ELSPETH Field packed her bag to travel around Australia four years ago.
By: Simone Smith
Source: Rural Weekly
She got as far as Gippsland and its dairy farms and never went any further.
Not that the 24-year-old is worried.
After all, the dairy industry has taken her to Tasmania as part of the young farmers Don Campbell Memorial study tour and she is about to head across the Tasman to New Zealand as part of the Gardiner Foundation sponsored United Dairyfarmers of Victoria tour in February.
But more importantly, the dairy industry has provided Elspeth with a career, which includes working with animals and lifelong learning.
“The support of Dairy Australia and UDV – we are so lucky to have that. No other industry has that much support with discussion groups and courses,” she said.
Elspeth listed the humane euthanasia of livestock and feeding pastures for profit as two recent courses that had helped her upskill.
But it was the trip to Tasmania – and especially her exposure to 16-hour-milking – that inspired the young farm worker.
Milking three times every two days, 4am and then 4pm, followed by 11am the following day, has been implemented by employer Neil Gannon at his 490-crossbred seasonal calving herd at Tinamba.
“We start after joining,” Elspeth said.
“When the cows dip in production a bit. I had never heard of it before. A lot of farmers (in Tasmania) were doing it and liking it, but no one was doing it around here.”
The system has improved many aspects of the dairy farm, according to Elspeth.
She said the cows put on a lot of condition, dairy running costs were cut by 15 per cent and the herd spent more time in the paddock, with more time to rest.
It is this farming practice she wants to focus on when she joins six other young dairy enthusiasts visiting New Zealand dairy farms and processors next month. For example, how grazing rotations are managed with the 16-hour milkings and how staff are best managed on a roster within this system.
Elspeth also wants to learn more about dairy network groups, particularly those for young people new to a regional area or the industry.
Elspeth was born in England and moved to Geelong at 11 years old.
She said everything about working on dairy farms and living in Gippsland was new to her and this had been a challenge – especially to make friends.
“I’m trying to start my own young farmers group in the Maffra area for people who just got into dairy farming,” she said.
“I think (the NZ trip) will be great to meet people my age and good to meet people especially from different areas of Victoria.”