Youth in Dairy MOOve into 21st Century

Today’s guest post comes from Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion and Holstein Youth Mentor Tom Pearce

For better or worse and bordering on an obsession, the mobile phone has become our more useful “left” hand. Ask yourself – How often do you see a young person these days with a firm grip on their mobile device? Right -Every spare second! And what are they doing with it? Chances are if they aren’t writing another text message in record time they are using some form of social media!

The Holstein Youth mission statement is “To attract and develop the next generation, providing a sustainable framework for the future of the Australian Dairy Industry”. We believe the best way to do this and connect with the majority of the younger generation who are holding on tightly to that smartphone is through Social Media

When Charles Darwin said in the 19th century – “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change” I don’t think in his wildest dreams he would have envisioned the phenomenal   level of technology in the 21st century

Social Media  is often described as “revolutionary”, and those resisting the change are being left behind, fast! While Holstein Youth has had a social media presence for some time it is only in the last 6 months or so we have really “jumped on the bandwagon” so to speak and started to milk it for all its worth to boost our online presence and audience. Not only are we trying to connect with the dairy community we feel our content is relevant and of interest to the wider community.

So what has Holstein Youth been doing in this space?


Facebook –


Our most active platform now with 581 “Likes”, that has seen a weekly page audience peak at 8000+ and our most popular post reaching 3000+ Facebook users worldwide. Some of the statistics are truly amazing! While our main audience are Australian’s, others include from the USA, Canada, New Zealand and as far afield as Pakistan, Ecuador and Egypt to mention a few! We endeavour to keep the page updated regularly so our audience can see Coming Events, Photo Albums, Interesting Facts, YouTube clips, links to other competitions and Sale + Show Coverage (proving quite popular for those who can’t attend the event). Being an interactive platform we invite comments from our audience with our “Guess Who” and “Caption This” photos. It is interesting to note that the most successful “posts” are the one’s our audience can relate to and share an emotional connection.clip_image004

The caption ‘Should have been a “Cow’ asaki’ had 816 Likes and was shared 333 times on other Facebook pages

Twitter –

Twitter is the newest social media platform we have ventured into. Yes Holstein Youth has joined the conversation (don’t roll your eyes it’s definitely worth looking into, it may be a lot more than what you expect). clip_image006

And while Twitter is not for everyone and may lag behind Facebook in terms of users, the number of users is however rapidly growing. We believe it is important to be in the space as Twitter tends to capture a different audience. All Facebook posts are linked to Twitter and then able to be “retweeted”.

YouTube –


The YouthTube competition was inspired by a number of Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion videos that showcased their industry to the wider community via Youtube. All entries into the YouthTube competition have been uploaded to our YouTube channel for the whole world to see. And going by the statistics YouTube is telling us those videos have been seen, again mostly by Australian’s but other views have come from countries like Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Costa Rica amongst others! The Holstein Youth team has a few more videos in the pipeline but we are definitely looking forward to uploading this year’s entries into the YouthTube Competition to continue to showcase our Aussie dairy industry to the world. Any video uploaded to YouTube can then be shared on Facebook and Twitter and potentially join the Petersen Brothers movement and go “viral”

What’s next for Holstein Youth

It doesn’t stop there the Holstein Youth team is looking at embracing another social media platform, Instagram. All we can say is watch this space!

Using Social Media will also play an integral part in promoting next year’s Holstein Youth Conference which will coincide with the Holstein Australia 100 Year Anniversary Conference in Queensland.

So long as the Holstein Youth team has an internet connection we can update our social media wherever we are in the world, it truly is so easy! On the other hand it is a little hard to measure our success on social media in terms of page “likes”, twitter “follows” and video “views” equally more young farmers on the land or new Holstein Australia members, but you just never know. By using Social media we can provide constant reminders to our audience and it may just be one of the pieces to the puzzle in attracting and retaining youth in Agriculture. Through using visual and interactive content we might just get a few people to stop and take notice in this fast paced digital world.

Thank you Tom and well done Holstein Youth 

You can follow Tom on Twitter @progressivetom

You can see his entry for the I love Ag competition “Meet Tom Pearce the farmer who puts the Cheese in your Cracker” here

Cows Create Careers

Wow what exciting group our 2012 Young Farming Champions are. Tom Pearce is the latest addition to #teamdairy. We cant wait for our next workshop to meet the team. Just talking to them on the phone inspires me

This is the Tom Pearce story ………..

I live in Bega on the far south coast of NSW, and whilst some may say we are a little isolated I have a different perspective. I am 25 minutes from the beach, 2 hours from the snow, 2.5 hours from Canberra, 5 hours from Sydney and 7 hours from Melbourne and 5 minutes from the nearest fishing spot. There are not too many places that can boast that combination! Top that off with the international reputation of Bega Cheese, I’m proud to say I live in Bega and that I am one of the farmers whose cows supply the milk that goes into cheese!

Narelle Norm and Tom Pearce photo by Simone Smith Weekly Times

Narelle, Norm and Tom Pearce on the family farm – photo Simone Smith The Weekly Times

Growing up on the farm I soon realised this was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Everywhere the farm beckoned me, the green pastures, the sound of a calf bellowing, the love of the clean crisp morning air, riding “shotgun” in the tractor with dad. I was born and bred a dairy farmer and being the 4thgeneration to farm here I had dairy farming in my blood.

Whist being tagged a farm boy at school may have been a little disheartening at the time I now realise it wasn’t all that bad. While others finished school without a clue in the world where they were headed, I knew what I wanted to do! While school definitely wasn’t my favourite place to be, I stuck it out realising the importance of bringing as much knowledge as I could back to the farm

Every afternoon I raced home, had a quick snack and then headed straight to the dairy to see where I could help! No spending hours indoors playing video games for me, I was always on the motorbike moving cows, helping dad in the dairy or in the calf shed!

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I finished school in January 2005 and how pleased was I to see the end of those language textbooks and the beginning of the real world! No assignments, no exams just plenty of time to spend on the farm and not to mention the countless hours of free time to spend fishing! University wasn’t for me. My father had generations of knowledge and expertise to share with me and I had a 940 acre textbook to study. I was happy with that and I reckon I’ve done alright since!

My interest in cows really got a kick along when Michael Boyd invited me to attend International Dairy Week (IDW). “Boydy” has always been quick to spot a keen kid and give them a helping hand on their journey to build up a high genetic meritherd of show cattle. So in 2005 this very keen kid attended his first IDW, a week of hands on experience; working with the best of the best in the stud cattle arena to help prepare elite Holstein cows for the show ring. IDW is the largest exhibition of dairy cattle in the southern hemisphere with 3500 people attending in 2012 and all talking cows in the one location. I became addicted after my first show and haven’t missed a year since!


The Mecca for all dairy cattle enthusiasts is on the other side of the world. World Dairy Expois held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA for one week every year and features some of the best dairy cows in the world. I attended my first Expo in 2007. That was 5 years ago and I have been back every year since! The 24 hours’ worth of travel time all seems irrelevant when you’re hanging around these awesome creatures and spending time with like-minded people. Over the years I have made so many great friends and industry contacts both locally and abroad all through a mutual love and respect for dairy cows!


I was keen to get involved myself and join all these young people out in the ring showing their cows. You quickly learn success doesn’t come overnight and getting to the top of the class and staying there is easier said than done! It’s very rewarding to see your own show successes improve and start to be competitive at the highest level.


Over the last few years in local competitions we have achieved a number of supreme champion awards. The last 2 years our family has achieved 2 first place ribbons at the Royal Melbourne Dairy Show, and that was pretty exciting and recognition that you are breeding good cows and continuing to lift your standard. Working our way from the bottom of the class to be now mixing it with the “old hands” of the show ring is quite rewarding!

Have a good eye for cattle is essential and being able to pick out a “good one” is the key to winning in the show ring. To hone my skills I have been to numerous judging schools and participated in many judging competitions.

A highlight was winning the National Junior Dairy Cattle Judging Competition in 2008. I have been invited to judge at numerous shows around the country and most recently at the Royal Sydney Easter Show. It was quite the honour to come back and judge the dairy youth competitions that I once competed in myself!


In 2009 I was named as one of the seven RAS Rural Achievers, or as we called ourselves “the Top 7 in the state” This competition identifies highly motivated young people all with keen interest in promoting agriculture. It was a jam packed week of fun and learning at the Sydney Royal Easter Show which gave me new friends and great memories for life.


In July 2009 I was hit with the travel bug and after pooling my resources and contacts I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. This 6 month sojourn featured time in both North America and Europe. I did the tourist thing and saw the sights, but the majority of the time was spent working voluntarily on dairy farms, attending dairy shows and honing my craft. I learnt so much from the people I worked with, they appreciated my willingness to work hard and they noticed my eagerness and were only too happy to share their knowledge. Its one thing you’ll discover about the dairy industry and I guess it applies to all forms of agriculture; farmers love to promote and teach young people. If you show you are interested and motivated and prepared to listen farmers are only too happy to give advice and point you in the right direction .

On returning home I have put my new found knowledge and enthusiasm into practice on the farm, and shared my knowledge with anyone willing to listen. I have taken our breeding program to the next level, incorporating imported embryos from North America and using the best dairy sires available to mate over our herd. I have actively marketed our cattle in breed magazines, exhibited at major shows and sold heifers at elite dairy sales. My family’s stud Warwick Farm Holsteins and my own Progressive Holsteinsare I hope on their way to becoming household names within the Australian dairy industry.

Something else I am also ardent about is my involvement with the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp. This event is designed to nurture the future of the Australian dairy industry. I am one of a handful of camp leaders who eagerly share their knowledge with the young participants. My passion for the dairy industry has also landed me in a number of positions including Cows Create Careers presentations, the Holstein Australia Youth Committeeand the RAS Dairy Youth Committee all involve fostering and encouraging the next generation of farmers.


My interest in exhibiting dairy cows has taken me to various dairy events and royal shows around the country where I am often bewildered by the lack of basic agricultural knowledge shown by our city counterparts. I have been asked all types of questions and in most cases I’m only too happy to answer but there a couple of times and I think it’s out of frustration I may have been guilty of leading a few city folk astray answering particular questions they ask!, Yes it was good for a laugh but it sheds light on a bigger issue. The fact is there is a fair majority of the population that doesn’t realise how their food gets from paddock to plate.

It also saddens me in this age of technology and innovation in agriculture that farming is too often brushed aside as too much hard work and long hours with little financial return.Yes it is hard work and more often than not it’s not a 9-5 job but there is an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you watch something grow and produce something that provides society with its most important needs!

If we want agricultural production to double over the next 30 years to feed the predicted 9 Billion people we have a big task ahead of us. This will require farmers and communities working cooperatively for mutual benefit.

I believe a great start to communities valuing what farmers do and giving them access to the tools to do it would be to make Agriculture a compulsory subject at school. Today’s youth are the next generation and they have many decisions to make about how best to feed an ever growing population with many third world countries still struggling to feed themselves. If we are going to tackle these complex issues we not only need these young people to support our farmers we also need these young people to see the great career opportunities in agriculture that lie outside the big cities! I can assure them all there is no more rewarding career