David Johnston presents Colin and Kay Eckers with his Honorary Life Membership of the Association.
Colin Ekers, who passed away suddenly on Wednesday 17th June 2020, was involved in the dairy industry for almost 60 years. For a large portion of those years he was active in the breeding and promotion of the Holstein breed in South Australia and participated in Association activities and sub branch, state and federal level.
His contribution to the industry and to Holstein Australia was recognised in 2016 with the awarding of Honorary Life Membership. Here we look back over Colin’s dairy life and his considerable contribution to Holstein Australia and the wider industry.
The Colena herd
Colin established Colena Holsteins at Mt Compass south of Adelaide in 1970 and bred 836 females including 1 EX, 108 VG cows and 1x4, 4x2, 7x1 Star Brood cows. Colin received awards for 9 STP cows, 6 Production and 1 Lifetime Production awards as well as breeding 198 bulls including 2 EX and 13 VG.
At Colena 13 Annual sales were held, the 9th sale in 1987 was Australia’s first all “VG” and he hosted several Invitational and Cattle Club sales.
Colin introduced many new blood lines to SA which have bred on well in many successful cow families and Holstein breeders throughout Australia including Altagen, Blac Jewel, Tahora Lady Liqueur and Wranhi Crisstine.
Over the years Colin exhibited cattle at the Adelaide Royal, Mt Pleasant, Mt Gambier and IDW and participated in the Southern Show circuit for 27 years achieving Most Successful Exhibitor for 6 years and Runner Up for 3 years between 1977 and 1986.
In 1989 he helped organise a Holstein Education camp attended by 42 members at Pt Elliot and was involved with organising a cow assessment and judging school at Victor Harbour attended by 34 members in February 1995. Colin hosted the 1985 SA junior handlers day at Colena as well as organising and hosting field days there in 1974, 1982, 1984 and the very successful 1986 field day at which HFAA classification staff lectured and was attended by 60 people.
At Colena Colin hosted a two day clipping and leading demonstration presented by Canadian judge Bill McFaul that was professionally videotaped for use by members. He also coordinated and provided heifers for three day junior handlers and youth camp at Tatachilla, SA as well as organising heifer competitions in the Fleurieu and Meningie areas for 6 years.
Colin hosted many agricultural school students for Holstein dairy days at his farm and was involved in promoting Holsteins and teaching students how to handle calves at the Mt Compass Annual Field Days for 10 years.
One of many family exhibits at the Southern Fleurieu Historical Museum
Colin in 2014
Part of the permanent dairy exhibit at the the Southern Fleurieu Historical Museum instigated by Colin.
On Sub Branch duty
Colin was a member of the SA State Committee for over 22 years during which time he held the office of Vice President for 7 years and President for 9 years. In 1990 as President, SA Sate hosted the HFAA conference and Federal Council AGM in Adelaide. He was a member of the State Executive Committee for 17 years and was an official breed inspector for 20 years. He was Chair of the Fleurieu Cattle Club for one year prior to it gaining Sub Branch status in 1996 and was long standing Fleurieu Sub Branch Committee member since its inception, and was the Sub Branch Patron.
A member of Federal Council for 18 years, during this time he was a member of the 10th World Holstein Friesian Conference Organising Committee for over 4 years and attended numerous meetings. He helped organise tours for overseas visitors and personally looked after many international Holstein breeders.
He was a member of the Federal Disciplinary Committee for 4 years. He was also the area classification tour organiser for over 20 years and was SA State Classification Coordinator for 14 years.
Colin served as HFAA Field Officer for SA for 4 years and keenly promoted the breed and gained new members of the Association. He also promoted HFAA services including Classification, CHECKMATE and the advantages of the Appendix system to new members.
He was on the State Judging Panel from 1993 to 1999 having served three terms prior on the Provisional Panel and during this time officiated at numerous country shows, field days, heifer competitions and calf shows including the Tasmanian Cal Day at Ross in 1991.
Colin was awarded Honorary State Life Membership in 1992.
Colin was a SA RDCA member for 21 years and a Councillor for the SA RAHS Dairy and Pig Committee for 17 years serving 2 years as President.
At the Adelaide RAHS he instigated the construction of the highly successful Exhibition Dairy at the Adelaide Showgrounds and served on and was Chair of the Exhibition Dairy Committee. This committee was instrumental in promoting the dairy industry during the Adelaide Show and helped organise the “Celebrity Milk Off” and Dairy Products Day that has been attended by thousands of people over many years. This event won the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Award for Excellence in Community Communication in 1998.
Colin has also promoted the breed during Adelaide Show week by taking cows for live TV appearances, street parades and holding radio interviews.
He represented Holstein breeders at the Southern Agricultural Show Society for over 20 years and was Vice President for 2 years and helped instigate the “Spring Feature Show’. This Society recognised Colin’s efforts in promoting dairying, agriculture and Junior Handlers Competitions by awarding him the Excellence in Agriculture Award in 1992. Colin was only the 2nd recipient of the Award at that time.
A member of the Mt Compass Show Society Committee for 10 years, he served as President for 3 years. He was also a founding member of the Mt Compass Rural Youth sub branch.
He was also President of the International Agricultural Exchange Association (SA branch) for 2 years and hosted many overseas students through the program that offered first-hand experience of Australian dairy farming, and a member of the HISCOL board for 3 years.
Colin was a member of the HISCOL board for 3 years.
With his retirement from dairying, Colin gave his time to a project to showcase the dairy history of SA at the Southern Fleurieu Historical Museum at Pt Elliot. Inspired by HA’s Centenary celebrations in 2014 Colin instigated a permanent dairy exhibit at the Museum. The exhibit was awarded Dairy Australia’s Legendairy state Dairy Capital competition for South Australia in 2015 after Colin nominated the exhibit.