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New farmer soaks up dairy conference insights

Attending the 2018 Australian Dairy Conference in Melbourne recently has given Telena Walsh from Circular Head, Tasmania, the impetus to help her father Chris fulfil his dream of farm ownership. 

The 21-year-old attended the conference thanks to a bursary from Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network (ALWN) – an opportunity she was alerted to through Dairy Australia’s Regional Development Program, DairyTas. 

At the conference, Telena soaked up the atmosphere, networking opportunities and information, gaining knowledge to take back to her own workplace – a newly converted dairy farm, Montagu Dairies, which is owned by her parents and their equity partner Anthony “Hans” Lissington and managed by Chris.

At the conference, she was particularly inspired by Lino Saputo’s life story and a highlight was the full day tour to Gippsland’s dairy region, where she visited farms that, like Montagu Dairies, are starting to use whey products to feed their cows.

According to Dairy Australia project manager Natasha Busbridge, who coordinates ALWN, helping dairy women attend the Australian Dairy Conference provided an important professional development opportunity, with one bursary offered in each of the eight dairy regions.

“ADC offers a diverse range of industry highlights and technical topics to attract farmers,” she said. “But getting time off-farm, especially for women, can be challenging. All our farmers attending the conference took something away with them to help their business and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other farmers.”

And Telena agrees.

“There were lots of things to take back to the farm,” she said. 

“We all work together and share ideas so it was great to hear from so many good speakers and to look at how farms in Gippsland do things. It was really good to socialise with dairy farmers from all around Australia and around the world. I’m already in two local discussion groups run by Dairy Tas, but I’d love to go to the conference again.”
Now back working on the former beef property, which was converted to a dairy farm less than a years ago, Telena says being a new employee in a new enterprise is constantly challenging.

“It’s exciting; every day is different,” she said. “You’re clearing bush, putting in new fences and changing everything all the time.”

Previously, her parents Chris and Gillian had leased a farm, but had always wanted their own place. The current equity partnership is making that a reality and Telena couldn’t be happier to be playing her part.

“I know farming and enjoy the lifestyle and when I left school there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. My father has been doing it since he was 16 so it’s probably in my blood. Having a farm was always his dream and I want to help him achieve that.”

Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network was established to connect and support Australian dairy women. It is an active on-line community and can be joined at: