The Dairy Industry has celebrated 100 years of Holstein cattle in Australian paddocks with an anniversary sale in Bendigo, in central Victoria.
The sale traced the families of the first Holstein heard that arrived in Australia in 1914.
Graeme Gillan, CEO of Holstein Australia, says the first families played a pivotal role in setting up the iconic breed in Australia.
“They had the foresight to realise that by having a heard book, by identifying animals, by keeping the pedigrees, meant that people across Australia had the opportunity to be part of what the Holstein breed was.
“That brand of animal actually all go back to this group of cow families and it was tremendous for people to see that.”
Holsteins make up 75 per cent of cattle in the Australian dairy industry and with their distinctive black and white spots is one of the most recognizable farm animals in the world.
Mr Gillan says that while the industry has seen continuous growth over the past century, there hasn’t been a significant increase in the value of the industry in recent decades.
“We are probably not getting that much more money than people were 20 years ago.
“It’s a different scale of business though because heard sizes have changed dramatically and while family farms are still the corner stone, it’s now family corporations.”
Mr Gillan says the announcement of record milk prices for the start of this year’s dairy season is a critical issue ensuring the future livelihood of Australian dairy farmers.
We’ve gone from a breed of cows that was actually not the most popular to now over 75% of the dairy population
Graeme Gillan, CEO Holstein Australia
“We need that sustainability to give people the opportunity to invest in their businesses.
“The dairy business is no different to any other, you need to be profitable to invest, develop and attract people into it so this is a great opportunity.”
The Holstein has developed a global reputation as a leading milk producer says Mr Gillan and for the dairy industry has become quintessentially Australian.
“It’s been animal that’s also had international appeal and that’s why Holsteins are in high export demand and at time that’s been a really important source of revenue for dairyman.”
After looking back at a century of ups and downs, Graeme says pace at which the industry is moving forward will create an exciting era for the Holstein cattle over the next 100 years.
“It’s exciting, you look back and see what’s been done to get you here but you also look forward to youth that are out here participating in events.
“It’s the advent of new science such as genomics and the ability to have the ways to identify key traits that are going to help in profitability in the future.
“There are things that perhaps we haven’t even thought of from a nutrition point of view that we will be able to identify and make the animal even more valuable.”