French for agriculture


French for agriculture

Black and white: Thomas with some of the newer arrivals on the Murphy dairy farm in Dumbalk North, which are, to Thomas’s relief are kept inside.

FROM Derval, in north west France, 21-year-old Thomas Mignon has been living in Dumbalk North with the Murphy family to learn about Australian dairy farming practices.

Derval is a small town of about 3000 people and many are involved in farming.

Thomas lives with his dairy farming parents, who have a 60 hectare property and milk 45 Holstein cows.

Thomas is working with Damien Murphy on his farm, who said there are some farming practices Thomas has had to get used to, but has fitted in very well.

One of the immediate differences that Thomas noticed when he arrived on the Murphys’ dairy farm was the way the pasture is managed and rotated.

Another point of difference was the synchronisation of calving and how South Gippsland calves are born outside, with very little assistance.

“In France, as soon as a cow looks like calving, she is brought into a shed or barn and is calved down inside,” Thomas said.

“We never calve outside.”

“They do not pre-wash the teats here and in France we only milk 45 cows; here we milk 270.

“We also grow our own crops to feed our cattle in France. We do not have the same climate and we cannot grow so much grass. We also have a very limited land area.”

When asked what he might change about farming in South Gippsland, he replied “build a big shed for calving and keeping the cows in during winter.”

Thomas is Damien’s first exchange farmer from France, but the family have hosted foreign famers before.

“Thomas’ animal care skills are really good. This stems from only having a 45 strong herd; they can’t afford to lose many. He also shows really good attention to detail,” Damien said.

Thomas has been working with Damien on his farm since April and will leave at the end of August to see a bit more of Australia with some other young agricultural exchange students.

Locally, he has been hunting in the high country and said the scenery was “really great.”

Thomas has also visited some other local dairy farmers, to see how practices vary across the region.

He said the best thing he has experienced while in South Gippsland is meeting other farmers and people.

“The farmers are very trusting here. They are also a bit more relaxed about their farming practices,” Thomas said.

Damien added: “When Thomas first arrived in April, I was only here for a few weeks and then I went overseas myself. Thomas calved down 20 cows in the time I was away, which is around half of his entire herd.

“Thomas is very good at what he does. I had no reservations about leaving him in charge when I left and won’t have any when I leave again in July.”

Damien said European farmers are often overwhelmed by the size of Australian farms and how they are managed.

‘We don’t house our animals at all, which is a big thing for Europeans to grasp, especially how we manage our animals throughout the winter,” he said.

Thomas hopes to travel some more once he has completed his study. He would like to work in the industry for around five years before experiencing New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Once he has finished his travels, he aims to settle down in France and work on the family dairy

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Posted by on Jul 11 2012. Filed under Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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