A Newtownards dairy farmer will soon be swapping the lush pastures of east Co. Down for the Australian outback.

Heather Martin has been named the winner of this year’s Holstein UK and Holstein Australia exchange scholarship.

It’s the second time Holstein UK has teamed up with Holstein Australia to provide one member with the all expenses paid, month-long trip.

International Dairy Week

The 23-year-old works alongside her family with their 140-cow Holstein herd in Newtownards, Co. Down and also milks cows for several local farmers.

The young dairy farmer is currently treasurer of Newtownards Young Farmers and also sits on the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) agri-affairs committee.

She will fly out at the beginning of January in time for Australia’s International Dairy Week.

She added: “Ultimately, I want to learn, experience, compete, build friendships and develop a career. I have always wanted to travel to Australia to milk and work with cows, so this trip really is a dream come true.”

Co. Down farmer Heather Martin has won this year's Holstein Australia exchange

Heather has been an enthusiastic HYB member for over 20 years, joining at just three years old when her parents taught her to show calves.

She is a proactive member of the Northern Ireland club; she held treasurer for several years and has helped to organise major club events, such as the annual calf show, embryo auctions, raffles and this year’s HYB Weekend Rally.

She added: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been picked for this once in a lifetime experience.

“I am really excited to meet dairy breeders on the other side of the world and find out what, not only I, but other farmers back at home can learn from Australian farming methods.

“I have heard a lot of good things about Australian dairy genetics and can’t wait to see it first-hand.”

Industry tours, competitions and sightseeing

The HYB Australian exchange offers one member the chance to spend a month in Australia to gain first-hand experience of its dairy industry, visiting farms and attending both the Youth Camp and the International Dairy Week.

The trip is an all expenses paid adventure – completely funded by Holstein UK and Holstein Australia – and is a once in a lifetime opportunity; a chance to gain knowledge and experience of other cultures.

Last year the exchange included visits to sales, competitions and industry tours; including some of Australia’s best known bull farms, an abattoir and a milk processing plant.

As part of the exchange, an Australian young breeder will come over to the UK in September to coincide with some of the UK’s leading dairy events, including UK Dairy Day, the Dairy Show and the All-Britain All Breeds Calf Show.

Miriam Bagley, events and national HYB co-ordinator for Holstein UK, said: “The Australian exchange is one of our most desirable opportunities.

“The whole experience is hugely beneficial to the lucky winner – not only from a social and personal development point of view, but – most importantly – to develop breeding, husbandry, showmanship and dairy management skills.

“Seeing first-hand how other farmers run their businesses and breed productive cattle in other countries, with different climates and production methods, is the best way to progress, innovate and make improvements to farming back in the UK.

“HYB wishes Heather the most amazing trip and we look forward to her full report when she returns.”

Heather will share updates of her month-long adventure ‘down under’ on AgriLand. She is set to jet off on January 4.