BOYANUP dairy farmer Vic Rodwell is processor Lion Dairy and Drinks’ 2017 Farmer of the Year, judged the best of the company’s 550 milk suppliers around Australia.
Mr Rodwell and his wife Denise, who run Rodwell Farms, were flown to Sydney last week to accept the award presented during a gala function for suppliers to Lion’s dairy, fruit juice and beer businesses on a boat on the harbour.
“It was pretty cool actually,” said Mr Rodwell, who was back in the dairy on Tuesday and helping with some veterinary work on a couple of cows.
“It was certainly the first time we’ve done anything like that, the trip to Sydney was probably the first time Denise and I have been away together for more than a day without the kids.
“There were about 180 people on the boat, suppliers from all aspects of Lion’s business, so it was interesting to talk to the beer guys and all the others.
“It opened Denise’s eyes about the company and its various business components.”
Mr Rodwell, a former Western Dairy chairman and a board member for nine years, said he was proud but humbled to have been awarded by Lion as its best milk supplier nationally.
“WA kicks a lot of goals in dairy,” he said.
Rodwell Farms produces more than six million litres of milk a year with a predominantly Holstein herd averaging 700 cows on a dairy platform of about 400 hectares.
“Come June we will have been supplying Lion for three years,” Mr Rodwell said.
“We’ve got a relatively flat production curve.
“We calve twice a year – in February/March/April and in August/September – but we’re transitioning to 70 per cent autumn calving in line with when the company wants milk and production off our feedbase.
“We’re looking to get more out of our grass.’’
Mr Rodwell said the the family had tried to be proactive in updating equipment and introducing technology such as chillers to cool milk before it enters the storage vats and made sure they were hitting the required standards.
The trip to Sydney and the chance to talk to other suppliers had reinforced his opinion Lion was an ethical company to deal with, he said.
Mr Rodwell is the second generation dairy farmer on the Boyanup property and said his son Lachlan may become the third.
His previous claims to fame were walking a dairy cow in the shallows along a beach while dressed in top hat and tails to promote a national dairy innovation forum in WA and starting a Legendairy IronKids race beside Busselton jetty with an air horn while holding a 700 kilogram cow on a lead after a parade of dairy cows up the beach.
Lion Dairy and Drinks is part of the giant Japanese beverage, pharmaceuticals and bio-chemicals manufacturer Kirin Holdings.