Cows create careers at Tatachilla

How now brown cow? Agricultural science students at Tatachilla have milked the opportunity to hand-raise dairy calves as part of Cows Create Careers program.

Students in Year 9 have been buttered up by the big brown eyes of two adorable calves – nicknamed ‘Gravy’ and ‘Spud’ – as part of a national initiative to expose them to the range of rewarding careers in the dairy industry.

The Cows Create Careers initiative is run by Dairy Australia and aims to introduce students Australia-wide to the many job opportunities in the agricultural economy and the dairy industry specifically, which is the currently the third largest rural industry in the country.

As part of this program, our agricultural science students in Year 9 have had the opportunity to meet practicing dairy farmers, learn about the care and feeding of dairy cattle and the best bit - personally care for two dairy calves on college grounds for a period of three weeks. 

Gravy and Spud have been generously loaned to the college by local dairy farmer Perrin Hicks, who owns Misty Downs Farm in Mount Compass. Gravy is a Jersey calf named for her beautiful brown coat, and Spud is a Holstein calf named for her white coat with brown patches.

Agricultural science teacher David Harris said that caring for the calves has enabled the Year 9 students to undertake real scientific research in a live setting and develop technical and transferable skills in animal feeding, monitoring and handling.

“The students have been rostered in groups to feed the calves and record their health and growth,” he said.

“They have collated their data into a scientific report, which they will submit to Misty Downs Farm so that Farmer Hicks he can see how his calves have progressed in our care.”

One of the highlights of the program has been hosting industry advocates on campus, such as 7News presenter Casey Treloar, who in addition to news reporting, is an avid breeder, exhibitor and royal show judge of dairy cattle.

“Hearing from advocates such as Casey is so powerful in a classroom setting because the students get to learn from somebody practicing in the industry and hear firsthand what kind of career opportunities might await them in the agricultural sciences,” said Mr Harris.

“The Cows Create Careers program has also benefited our agricultural students in Years 10 and 11, who have had the opportunity to interact with the calves as part of their learning also.

“It’s been heartening to see students from all levels come and pat the calves during lunchtime when they are being fed.

“For us, the program has been highly motivational because it has catered to all learning styles, involved being in the outdoors and strengthened students’ skills in synthesising data, applying

STEM knowledge to real-world settings, and working in teams,” Mr Harris said.

“We hope to participate in the Cows Create Careers program again in 2025.”

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