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Frederick Jack Slatter 1926-1916

The funeral service of ICSA Federal Patron and Queensland Life Member, Mr Fred Slatter OAM, will be held on Friday, December 30 at St Oswald's Anglican Church, 9 Froude Street Banyo, QLD at 11:00am. Committal service will be held at Albany Creek Crematorium, 400 Albany Creek Road, QLD, Australia on Friday, 30th December 2016 at 12:30pm.

Pictured:  Fred with wife Betty and Di Pratten at the Ekka 2012.

Fred Slatter considered himself just an ordinary man but he contributed an extraordinary amount to society during his time on earth and he did it in the most gentlemanly way.  Fred left his mark on the Queensland, Australian and International Dairy Cattle Industries while also making significant contributions to the community.  The following outlines a little of his work in the dairy industry.

Born February 10, 1926 at Allora, Queensland, Fred was educated to normal Primary School level but while a member of the wartime Royal Australian Air Force attended Ultimo in Sydney and the Canberra Technical College while training as a radio technician.  After his war service, he attended the Queensland Agricultural College and completed a rehabilitation course in Dairy Manufacture including butter making, cheese making, milk and cream testing and grading, dairy chemistry and bacteriology and animal genetics.  Other subjects such as animal diseases and animal nutrition were studied externally.

Fred applied to work for the Department of Primary Industries as a Dairy Officer and gained first place from a total of 63 candidates in the entrance examination.  He was offered the first vacancy in 1949.  During his employment with the DPI, Fred attended a number of in-service training courses, including:
    An advanced course in extension methods
    A course in Dairy Farm Management
    An Extension Officers course writing school
A Course in animal genetics at Queensland University.

Prior to World War 2, Fred gained practical dairying experience on the farm of his brother-in-law.  He also worked at the Talgai Cheese Factory prior to joining the Air Force during World War Two.  After gaining employment with the Department of Primary Industries in 1949, Fred was stationed at Caboolture in Queensland.  His responsibilities at the time included hygiene on dairy farms and the enforcement of regulations governing the dairy industry.

In the early 19950’s, his role changed to one of educating farmers to adopt the more progressive practices of herd recording, supplementary feeding and introduction of genetics into their breeding programs.  Each Departmental Officer was permitted to implement the new Departmental Plan in their own way and Fred opted for mass media field days, farmer meetings and discussion groups.  These methods proved most successful resulting in a substantial increase in production in his area.

In 1956 Fred was promoted to Dairy Adviser and transferred to Pittsworth on the Darling Downs.  During his time at this centre, Fred was credited with making a valuable contribution to increased dairy production.  Per cow production from this area was the highest in the state.  Fred encouraged dairy farmers to join Breed Societies, register their cattle and pay close attention to the use of basic genetics in their breeding programs.  Fred was consulted by many stud breeders on the planned matings for their cattle.

In 1957, Fred formed the Pittsworth Dairyfarmers Discussion Group which enabled farmers and advisers to meet and discuss problems as well as the techniques applied by successful farmers on their properties.  This proved to be an excellent method of farmer education.

The use of underground water to flood irrigate pastures for dairy cattle feeding was first undertaken in this area and Fred organised a number of field days on farms where irrigation was adopted.

In 1963 Fred was promoted to Senior Dairy Adviser and transferred to the Herd Recording Section in the Department’s Head Office.  Fred travelled the state advising farmers on how to best utilise their herd recording results and encouraged more and more farmers to herd record.

Fred oversaw the introduction of a computer into Queensland herd recording in 1966 and was heavily involved in testing computer forms under practical farm conditions before introducing these forms to herd recorders and dairy farmers.  It was necessary for Fred to overcome the farmers’ suspicions regarding the reliability of computers and the prejudices against having records compiled by a machine at a central point instead of on their farms.

In 1966 Fred was also responsible for testing the various makes of milk meters and recommending one brand for departmental use and later introduction of milk meters to the dairy farm population.

From 1972 Fred travelled extensively advising farmers on bulls to use in their breeding programs and the adoption of modern genetic practices.  Working with the Departmental Geneticists he arranged the procurement of bulls of all dairy breeds for the Wacol Artificial Breeding Centre.  Fred advised on bulls from which semen should be imported and arranged contract mating.

Due to his knowledge on the dairy industry, Fred wrote and had published a number of papers.

Over the years, Fred made a number of visits to the United States working closely with the American Milking Shorthorn Society.  In 1976, Fred attended the Shorthorn sale at Rochester and studied herd production recording and extension methods at the Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota at St Paul.  He also visited the Milking Shorthorn National Show at Columbus, Ohio.

In 1981 he returned to visit the World Dairy Exposition at Madison, Wisconsin and again in 1986 to receive the Rowe Award – American Milking Shorthorn Citizen of the Year at the A.M.S. Annual Meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Fred was heavily involved in the export of semen from Illawarra Shorthorns to the United States, working closely with Australian breeders.  Fred’s friendship with several of the top breeders was one of the main reasons that they agreed to have their bulls collected.  Fred recognised that the efforts of the Directors of the Australian Imported Semen Company could lead to a market in the USA for Illawarra semen.  He was confident that sons of Sunny View Little Princess 30 would lift the production of American Milking Shorthorns.  Sons of other proven bulls would also give America’s red dairy breed a broader genetic base, would increase production and improve dairy type.  This would also assist the breeders of red cattle worldwide to be competitive with other popular dairy breeds.  With a view to the long term future of red cattle in Australia, and given the relatively small population, Fred reasoned that an infusion of new genes would be essential to maintain the breed.  He reasoned that if semen from production proven American bulls carrying the basic Illawarra genes could be exchanged it would do much to improve the breed in Australia.  As a result, importation of semen from proven overseas bulls, not just from the USA but a number of other countries, has been occurring now for some time and making significant contributions to the Australian genetic pool.

Following the initial export of Illawarra semen to the USA, health regulations changed and it became necessary to have bulls housed and semen collected and processed in a licensed centre under Federal Government supervision.  A special Mini Export Centre was established adjacent to the Wacol Artificial Breeding Centre and only bulls which were free of evidence of exposure to Bovine Ephemeral Fever (3 day sickness) were allowed to enter.  The task of obtaining young bulls for this centre, which was very difficult and time consuming, was allotted to Fred.  He spent much time analysing production, not only of individual cows but of herds, monitoring the spread of BEF and arranging contract matings between proven sires and high performance cows that were free of BEF.  Matings were arranged so that calves were born between April and August to reduce the risk of infection and as soon as practical, Fred had to organise health testing and transport to the disease free centre.  The preparation of pedigrees of the bulls and provision of all relevant information was another of Fred’s duties.  This permitted the Directors of Australian Imported Semen to decide which, if any, of the young bulls should be imported to the USA.  This information was also used by the Young Sire Committee in their deliberations.