Belinda & Stu Griffin, Westbury // July 2023 "Farming Conversations" Calendar

by Gippsland Jersey


Many dairy farmers can relate to the relentless, all consuming nature that is dairy farming, and many other farming practices for that matter! Getting off the farm can sometimes feel impossible 'there's too much to do!', but it's so important in regenerating tired batteries and shifting your perspective on life and farming in general, so you can come back better than ever! 

In this months Farming Conversations Calendar Belinda & Stu chat about how they make getting off the farm possible, innovations in dairy farming, the importance of your team, protecting their family time and how to stay married through the calving season! #AnyFarmerCanRelate

You guys are the Barbie & Ken of the dairy industry! How do the pin-up couple of dairy do it? 

Let’s talk about balance. Farming is such a team effort. We’ve worked really hard to achieve a work-life balance on the farm, but we don’t quite hit the mark every time.

I’ve noticed a bit of an air of arrogance on the socials lately, a shame culture in farming about leaving yourself any bandwidth to get a rest or have a break. We know that there are some non-negotiable periods in the season, where time off is pretty tough. We’ve just come through calving season, and we know that means eight to ten weeks of heads-down, bums-up, however, we still try to find an afternoon to get up into the hills for some snow play, or afternoon tea in the cubby with the kids.  

We’ve achieved a lot in the last 70 something days without time off, that’s for sure. And of course, we’re proud. But I’m tired, Stu is tired, the kids are tired. We’re looking for the next break. We will strive for that time away from the farm, and make it happen. 

Running until one of us breaks isn’t the right option for us.

If we’re still married at the end of calving season, we’re good for another 12 months!

That’s gold Belinda. This is how dairy farmers stay together, right? (What’s said in the calf shed, stays in the calf shed!)

How to stay together as a married couple and still be in love while milking 500 cows? “I’ll talk to you at the end of calving season,” is a line that we throw out every year. Don’t take it personal, (sometimes easier said than done) and know that you’re there for each other, even when things get heated. We have also moved to a 10 in seven milking regime, to help achieve balance for ourselves and our staff.

So, tell me about the reason behind this decision? 

In 2016 we moved to once-a-day milking in response to lower milk prices and poorer seasons and it was a chance to have a go at something new. We knew there would be a reduction in production but aimed to balance that against lower costs as well as more time with our growing family. After five years of once-a-day milkings we came across a webinar that discussed 10 in seven milkings, and this set us on the path of analysing our business structure, farm performance and staffing levels. The result was that 10 in seven setup could be a good move and we kicked this off last season. We milk twice a day on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the other days we just milk once a day. Our aims remained the same as our move to once-a-day, balancing production against costs, getting cows in calf, and retaining our staff. We put a high value on not burning out our staff through busier times of the year, and we need to try and put this priority on ourselves as well. 

Tell me about your farm. 

We share-farm with Stu’s mum and dad. We watched a number of farms transition to once-a-day milking in our discussion group so were aware of some of the business numbers already. After running some budgets for ourselves we took the idea to the group to make sure they were achievable. Following the discussion with the group, the facilitating consultant asked Chris the question “you’ve been milking for the past 25 years twice a day, seven days a week and now your son and daughter-in-law want to change to once a day? How does this sit with you?” But Chris said, “why didn't I think of that?” 

It's really nice to feel so supported in making decisions to change the way things have been in the past. 

That's really cool. 

We're pretty lucky! And here we are today, Stu and I, are still married, after another calving season!


The Farming Conversations 2023 is brought to you FREE by Gippsland Jersey, Connect Well, East Gippsland Community Foundation, Orbost Regional Health and the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

Grab your FREE 2023 “Farming Conversations” Calendar here

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