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May 1, 2018 >

The Kaths breed a Supreme champion

Forbes dairy farmers Cassandra and Andrew Kath achieved a career high when a cow they bred was named the Supreme Champion dairy female at the Sydney Royal Show last month.

“Andrew and I appreciate that some people can show for years and not achieve something like this,” Cassandra said. “So yes, it was very exciting.”

Elite showing is something the couple enjoy – it was, in fact, how they met when Cassandra was an agricultural student and Andrew a dairy farmer from Toowoomba.

They met at the Ekka Royal Show in Brisbane and, after they married, bought his family farm before moving to a larger property at Forbes where they have built a 400-strong mixed herd.

And therein lies their dilemma.

Cassandra and Andrew both enjoy elite showing, but are firmly focussed on growing their dairy business. They say it is too hard to do both.

“It is a struggle between the stud show world and the commercial reality of running a dairy farm,” Cassandra said.

“There is a lot of work that goes into elite showing.

“It is not like she (their award-winning Kathleigh Gun Grace) was brought out of the paddock last week and taken to the Sydney show.

“There is the preparing, the clipping and showing for the week.”

And, with trying to run a successful dairy farm business and raise their three young children aged 8, 10 and 12, they looked for a solution.

The answer was two-fold.

While Cassandra and Andrew bred and identified Kathleigh Gun Grace, she said it was their business partners Brad and Jessica Gavenlock, from Tallygaroopna in Victoria, who did all the work in preparing her for showing.

While the couple work seven days a week on their dairy farm from 4.30am until often 7pm, they now employ a full-time staff member and three part-timers have joined their team.

“We have had to learn to be employers,” Cassandra said. “But part of us moving from a smaller farm in Queensland to a larger one in NSW was to develop the business.”

She said it also gave them the ability to take their children to football training or dance classes.

Kathleigh Gun Grace took the title in Sydney by just one point after coming close last year. She was also winning supreme intermediate champion in 2016 and took out best Jersey udder three years in a row.

“In a business sense winning the title means different things to different people. It adds value to her and her progeny, but in the day-to-day scheme of things, it doesn’t add more to our milk price.”

As for the next generation of Kaths, Cassandra said all three of their children were starting to get interested in showing.

“The Kaths have been breeding jersey cows for 100 years,” Cassandra said. “The next generation may well keep that tradition going.”

Photo caption: Supreme Champion dairy female at the Sydney Royal Show, Kathleigh Gun Grace, pictured with Casandra Kath, Penny, Jessica and Brad Gavenlock and Andrew Kath who shared the joy in winning top ribbon. Image via The Land News.