Dairy

Farmer says future promising

By Country News

Numurkah dairy farmer Rachelle Moon would love crystal ball insight into where the industry might be heading during the next decade.

After attending her first Australian Dairy Conference thanks to a bursary from Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network, Mrs Moon sees a future full of promise and innovation with a lot of unsolved mysteries.

‘‘I have no idea where it’s going to be in 10 years’ time,’’ she said.

‘‘The stuff they’re doing and thinking about just blows your mind, and I’m definitely feeling positive.

‘‘There will always be a market for fresh milk but people will need to think out of the box a bit.’’

According to Dairy Australia project manager Natasha Busbridge, who co-ordinates the women’s network, helping dairy women attend the conference provided an important professional development opportunity, with one bursary offered in each of the eight dairy regions.

‘‘ADC offers a diverse range of industry highlights and technical topics to attract farmers,’’ Ms Busbridge said.

‘‘But getting time off-farm, especially for women, can be challenging.

‘‘All our farmers attending the conference took something away with them to help their business and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other farmers.’’

Mrs Moon farms just outside Numurkah with her husband Carl and children Harry, 10, Heidi, 8, and Johnny, 3, along with 120 Holsteins.

It’s their third season on the farm and Mrs Moon says the family now talks about ‘‘our other life’’ before ownership.

‘‘We used to have kids at day care, shuffling things and never doing anything together, now we’re together all the time,’’ she said.

Carl grew up on a farm while Rachelle lived in Tatura, although she’d held a long-term attraction to dairying after being exposed to the industry through dairy farming friends of the family.

That connection became a reality 14 years ago when the couple met at International Dairy Week when she was working in the bar for her netball club and he was showing cattle.

A nurse by profession, Mrs Moon has enjoyed adjusting to full-time farming and family life.

‘‘Carl always said he wanted to milk cows, so I said let’s do it now before we get too old. We’re at a good age to embark on something new.’’

Their farm, just 1km out of Numurkah on Broken Creek, hadn’t been milked for 10 years and is limited due to the size of the dairy, but the Moons have taken a steady approach in rebuilding.

On the farm Mrs Moon has taken responsibility for calf rearing.

‘‘It’s hard work and very physical, which I quite enjoy,’’ she said.

‘‘The first heifer that I reared has just calved and that was very special; a warm and fuzzy feeling.’’

A member of the Murray region Young Dairy Network and the Goulburn-Murray Water working party for pricing and tariffs, Mrs Moon says the Australian Dairy Conference gave her plenty to ponder.

‘‘It’s important to get off farm and think about our business and the industry in general, not just be task-orientated,’’ she said.

‘‘I don’t enjoy listening to people talk about cows and grass all day but there was none of that and the topics were challenging and refreshing, such as welfare — which shows the industry wants to address the pointy issues.

‘‘It made us think about where we’re heading and ask if there’s something that can make us special.’’

Mrs Moon said the impact of technology, including the possibility of creating synthetic milk, meant farmers must diversify and stand out from the crowd.

■Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network was established to connect and support Australian dairy women. It is an active on-line community and can be joined at: www.facebook.com/groups/legendairywomensnetwork