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Happy farmer calls on young people to ‘give dairy farming a go’ as industry evolves

Headshot of Aidan Smith
Aidan SmithCountryman
Stockdale Pastoral farm business manager Jack Day in the dairy shed.
Camera IconStockdale Pastoral farm business manager Jack Day in the dairy shed. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Encouraging young people to “give dairy farming a go” has become a passion for Stockdale Pastoral farm business manager Jack Day.

At 30, Mr Day is a Young Dairy Network committee member and has been actively promoting the farm lifestyle and dairy farm work to anyone that’s interested in listening.

“Bringing young people into the industry is important for the future,” Mr Day said.

“Where your food comes from is such an important part of society — it’s never talked about, never focused on.

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“It can be a high earning, skilful role.”

Mr Day has a history of dairy farming in the family in Victoria, and said he was “lucky” he had been exposed to the industry at a young age

Since leaving high school he has been able to work in various positions on farms across the country, including two years on broadacre farms, learning new skills and working towards a management position.

He has been in his current position for 15 months, after working as a farm hand on site at Busselton since he moved up from a smaller operation in Northcliffe in 2017.

“I’m happy,” Mr Day said.

“I get two days off a week due to a flexible roster and great staff that do their jobs.”

He said WA agricultural colleges did a great job at introducing students to the industry and providing basic skills that they can take into further qualifications, but more needed to be done in mainstream public schools to inform young people of the important work and opportunities in agriculture.

“There’s so many different parts to agriculture, I can see the opportunities for people,” he said.

“There’s people lacking employment but we are not getting them to take up the jobs that are available.”

Stockdale Pastoral is owned by Western Dairy Board chair Robin Lammie, who Mr Day said was open to “bounce ideas off each other” in order to improve the operation.

In his role Mr Day manages six to seven full time employees who live in the local Bunbury to Busselton area.

He said since becoming manager there hadn’t been any staff changes — one reason was good “communication”.

“No one should ever feel that they can’t talk about personal or work issues,” Mr Day said.

“We try to provide a safe place for everyone.”

To ensure there is open dialogue, once every month staff gather to discuss anything that is on their minds.

“We talk about everything — there’s no reason to not bring up issues because we are working together,” he said.

The Stockdale Pastoral team milk 600 cows on average with “a mixed bag herd” made up of Friesian, Jersey-Friesian Cross and Jersey cows, supplying up to seven million litres of milk each year to Harvey Fresh, which is owned by Lactalis.

“We supply about 500,000L of milk a month,” Mr Day said, undertaking two milkings a day.

He said a genetics improvement program was underway on farm to breed out unwanted traits and bolster the herd using semen from Holstein and Friesian lines that would over generations “bred back into the herd” more pure bloodline traits.

He said the business model had involved all-year calving, but they had recently switched to a 50-50 Autumn and Spring system to avoid having “calves born in dribs and drabs all year long”.

“Between February and March we have 350 cows calving, with 250 this time of year,” Mr Day said.

To get the best out of the cows, they graze natural pastures and eat a diet of hay and silage, as well as grain — which is fed while in the milking shed on an automatic feeding system that identifies individual cows through their collars and adjusts grain portions depending on their production performance, or in-calf status.

Mr Day said they were gearing up for silage season and expecting to produce between 6500-7000 rolls on farm, which would be fed out during the peak of summer at a rate of 50 rolls per day.

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