RETURNED: Michelle and Robbie Radel are back dairying at the Happy Valley dairy farm at Coalstoun Lakes.
RETURNED: Michelle and Robbie Radel are back dairying at the Happy Valley dairy farm at Coalstoun Lakes. Erica Murree

The Radel family back at work on the farm

DAIRYING is deeply engrained in the veins of the Radel family.

After 14 years they have come full circle and are now back on the Coalstoun Lakes farm founded by Johann Radel back in the early 1900s.

Fourth generation dairy farmer Robbie Radel said it's bittersweet.

"It was never the plan, we were happy and settled on both farms,” he said.

"We are putting the sale of the Biggenden farm behind us and will see what the next challenge and chapter in our lives leads to.”

Mr Radel said they were fortunate to find buyers for the excess of cattle, selling 60 head to other dairy farmers across the state.

"Only half dozen had to go to the meatworks,” he said.

"On the second last day at the Biggenden farm it was sad to watch the cattle be trucked away but on the last day when those cattle went we knew we would be seeing them the next day at Coalstoun Lakes.”

Robbie Radel with his mum, Sue has been involved with the Happy Valley Dairy farm all his life.
Robbie Radel with his mum, Sue has been involved with the Happy Valley Dairy farm all his life. Contributed

Mr Radel said they'll now be milking 50-60 head.

"We also have way too many heifers which is an added cost in feed.

"These couldn't be sold as no one is after animals as they have to wait 12 months for a return,” Mr Radel said.

Robbie Radel says its bittersweet to be back dairying at the family's dairy farm at Coalstoun Lakes.
Robbie Radel says its bittersweet to be back dairying at the family's dairy farm at Coalstoun Lakes. Contributed.

He said the farm would never fully go organic but they would continue to use natural fertilisers and minimal herbicides and pesticides like they did on the Biggenden farm.

"You see the difference in the soil and in the cows' health,” Mr Radel said.

"I use apple cider vinegar in a trough in the middle of the paddock.

"If a cow is off colour when she comes in for milking she will always go to the trough.”

Happy Valley is a dryland farm and whilst it consists of rich, red volcanic soil it frequently received insufficient rain.

Mr Radel said there was no irrigation but there were two bores for stockwater.

"We intend to grow more fodder - like cattle feed, forage, sorghum and lab lab.

"As we have a block of peanuts there will be peanut hay.”

The fifth generation of the Radel family are already keen about helping out on the Happy Valley Dairy Farm at Coalstoun Lakes.
The fifth generation of the Radel family are already keen about helping out on the Happy Valley Dairy Farm at Coalstoun Lakes. Erica Murree

The Radels will continue their journey with Central Queensland Fresh Milk.

"We have no other option as we couldn't afford to go back to Parmalat,” Mr Radel said.


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