Lifestyle

Dairy life suits Kenilworth family just fine

ON THE UP: Kenilworth dairy farmer Chad Parker and his wife Carita are raising their family on the farm and overcoming challenges in the industry.
ON THE UP: Kenilworth dairy farmer Chad Parker and his wife Carita are raising their family on the farm and overcoming challenges in the industry. Contributed

CHAD Parker was just a lad at school when he would spend each morning and night working on the family's Kenilworth farm.

Later, when he was running his own plumbing business, he would also work up to 30 hours a week on the farm.

For the past seven years, through some of the toughest economic and weather conditions ever experienced by the local dairy industry, Chad and his wife Carita have run the farm and dedicated themselves to making it a success.

Chad is up at the crack of dawn about 360 mornings of the year to milk his 475-strong mainly Jersey herd and returns most afternoons for the second milking.

And all that hard work is starting to pay off as the tide is steadily turning.

Since taking over management of the farm, Chad has pushed it to new production records to counteract the negative influences impacting on Queensland dairy. He's overseen significant infrastructure development and grown the herd by about 20% each year.

It's been tough work but he wouldn't change a minute of it. "You have to do ridiculous hours and make ends meet by taking all the workload yourself," Chad said.

"We don't get away too much and put everything back into the farm to grow the business. Hopefully it's heading in the right direction."

It's no secret that Queensland dairy farmers have had it tough, with low milk prices and a mixture of droughts and floods. Many have left the industry.

Chad and Carita though were determined to stick it out and now look to a positive future with prices, demand and even the weather starting to help their cause.

"We see a good future for the industry," Chad said.

"I can't see it getting any worse than what it was last year. If we can get through that, we'll be all right."

Even the weather gods are starting to help.

"It was quite dry but just in the last month it's turned into the best spring we've ever had," Chad said. "We've only had one good spring in the last six years but we're looking pretty good and hope things are turning around."

Improved prices for their milk, up to 18 cents higher per litre, the abolition of the 15-cent-a-litre second tier milk, and strong demand to supply the local fresh milk market are adding to their improved confidence.

Chad, 28, is a third generation dairy farmer and despite his foray into plumbing was destined to continue the family farming tradition.

Topics:  dairy dairy farm farming kenilworth

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