Farrer to cease operations of dairy as drought continues to take a toll on region

Run dry: Worsening drought conditions, increasing feed costs and shrinking water allocations have forced Farrer to cease operations of the school dairy, which has been operational since 1939. Photo: Gareth Gardner 110419
Run dry: Worsening drought conditions, increasing feed costs and shrinking water allocations have forced Farrer to cease operations of the school dairy, which has been operational since 1939. Photo: Gareth Gardner 110419

A dairy that has been used to teach future generations for over 80 years is the latest victim of the nation's worst drought on record.

Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School made the tough decision to temporarily cease operations of the school dairy as "it was no longer economically viable to continue operations".

Principal Clint Gallagher cited increasing fodder costs and scarcity, low milk prices and the very real chance of having a zero per cent river water allocation for irrigation next financial year as the main contributing factors, as well as a continued bleak forecast.

Fortunately the school has been well supported by both the local and educational community, which will enable the school "to maintain the heart of its dairy herd until conditions improve" according to principal Clint Gallagher.

"This will not mean the end of our dairy operations," Mr Gallagher said.

"Fortunately, two producers will take 30 of our dairy cows, which will enable us to reinstate operations promptly as conditions improve."

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Hurlstone Agricultural High School are taking 20 cows, while Denman producer Brian Parker will take a further 10 cows. Tocal Agricultural College also offered assistance.

The dairy will officially cease operations at the end of May.

On Thursday Mr Gallagher informed students, parents and Old Boys of the decision.

"We look forward to better climatic times in the future when we can return to offering our students this unique educational opportunity," he said.

"The support from Hurlstone Agricultural High School and Denman producer, Brian Parker, along with an offer of assistance from Tocal Agricultural College, have been enormously heartening."

Since the dairy first opened its doors in 1939 year nine Farrer boys have enjoyed the educational benefits and hands on experience of operating a fully functional dairy, and "enjoyed the camaraderie of their daily tasks". 

The school also forged a sound reputation for the calibre of its dairy stock over the generations.

"It gives us hope for the future," Mr Gallagher said.