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Path laid out to their field of dreams

§ June 1st, 2011 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Path laid out to their field of dreams

Careers day for students at Stratford

Some advice given to high school students at an agricultural careers day in Stratford this week: The quickest route into farming for girls is to marry a rich farmer, while the boys should just focus on becoming rich.
That was from Sean Froude, ex-dairy farmer and now a QCONZ milk quality production consultant, who was one of the experts promoting farming careers to 147 students from 14 Taranaki region high schools at Stratford on Tuesday.
OutSTanding in the field was organised by Taylored Ltd, which has a contract with Meat and Wool NZ to do nine of these presentations around the country. Students got to put the cups on a cow, learned how milking machines work, met a Hereford bull, got up close to sheep and dogs and shepherds, met world champion shearer Paul Avery, had farming economics explained and saw a vet demonstrate how to get a dead calf out of a cow.
Mr Froude said there were good internationally portable milk industry careers available in tanker driving, lab technology, research, packaging design, cheese making, “and there’s a high demand for fitter welders on steel products.”
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Farm milk is subjected to 13 different tests, including the presence of antibiotics because one gram of penicillin could potentially contaminate and therefore downgrade in value 350,000 litres of bulk milk.
As the temperature outside dropped to about 7 degrees with driving rain, he said people can make fortunes out of milking cows, but they have to do it every day regardless of the weather. “In that recent cold snap I know of one place where 500 cows had to be physically pushed off the rotary platform because they didn’t want to go out into the cold.”
Paul Avery showed them the basics of shearing a sheep and told his story. “My dad originally taught me to shear, then I went to a shearing school where they told me I’d be doing 60 a day within two weeks if I listened to everything. Well, in two weeks my tally went from 150 to 210.”
He had set himself two goals: to own a sheep and cattle farm and be the shearing world champion, the second of which he achieved last year in Norway. “I was pretty stoked to achieve those goals. You have to set goals for yourself in life.”
Bell Block contract milker Kevin Payne, 23, left school to work on farms at 17. He started on $28,000 a year, and is now paid 71 cents per kg of milk solids. This amounts to about $60,000 before tax after paying staff and some running costs. “I’ve done the boy racer thing, it’s just a waste of money,” he said. “I saved to buy cows and now I have 25 head. The downside is on a day with thunder and lightning you still have to go our in it. Farmhands work 12 days on, two days off, plus statutory holidays and annual leave.”