Kids' heart-warming surprise for farming parents
WHEN Bill and Coralie Stewart boarded a plane for a holiday to Hobart last week they had no idea their children had set them up to win a Holstein Master Breeders Award at the Holstein Friesian Association of Australia AGM.
"We didn't know anything about until the dinner at Hobart," Mr Stewart said.
"They gave us a ticket to Tasmania and booked us into the hotel, we only found out a short time before we arrived that there was a Holstein Frisian Association meeting on at the hotel."
To qualify for the award, the family's stud, Gilabils Holsteins, had to maintain 20 years of registration with the association, produce a certain number of purebreed heifers, and maintain a high rate of milk production.
The award is the product of a lifetime of work for the Canningvale farmers.
Mr Stewart left school when he was 16 years old to work the family farm and registered his first stud animals in 1976.
It is a breed he is proud to work, despite changing fashions in the dairy industry.
"We think they are good dairy cows, they are high- producing cows," he said.
"Back in the real old days farmers reckoned they only produced water, but we reckon they have good fat and protein. Our cows give a 43 per cent fat and 34 per cent protein average in their milk.
"They produce more than a kilogram a day of both fat and protein."
Like many Southern Downs dairy farmers, 2018 has been a hard year for the Stewart family with drought and the high cost of feed eating into their operation's bottom line.
This award means they end the year on a high note.
"It's been very dry, we had to buy corn silage and normally we can grow all our fodder crops, but we had to buy those in, too. We had about 200 acres (81 hectares) of cultivation ready to plant but we weren't able to plant for a lack of rainfall," Mr Stewart said.
While the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation push for a drought levy Mr Stewart said farmers needed to increase production to stay afloat rather than rely on the big supermarkets.
"We been trying to combat the dollar milk, but it's like hitting your head against a brick wall," he said.
"We just try to be more efficient and work longer hours," he said.
"If there was plenty of money in dairy there would be plenty of work to employ another man, but you just can't afford that.
"The average for a dairy farm years ago would have been 60 cows but now the average is about 100 cows.
Mr Stewart increased his herd to 130 cows recently to provide enough income for both his family and his son's family.
"We're hoping things will improve, my son has just moved to the farm, he's quite keen to stay on, we increased our numbers of cows to accommodate." he said.