Caitlin Ysselstein originally hails from a dairy farm in Wairarapa. Having been involved in dairy farming her whole life, she began working on the farm from a young age, as that was part of being a member of the Berry family. From spraying tits, milking cows, grubbing weeds and feeding out, Caitlin learnt the basics of everything she knows about dairy from her Dad.
During her teenage years Caitlin moved away from the dairy industry, eventually finding her way back to Agriculture whilst studying Agribusiness at Massey University. After graduating Caitlin worked for AsureQuality in Hamilton in the Farm and Livestock division. During this time, Caitlin added to her knowledge of dairying, learning about the audit/regulation side of issues that dairies faced.
Like most New Zealanders Caitlin was faced with the case of itchy feet and a desire to see the world. She found herself in British Columbia, Canada working for a dairy equipment company selling barn equipment and ventilation around the globe. Lucky enough to visit more than ten countries whilst working in this role, she learnt how the rest of the world dairies with varying barn systems based on country and climate.
Whilst on a work trip in Beijing, China, Caitlin meet her now husband, a Dutch/American dairy farmer, who was at the time living on the families 11,000 cow dairy in Iowa, USA. Fast forward almost three years, and Caitlin has now been living in Southern California for two years. Her husband runs their heifer ranch and they raise 9,000 heifers. Their role is to feed and breed the heifers before sending them back to the family dairy in Iowa between 3-5 months pregnant.
Caitlin now works for Alta Genetics as a District Sales Manager helping dairies in Southern California and Arizona with their genetics and reproductive programmes. Working with some of the largest and most progressive herds in the United States, varying in size from 1,000 cows to 14,000 cows. Caitlin's job means a lot of road time, often driving three hours for a meeting with a farmer to then turn around and drive home the same day, but no day is the same and she never gets bored.
"What I love most about the agriculture/dairy industry is how small the industry truly is. I have only been in my professional career for going on 7 years and am often baffled by the people I bump in to in different countries/trade shows/field days and how we are all essentially connected in some way. “Oh Caitlin, I know your father” or “I’ve visited that dairy in China as well”. These comments are often followed by catching up over a beer, connecting over LinkedIn and is all part of growing my agricultural network - this is the best part.
"The dairy industry has taken me to many countries, helped me find my husband and apart from working for Alta genetics, I now get to spend my days often working side by side with my husband on our own ranch. We’re growing our business and hope to one day add more customers."
Caitlins dream is to be able to bring the global knowledge she and her husband have learnt over the years back to New Zealand and once again live in the most beautiful country in the world!
What a journey Caitlin. It must be truly rewarding to have experienced so many different elements and practices of the dairy industry from around the world.