If you’re working in the dairy industry it is looking a lot brighter. with the use of online media showcasing the impact women have within agriculture and the dairy industry in this case. We have republished this article which was on NSW Women in Dairy Instagram page. (@NSWwomenindairy)
- Meet Wagga Wagga dairy farmer Simone Jolliffe
Simone is one of our guests on the ‘Morning tea with Moo and You’ panel next week. Have a read of her story and then head back to our previous post to register.
“To steal a friend’s phrase about how I ended up as a dairy farmer – “I was hijacked by a proposal of marriage”. I was raised as a farm girl on a beef farm with my Aunt & Uncle next door on a dairy farm so I was not unfamiliar with the industry. My observation is that things have changed a lot since I was knocking about on the farm with my cousins where I’d often be found hanging out and usually ending up helping them feed the calves.
- Their farm was a family farm with little employed labour, and holidays for them were trips away to cattle shows. Granted my husbands favourite holidays involve visiting other farms, but I do always manage to squeeze a day or two in doing non-farm related things for all our sanity whenever we do get the chance to take some time away.
Neil & I began share-farming for his parents at the commencement of deregulation in July 2000. We purchased adjoining land and expanded the landholding to 363ha and the herd from 110 to 280 head by the time we purchased the remainder of the farm in 2008 allowing Neil’s parents to retire. Since 2008 we have milked up to 340 cows 3x and also as few as 180 cows 2x. We maintain flexibility in doing what we need to do to make ends meet based around input costs, so given the current high costs associated with dairy we are milking around 230 cows but starting to build back up from our own replacements and targeting 300 again in the next few years.
- Currently we have spent most of the last few years with the cows in a dry lot on almost 100% bought-in feed. Our annual rainfall in 2019 was just over 8 inches which is almost as much as we have had this year already. So with such a positive start to 2020 the cows are currently back grazing and everyone is enjoying the change.
- We have some irrigation from an underground bore we use strategically to primarily start autumn-sown plantings or finish crops in Spring and have not had access to water from the River for several years. We are looking forward to some new dryland plantings of Lucerne establishing this year as they provide a great fodder base for us that we can oversow in winter with cereals or ryegrass and then opportunistic feed if we get any summer storms. At present we have one fulltime employee and casual milkers to assist who is equivalent to another 1.5 FTE.
My favourite thing about dairy farming – aside from the chance to get out and enjoy and appreciate the land in all it’s different clothes, both good and bad, it’s probably the challenge such a complex industry offers. I enjoy diving into the data and striving to see what levers we can pull to get the best out of the business, I LOVE a good spreadsheet. Soil health and cow health are two of my favourite areas. In addition to the farm and being a farmer, I enjoy the lifestyle it has afforded us. There are lots of things we can’t always do, like to get to dinner on time with friends, but more importantly the things we have done is to have been here for our kids. We have been able to teach them important life lessons and enjoy lots of special moments with them.
My extended family had Holsteins and so do Neil and I. I can’t imagine having anything else, I love their personalities and seeing similar markings flow through family lines. Neil says there are no pets in the herd, but there are definitely some that capture your heart with their quirky nature and behaviours and it can make the crappiest of days or milkings just that bit more bearable.”
All words were provided by the NSW Women in Dairy Instagram page. Give them a follow to see more excellent content pieces like this.
Image: NSW Women in Dairy