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Wayne’s Kicking Goals for Dairy

At 45 years of age, Tasmanian dairy farmer Wayne Saward is finally hanging up his boots after more than 30 years of playing local football. 

Asked what he did with his old boots, Wayne said he threw them in the bin. 

But surely, after all this time you’d want to keep your old boots as a memento of all those years of footy?

“I was worried I’d be tempted to pull them on again,” he said, “so I got rid of them.”

His departure as a player from the local footy scene was celebrated in style when his played his final match with Yeoman, the Burnie team he has played with for the past four years, alongside his three sons Alex 23, Damian 21, and Sam 15. 

As Sam is a junior with Burnie Dockers, a special request had to be put to the local league to clear him to play in Dad’s final match.

“It was good to play beside my three boys in my last match,” said the quietly spoken dairy farmer from South Riana near Burnie. “I wanted to finish on a high.” 

Wayne and his wife Caroline also have two daughters: Emilie 13 and Shania 12, who are pretty sharp netballers as well.

Over the past 25 years, Wayne, who started milking cows as a 17 year old in 1987, has been an employee, a manager and a share farmer. He estimates he’s worked on eight or nine dairy farms in that time.

The family is now coming into their fourth season as share farmers on the 800 plus cow dairy farm at ‘Blythe Vale’. The farm is owned by AgCAP, the trustee and manager of the Sustainable Agricultural Fund. AgCAP is developing a unique approach to share farming in Tasmania that draws together the traditions of family farming and combines them with non-farming investors.

One of the unique features of the AgCAP share farming arrangement is that the share farmers employ their own staff.

“We choose who works with us,” said Wayne. “Every one of them has been with us since we started. Everyone knows what to do. We don’t have to talk about it when we get here. We all just go about our business.”

While the three staff look after the milking, Wayne and Alex are responsible for all the farm work – pastures, fertiliser, irrigation and moving cows between paddocks. Caroline is the specialist calf rearer. 

Under AgCAP’s system, the share farmers’ incomes are set at a guaranteed price for milk solids irrespective of what the processor pays. This reduces the risk for the share farming family. Fluctuations in milk price are absorbed by the investors who have the added benefit of balancing their returns across the range of commodities within the group, which also includes cropping, cotton and beef.

“It’s a good system,” Wayne said. “We’ve been on thirds with share farming and there’s just too much cost. This is the best farm we’ve been on. We’ve got in front and we’re making good money.”

Wayne and Caroline have bought a house where they now live, a short distance away from the farm. 

“We wanted to be able to leave the farm so we’re not living on the job,” Wayne said. “Living off the farm gives us a chance to switch off.

“We’re looking to the future now,” he said. “We had thought we might give it away but now, with Alex coming along, we’re thinking we’d quite like to manage another farm with Alex as one share farmer and one of the other staff as another on ‘Blythe Vale’.

“Being on farm is a great way to bring the kids up and a way of earning some pocket money along the way, plus they develop a strong work ethic,” he said. “Where else can you get a job where you can go to town when you want, jump in the car and do other things when you want?”


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