A Dubbo dairy family with four generations of involvement in the industry is the latest casualty of the Murray Goulburn pricing controversy.
Kylie and Peter Squires are selling all their Holstein Friesian cattle and their Buckhobble stud, near Geurie, east of Dubbo in western New South Wales.
“In the past five to six months we were on a break even price,” Mrs Squires said as she watched her cows seeking relief from the heat under shade cloth.
“No one wants to work 12-14 hour days on break even. We want to make a little bit of money. That was probably our determining factor to sell up.”
With the Squires selling up the farm, just two dairies will remain in the district, down markedly from eight in 2000.
For the past three-and-a-half years they were supplying Murray Goulburn under its exclusivity terms.
Prior to that and with a herd numbering 370 they had dealt with three other processors.
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A return to any of them was out of the question.
“Murray Goulburn had sent emails to other processors stating that we couldn’t approach any other processor unless we got a letter from Murray Goulburn that we could leave,” Mrs Squires said.
“I put my letter into the Murray Goulburn board. As far as I am aware it has never been to the board to get a release letter. There was no other option to get out of Murray Goulburn.”
The knock-on of the decision meant that the Squires’ son Jayden, with his young family, and dairy manager Lisa Coman were out of a job.
On both sides of the family, Kylie and Peter Squires have benefited from generations of experience.
They were expecting this to continue with Jayden having left preschool teaching to work on their Buckhobble Holstein dairy and stud.
With tears welling and her voice breaking, Mrs Squires said taking such a decision was extremely difficult.
“It was awful. Probably one of the hardest days ever,” she said.
Holsteins go at Dubbo dairy
One of those to leave is Ms Coman, who Mrs Squires described as “like a sister” after being with the operation for ten years.
“This is basically my second home. It is quite an upheaval,” Ms Coman said, as she worked closely on the stud operation as well.
“It’s quite a high quality herd. You look at the young calves. You look at the genetics that you’ve used and the potential which I won’t get to see.”
She has managed to find another job on a dairy on the NSW far south coast near Bombala where she grew up.
While Ms Coman is heading south, Jayden Squires has found work on a nearby property while spending several days with his parents’ beef operation.
As the family come to grips with the decision, their spirits were buoyed by the arrival of Bec Kuhnert from Munich.
She had previously spent time working on the stud while backpacking around Australia before returning to Germany to work in real estate.
She has returned to spend several weeks helping with the change.
“They became my second family. I can’t imagine the place without the dairy cows and workers. It’s really, really sad,” Ms Kuhnert said.
Interest in the herd has come from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Once the sale is conducted in March there will not be a chance to sleep in.
Milking will continue until all the cows are sold and moved to their new home.