Brothers go from Grangemockler to 6,000-cow dairy unit in Gooloogong, New South Wales
Two Tipperary brothers working on one of Australia's largest single-site dairy operations have urged students to travel and farm in other parts of the world as the family farm will still be there when they get back.
Shane and David Columby made the ambitious move from Grangemockler to Moxey Farms in Gooloogong, New South Wales, which has 6,000 dairy cows on site and plans to expand even more.
Shane (26), completed his BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in 2015, with 23-year-old David graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Land Management in Agriculture in recent weeks.
While they completed their work placements in Ireland, the travel bug caught them and Shane moved to Australia last spring after working for a year with a feed merchant in Kilkenny. David followed this summer.
"It was brilliant to have had got a job in the sector after finishing college but I always wanted to experience farming at a larger scale around the world," Shane said.
"I began work at Moxey Farms in June, milking in both a 50-unit rapid exit herringbone and an 80-unit rotary parlour. I am now working on the silage team where we are currently harvesting 30,000 tonnes of cereal silage as well as harvesting Lucerne which is cut every 25 days."
Younger brother David later joined the dairy cow health team and maternity unit onsite at Moxey Farms.
"Being part of the health team on the farm is what I aspired to do while I was in university but I didn't expect to be able to work in the area full-time as there is little opportunity in this area in Ireland," he said.
"The large scale of farming in Australia has opened up new areas on farms for the likes of onsite health teams with daily interaction and health checks with the herd.
"Working abroad in Australia creates opportunities for career progression, especially in areas not available on small farms in Ireland. The disadvantage is being away from friends and family.
"In the future I hope to continue travelling and working in the agri sector, eventually going to the Middle East to continue experiencing dairy farming on a large scale, with the skills I will have gained in animal health in particular."
Shane's ambition is to move home, bringing as much knowledge as he can with him to further his career in Ireland. The brothers have a farming background, but describe the small suckler farm as "more of a pastime".
"It's great working here in the warm sunny weather and with your own independence, but you will have your bad days working abroad too where all you want to see is a field of grass and even a shower of rain," Shane added.
"My advice is don't be afraid to travel and see how farming is done in other parts of the world. Do it while you have the chance. The farm will still be there when you get back."
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