Cobden sharefarmers Daniel and Tracy Gaut never planned to be dairy farmers, but they fell in love with the lifestyle and now have big plans for the next few years.
Yesterday, the couple were announced as the inaugural winners of the DemoDAIRY Foundation’s $5000 Scholarship at the Graham Hall Farm Management Awards.
DemoDAIRY Foundation secretary Ian Teese was on hand at the Red Hill Hall to present the scholarship and said the $5000 had to be used to improve the Gaut’s farm management through training, hiring a consultant/advisor or another agreed to investment.
Daniel said the timing of the scholarship was perfect. He said life as a farmer suited him and although he never planned it, dairy farming was now his family’s future.
“I was working at the supermarket, then started some relief milking, got into some farm management and then we went sharefarming – just rearing calves to start with,” he said.
“Tracy grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Peterborough and had done some relief milking, but I had to learn everything myself – I didn’t do training courses or anything.
“When we went sharefarming there were 25 cows and a motorbike – that was it. Now we’ve built up some assets and we’re looking to buy our own farm in the next five years.”
Daniel, 39, said their big break came nearly four years ago when they switched farms to sharefarm on Geoff and Helen Hickey’s 464 acres at Tandarook Hill outside Cobden.
“They have been really good and we were able to buy into the herd and just recently bought all the stock. We’ve got 350 head and we’re milking just over 200,” he said.
“We’re paying down debt and in the next few years we’re pushing to get our own farm. I’d like to be on our own place within five years. We have three children, aged 15, 13 and 9 so life is busy, but we love it.” – Daniel Gaut
“This scholarship will mean we can get some advice from a farm consultant – particularly on the finance side because buying a farm is a big deal. Getting someone involved in our plans to make sure we go in the right direction will be a big help for us.”
Daniel said they’d finished silage, were about to start filling the sheds with hay, the regrowth in the next few weeks would be ‘unreal’ and he was positive about the future.
“The milk price is good. We left Fonterra and went to ACM in July. Our farm had been with Fonterra/Bonlac for 94 years. We’ve been playing catch up for two and a half years since the factories dropped the price, but we scraped through and things are better,” he said.
“I’m not stressed now, we’re just going with the flow. We know the farm well, we’ve got the cows now and it’s all happening.”
Mr Teese praised the Simpson and District Lions Club for organising the Graham Hall Farm Management Awards and all the event sponsors for investing in the future of the dairy industry.
“Providing this scholarship as part of the Graham Hall awards is a perfect fit for us. They already have the judging set up, the awards have a great profile and adding to the existing success is wonderful for our foundation,” he said.
“Daniel and Tracy are what it’s all about – a young couple, working hard, doing their best and setting their sights on a future in the industry…an industry south-west Victoria relies on so heavily.” – Ian Teese
“This scholarship means they can go and get some help, some advice and some expertise to assist them with their longer term plans to pay down their debt and purchase their own farm with some reliable financials in the background to work to and help safeguard them.
“I’m excited for them and anyone else in a similar situation who loves the industry and is doing the planning and the hard work to turn that love into a livelihood.”
DemoDAIRY Foundation has a range of current grants and scholarships available to anyone forging a career in the dairy industry. Please click here for more information.