For the past 15 years since relocating in Australia from the United States, the VikingGoldenCross system has proven to be a great success for Robert and Barbara Eder. Emulating a similar system’s benefits from his native Wisconsin.
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but Bodalla NSW dairy farmer Robert Eder thinks he’s found the next best thing – Viking’s three-way Golden Cross system.
“I know crossbred herds haven’t been widely adopted, but when you talk to dairy scientists, they say it’s like the only free lunch you get as a dairy farmer…and it’s true,” Robert said.
“Most dairy scientists are very pro cross-breeding. It doesn’t cost any more but there are proven benefits”, he added.
Robert’s journey - like a dream come true
Robert and Barbara visited in 2005, mainly to look at how farms were using Aussie Reds in their systems.
“We weren’t planning on buying a farm, but we drove from Melbourne and came up through Eden and Tilba and we thought “man, this is dairying heaven here; green pastures with ocean views.”
They saw a farm they liked on a Thursday night, milked with the owners on Friday, toured it on Sunday, put in an offer on Monday, signed a contract on Wednesday and flew home the next day to arrange finance and visa.
“Dairying in northern Wisconsin was very brutal during winter,” Robert said. “Barbara had had enough of it and our kids were off at universities, so we were ready for a change.
“This ticked all the boxes. We like Australia and we could move to a beautiful climate – it was a once-in-a-million thing that came together.”
While most farms in Wisconsin are barn-based, the Eders moved to a grazing system after touring New Zealand in 1992.
“We were swept away with the concept,” Robert said. “We were milking three times a day at the time and the New Zealanders said we were killing ourselves. Pasture farms were just a fringe thing at the time in Wisconsin.
“We converted to pasture farming and followed the New Zealand grazing model, even though we could only do rotational grazing for a maximum six months of the year.”
This experience made it easier to shift to Australia. “We were already familiar with the system and there was a similar herd size.
We were milking about 150 cows back there on 300 acres and here 130 cows came with the farm plus 60 head of young stock and two bulls. It was a very lateral career move in regard to farming style,” he said.