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Safety first for SA dairy farmer

Michele Golder is helping to make dairy farms a safer place.

A Legendairy farmer from Jervois on the Murray River near Tailem Bend, she has been part of a committee guiding a new Dairy Australia farm safety starter kit which is being rolled out across Australian farming communities. 

Michele says the new kit will contribute to a safer dairy industry and is being embraced by farmers.

“It looks at different aspects of farm safety; such as use of quad bikes and working in confined spaces, and gives information and help we need as farmers to establish safety programs and procedures,” she said.

“It will help farmers to become more aware of their health and safety obligations.”

Michele says the initiative is an important part of changing safety culture on farms and the perception of farming.

The starter kit will help to change people’s perception about farming.

“A farm is a business and workplace, not an adventure playground. People from the city see the big open spaces and think you’re there to have fun and hoon around on your quad bike; we’ve got to change that perception.”

Michele grew up on a sheep and cropping farm and worked as a nanny before marrying into dairy. “I had nothing to do with dairy until I married my husband Lawrie 40 years ago,” she said. “I remember saying as a 12-year-old that I was going to marry a farmer; I hadn’t intended a dairy farmer but that’s what happened.”

It was a steep learning curve but Michele grew to love dairying, particularly the cows. Michele and Lawrie and their six staff milk about 240 Friesians and have 100 beef cattle. They produce all their own hay and grain.

“It’s rewarding working with animals,” she said. “I like to rear the calves and see their genetics improving, while Lawrie prefers the cropping side of things.”

“The cows all have their own personalities. People laugh when you say that but when you’re with them all the time you get to know their mannerisms and what they like. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to them when we get to the point of retiring.”

Lawrie, 65, and Michele, 59, like being farmers but are starting to look for more leisure time.

In 2009 in the midst of a bad drought they had considered relocating, retiring or restructuring, eventually opting for the latter after winning trips to Canada and USA through milk quality awards.

“We learnt a lot about feed-lots and introduced a partial mixed ration with a feed wagon. It worked well and we were amazed at how much production improved.”

The Golders have a good farm safety track record but Michele says all farmers can benefit from the new kit and adapt its information to suit their business.

“I find it difficult to create a policy from scratch so templates were important for me,” she said.

“The rollout is a proud moment for me. I was apprehensive about being involved but realise now my opinion is just as valuable as everyone else and it’s good to contribute to a safer dairy industry.”

For more information on Dairy Australia’s Farm Safety Stater Kit visit   

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