Today, it is my honor to welcome Mandy Pacitti from Hindmarsh Tiers, South Australia, Australia. Mandy (51) works/owns Misty Brae Holsteins with her husband Gino (56) and sons Ash (26) and Andrew (22) plus one full time employee. Misty Brae Holsteins is situated at Hindmarsh Tiers on the Fleurieu Peninsula. While Mandy did not grow up on a farm, she has sure developed a love for the dairy industry! At an early stage of her married life, Mandy took up quilting, embroidery and collecting antiques but this has taken a back seat to her involvement in the dairy industry. Mandy coordinates the South Australia team at the Holstein Youth Challenge which is held at International Dairy Week. She is the events coordinator for the Fleurieu Sub Branch of Holstein Australia, and both Mandy and Gino are Holstein Youth Coordinators for the South Australian branch of Holstein Australia. They help coordinate the SA Holstein Breeders Calendar which is sent to all registered Holstein Breeders in Australia and she represents the dairy industry on the South Australian Cattle Advisory group which make recommends to the Agriculture Minister of South Australian Parliament. In addition, Mandy helps promote the dairy industry at the Royal Adelaide where they are trying to break down the city-rural barriers and give a better understanding of dairy farming in Oz. As well as highlighting new technologies for dairy farmers to use and implement on their own farms. Gino is State President of Holstein Australia, South Australian branch. Wow and I thought I was busy.
Mandy’s Story in her own words:
Tell us about your operation.
I married into a 1st generation dairying family at the age of 21. We took over in 1991 with 60 milking cows and became the 2nd generation. As with any partnership if you wish to succeed you need to work together, Gino was always proactive and supportive of me becoming more involved in the industry. Currently, we milk 300/350 Holsteins all year round, the property is 300ha (750acres) predominately pasture based with a grain concentrate supplement. Prior to 2001, we were a commercial herd but as our 2 sons started to show an interest in the show side of life and with the financial benefits of registered animals, we started converting to a registered herd. Along the way, we gave our 2 sons the opportunity to each start their own registered herd. Currently, all 3 registered herds are run together at Misty Brae. We are on the show circuit, showing predominantly at local shows in South Australia with the main show being the Adelaide Royal show. We have also travelled with animals to International Dairy Week which is 800 kms away at Tatura in Victoria. This is the biggest Dairy show in the Southern Hemisphere. Prior to July 2014, our milk supply has always been for the white milk market or drinking milk but as of 1st July 2014, we signed with a local cheese company with all our milk plus 6 other farms on the Fleurieu Peninsula supplying La Casa Del Formaggio.
What is your role in the dairy industry?
My role in the Australian dairy Industry has many facets; I started as a novice dairy farmer and have added many wonderful experiences and achievements. As my confidence grew, I chose to promote our great industry as a career path for the next generation as well as giving rural woman and farmer’s confidence in sharing their wealth of knowledge. Along the way I have made lifelong friendships, had the opportunity to see many wonderful cows, owned some awesome cows and watch our boys grow into men who want to dairy farm as the 3rd generation of Pacitti’s at “”Misty Brae””.
Many years ago I noticed there was a lack of education for youth to better their knowledge of the dairy industry. We started with a 2 day camp that has now become a 4 day live-in camp that is held every 2 years at the Adelaide Show grounds. Participants between 12 – 20 years of age learn all aspects of the industry. It is very rewarding to see youngsters getting involved and growing in confidence and skills. It is so rewarding knowing we are making a difference to dairying here in Oz.
Being passionate about our industry, I became involved with a fantastic initiative program called Cows, Create, Careers 7 years ago. I’m now the Coordinator for 2 of the 4 regions for South Australia. This year there were 214 schools enrolled in the program with 9550 students taking part. The program brings school children and their families, teachers, farmers and industry advocate’s together. The children look after 2 calves for 3 weeks, research all aspects of the dairy industry as well as career opportunities. The farmers and industry advocates share their knowledge and skills with the students. The program also highlights a better understanding of the production of milk to the families involved, which is a very important element. It culminates with a presentation day held in each region, with winning schools and teams being rewarded with prizes for the best overall.
In August, I was very honored to be awarded “The Brenton Higgins Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to the Dairy Industry”, a very prestigious award in South Australia. I had no idea I had been nominated, so it was a huge surprise when my name was read out at the 2015 SA Dairy Awards Gala Dinner. I feel very humbled to be recognized for the work that I do, as I love the industry and the many characters involved within the industry!
Who is your favorite cow?
My favorite cow sadly passed away earlier this year, she was a Holstein. Her name was Joyley Luckystrike Della-ET Ex-94-4E. We were fortunate enough to purchase her when she was 12months old. She was an amazing heifer that matured into an awesome cow that gave us many beautiful heifers that have become an integral part of our herd. Della was also very handy on the show circuit, winning many ribbons and many of her daughters have followed in her footsteps. One major achievement for Della was being crowned Champion Mature Cow in the Semex on Farm Competition and her daughter Misty Brae Alan Della-ET EX-93-3E was crowned Reserve Champion Mature Cow. This has never happened in this competition before in. She was an amazing Lady that touched our lives, the Matriarch of our Show Team. She now looks over the farm in her favorite paddock. We were all very upset at the time of her passing and I still get very teary when I think about her. She was so much more than “”Just a Cow””
What are 3 things you want consumers to know about the dairy products you produce?
- I believe we need to work closer with the consumer to break down the misunderstandings and misguided beliefs that have arisen between the farmer/producer and the consumer over the last 20-30 years. Farmers used to be held in high regard however over the last few decades that respect has been lost. I believe this to be ironic as farmers are stewards of the land making efforts to repair and leave the land in better condition to hand to the next generation. Food production needs to increase to feed the increasing world population; this won’t be possible if we do not look after the world we currently live in!
- Animal welfare is very important to us. We have no reason not to have healthy cows; they are our main asset, why would we not look after them. If our cows aren’t healthy, they will not produce milk. We are proud of our herd and many of our cows become a larger version of a “”family pet””. Unfortunately just like humans, cows do die. That doesn’t mean we don’t get upset, we do. Just like people, cows have personalities with that being said our show girls are “”Divas”” and they know they are!
- We are very proud that we are now supplying milk to La Casa Del Formaggio; a family owned cheese business based in Adelaide, it’s very exciting and satisfying knowing that our milk is making quality products that are being consumed by families, like ours across Australia.
What is your favorite dairy product?
Favorite dairy product is any cheese!!! They are now saying that cheese is as addictive as drugs, well I’m happy with that idea as you can never have enough cheese!!! My favorite dairy recipe is a Goats Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tarts, to view this recipe and many others click here.
What is the most rewarding part of being in the dairy industry? Challenging?
The dairy industry gives you the most amazing opportunities! You can travel the world and meet like-minded people and have relevant conversations, view beautiful animals and learn best practices for dairy farming. Capitalize on these networking opportunities, grow the next generation and promote our quality produce. Personally our family has been afforded many amazing opportunities. We have travelled extensively to promote the industry, been involved in various forms of media, radio, television, print and even an overseas documentary. Since 2012, I was appointed administrator of a Facebook page here in Oz “”March4Milk””, which has given me a better understanding of our industry as I gather relevant dairy information from all over the world. Over the years we have hosted farm visits from schools, local community groups and even had overseas Parliamentary Ag Ministers visit. This has given us the ability to share all aspects of our industry in a positive way.
There has been a few challenging aspects of the dairy industry, the 18 months that we were paid under the cost of production was very testing on many levels firstly emotionally, secondly on our family unit, thirdly the farm took a heavy hit as we were unable to undertake necessary maintenance or infrastructure upgrades which are necessary for the continual development of the business to allow the enterprise to be more sustainable. Another challenge is the public perception that we aren’t looking after our animals or the land. The weather is another huge problem, as the seasons are changing with more heat and less rain we must learn to farm smarter.
Mandy thank you for sharing your story and for all you do for the dairy industry!
Entire Women in Dairy Series:
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- Katie Boyke Grinstead of Vir-Clar Farm, WI
- Alicia Lamb of Oakfield Corners Dairy, NY
- Ysabel Jacobs of Ferme Jacobs, Canada
- Heidi Kovacs of Sugar Maple Jerseys, NJ
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- Amy Rowbottom of Crooked Farm Creamery, ME
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- Jamie Van De Walle, WI
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- Holly Smith, WI
- Jenny L. Baerwolf of Sassy Cow Creamery, WI
- Jenna Jongenotter, Canada
- Liz Neadow of Teacup Farm, NY
- Hannah Worden of Will-O-Crest Farm, NY
- Carla Wardin of Truth or Dairy, MI
- Amanda Freund of CowPots, CT
- Mandi Pacitti of Misty Brae Holsteins, Australia
- Jessica Chittenden Ziehm of Tiashoke Farm, NY
- Lisa Myers, MD
- Carissa Ann Tolzman, WI
- Danae Bauer of FarmGirl Photography, WI
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