Milk’s been good to us
Although his diary profits have dwindled over the last year, life is still looking good for Trevor Hourigan
THE Oxley Flats farmer has been milking in the Wangaratta region his entire life.
“Over the whole journey, milk’s been good to us,” Mr Hourigan told North East and Goulburn Murray Farmer.
“We are going through a rough patch at the moment, but it will come good.”
The Hourigan family started their foray into milk when his father made the now legendary decision to swap his horse for three cows.
Today, Trevor Hourigan and his brothers milk more than 800 cows.
“We’re all in beef and dairy,” said Mr Hourigan.
“We’re all within four kilometres of each other and all help each other out.”
Mr Hourigan also has his own kids on the farm, with his oldest son now in full time operations.
His daughter Amie is a competitive horse rider, making it to the school titles in Sydney last year.
She is also following the family tradition, up early before school to milk the cows and attend her horses.
Aside from his Friesians, Mr Hourigan has also run a Limousin stud for the last 25 years.
“I used to work on Home Station for Tony and Jill Whistler, which is just up the road,” he said.
“They had a big Limousin stud – that’s where I got mine.”
He currently runs 50 females, selling 15 bulls a year on- property to regular clients.
He also feeds a lot of their Friesian bulls into steers to sell at market, which helps supplements the dairy income.
“With the way milk is going, it is very handy to have the cattle,” said Mr Hourigan.
The whole family has been with Murray Goulburn since their father first sold to them over 60 years ago.
But unlike many in the industry, Mr Hourigan doesn’t feel betrayed, nor does he put the sole blame on the shoulders of MG.
“They didn’t cause a glut; they didn’t cause the world market to drop.”
Though he does concede that MG didn’t handle it that well.
“It is a shame all these people are losing their jobs, but as a farmer you often go through seasons like that.
“Some people get angry about it, but I stay positive and try and do my best.”
He sees a bigger problem in farming being the lack of support from the greater community.
“The community’s views on farming are not good.
“Some people have no concept of how their food gets from paddock to plate.
“The gap is gotten wider and wider.”
He said it is common for farmers in the area to get “petty” complaints about dust off tracks, spraying or noisy cows.
“I don’t think people really understand how much the farming community puts into the local economy,” he said.
“We rarely get to keep much money for ourselves.”
And though the attitude disappoints him, Mr Hourigan isn’t likely to go anywhere soon. Or ever. “You couldn’t get him away from here,” said his wife Julie Hourigan.
“It’s a great life and he wouldn’t do anything else.”
STAYING STRONG: Trevor Hourigan and wife Julie say it’s a great life and they wouldn’t do anything else.
GREEN GRASS AND BLUE SKIES: Trevor Hourigan surveys the dairy cows on his property in Oxley Flats.