It was the conversation of a 14-year-old football player looking for some work on the weekends that led Cooper Walton, Mypolonga, to a career path in the dairy industry.
The now 18-year-old has since bought his own cattle from a variety of breeds and hopes to one day own 100 cows.
Mr Walton started working for Sam Martin and his father Graham, Wall Flat, who milk 380 Holsteins and 30 Jersey crosses, 4.5 years ago and is working toward being cow herd manager.
“If I can get cow herd manager before I’m 20, I’ll stay here for a while,” he said.
Mr Walton said he actually wanted to be a radio host before he realised he enjoyed working with cows.
“After milking a bit, I started enjoying it a bit more, so started doing a bit more farm work and after I finished school I got a full-time job here,” he said.
Mr Walton went on to do a traineeship while in year 11 at Murray Bridge High School, and gained a certificate III in agriculture, and looks forward to getting his AI ticket and learning how to pregnancy-test.
“I always wanted to be able to milk my own cows, so I ended up buying an Illawarra off David and Karen Altman,” he said.
He purchased Blackwood Park Beauty 88, which has gone on to classify good plus 83 as a three-year-old and produced his first calf registered under his Woodlane Farms prefix – Woodlane Jesaulenko You Beauty sired by Blackwood Park Butternut.
He later went on to buy five heifers from Warren Doecke, Springvale Illawarras, Murray Bridge, and two Guernseys from Lyndon Cleggett, Brookleigh Guernseys, Mount Gambier.
Despite not wanting to invest in the Holstein breed, Mr Walton was encouraged by a friend to attend the Grantley Holsteins dispersal sale in May.
There he bought Grantley Burns Ranga-Red very good 85, a red Holstein six weeks in calf to high-type sire Luck-E Awesome-Red.
“I never wanted to own a black and white, but hopefully she’ll produce a red and white calf,” he said.
While Mr Walton said he wanted to avoid black and white Holsteins, he would eventually start breeding them as they were “more enjoyable to breed”.
He likes to breed strong and tall cows and in his future breeding program will focus on strong production figures and positive fertility.
Mr Walton credits his successful entry into the dairy industry to his mum dropping him off at 4am for milkings before he got his license, the guidance from the owners of the cattle he has bought from, and the support of the Martin family for allowing him to do his apprenticeship on the farm.
EARLY SUCCESSES ON SHOW STAGE
COOPER Walton believes showing has been a rewarding way to socialise and network within the dairy industry, and he has even enjoyed some showing success on the way.
He was active in the show ring last year at a range of shows in SA and Vic with three different breeds.
While he was unable to attend Adelaide Royal himself he leased three heifers to some of the school teams to exhibit, where one of his Guernsey heifers, Brookleigh Alstar Face, went on to win honourable mention junvenile champion.
At the Murray Bridge show his Guernsey Brookleigh Latimer Glenelg won juvenile champion.
Mr Walton then made the trip to Mount Gambier with four heifers where he won junior champion Illawarra with Springvale Buttercup 44 and reserve junior champion Guernsey with Brookleigh Alstar Face.
While in Mount Gambier he thought he would try his skills at junior judging for the first time and came out to win.
“It was one of those things I tried on the day, and was happy to come out on top,” Mr Walton said.
When looking for his ideal cow as a judge, he said wanted a functional cow with great feet and legs and a good udder.
Mr Walton also made a trek interstate to the Ballarat Show in Vic, where he won Illawarra junior champion with Buttercup 44 and also won his junior handler class and junior judging class.
As for goals in the showring, Mr Walton said hoped to one day show one of each breed at the Adelaide Royal.