Dairy Australia - Dairy information for Australian Dairy Farmers and the industry

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Dairy Australia works to boost awareness to prospective people in dairy on what a career in the industry could look like.

The evolution of the industry and the trend towards larger farms provides opportunities for those interested in agriculture to forge a successful career.


Stepping Stones career planning

The Stepping Stones resource kit is an overview of dairy career paths and opportunities on-farm, widely used across education and extension activities.

Access the Stepping Stones resource kit at The People in Dairy website.


School programs

Schools programs such as Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers provide young people in regional locations the opportunity to learn more about what a career in dairy can offer.

Cows Create Careers has been delivered to more than 15,000 high school students over 15 years.

To find out more about school programs in your region, contact your local Regional Development Program.

  • Copy Link Case study: High school students get hands-on dairy education

    South Australian dairy farmers Ros and Gary Zweck have been involved in Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers since it began, helping to implement the project in their community.

    The program has given more than 15,000 high school students across Australia a firsthand understanding of the opportunities available to them through a career in dairy.

    Dairy farmers play an active role in supporting the program by supplying dairy calves to schools as part of their agriculture programs, encouraging high school students to care for real animals and boost their interest in the industry.

    The Zwecks have been farming for 35 years and recognise the industry-wide benefits of the school-based project, and its focus on future generations of farmers.

    After hearing from a friend who teaches agriculture at Balaklava High School, Ros actively championed the program in the mid-north region.

    “We want to encourage future generations to become involved in agriculture and more specifically, dairy, because it's difficult to get people involved in the dairy industry,” Ros said.

    “When I first came to this region there were over 70 dairy farms, there's now 14 left – so we try to promote the dairy industry as much as we can.”

    The Zwecks supply calves to Clare High School, Balaklava High School, Horizon Christian School, and Kadina High School.

    “Even though we are in a rural area, a lot of the students live in the town and don't have access or don't have the opportunity to become involved with farming or farm animals,” Ros said.

    “They relish the opportunity to have a hands-on experience.”

    Benefits for students

    Clare High School agriculture teacher Lesley Squires believes that Cows Create Careers is a positive project for all students.

    “It's the year 10 students who look after the calves throughout the project,” she said.

    “The rest of the school visits the calves and can interact with them, so they get to know a bit more about dairy calves which they don’t really get the chance to see otherwise.

    “We've also got a kindergarten and childcare centre next door, so they come over to see the calves as well.”

    Lesley believes that the project gives the students responsibility while building their teamwork skills, as they work in groups to care for the calves.

    She continues to encourage her students to think about the range of options presented by a career in dairy after the conclusion of the program.

    Visiting a dairy farm

    After completing the project, the students are given the opportunity to visit the Zwecks’ dairy farm, to learn more about milking and milk storage.

    “It gives them the opportunity to understand more about the ongoing process of the day-to-day operation of dairy farming,” Ros said.

    One student enjoyed the experience so much that he asked the Zwecks if he could complete work experience on their farm, which the Zwecks found very rewarding.

    Two year 12 students from Kadina High School have since asked the Zwecks if they could continue to care for their calves after completing Cows Create Careers to conduct a research project on bought in feed.

    “That was a real highlight for me, and those calves came back very well fed,” Ros said.

    Dairy farmer Ros Zweck with Cows Create Careers students from Clare High School, SA


Young Dairy Network

Dairy Australia plays an active role in engaging and building a network of young people who work on farms through the Young Dairy Network. Through this network, they are provided the opportunity to develop skills to further their career in dairy.

Over 2,500 young people have been able to connect through the Dairy Australia Young Dairy Network, providing access to training for both the technical and non-technical aspects of dairy.

  • Copy Link Case study: Young Dairy Network gives farmer a pathway to success

    Tasmanian dairy farmer Jeremy Page’s management and interpersonal skills have moved forward in leaps and bounds since joining the Young Dairy Network (YDN) two years ago.

    The 30-year-old has a passion for the industry – driven by his love of cows – and is now the second-in-charge of a 1,050-cow dairy farm in north-eastern Tasmania.

    Coming from outside the dairy industry, Jeremy credits the YDN as being the springboard he needed to take the next step in his career.

    “I’ve only been involved in dairy farming for four years, and I joined because I could see that dairy has a lot to offer,” he said.

    “I was very shy before I joined the YDN, but now I can talk to people more confidently and take on new tasks on-farm.”

    Jeremy is one of 2,500 young people who have connected across Australia through the YDN, which provides access to training for both the technical and non-technical aspects of dairy.

    Key to Jeremy’s development has been taking part in a training and mentoring program offered to Tasmanian YDN members, which builds essential skills in young dairy farmers.

    “I learned people skills, how to talk to workers, how to manage my time, and how to make sure I know which jobs to prioritise on-farm,” Jeremy said.

    “It’s a great program for farmers who are just starting out.”

    Now in a farm management position, Jeremy said he feels better able to give clear instructions to his farm team and allocate roles and responsibilities.

    Jeremy’s experience in the YDN has been actively supported by his farm owner, who allows him to take leave to attend training events or network with other farmers.

    After identifying areas for improvement as part of the mentoring program, Jeremy worked with his farm owner to create a strategy to upskill in pasture management.

    “I really wanted to work on pasture management,” he said.

    “Since I spoke to my farm owner about it, I’ve been learning more about monitoring pasture growth and managing feed.”

    Jeremy’s exceptional progress saw him recently awarded the DairyTas-Cadbury Young Farmer Encouragement Award, recognising the gains he’s made over the past two years.

    Enjoying every aspect of dairy farming, Jeremy sees the most rewarding aspect of his YDN membership as the opportunity to socialise with other young farmers, who share their experiences, knowledge and tips.

    As well as a range of technical events, YDN members are frequently invited to social and community events including laser tag and pizza nights, barefoot bowls, networking and study tours.

    Turning to the future, Jeremy has recently accepted a management position at a nearby farm and is creating a six-year action plan to enter share farming and own his own herd.

    “I fully recommend joining the YDN – it’s all about connecting with others,” Jeremy said.

    “You meet other farmers who give you a lot of help – they’re not afraid of sharing their knowledge of how they got to where they are.”

    30-year-old Tasmanian farmer Jeremy Page

How to get involved

You can participate in any of the Young Dairy Network activities in your region including farm walks, social events, workshops, leadership programs and tours.

Reach out to your Regional Development Program or complete the online form to sign up and get involved.

  • Copy Link Dairy NSW YDN

    Dairy NSW is developing sub-regional networks to support and foster the development of young people in the industry.

    Visit the Facebook page or contact regional YDN supervisor Greg Duncan on 0477 044 047 for more information on how to get involved.

  • Copy Link GippsDairy YDN

    The Gippsland YDN organises events to develop your dairy farm knowledge and skills, improve information flow, provide leadership opportunities and develop a strong network of over 400 young people.

    Visit the Facebook page or contact regional YDN coordinator Sarah Cornell on 0437 400 316 for more information on how to get involved.

  • Copy Link Murray Dairy YDN

    The Murray Dairy YDN supports young people to develop capacity and capability to succeed in their chosen industry role.

    Visit the webpage, visit the Facebook page or contact regional YDN coordinator Harriet Bawden on 0488 787 849 for more information.

  • Copy Link DairySA YDN

    The South Australian YDN conducts regional discussion groups, study tours, workshops, forums and training.

    Visit the Facebook page or contact regional YDN coordinator Beck Burgess on 0438 262 966 for more information.

  • Copy Link DairyTas YDN

    The Tasmanian YDN operates across the three main dairy regions in the north-east, central, and north-west and Circular Head regions.

    Visit the Facebook page or contact regional YDN coordinator Jacki Hine on 0429 698 168 for more information.

  • Copy Link Subtropical Dairy YDN

    The Subtropical YDN operates across six regions in Queensland and northern NSW, with local coordinators who work with young farmers to deliver social and training activities.

    Visit the Facebook page or contact your regional YDN coordinator for more information.

    • Brie Bratfield in Far North Queensland on 0448 245 894
    • Alicia Richters in the Darling Downs, South East Queensland and NSW Far North Coast on 0427 916 650
    • Kylie Dennis on the Sunshine Coast on 0456 191 965
    • Heath Cook on the NSW Mid-North Coast on 0477 047 960.

  • Copy Link Western Dairy YDN

    The WA YDN brings together young farmers from across the region's 160 dairy farm businesses, for a range of activities.

    Visit the Facebook group or contact regional YDN coordinator Jessica Andony on 08 9724 2420 for more information.

  • Copy Link WestVic Dairy YDN

    Contact regional YDN coordinator Heidi Van Es on 0459 227 337 for more information.


DairyPath

DairyPath is being currently piloted and is a program focused on young people in the industry, providing mentoring, career guidance and support in helping them develop a career in dairy.

Applications are currently closed but for more information on the program, visit The People in Dairy website.

  • Copy Link Case study: DairyPath opens new opportunities for young Murray Dairy region farmer

    Northern Victorian dairy farmer Jessie Weaver said the DairyPath program changed her life by connecting her with a range of new opportunities in the wider dairy industry.

    The 25-year-old farm hand took on a role milking cows part-time at a 250-cow farm in NSW during her university studies.

    As her passion for dairy grew through her work on-farm, Jessie took a break from her studies to focus on farming full-time, eventually moving to Undera to work on a 1,200-cow farm.

    While Jessie was sure about her love for dairy farming, she felt less certain about how to turn ambition into reality.

    “I had no plan for the future before DairyPath,” she said.

    “I had no idea what the opportunities were in the industry beyond milking cows,” she said.

    DairyPath provided Jessie with an opportunity to build her skills, and better understand the range of opportunities and career pathways available to her in the dairy industry.

    By participating in the program, Jessie was able to create a five-year plan, setting her sights on either commencing share farming or commencing an agribusiness degree by 2021.

    “Through DairyPath, I am so much more confident and so much more enthusiastic about getting out of the bed in the morning,” Jessie said.

    “I now have goals, I know where I’m going and I have the motivation and drive to get there.”

    Jessie Weaver hard at work on an Undera dairy farm

  • Copy Link Case study: Bega dairy farm lessee strengthens industry involvement through DairyPath

    Bega lessee Ashleigh Rood found the confidence to become a leader in her local dairy community through Dairy Australia’s DairyPath program.

    The 29-year-old started her dairy journey in 2011, when she met her husband Michael, then a herd manager for a 2,000 cow dairy farm in central-west New South Wales.

    Ashleigh and Michael soon set their sights on owning their own farm.

    “I started to ask how we could do this ourselves – how do we as young people come into the industry and forge our way forward?” Ashleigh said.

    It wasn’t long until Ashleigh would have the opportunity to begin her own farming operation, as she and her husband entered into a lease agreement in 2012 and began to milk their own cows.

    After getting familiar with the practical realities of running her own farm, Ashleigh began seeking opportunities to move forward and plan for her future in the dairy industry.

    “I love what I do and the industry is challenging – you always need to be seeking opportunities moving forward,” Ashleigh said.

    Ashleigh applied to participate in DairyPath for the chance to strengthen her involvement in the industry.

    “I want to be successful in this industry and I want this to remain a profitable industry,” she said.

    Through the program, Ashleigh became chair of her local dairy development group and recently being asked to speak at a dairy symposium in her hometown of Bega.

    “DairyPath has been the catalyst in it all,” she said.

    “I do sincerely hope this program continues in the future because it is so, so important for young, aspiring dairy leaders.”

    Ashleigh Rood with husband Michael on their share farm at Bega, NSW

  • Copy Link Case study: Lismore young farmer gains invaluable insight through DairyPath

    Northern NSW up-and-coming dairy farmer Jeremy Miller used Dairy Australia’s DairyPath program to take the next step in his journey to owning his own farm.

    With a strong focus on personal development, the 24-year-old saw the program as an opportunity to plan for the future and build his skills.

    “I think any young person coming through dairy and wanting to pursue it as a career should have the opportunity to go through DairyPath,” Jeremy said.

    “It challenges you and shows you where you want to go by exposing you to different people and teaching you life lessons – professionally and personally.

    “You get to know other young people through the program, who for me have become friends for life.”

    Driven by his desire for a fast-paced, hands-on work environment, Jeremy began working on a dairy farm during his university studies.

    His passion for herd management and love of milking saw him eventually pursue a full-time farm hand role.

    “I’m a person who loves to be on the go all the time, and I always need something to do,” Jeremy said.

    “Dairy farming always gives you something to do, and there’s never been a dull moment.”

    Through DairyPath, Jeremy was able to plan his next steps in the industry, including pursuing a lease or share farm arrangement within the next five years and eventually own his own farm.

    The program honed Jeremy’s knowledge of the industry and broadened his contact base, while also teaching him the value of work-life balance.

    “The main thing I’ve gotten out of it is teaching myself to be who I am, not change myself for others, and that life’s not all about work,” he said.

    “Dairy farming is always intense and if I want to be in the industry long-term, I need to learn the value of time management and work-life balance.”

    Jeremy Miller on a northern NSW dairy farm


Scholarships

The dairy industry offers scholarships to attract people to the industry and to provide people already working in the industry with opportunities for development.

Dairy Science Travel Grants

Dairy Australia's Dairy Science Travel Grant grows capability across the Australian dairy industry by helping dairy researchers and service providers who are early in their career, and PhD students, to build networks and knowledge in their chosen field.

Participants have the opportunity to attend the American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting.

  • Copy Link Case study: Tasmanian researcher applies global insights to local research

    A Dairy Science Travel Grant gave 28-year-old Tasmanian researcher Adam Langworthy the chance to boost his dairy research through new global insights.

    The junior research fellow has started his career at the Dairy, Grains and Grazing Centre of the University of Tasmania’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

    He works across a range of dairy research projects, including virtual fencing, nitrogen use and irrigation.

    After working on a dairy farm during his agricultural science degree, Adam previously took part in Dairy Australia’s Dairy Manufacturing Scholarship program to learn more about post-farmgate, meeting with processors, retailers and consumers across Australia.

    Through his Dairy Science Travel Grant this year, Adam attended the American Dairy Science Association general meeting to learn more about research and innovation in the fields related to his research, bringing his knowledge back home to Australia.

    “It was a real eye opener – I’d never gone outside of Australia before,” he said.

    “I was able to build networks for future research collaboration and was exposed to dairy systems in the US.”

    The highlight for Adam was seeing the latest breakthroughs on silage production and forage systems and learning about alternative dairy production systems.

    He also sought to build his skills by attending workshops on modelling nutrition in dairy cattle and statistical analysis for mixed models.

    “These workshops meant I could apply new knowledge directly to my research,” Adam said.

    Adam was struck by the emphasis the conference had on developing young people, and believes it was a lesson in how to attract and retain talented young people to dairy here in Australia.

    “They had mentoring sessions for young people and allowed them to meet up with potential employers – it’s a great way to support a network of young people and keep them in the industry.”

    Adam would not hesitate to recommend the program to others – citing the global networks he created and the training opportunities he had.

    “There are a lot of opportunities for learning through the Dairy Science Travel Grants and you get the chance to make contacts in a range of countries.”

    TIA researcher and Travel Grant recipient Adam Langworthy

  • Copy Link Case study: Northern Victorian nutritionist builds skills

    Northern Victorian ruminant nutritionist Ellen Fitzgibbon’s Dairy Science Travel Grant allowed her to develop new knowledge and skills by meeting world leading researchers.

    The 28-year-old lives on-farm in Nagambie and grew up with a passion for agriculture, eventually leading to her current role managing research and development for CopRice Nutrition.

    “The future of agriculture is something that runs through my veins,” Ellen said.

    “I’m passionate about the success of young Australian farmers with a particular focus on sustainability – both economic and environmental.”

    On a day-to-day basis, Ellen oversees new product and additive trials, develops best practice models that are practical and achievable on farm, and coordinates education programs for the CopRice field nutrition team and farming communities.

    One of Ellen’s current projects sees her working with farmers to assess and manipulate the quality of colostrum being produced by spring calving herds, and assessing successful rates of transfer to calves.

    “Reproduction is a specific focus of mine – with so many pieces to the puzzle, we’re following a generation from conception through to the milking platform,” Ellen said.

    Ellen applied for a Dairy Science Travel Grant to continue to build her skills after previously undertaking Dairy Australia’s training programs such as Repro Right, InCalf, Feeding Pastures for Profit and Advanced Nutrition in Action.

    “I have been fortunate enough to complete a number of Dairy Australia programs in the past, and I was thrilled to receive one of the Dairy Science Travel Grants,” she said.

    A busy few days at the American Dairy Science Association annual meeting saw Ellen meet with global leaders in her field, taking in new insights which she plans to apply directly to her work in Australia.

    Some of the topics she gained new insights on included pregnancy failure, metabolic health and nutrition, fetal programming, fodder conservation, and taking data to make decisions.

    “To attend a conference with over 3,000 like minded people, passionate about the same industry, presented an incredible opportunity to broaden my networks – I will rely on the relationships built for the entirety of my career,” Ellen said.

    Ruminant nutritionist and Travel Grant recipient Ellen Fitzgibbon

  • Copy Link Case study: Young ruminant nutritionist brings global insights back to Australia

    For 34-year-old ruminant nutritionist Jess Bloomfield, the 2019 Dairy Science Travel Grants program was a chance to build her skills and further her career in Australian agriculture.

    The young mum, now based in Moriac, Victoria, first developed her passion for animals living and working on a beef farm throughout her teenage years – a passion that saw her study a Bachelor of Science in Animal Production at Charles Sturt University.

    After working directly with dairy farmers as a ruminant nutrition consultant, Jess took on her current role as executive officer of the Australian Association of Ruminant Nutrition.

    “The Dairy Science Travel Grants program is a fantastic opportunity for young people who want to forge a career in dairy,” Jess said.

    “You can see what’s at the forefront of agricultural science and bring that back to your work in Australia – and it gives you a network of international experts to call on for advice.”

    The program gave Jess the opportunity to meet global experts at the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she boosted her already formidable knowledge of ruminant nutrition.

    “I loved being in a room full of people who are passionate about the same things as me,” she said.

    “Everyone is there to learn about dairy nutrition and it was really great to be among people who are leaders in their field.”

    The highlight for Jess was learning about environmental and nutritional conditions of cows in late gestation, and the latest research on how this and the first few weeks of life impact the lifelong immunity, milk production and fertility of those calves.

    “This research is very relevant for Australia – we need to ensure diets and heat stress management are sufficient to support the cows’ next lactation and future calves,” Jess said.

    After the ADSA annual meeting, Jess travelled to Michigan State University to catch up with the Associate Professor Dr Adam Loch on his latest research projects.

    “Adam is well versed in milk fat depression, which is very relevant to us in winter and spring – it was great to chat to him one-on-one about what we can do,” Jess said.

    She also successfully convinced Wisconsin State University Associate Professor Dr Heather White to travel to Australia and share her cutting-edge insights on nutrient partitioning, metabolism and fresh cow management.

    “This was one of my goals – to meet with credible experts to bring to Australia, so our local nutritionists can take new insights on-farm to their own clients and customers.”

Nuffield Scholarship

Nuffield awards primary producers annual scholarships to support overseas travel and study. Dairy Australia provides for one dairy industry scholarship.

For more information, visit Nuffield Australia.

Churchill Fellowships

Churchill Fellowships are open to anyone who would like to explore successful practices in other countries, after examining available options in Australia.

For more information, visit Churchill Fellowships.


Collaboration with education providers

Dairy Australia works with TAFEs and other registered training providers to develop courses for those interested in furthering a career in dairy or to build skills for people working on farms.

Courses include education around on-farm skills like milking processes and mastitis prevention, to pasture management and farm business management.

Initiatives

Dairy Feed tools

Dairy Feed Tools is a complete feed management toolset for dairy farmers and managers. Feed planning, cost and resource management backed by Australian feed and pasture data to most accurately reflect the needs of your herd

Hay and grain reports

The hay and grain report is commissioned by Dairy Australia to provide an independent and timely assessment of hay and grain markets in each dairying region. The report is updated 40 weeks per year.

More Initiatives