Held over two days in July, the Western Dairy trainee overnight workshop was an educational experience full of all things dairy for 11 trainees currently completing their Certificate III and IV in Agriculture (Dairy Production).

Organised by Western Dairy Training Officer, Fiona Jones, the workshop included tours of Brownes in Brunswick, Halls Family Dairy in Wokalup, Harvey Cheese and Michael Partridge’s farm, White Rocks, in Benger.

Guest speakers throughout the course of the workshop included agronomist Sam Taylor, young dairy farmers Clayton Minson and Harrison Partridge, as well as Western Dairy regional extension officers Dan Parnell and Gemma Longford.

Trainees saw first-hand the production of cheese at the Brownes factory, from milk delivery through to packaging. Some trainees, like Lillian Hughes from Stockdale Pastoral, were lucky enough to sample fresh curd!

From Brownes, the trainees travelled to Halls Family Dairy owned by fourth and fifth generation dairy farmers, Phillip, Suzanne and Tavis Hall. The Hall family explained how their decision to value-add to their business through the production of an artisan cheese from a herd of 10 unique Normande cows has generated a second income stream. Sam Taylor attended the property later in the afternoon to discuss pastures and irrigation.

Harvey Cheese was the final stop for Day 1 of the workshop where cheesemaker Robert St Duke delivered the goods with cheese, ice-cream and (for those over 18!) gin (made from whey) tastings.

Trainees spent the night at Riverside Chalets in Eaton where they were inspired with the journey taken by Clayton Minson, a Certificate III graduate who went through a process of share-farming and now owns and operates a successful dairy business in Roelands.

The second morning of the workshop saw the trainees depart for White Rocks in Benger. Here the trainees met with owners Michael and Harrison Partridge, Western Dairy’s Dan Parnell and several Dairy Australia executives who had made the trip west.

Michael discussed the history of White Rocks and how his focus on the farm was to keep things simple. Michael showed trainees the farm’s effluent ponds and how he had overcome drainage issues on the property.

Meanwhile, Dan Parnell discussed grazing management and estimating the height of pastures in and out of rotations.  He also had trainees excited about furthering their knowledge in the Feeding Pastures For Profit (FPFP) training, delivered by Western Dairy.

Harrison Partridge wrapped up the workshop, explaining how he has taken the path less travelled as a fifth-generation dairy farmer at White Rocks. After completion of his Certificate III and IV, Harrison is currently studying Agribusiness at Curtin University.

Following the success of the trainee overnight workshop, many have asked for it to be run again. Western Dairy plans on coordinating more workshops in the future as it encourages the younger generation to consider a future in dairying.

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