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Young WA farmers gain key insights into Victoria's dairy industry



Several Western Australian dairy farmers recently embarked on a study tour to Victoria to visit a number of the state’s premier dairy research facilities and farms, including Ellinbank SmartFarm in Gippsland and Australia’s largest milk producer, Coomboona Farms.
 
Coordinated by Western Dairy – the WA regional hub of Dairy Australia – the tour provided attendees with the opportunity to learn more about Dairy Australia’s research programs, DairyBio and Dairy Feedbase, as well as innovative dairy farming practices in Victoria.

Rebecca Gordon, Brendan Evans and Zac Bedggood-Skinner were three tour attendees who received a scholarship bursary, funded by the Western Dairy Board, to attend through the WA Young Dairy Network. The WA Young Dairy Network provides opportunities for young people aged between 18 and 35 to develop their skills and create valuable connections within the dairy industry.

 “I really enjoyed the trip, in particular Coomboona Farms. It was incredible to see a dairy on that scale,” Miss Gordon, from Ravenhill Pastoral, said.

“The stand-out for me was visiting Clydevale Holsteins. We had the opportunity to see robotic milking in action, which is something I hadn’t seen before.”

Mr Bedggood-Skinner, from Kerridge Farms, found the Victorian study tour an enlightening experience.

“The opportunity to explore some of the most innovative and technically advanced facilities in Australia, from high-tech research facilities to different compost barns and free-stall solutions was incredible,” he said.

“My favourite part of the tour would have to be the seeing the advances in dairy technology, this has given me hope and excitement for the future of the industry.”

DairyBio and Dairy Feedbase are research programs overseen by co-directors Professor Ben Cocks from Agriculture Victoria and Dairy Australia Director Major Innovation, Kevin Argyle.

DairyBio is the dairy industry’s leading animal and forage bioscience research program at AgriBio, located on La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus, while Dairy Feedbase aims to revolutionise feedbase management on Australian dairy farms.

Ellinbank SmartFarm is the hub for Dairy Australia’s Dairy Feedbase research projects and has the ambitious target of being the world’s first carbon-neutral dairy farm.

Mr Argyle believes the WA cohort benefited from its tour of both facilities, especially given the impact climate change is having on dairy farms across Australia.

“No one farm system is the same and we are seeing a huge variation as a result of climate change,” Mr Argyle said.

“Through the DairyBio program, we are looking further into warm season pasture species and the aim of breeding cows with improved longevity and resilience to climate change.”

DairyBio and Dairy Feedbase are a joint venture between Dairy Australia, Agriculture Victoria and the Gardiner Foundation.


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