Queensland dairy farmer Shane Bourke is hoping there is a future for his state’s dairy industry.
He is only one of 10 dairy farmers left in the Warwick area.
He has watched farmer after farmer leave the industry as drought and high costs have forced many out — recent rainfall of 50 mm has given him some much needed hope.
“We have had some really good rains that have got the creeks flowing and recharged underground water, and milk price is looking a bit better,” Shane said.
Shane is a generational farmer who milks 600 cows on 566 ha along with his father John and brothers Paul and Shane.
The majority of the herd are Illawarra with about 20 per cent of the herd Holstein.
“Dad started with Illawarras and I have kept them going. It gets pretty humid up here and we need a tough breed of cow,” Shane said.
“Illawarras are hardy, have good calving ease and high production and protein — I am happy milking them.”
The family has two compost barns and the herd is fed a TMR from October through to May.
Through the winter months the herd graze one pasture feed during the day and a TMR at night.
Over summer corn and silage is pitted for silage while over winter it’s barley and trit.
“In a normal year we are self-sufficient for fodder. We have always bought in grain but over the last 10 months we have had to buy in lots of fodder and that has been the killer.”
Shane said he hopes there is a future for Queensland dairy but the recent closing of the Lactalis Rockhampton site has left him wondering how long before the Brisbane site is shut.
Shane is a passionate cow man and he loves milking cows along with the challenge of getting them to produce well.
The purchase of Illawarra Ovensdale Pearl in March last with neighbouring dairy farmer and mate Matt Henry has bought some joy to Shane in 2020, after she was crowned International Dairy Week grand champion Illawarra exhibit for 2020.
The boys took Pearl along with three other cows down to Tatura on an 18-hour, one-way trip.
“We stopped overnight at the Forbes showground, milked her there and then spent the lead-up to the show with the Hayes family at Girgarre.
“Pearl is a great traveller and she didn’t miss a beat. She doesn’t stop and if you keep the feed up to her, she will just keep eating,” he said.
Getting Pearl up and ready to walk the ring at International Dairy Week might have been a long haul but the mates said they would do it all again if they had a cow that was good enough.