 

Why did you apply for the Next Generation Sheep Forum Programme? 

There is such a diverse way sheep are produced and farmed across the world which creates so many opportunities for learning from each other's experiences – I saw the Next Generation Global Sheep Forum as a fantastic opportunity to do so.   

This industry is my passion and my future, I am keen to learn more about the diverse aspects of our sector and what this means for New Zealand and International Agriculture. 

What excites you most about our sector’s future? 

I am excited to see where the innovation in breeding will take us. The agricultural sector has its challenges. However, breeding is permanent and cumulative, resulting in reduced costs as well as improved animal health and welfare. Continuing to make advancements in genomic selection will help lead to greater efficiencies on-farm whilst creating a product of higher quality. I also believe wool has an exciting future with the developments in new technology for home insulation and sustainable fashion.  

Tell us about your current role in genetics 

It is a real honour to be working actively within a family-owned farming business which is one of New Zealand’s leading sheep stud breeders, Kelso Genetics. The key to success of Kelso’s breeding programme has been attention to three elements: stockmanship, science and innovation. It is important to us that we keep driving priorities focussed on high performance sheep that have low input, animal welfare, environment, and good health traits. Every day is exciting being involved with sheep breeding and what we can change genetically.  

My work at Kelso Genetics has focussed on bringing people together and fostering alignment right across the value chain ensuring farmers are producing what the market requires. It is great to be involved in such an innovative thriving business, where success is driven by a passion. 

What are you looking forward to most about the Next Generation Programme? 

This programme is a unique opportunity for the next generation to create connections and build on those relationships. Being able to interact, exchange ideas and collaborate with global farmers and industry professionals is a real privilege. I am looking forward to getting onto Australian stud farms, visiting meat processors and of course attending the renowned LambEx conference, a great way to gain valuable insights and experiences from our peers across the ditch.  

About Next Generation Global Sheep Forum 

The Next Generation Global Sheep Forum is part of the Global Sheep Producers Forum (GSPF), a collaborative initiative aimed at fostering sustainable practices in the global sheep industry. The programme brings together young sheep farmers from the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada, offering a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and skill development. 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a founding member of the Global Sheep Forum and is funding the two New Zealand Next Generation participants’ costs to be a part of the programme.

Visit the Global Sheep Forum website to learn more about the programme.