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Studious teenager becomes successful dairy farmer

As a scholarly teenager, farming was the last thing on Cassandra Kath’s mind. 

Twenty five years later, however, she’s revelling in success as a Legendairy farmer and stud breeder after winning a major title at International Dairy Week

Cassandra and her husband Andrew, from Forbes NSW, won their first IDW title when their heifer was named Juvenile Champion of the Brown Swiss show.

It’s a long way from growing up in Ourimbah on the NSW central coast where Cassandra’s parents had a small hobby farm but worked in the timber industry.

“Until my mid-teens, my parents would have thought of me as the least likely to be in agriculture,” Cassandra said. “I was a bit of a book worm; not too keen to go outside.”

That changed at Gosford High School when she became involved with the agriculture program’s small Jersey stud.

“In Year 9 a friend and I decided to give the cattle club a go and we joined the show team. It was a real lightning bolt moment; I’d found my thing,” Cassandra said.

Some local Swiss cattle breeders took her under their wings and expanded her interest in showing. She grew to love and own Brown Swiss cows and took any opportunity during school and university to work on dairy farms.

“It was the showing part that got me hooked,” Cassandra said. “I really enjoyed the process and the industry and the friendships.”

Showing cattle also proved to be a matchmaker when Cassandra met Toowoomba dairy farmer Andrew at the Ekka Royal Show in Brisbane.

They married and bought his family farm before leasing it and moving to a larger property at Forbes in a share partnership, starting three years ago with 15 cows and building a 400-strong mixed herd.

Cassandra and Andrew had to put showing on the backburner as they raised three children and built up their farm. “This year was the first time we could go to International Dairy Week for a couple of days as a family,” Cassandra said.

While it was a thrill to win a class with their only entry, it was also the first taste of a big show for Lawson 11, Imogen, 9 and Preston, 7, and they loved it. “It’s so nice to see your kids following in your footsteps, meeting people and having a great time,” Cassandra said.

Cassandra is now well entrenched in the dairy industry and couldn’t think of a better place to work.

“Our proudest achievement is moving to this farm,” she said. “It hadn’t been a dairy farm for about 12 years and we moved out of our comfort zone in Queensland surrounded by family and networks to grow a new business.

“The great thing about dairy is how quickly you can grow when you’re committed and passionate and we’ve met a great network of supportive people.”

Cassandra supports the Legendairy communications program to raise the profile and reputation of the industry.

“I don’t think the work that goes into producing dairy products is valued enough,” she said. “It breaks your heart when you see a bottle of water selling for more than a bottle of milk.

“Fifty years ago most people had a cousin or uncle who was a dairy farmer so there was a better appreciation; now there’s not that exposure but it’s important to promote our animal welfare and that dairy is a potential career option.

“You have to develop so many skills. It’s not just harvesting milk; if you’ve worked on a dairy farm you can go and do anything.”

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Image courtesy of Forbes Advocate