Katie and Renee Anderson have milk running through their veins.
The sisters love cows — whether it be breeding them, rearing them or showing them — and they spend a large part of their life helping run their family dairy farm Sun Vale at Yarroweyah, with their parents Greg and Michelle.
The family milks 400 Holsteins (black and whites and reds) and one Jersey (the Jersey is only a recent purchase).
The Andersons are familiar faces at local shows, International Dairy Week and the Victorian Winter Fair, and they spend a large part of their time preparing cattle for the show ring.
That dedication paid off when their cow Sun Vale Real Sally was crowned champion two-year-old in old milk (30 months and under) at Holstein Australia’s awards night in August. The award topped off a great year for Sun Vale Real Sally after she won the two-year-old in milk section at IDW and went on to receive an honorable mention.
Katie said the win was made even more special because they bred Sally themselves.
“She was bred out of a cow that we bought from Betty Hall from Plana Holsteins in Pinola, South Australia,” Katie said.
“We never showed her as a heifer but when she calved down she had a beautiful udder and we thought we would be mad not to give her a go. We had never won a Holstein class before, let alone a win at IDW or Holstein Australia, so it’s been a great year and it is really special.”
Katie said the family was very excited about Sally and was looking forward to her future.
Renee, 17, and Katie, 19, are no strangers to putting the hard work into their cows, especially when they are young.
“We both love breeding and growing animals and we love watching their development from calf through to heifer to cow. Every single calf born on our farm is given the opportunity to grow and make a cow and feeding them is just so important,” Katie said.
Friendliness is also a trait that runs strongly though the Sun Vale herd. Katie laughed as she said if you walked into the heifer paddock, every single animal would come up for a pat.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are a show cow or not, they still get lots of love and attention from us.”
The Andersons moved to their 310 ha dairy farm at Yarroweyah five years ago. They moved from Queensland chasing a better milk price and future for their business.
“We are really happy we made the move and it is great to be so close to events like IDW and the Winter Fair,” Katie said.
Katie last year won the Royal Melbourne Show’s coveted Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship, which has a bursary of $10 000 to visit dairy regions in Asia, New Zealand or the United States. She is heading to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin (US) in October and is looking forward to all the experiences the trip will bring.
“I am very excited to attend the show, look at the show cows and catch up with people that I have met through the industry over the years. It’s going to be great,” she said.
While both Katie and Renee are hoping to have a future in the dairy industry, their parents are encouraging them to have a career off-farm.
“I am studying nursing because I think it is important to have an off-farm qualification. “Dairying is a hard industry to be involved in and mum and dad have been very supportive, but ideally I would love to be dairy farmer,” Katie said.
The Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship application process includes pre-show elements of an essay and panel interview, as well as competing in either the All Breeds Elite Dairy Heifer Show or the Dairy Youth Handlers Classic at the Royal Melbourne Show.