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Jack's passion for dairy

Young dairy farmer Jack Day thinks his job might be the best kept secret in Western Australia.

For the past two years Jack, 22, has worked as herd manager for dairy farmers Julie and Wally Bettink at Northcliffe. He loves the job and reckons others would share the same passion if they had the chance.

“It’s ridiculous how you go into a city and people don’t understand where things in the supermarket come from,” Jack said.

“I’m sure there are people who would have a passion about dairy if they knew about it,” he said. “It’s not just dairy farming but all agricultural industries that need to find more people to work.”

Jack hopes Legendairy will draw more people to dairying.

“Legendairy is a great way to get what we do out to the public,” he said. “People don’t really understand what farmers do.”

Jack is the first full-time Australian worker employed by the Bettinks who usually rely on short-term international backpackers.

“That’s because no-one knows about it,” Jack said. “If you’re brought up in the city how are you going to know about working on a dairy farm?”

Jack was raised on a large cropping farm but dairy was always his passion. He would even visit relatives on holidays to work on their dairy farm.

“Everyone here thought I was stupid working on my holidays but it didn’t feel like I was working,” he said.  

Jack’s passion stems from his love of cows.

“I have a connection with cows,” he said. “I love them and their funny personalities. We’ve got some of the funniest cows. There are two that come into the dairy and know how to pull the feeder chords. They feed themselves as they go along.

“They’re smarter than people think.”

Jack has no doubt his future career will be in dairy, though he’s not yet sure what path he’ll take to pursue his goal of owning a farm.

In the meantime he’s enjoying his growth in the industry.

“I like it here with the Bettinks,” he said. “I fit in with the family and it makes life easier for them because they’d never had a full-time worker in the 30 years they’ve had the farm.”

His job involves managing and training employees, computer data input, organising milking rosters and helping with the daily jobs from feeding cows to milking when needed.

“I do a bit of everything, depending on who’s around,” he said.

In the summer of 2014-15 this included fighting fires that destroyed much of the farm.

Every fence was burnt along with a lot of silage but the Friesian-Jersey cross herd was saved. “It was pretty hectic: like World War III,” Jack said.

Despite the damage, the farm has bounced back.

“We’re producing 5000 litres more to supply to Lion compared to three years ago,” Jack said. “That’s with no increase in herd size, just changing little things around the dairy like feeding a bit differently and introducing mastitis detectors.” 

Jack’s commitment to the industry includes membership of Dairy Australia’s Young Dairy Network (YDN) and he’s always striving to learn more.

He hopes to go to New Zealand in November with the YDN to build on the knowledge he gained from attending a dairy symposium in Sydney last year after winning a scholarship.

“I’ll definitely stay in the dairy industry,” he said. “There’s no reason to ever leave; it’s my passion.”