LLOYD Burgmann's time in the dairy industry is fast coming to a close.
He and wife Lynda have made the enormous decision to sell their 50-head herd in a bid to gain a better work-life balance, and will begin to offering some of their Ayrshire cows at International Dairy Week later this month.
Although the 60 year-old has been milking cows most of his life, the West Gippsland sharefarmer fondly recalls his former football days as an AFL Melbourne Demons' all-rounder in the 1970s.
"I played in two night premierships, but lost," he said.
It seems football runs in the family, with his father Jack and son Shane also donning the yellow and black jersey.
But Mr Burgmann's career also extends to the funeral industry - an unlikely jump from dairying or AFL.
He worked at a funeral home in northern Victoria in the 80s for more than a decade.
It was a time when Mr Burgmann's football career was over and the milk price had crashed, forcing him to look elsewhere for employment.
He has no regrets.
"It's a great industry - I learnt a lot about how to relate to people," he said.
But soon he returned to his first passion, milking cows.
And for the past five years, Mr Burgmann has been share-farming in a third arrangement on the Kinrade family's property at Drouin, milking 170 cows with his wife Lynda.
His time breeding cows has brought him several high-profile industry gongs.
Over the years, he has built up a herd of Holsteins and Jerseys and also runs his own Ayrshire stud under the prefix Encore.
"We've won four senior champion ribbons at International Dairy Week, and reserve on three occasions," he said.
In the 80s, Mr Burgmann picked up champion Holstein at the Melbourne Royal.
About 15 years ago, the Ayrshire breed caught his eye.
"We had previously had success with Holsteins and Jerseys and decided to give Ayrshires a go," he added.
The original matriarch of their herd, Neillunga Didjago, was their first ever investment into the breed.
Purchased at a $6000 price tag from a South Australian stud, the 18 year-old cow is still alive today and milking well.
"She is one of the most high profile Ayrshire cows," Mr Burgmann said.
"I would say she is the mother, grandmother or great grandmother of most of our cows now."
The legendary animal - who has had 14 calves - is the only Ayrshire cow to be classified EX nine times. She's also picked up a long line to champion ribbons at IDW.
And today, the Burgmanns are planning to return to IDW once again, after a five-year break from the event.
But this year, it will be for the very last time. They plan to show 13 head.
In the Elite Ayrshire Sale on January 22, their Encore stud will put up seven lots in the auction.
Interestingly, organisers say the breed boasts record numbers this year (117 head), so competition will be stronger than ever.
"It's the biggest show in the Southern Hemisphere, so in an event like this you really know where your cattle stand," he said.
He said the sale would be a good chance for breeders to bid on cattle with a real depth of pedigree.
"We've never sold any of our cattle, so this is a rare opportunity," he said.
After so many years breeding cattle, Mr Burgmann admits it will be sad to see his cattle go, but he is also looking forward to what the future holds.
On the other hand, Mrs Burgmann is hoping the decision will mean more time to relax.
"We only got married three years ago and have only had eight days off for our honeymoon in that time," she said.
In the Football season, Mr Burgmann employs a milker on a Saturday night, so he can devote time to his other great love - coaching football.
"The dairy industry can be very depressing - up and down," he said.
"If I didn't have football, I wouldn't be here today."
He says his time coaching football has taught his to relate to people better.
But it's the challenge of improving that's driven him to continue - both in football and in the show ring.
"I do like a challenge," he said.
"Competition gives you that adrenalin rush and you can sink your teeth into it."
However on show day, Mr Burgmann's son-in-law Glen Bawden and daughter Bec will be responsible for leading the cows around the ring.
"I'll do a lot of the behind the scenes work. We are already preparing the cows now, leading them and feeding," he said.
And as for future of the couple's matriarchal Ayrshire cow? She will remain with the family, but her next big appointment is at the upcoming Ficifolia Festival in Drouin, where she has been asked to ride on a float to promote the "farming" theme.
"She will have a pretty easy life now," he said.