phil sue and tavis and cheese in shed 74kb

For the love of dairy

If you’ve been to an HFNZ Conference in the last couple of years, you will have heard Phil Hall’s distinct laugh ring out loudly, and frequently – and what a joyous sound it is.

Phil and wife Suzanne (Sue) are dairy farmers in the Harvey region of Western Australia, well known for its oranges, and thriving dairy industry.

Phil and Sue were both born in the Harvey area. Sue is a third-generation dairy farmer, with her family being original Land Title Holders.

Phil is a fourth-generation dairy farmer, with his family dairy farming in the Harvey region since 1890.

The couple met at high school, and have been together since they were 15, and married for 35 years.

Both Phil and Sue finished high school, with Sue going on to work as a legal secretary/bookkeeper, while Phil went on to Agricultural College and then went home to work on the family farm. 

The couple has two sons: Tavis (33), and Russell (30).

Phil and Sue purchased the Hall family farm of 360 acres (145ha) in 1999 and faced a major challenge in their first year.

“The Australian dairy industry de-regulated in 2000, reducing our milk income overnight by 50%,” Sue says. “To survive, we diversified into rearing export heifers, which we purchased as week-old calves.

“We purchased another 60 acres (24ha) from the neighbours in 2006, increased our herd size from 120 to 160, and ceased exporting heifers.”

Both Tavis and Russell came back onto the farm after finishing Agricultural College. Tavis has worked on the home farm for 13 years, while Russell milks on another farm, with both Holstein Friesian and Brown Swiss stud cattle.

Today, the couple own 500 acres (202ha), and lease another 400 acres (162ha) in the Harvey area, under the name ‘Roblynne’ (named after Phil’s Mum and Dad, Arthur Robert and Gayle Lynne). They milk 190 cows all year round, with a ‘multicultural’ herd of seven different dairy breeds: black and white and red and white Holstein Friesians; Guernseys; Jerseys; Swedish Reds; English Dairy Shorthorns; Normande and Pinzgau cattle.

“Our cows average 7,000L per 305-day lactation, and we calve all year round,” Phil says. “Our herd is all mated to AI, and 50% of our maiden heifers for two rounds, mopping up with Angus or Hereford bulls.”

Phil says they mainly use Semex for their Holstein Friesians.

“A Holstein Friesian bull that has left good cows in the herd is Monument Impression,” Sue says. “We are currently using Vogue Maroon SG-ET PP, Cherryhill Actionman, Comestar Lemagic, De-Su 539 Grinch-ET, Tec Carbayeda Black Rum PP and Progenesis Photobooth. 

“For red and whites, we are currently using Hoogerhorst Dg Oh Rubels-Red and Sa-Dawn Signori-Red-ET.”

They calve 60 replacements a year.

“Our mating objectives include depth of heel, teat length, rump angle, dairy strength and stature, positive milk components, mastitis resistance and daughter fertility,” Phil says. “We raise all our calves born on the farm: dairy heifers for replacements, and Holstein Friesian steers and Angus cross raised to 12 months and sold through sale yards.”

The Halls have several notable cow families in the herd, including from the ‘Connie’ family from Ponderosa Holsteins.

“We travelled to Switzerland in 2015 and purchased red and white Holstein Friesian embryos through Semex to bring new bloodlines to our herd,” Phil says. “We have used the bull from the embryos extensively over our herd and heifers. And three years ago we purchased Holstein Friesian embryos from Claynook Holsteins in Canada, and we’ve also had two red heifers born from polled embryos from Farnear Altitude Red-ET.”

The Halls say the Holstein Friesian breed has worked brilliantly for their system, and their environment.

“The Holstein cow is a great feed converter, and no other cow will milk like a Holstein Friesian,” Phil says. “She tolerates the hot and cold of our climate well and is able to travel the distances required on our farm. Being part of our herd’s evolution over the last 50 years has given me great pride and satisfaction. When we started classifying in 1988 our two-year-olds were 78/79 points and now our two-year-olds are 81/83 points.”

In 2023, the Halls showed cattle for the first time in 10 years, at the Autumn Dairy Fair, winning a few classes.

True entrepreneurs, in 2017 the Hall family started its second business, Halls Family Dairy, producing artisan cheese from the milk of their Normande cows.

“We supply the milk from our commercial herd to Brownes Dairy, while the milk from our small Normande herd is used to produce our artisan cheese, called Halls Suzette, and supply chefs and restaurants with retired dairy cow beef and aged dairy steers,” Sue says.

Off-farm, Phil is very active in the agricultural industry. He is a committee member of the WA Government Cattle Biosecurity Industry Funding Scheme, and has been an active Holstein Australia member since 1988, holding all sub-branch and regional positions, and is now a Federal Board Member. 

“I love it all,” Phil says. “I love the camaraderie and working with like-minded, passionate people who share the same vision. I love being a Board Member and part of such a positive group.

“It has given me the opportunity to broaden my dairy knowledge base and be a part of dairying throughout Australia. I see my responsibility as being a guardian of the breed, while trying to help Australian dairy farmers achieve their vision with the Holstein Friesian cow. As a Board member I attend Zoom or in-person bi-monthly meetings, and other state and federal events. I currently hold the position of Treasurer on the Board and on the Audit and Risk Committee.”

The 2023 Holstein Friesian NZ Conference was Phil’s second time at the event.

“We both felt very welcome, and loved engaging and spending time with HFNZ members,” Sue says. “We loved their enthusiasm for the Holstein Friesian cow and the dairy industry. It was great to see members supporting HFNZ, and we thought the Youth Auction was great.”

Phil says there are both similarities and differences between the Australian and New Zealand dairy industries.

“The countries are very different in weather, and we deal with different environmental issues,” he says. “We both have a similar milk pricing structure and costings.

“But, most importantly, I believe we have a similar passion for the Holstein Friesian cow.”

phil sue and tavis and cheese in shed 74kb
Phil, Sue and Tavis Hall

FARM FACTS

OwnersHall family
LocationHarvey, Western Australia
Farm size202ha (plus 162ha leased)
Cows190 (80% registered Holstein Friesians)
Production7,000 litres/cow (305-day lactation)
Stud nameRoblynne

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