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Alexz Crawford's success story

Alexz Crawford grew up on a family dairy farm at Brundee, located just outside of Nowra; “When I was young I’d wake up early on weekends to work with my Pa and Uncle on the farm,” he said.

“I love the dairy industry, it’s in my blood. I love the cows, I’m a real animal person.”

During high school Alexz worked with his neighbours, Tom and Kyleigh Cochrane, who own a 400-cow 360-acre dairy; “Dad and I were going into town one day, we drove down the road and Tom was doing silage. Tom yelled out if I wanted to give him a hand and I got a job that afternoon.”

Alexz has now been working on the Cochrane family farm for six years, he initially worked on weekends and during school holidays, and when he finished year 12, he became a full time apprentice.

Instead of celebrating ‘schoolies’ week Alexz purchased his first cow, a Brown Swiss Heifer – and it was a decision that paid off, with Alexz returning from the 2015 Sydney Royal Easter Show with the Brown Swiss Junior Champion title.

Alexz enjoys his job because every day is different. He believes to work on a farm, a person must have good communication skills, be reliable, responsible and open to learning. He has a good working relationship with farm owners, Tom and Kyleigh, and their three employees, whom he continues to learn from.

“Tom’s really supportive, everything I want to learn he is more than willing to teach me – I just try to soak it all in,” Alexz said. “I’m lucky that I have good bosses who have been supportive and have really tried to help me get into the dairy industry.”

“If I work in the morning I get up at 4am to milk and I’m finished by around 8am. I then go home for breakfast. At 9am I go back to the farm and do jobs during the day – I do a fair bit of fencing, tractor and stock work. If I milk in the afternoon I start at 2pm and finish around 6pm. Sometimes I wonder why I’m getting out of bed at four o’clock, but I do it because I love it and that’s just the way it is. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Alexz has completed the Certificate III and IV of Dairy Production, and graduated as Dux of the Traineeship. He is also completing the Diploma of Agriculture through the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE), Tocal College.

“I study in a one-week block, once every six weeks at College. You’re always learning and picking up new things, it’s both practical and theoretical.”

Alexz also attends industry short courses with the support of his employers, Tom and Kyleigh. “If there are courses on, it’s good to go and learn. I’ve been lucky that Tom and Kyleigh are supportive, I wanted to do an artificial insemination (AI) course and Tom paid for half of the course fee. I’ve done a hoof care course and recently completed a pregnancy test course through the NCDE.”

In the short-term, Alexz is looking forward to finishing his study while his long-term aim is to one day operate his own farm.

“I really love the breeding side of dairy. I have four cows and recently had two calves born, so I’m slowly starting,” he said. “I’d like to be a farm manager and eventually move into farm ownership one day, if the opportunity comes up.”

Alexz’s tips:

– Be confident in yourself and in handling big animals

– You can’t choose your jobs each day; you have to be willing to complete a range of jobs

– Talk to your boss and learn from other employees, be open to learning from others

– Every farm is different. Be open-minded and adaptable, different methods work for different farms

– Sometimes things go wrong, but you have to deal with it and move forward

– You need people skills and have to get along with other employees in the team

– You can’t buy a farm straight away; you have to earn your stripes and work your way up. Then when you’re ready, if an opportunity comes up to progress you have to jump on it.

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