Harvey dairy farmer Dale Hanks is back in the industry his family has been part of for generations, gaining a contract with Harvey Fresh – a year after losing his contract with Brownes.
By: David Charlesworth | Harvey-Waroona Reporter
Source: The West Australian
Since early December, Mr Hanks has been restocking his herd and restarting milking operations having contracted with Harvey Fresh in November.
Mr Hanks said it was a lot of work to get the dairy production at his farm back up and running, including buying a new herd.
“We’ve had to go buy cows, buy heifers, get systems back up,” he said.
“It takes a lot of work to get back in.”
In October 2016, Mr Hanks was one of three dairy farmers to not have their contracts renewed with Brownes, due to an oversupply in the market, forcing him to sell his dairy cows.
In the intervening year, Mr Hanks said he had run dry stock, agistment and hay production on his farm.
“We were just catching our breath a bit,” he said.
Mr Hanks said last year he had heard through a livestock agent of a Harvey Fresh herd being sold and learnt a farmer under contract with them was retiring.
Under Harvey Fresh’s Litre In Litre Out policy, Mr Hanks was able to gain the contract.
Mr Hanks said it would be a long way to come back to what it was.
His family had raised a closed herd which had been bred by them for more than 40 years, progress which Mr Hanks said they could not get back.
“We just can’t replace that overnight, that’s going to take a long way to rebuild,” he said.
“You can’t buy back what we had.”
Mr Hanks said he was able to buy dairy cows from someone who was leaving the dairy industry and has a herd of about 150 cows to start with the aim of increasing the herd to 220 by the end of April.
Mr Hanks said that would still be well short of the 350 milking cows they had before losing the Brownes contract.
However, Mr Hanks said his farm still had all the infrastructure waiting to go, which was why he was so eager to return to the industry.
“We’ve got a dairy that needs to milk cows to get a return, so that’s why we made the push to get back into dairy,” he said.