While many farmers are getting out, a couple from the city has embraced the farming lifestyle.
Geoff and Yvette Brown are defying the trend in the dairy industry and recently purchased their first dairy farm at Ballendella, and they couldn’t be happier.
For Mr Brown it’s a return to the industry he loves, while for Mrs Brown it’s a whole new world, but she’s not complaining.
The couple is milking 120 Jersey cows off 50 ha and has chosen to supply Murray Goulburn. The Browns are aware they are in for a roller-coaster ride but that isn’t going to deter them.
“Dairying is a business and we both come from a background running our own. We will just keep plodding away at it. We had made our decision to go into dairying and the milk price crash happened but the current climate isn’t worrying us too much yet, we don’t want to set the world on fire,” Mr Brown said.
While things are tough at the moment the couple is hoping the milk price will finish higher than the forecast price, and with recent improvements in the world market there is a possibility the season might not be as bad as first thought.
The Browns chose to move to Echuca because they like the area, it is not too far from family and friends in Melbourne and is also a great dairying area.
The catalyst for the move came after a typical day in the city, spent stuck in traffic for hours.
“We both got home and decided neither of us wanted to do what we were doing anymore,” Mrs Brown said. (Mrs Brown was a teacher and Mr Brown was a handyman /renovator.)
“I said to Geoff, ‘what do you want to do?’ and he said, ‘I love cows’ — and now here we are.”
For Mr Brown it is a return to his roots. He comes from a dairy farming background in New Zealand. He had his own stud, Royal Green, and was surprised, proud and excited to find that some of the cows he has recently purchased go back to the sire Royal Green Elmo (Taranak) — a bull he bred while in New Zealand.
Mr Brown loves the challenge of breeding a great cow, with production being a trait in which he is particularly interested. He understands grain and plenty of grass will be needed to achieve his production goals.
“I have imported two years’ supply of semen from Glenbrook Jerseys, which is one of the top producing herds in New Zealand, and I can’t wait to see what happens with the herd over the next four to five years.”
The farm is quite rundown and the Browns have spent their first five weeks ironing out problems and training the cows to get used to the double-up dairy.
The couple was lucky enough to sow the farm down to shaftal and rye before moving there, so spring is looking particularly good.
The recent 20 mm of rain has pushed irrigating back a few weeks and as soon as things dry out the couple will begin cutting silage.
The three different soil types on the farm will need to be addressed and Mr Brown has been taking advice from different people on what to grow in the future. He is pretty sure it will include some permanent pasture.
The couple has plans of setting up a farm stay in the future to provide city people with an education on farming life.
“There is a real gap and we need to educate the wider public that dairy farmers don’t hurt their animals and their welfare is their main priority. When we were coming up as tourists there was no farm stays anywhere and we both think there is a market for that,” Mrs Brown said.
The couple would also like to offer respite for sick children as a way to give back to the community.
Geoff and Yvettte Brown have recently purchased a dairy farm at Ballendella and despite the current downturn in the industry they are positive about their future.