In this episode Charlie chats with his uni-friend dairy farmer Chris Eggert
Charlie attended university with 4th generation dairy farmer Chris Eggert and whilst they hadn’t seen each other often since picked up right where they left off with a both lighthearted and deep dive into Chris’s life and regenerative journey from growing up a conventional dairy farm to being regarded as one of the best dairy farmers in Australia. His ability to adapt general regenerative practices and philosophies, and his logical, courageous, mindful, can do approach to farming has continued the legacy of a family farm any farmer would be proud of.
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Episode Takeaways :
Chris Eggert is a 4th generation from Wauchope, on the mid north coast of NSW | Eggert Farm (Oxhill Organics) has been certified organic for 20 years, converted in 2000 due to deregulation of the dairy industry | At that time the farm had just been bought from previous generation | Very conventionally run prior to going organic | His mother has built yoga studio on farm and is a very steadying influence on the men on the farm! | The family eats mostly from farm and nearby produce, and focus on creating a community through food and health | Work was once a chore for Chris and now is relaxing due to his change in attitude |It was once all about production, highly NPK fertilizer dependent, with animal health regimes of hormones and antibiotics |
Chris suspects the cause of most animal sickness was from the use of urea on pasture | He was going into battle with his cows every time at milking, now it’s a joy and type of meditation |Easy calving now, with no vet bills now- in 1999 before transitioning their vet bill was $20k |Improvement in soil takes time, improvement in animal health happens very quickly ‘once you take out the bad stuff’ | Farm biodiversity was not relevant back then | When Chris was young he wasn’t sure what wanted to do for a career |He attended University of New England (UNE) to do a Natural Resource Management degree, and deep down wanted to come back to the family farm | Chris did a Diploma in teaching in the 2000’s and taught casually at local high school to support income while transitioning |Uni taught Chris to work and learn | Deregulation of the dairy industry pushed Chris to change away from his conventional practices and there was a pull towards organic food through a growing demand for products |He went cold turkey and cut out all synthetic chemicals and fertilisers over night | Balanced soil creates healthy cows and the best milk |Chris attended a Holistic Management course run by legend HM educator Bruce Ward | Chris attended many conferences, read many books including Joel Salatin- You can Farm followed the work of Elaine Ingham, Gary Zimmerman and Jerry Brunetti and did lots of experimentation | Chris emphasises the importance of capturing nutrients (ie. manure and urine) in the system, and says he ‘farms vertically not horizontally’, focusing on the health of the soil | The head space of farmers and wellness is not generally of interest to banks and government |Customer understanding of the importance of clean nutritious food is increasing |A farm is a great place for kids to grow up | Chris’s protein and fat measurements are both 20-30% more now then when farming conventionally | He has a number of enterprises- lambs, chickens and pigs -diversity is important not just to the health of the farm but to the mental health of the human inhabitants |‘Be you not someone else’. |Chris used wood chip mulch to create fungal highways to spread biology throughout his farm via the cows feet
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