Fourth-generation dairy farmer, Tahlia McSwain, from Chapman Hill in Western Australia has been announced as the 2019 Holstein Australia Youth UK Exchange winner. Funded by Holstein Australia, in partnership with Holstein UK, the exchange begins in late September.
Ms McSwain will spend a month travelling the length and breadth of Britain staying and working with Holstein UK members, and will also take part in the South West Dairy Show, the UK's largest dairy show, and the All Britain All Breeds Calf Show. The All Breeds All Britain Calf Show is one of the highlights of the UK's Holstein Young Breeders calendar, featuring showmanship and calf conformation classes for seven dairy breeds.
The focus of her trip will be learning, practical on-farm experience, skills development and networking. She will gain first-hand knowledge of dairy farming in the UK and is planning to use that information to further her own career in the family business, Boallia Creek Holsteins.
Twenty-four year old McSwain is a Western Dairy Young Dairy Network committee member, Southern Districts Rural Ambassador and graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management. She holds a Certificate III in Agriculture through the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia.
In conjunction with her parents, Kingsley and Judy, she runs Boallia Creek Holsteins, milking 600 Holsteins on the 800-hectare property. The farm has been in the McSwain family since 1930 when Ms McSwain's great-grandfather moved from Victoria to set up the farm with humble beginnings - six Jerseys and 38 hectares as part of the WA Government's group settlement farm program.
Her passion in the business is in the breeding and genetic selection of her animals and the science of improving overall milk quantity and quality. She is also focused on the many changes facing the industry and how the next generation of dairy farmers will need to adapt to meet an environment shaped by a changing climate and animal welfare issues.
"I'm really excited to be heading to the UK in September and looking forward to gaining a real insight into the differences and similarities in the Holstein world between the two countries," Ms McSwain said.
"Visiting Holstein operations overseas, understanding the way they farm and operate, is a fantastic opportunity. In an ever-changing world with technology in farming becoming more and more important to meet the challenges my generation will face, seeing the technologies available in Europe will allow me to bring back ideas for the future of Boallia Creek."
Holstein Australia CEO Graeme Gillan said Ms McSwain's passion, knowledge and commitment to the dairy industry, the Holstein breed and the family business were key in her selection for the exchange.
"Our interview panel were impressed with Tahlia's vision, and how she intends to use the experience she gains in the UK to further both her dairy career and the family business. She will be a great ambassador for the next generation of the dairy industry in Australia overseas," he said.
"Interest in the Holstein Australia Youth UK Exchange continues to grow, with a record number of applicants this year.
"Overall the calibre of applicants was very high, and if this is representative of our future dairy farmers and industry leaders, I think the Australian dairy industry will be in very good hands."
The return leg of the exchange program will take place in early 2020 with a young UK dairy farmer spending a month working with Holstein Australia members in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, taking in International Dairy Week and a dairy youth camp.