Leah Hylkema’s Industry Profile

About Leah

Leah Hylkema is an Assistant Herd Supervisor/Herdsperson who works in the Fraser Valley. Leah works with family and other employees milking approximately 130 cows twice a day.

How Did You Get Involved In The Dairy Industry?

I started out helping on the farm at age 9 and have been developing skills and knowledge for over nine years.

What Are Some Of Your Tasks On A Typical Day?

Milking in a milking parlour. Prepping cows for milking, monitoring the operation, harvesting the milk. Operation of the equipment and keeping it clean. Cleaning activities around the stable, feeding, inspecting cattle for health problems and detecting estrous for breeding management. Work starts early am with an extended break mid day and afternoon milking. Work with calves include feeding new born calves, moving young stock, cleaning pens, checking for health problems. Outdoors during the growing season, activities include forage cutting, raking and baling involving the operation of tractors and implements such as cutters and large hay bale machines.

What Are Some Attractions And Benefits To Working In The Dairy Industry?

Flexibility in the work routine with time off during the day for personal activities – fits personal life commitments. Calm work, regular routines, follows natural rhythms, unstressful. Job is active with a chance to work outside when the weather is nice and when the weather is bad with cold and rain or snow, there is always a job inside. Working independently and taking care of the needs of the dairy cows and systems. Room to grow in knowledge and skill as dairy is always evolving in science and technology.

What Are Some Important Skills And Aptitudes Required In Your Job?

Handling cattle in many situations and maneuvering them around the barn and yard. Attention to detail, watching for signs of health problems, monitoring the animals. Animal handling, knowledge of animal care, machine operation and team work.

What Else Can You Tell Us About The Dairy Industry?

Those who work in successful and sustainable dairy farms tend to be very honest and humane and value cooperation, and community loyalty and participation. The dairy community often helps neighbours and the community in times of need. Providing milk and dairy products is a natural and fundamental industry. It supplies basic food to all people, which is always in demand. There is always a need. It is not cyclical such as forestry or other resource industry for example – it is steady and ongoing.


Cameron Pollard’s Industry Profile

About Cameron

Cameron Pollard is a Dairy Farm Herdsperson / Herd Supervisor working in the Fraser Valley area. Cameron works with a farm owner and his two sons plus other part time workers and together they are responsible for milking approximately 250 cows twice a day.

How Did You Get Involved In The Dairy Industry?

I started out working on my uncle’s farm at the level of a milker technician. After working on some other jobs I committed to dairy farm work. Over the past 10 years I have worked my way up to my position of Herdsperson/Herd Manager.

How Would You Describe A Typical Day On The Job?

The main work involves all areas of animal care from milking to young stock, feeding, breeding program operation and animal health management. There is also computer program herd management operations and supervising and team management. The workday starts at an early hour with an extended break during the day for taking care of your personal activity needs and weekend responsibilities are shared amongst the staff on a rotational basis.

What Are Some Skills And Aptitudes Required On Your Job?

People skills, communication, quality management, computer operation skills and animal welfare and handling skills. You must be willing to be part of a team and work responsibly and independently.

What Are Some Attractions And Benefits Of Your Career In Dairy Farming?

There is lots of variety of work in spite of a steady routine. There is lots of flexibility to fit personal needs to the work schedule amongst the team. There is time for recreation and family activities, such as childcare, fishing, hunting, etc. A rural area is a great place to bring up a family. There is satisfaction in a steady accomplishment. Some of my benefits include housing, transportation support and meat and milk supplies. Wages are quite competitive compared to other community jobs.

What Else Can You Tell Me About The Dairy Industry?

We are looking after the welfare of our most important asset, our cattle, and our work is all about animal care and their well being. We have a unique responsibility in that we work hard to take care of the animals we raise, in order to produce a high quality product that is important to the health of society. We provide a clean wholesome and pure food product that is very important to almost everyone in society- the demand never goes away. We are involved in a “green” industry which deals with natural products and processes.

Heidi Schurmann’s Industry Profile

About Heidi

Heidi Schurmann, 26 is a Dairy Feed Sales & Service Representative for Clearbrook Grain in Abbotsford. Heidi has been working in the dairy industry since 2001 and has been with Clearbrook Grain for about a year. In her spare time, Heidi enjoys riding horses, teaching and competing.

How Did You Get Involved In The Dairy Industry?

I wanted to work in the Agriculture Industry and I heard about the Milker Training Program at the University College of the Fraser Valley so I took that. I went on to the Agriculture Labour Pool for employment and did some milking at various locations. I also took pre-vet school in Alberta and did some milking in that school year as well.

How Would You Describe A Typical Day On The Job?

I usually have breakfast/morning meetings two days a week. I visit my customers (dairy farms) on a daily basis and find out their needs, test forage samples (grass, corn, alfalfa). I look at inventories for feed and balance rations based on inventory of forages and availability. I do feed analysis for dairy cows and put together nutrition balancing.

What Type Of Environment Do You Work In?

I do all the balance & rations in the office but I’m mostly on the road visiting the dairy farms. My clients range from Pitt Meadows to Chilliwack.

What Do You Like About The Dairy Industry And Your Job?

I like the agriculture industry especially the dairy side of things. I think it is a progressive industry. It is an industry that does quite well so they have the capability and money to research how to make things better and keep up with the times. You get sciences and agriculture at the same time which I like.

What Are The Benefits To The Dairy Industry?

It is pretty flexible and not as strict as some other environments might be. I like dealing with animals. I don’t think there is as much stress as a typical city job. If you need time off, it is pretty easy flexible. It is a great part time job or full time job. I could make at least $20 an hour as a milker and still continue with school at the same time. That was much better money than working at a gas station.

What Are Some Important Traits Or Skills Someone Should Posses For The Dairy Industry?

You should be hard working. There is no easy way around things. You must have attention to detail because the earlier you catch the problems the better. If you are going to be a herdsperson, you must know more technology as technology is becoming more integrated into the dairy industry.

Evelyn Verneer’s Industry Profile

About Evelyn

Evelyn and her husband, Fred, run a family owned dairy farm called Marlena Farms Ltd., in Dewdney, BC, which came into existence through Fred’s parents. The farm received the herd management award in their DHI (Dairy Herd Improvement) region last year. They have three children who have grown up on the farm and help with the different jobs on the farm. In Evelyn’s spare time she enjoys yard work, going to her son and husband’s hockey games, hiking up the mountains and biking.

How Did You Get Involved In The Industry?

My husband Fred and I were both born and raised on a dairy farm. I always loved the industry. I was a milker for many years. I knew I wanted to marry someone in the dairy industry and I did!

How Would You Describe A Typical Day On The Job?

On this farm, we milk 150 cows 3 times per day and have four hired milkers who assist us on the farm. I do a lot of the accounting and book work for the farm. At different times of the year the duties change. In the winter, I try to do more inside stuff and in the spring, summer and fall we are very busy outside. I fill in the gaps everywhere. We have a number of different computer programs we use for management tools. Everything is very involved, udder health, the feed, foot health.

What Type of Environment Do You Work In?

Mainly on the farm outdoors, in the barn, indoors. Just about everywhere.

What Do You Like About This Industry And Your Job?

It is a great lifestyle and is an amazing way to raise a family. It is never boring. Even when I milked full time, somehow there always seemed to be a new adventure. There is never a day that is the same. There is a lot of organization in the job which I like. You have to use your brain.

What Are Some Benefits To Working In The Dairy Industry?

I work with great people. The dairy industry has down to earth, hard working people. My daughter is doing the night milking as a part time job while she is going to university. There isn’t anywhere she could work and make the money she does and be able to go to school at the same time. She does the night milking working only 3 hours per day.

What Are Some Important Traits Or Skills Someone Should Posses For This Industry?

They should be hard working and punctual. Some computer skills would be beneficial as we use a few dairy programs. We need to train people on these systems, particularly the herdsperson.

What Are Your Thoughts About The Future Of The Dairy Industry?

It is not the way farming used to be. In my dad’s day anyone that could work hard could be a dairy farmer but now you have to use your brain a lot more. There is a great deal of technology and management now necessary in order to stay afloat with everyone else.