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JUNE, 2018 ISSUE 92


Farm manager Mike Kilkenny and general manager Tim Jelbart.

Brothers keep pioneering spirit alive

Will Ryan has been appointed assistant farm manager.

TIM, GEORGE and Will Jelbart have embraced genomics in their quest to improve farm and herd profitability and reduce their reliance on milk income. The focus on genetics also continues the pioneering spirit of their late father, Max. Max and his wife, Barbe, started on the current farm in Leongatha South in 1981 with 110ha and 127 cows. Both were well-respected figures within the industry until Barbe died in 2014 and Max

in 2016. The family began succession planning in 2013 and Tim returned to the district in 2015 to take on the role of general manager. By this stage, the herd comprised 1000 cows on a milking platform of 360ha. When Max died, succession planning had been completed and management structures were in place. A board comprising the brothers and two external advisers now meets quarterly to dis-

cuss budgets and planning, along with longer term objectives. The Jelbarts hosted the ImProving Herds National Muster field day last month and Tim spoke to an audience of 300 dairy farmers and industry representatives. “It was an extremely challenging time with a lot happening and the dairy industry being on its knees after the milk price crash in April, 2016,” he said.


“The great thing about having the board was that we were very objective about the decisions we made.” Having sold the Caldermeade Farm and Café in 2017, the family now operates across 870ha of owned and leased land at Leongatha South, milking 1000 predominantly Holstein cows, and 1000 followers made up of Holstein calves and young stock. Continued page 6 >

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Chairman’s message

Genetic numbers add up THE NATIONAL Muster at Jelbart Dairy in Leongatha South was an event the dairy industry should be proud of. The ImProving Herds project—with assistance from GippsDairy—did a wonderful job of organising a professional event under some trying weather conditions. Tim Jelbart and his team went above and beyond in making their farm available for more than 300 people. What impressed me even more than the organisation of the event was its content. I drove home from Leongatha South excited about what genetics can do for my own business and how it can improve the dairy industry as a whole.

Hearing from the genetics focus farmers, who have been providing data for many years to DataGene, showed the potential improvement that selective breeding can make to farm profitability. Figures presented on the day showed that cows with a high Balanced Performance Index have higher margins over feed and herd costs, with the top 25 per cent of BPI cows having a $300/cow/year greater margin than the bottom 25 per cent. Sometimes as farmers we question these numbers and find it hard to relate them to our own farms.

Jennie Pryce, who heads up the genetics science team at DairyBio, gave an excellent talk on proving how the science numbers and the numbers on farm stack up. Those figures alone show that the science of selective breeding can be readily translated into improved gross margins for farmers. As a farmer, it can be hard to get your head around the speed of genetic gain being made in the dairy industry. But hearing from fellow farmers at the National Muster helped take that information out of the laboratory and present it in a practical manner that everyone there was able to understand.

The ImProving Herds project has been a huge collaborative effort made by a number of organisations. The Gardiner Dairy Foundation, Agriculture Victoria, Dairy Australia, DataGene, Holstein Australia and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia have been working for many years to create better genetic outcomes for dairy herds. The project is another example of how the dairy industry is investing to improve the profitability of dairy farms. • Grant Williams GippsDairy chair

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Processor taps into clean energy DAIRY PROCESSOR Burra Foods has entered

into a large-scale Renewable Corporate Power Purchase Agreement with Melbourne-based energy retailer Flow Power. The deal will bring the company closer to meeting its energy efficiency goals, and give the business direct access to secure low-cost renewable energy over a 10-year period. The renewable power, sourced from Ararat Wind Farm, is expected to deliver annual savings of more than 20 per cent and can be used in real time to offset grid electricity consumption. “As a business, Burra Foods has very bold sustainability targets and we have invested heavily in renewable energy solutions that fit our usage demand,” Burra Foods supply chain and manufacturing general manager Stewart Carson said. “Partnering with Flow Power and sourcing a steady supply of clean, renewable energy is a major step toward our facility being powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. “We remain committed to playing our part in sustainable dairy manufacturing.” During peak periods, Burra Foods’ Korumburra factory can receive up to 1.5million litres of fresh farm milk for processing every day. The dairy manufacturer required an energy solution that would support its rigorous production schedule, improve its energy efficiency and

Dairy processor Burra Foods has gone into partnership with an energy retailer to bring the company closer to meeting its energy goals.

provide price certainty. Burra Foods has also announced an earlier payment of the Burra Supply Incentive. Instead of one payment in August, the payment will come in two instalments: the first on June 15 (with the

May milk payment) and the second on July 15. Last year, Flow Power announced the availability of its Renewable Corporate PPAs, giving Australian businesses the opportunity to tap into a globally recognised trend that lowers energy costs

and benefits the environment and economy. Renewable Corporate PPAs allow businesses to contribute to a lower carbon economy and reduce overall emissions, while potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs.

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with Katie MacAuley

Columnist Katie MacAulay lives in South Gippsland, and has been married to a dairy farmer long enough to appreciate the smell of good silage. She loves chooks, enjoys stacking hay bales with the tractor and wonders why the lawn grows twice as quickly as the grass in the paddocks.

Pesky experts need a good spray I’VE DISCOVERED a new species of farming pest. Self-proclaimed experts. Self-proclaimed experts have invaded agriculture in droves. Lately, it seems that no matter where I go, the moment I mention that I live on a farm, the unsolicited advice begins. Strangers on trains, work colleagues and distant (city-based) relatives. Everyone knows how farmers could farm more effectively and best of all, “it’s so easy”. Now, while I’m no expert at farming (that’s Hubby’s role), it makes me cross. The cattle, weather, insects and even markets have minds of their own. There are a lot of variables to consider. Farming is more than watching grass grow—in fact, a lot of the time, farming involves watching grass NOT grow.

My first example occurred during a discussion group where our herd’s performance was being analysed. One individual, who I had not met previously, was convinced he knew how to improve our production instantly. “You need to invest more money in the right infrastructure,” he proclaimed confidently. “In fact, with the new milking infrastructure I’m proposing, you’ll make so much money that you won’t know yourself.” Wow, I thought. What an endorsement. Maybe we should consider this. When I brought it up with Hubby afterwards, Hubby gently explained that this fellow was a seed salesman with no farming experience. His expertise was persuasion. Yep. I could see that. Next I was cornered by a workmate who

had never seen our farm. Without preamble, he recommended we remove all introduced grass from our pasture and replant only grasses native to our area. I failed to convince him that this area had previously been bush—the only grass was small amounts of sword-grass that even the native animals avoided. Another popular argument I regularly hear regarding poor pasture management is the perceived superiority of the grass on the side of the road to that of nearby paddocks. I am met with scepticism when I try to explain about a) road camber and water run-off, b) the fact that, unlike the paddocks, the side of the road has not been grazed and c) that not every small green plant on the side of the road is desirable. The most disturbing aspect of these ‘pests’ is that their numbers increase exponentially.

At this rate, it won’t be long before every nonfarmer I meet will be offering us farming advice. I pointed out my dilemma to Hubby. “We need an integrated pest management system,” he decided. “First we trap them—by offering them the chance to demonstrate how to do it better themselves. If that doesn’t work, then we bait them—by offering reams of unsolicited advice in their field of expertise.” I grinned. It could be fun telling city people how to drive in traffic or office workers how to maintain an empty in-box (both areas in which I am completely unqualified). “Finally,” he said, “if we still can’t get rid of the self-proclaimed experts, we’ll give them a spray. Verbally of course.”

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GIPPSLAND REGION // 5 MUSTERING INTEREST IN GENETICS More than 300 people from across the country descended on Jelbart Dairy in Leongatha South last month to hear the latest results from the ImProving Herds project. The popularity of the day was a strong sign of the level of interest in herd improvement and how it contributes to the bottom line of dairy businesses, according to project leader Jennie Pryce. The ImProving Herds project analysed the herd and financial records from 27 commercial dairy farms, with the results showing that making breeding decisions based on data pays off in the long run. Dr Pryce said the project provided concrete evidence that cows with a high Balanced Performance Index performed better under Australian conditions. “On average, the top 25 per cent of cows in a herd (based on BPI) produced a

margin over feed and herd costs of $300 more than the bottom 25 per cent,” she said. Jelbart Dairy general manager Tim Jelbart shared his journey over two years of co-ownership, using science to make profitable decisions. His business adviser John Mulvany also spoke at the ImProving Herds National Muster field day. Both highlighted the value of having plenty of replacements to create genetic pressure and generate an additional income stream. Mr Jelbart said having heifers DNAtested meant he could select the best heifers for replacements, which boosted genetic gain. “And the income from livestock sales provides a buffer against milk price fluctuations,” he said.

Farm World Field Days Jelbart Dairy general manager Tim Jelbart, Lockington dairy farmer Jared Ireland and Cooma dairy farmer Brad O’Shannessy present at the ImProving Herds National Muster.

THOUSANDS OF people visited the Farm World 2018 at Lardner Park in April. Farmers were able to inspect a range of technology and equipment, and families enjoyedentertainment and activities. Pictured above at the Vikon Precast site was

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Family tradition continues < Continued from page 1

Tim told the audience the milking platform covers 360ha of perennial rye-grass pasture and the balance of 510ha is used for young stock and fodder production. The predominantly Holstein herd calves 60 per cent in autumn and 40 per cent in spring. Their production target for the herd is to produce 8000–9000litres/cow with 600–625kg milk solids/cow, with moderate to high supplementary feeding of 2.5–3.0tonnes/cow/year of concentrates. It has been a steep learning curve for the family, with the three brothers working in different fields off-farm following school. “Dad had a fantastic ‘gut feel’ of what to do and a natural intuition and experience on how to farm. He made decisions on the run and got most of them right,” Tim said. “With limited farming knowledge, I can’t do that so I use spreadsheets, rely on experts and have a great support network around me.” Tim said although he grew up on the farm he had very little experience in breeding, feeding cows, growing grass or employing people. However, he was experienced in preparing spreadsheets, budgets and cash flows and said it was these skills that helped them manage the downturn in the dairy industry in 2016 because they could identify where the business was

making and losing money and where to invest. Farm manager Mike Kilkenny, who has been with the farm for years, proved invaluable—mentoring the three brothers on how to run the business and day-to-day operations. Tim now makes “big picture decisions” and is the conduit between the farm and the board; Mike implements the day to day running of the farm, but also provides input into the bigger picture. In spring 2016, Tim said the board decided to make a three- to five-year commitment to invest in genomics and evaluate the outcomes. The business had been part of the ImProving Herds project and could see the merit. In February 2017, they tested the top 70 per cent of the 2016 spring-born heifers, based on parent averages. They do not test heifers which are sired by mop-up bulls, or who have poor parent averages. “Genomic testing helps us make informed decisions as to which heifers to keep and which to sell,” Tim said. “It also has the added advantage of verifying parentage. This will improve the accuracy of our records which are currently based on paddock observations at calving.” They invest heavily in sexed semen and aim to produce 400 to 500 heifer calves a year through

Maximum efficiency, Maximum profit!

the two joinings. Large numbers of heifers means they can increase their farm income from livestock sales and increase the rate of genetic gain in the herd. Between 300 and 400 heifers will be genomically tested and the best 250 to 300 will enter the herd as replacements. Surplus females may be sold as export heifers at nine months of age; heifers in-calf to sexed semen at 16 months of age; or heifers and cows at the point of calving or freshly in milk. Tim said decisions depended on what prices were on offer at the time, current and forecast seasonal conditions and where the best profit margin could be made. “Generally, livestock sales account for 15 to 20 per cent of our total income, while milk is 80 to 85 per cent. “Value adding to livestock sales is a key part of increasing our overall farm income and fully utilising the land resource we have available.” As part of the ImProving Herds project an analysis was conducted, looking at how the top 25 per cent of the herd compared to the bottom

Rain broke on the day of the ImProving Herds National Muster field day held at Jelbart Dairy.

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25 per cent of the herd based on Balanced Performance Index. Based on BPI, the top 25 per cent of the herd produced an extra 1656litres/cow of milk, 66kg/ cow of protein, and 67kg/cow of fat a year more than the cows in the bottom 25 per cent of the herd. These top 25 per cent of cows had a gross margin (income over feed) of $585/cow a year more than the bottom group of cows. They also lasted 11 months longer in the herd. Tim said the top BPI cows were not their biggest producers, but they were mostly in calf on the first round, had very few health issues and stayed in the herd longer. With large numbers of heifer replacements to choose from, Tim said it could be a challenge to identify which to cull. He now uses BPI rankings to identify potential sale heifers and cows. Tim said they hadn’t used genomics to its full potential yet, but he and his brothers’ eagerness to adopt the technology to give them an edge shows that their father’s spirit continues within them.

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The Jelbart brothers have embraced genomics and are reaping rewards.

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Teat-sealing heifers eliminates mastitis STEPHEN COOKE

ROB AND Jan Mortlock have all but eliminated

mastitis in their heifers after taking part in a teatsealing trial. The Mortlocks, who milk 850 head at Yanakie in south Gippsland, teat-sealed 150 heifers last year and 118 this year and recorded one case of mastitis. They plan to teat-seal 270 next year and 350 the following year. “We have teat-sealed cows before but not heifers,” Mr Mortlock said. “It proves it’s worth doing.” The teat-sealing trial was run by Zoetis, manufactuer of Teatseal, with the Tarwin Veterinary Group and other clinics in Victoria and Tasmania. The field trial involved 16 herds and 3555 heifers. A case of mastitis has been costed at $200/ head by the Tarwin Veterinary Group and heifers can lose a quarter for their entire life even if they catch the mastitis early. The cost of teat-sealing is $24/heifer. New Zealand farmers have been teat-sealing

heifers for years and the Tarwin Veterinary Group had a trailer built in New Zealand specifically to make teat-sealing easier. It replicates a herringbone design and fits five well-grown heifers at a time. The business has been teat sealing for one-and-a-half years. “Research over the last 10 years has shown teat-sealing heifers has worked but no-one wanted to do it. Heifers were too small to put in the dairy,” vet David Lemchens said. It requires three or four people doing yard work to get the heifers in, then one vet and three vet nurses undertake the procedure. They can do 450 in a day. The trailer is ideal for outblocks, where heifers are traditionally run with few facilities. Heifers are teat-sealed two months before calving. “Heifers take longer to calve so they are up and down in the mud,” Dr Lemchens said. He said one farmer had 160 heifers and due to a logistical problem could only have half teat-sealed. “Twenty-five per cent of the non-teat-sealed heifers later suffered from mastitis. In the teat-sealed

Jan and Rob Mortlock.


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The specially made trailer owned by the Tarwin Veterinary Group to teat-seal heifers.

mob, one heifer received it in one quarter.” Mr Mortlock was an immediate convert to teatsealing. “If you save 10 per cent of heifers from getting mastitis, you’re streets in front in future,” he said. “We had at least 10 per cent getting mastitis so it pays for itself. An animal milking at 80 per cent of its potential is not making money.” It also means they are receiving a better return on their investment to use sexed semen to grow their herd. The Mortlocks now milk 630 cows on the 300ha home farm at Yanakie and have a sharefarmer on a 100ha farm where they milk an additional 230 cows. They also have additional hectares at Yanakie and at Foster, where they run replacement young stock and grow fodder. The Mortlocks have trialled split-calving the past few years but are moving back to once-a-year calving this year. The 150 cows due to calve in

August will now be milked through and joined to AI with the autumn calving cows. “Split-calving works fine but it is too big a workload,” Mr Mortlock said. They will join 270 heifers to sexed semen this year and plan to join 350 the following year. The additional heifers will put selection pressure on those that take too long to calve. “If joining goes for too long we’ll get rid of the tail,” Mr Mortlock said. “An eight-week calving is what we’re aiming for.” They will calve in autumn and the Mortlocks produce enough home-grown fodder to feed them over. They also feed 2.2tonnes of wheat per cow each year and half a tonne of canola to lift fat. Like many dairy farmers, the Mortlocks are working hard to drive efficiency from within but Mr Mortlock said a better price was needed. “We need $6. If we get $6 we put money into the community. If we get $5 you stop spending,” he said.

Heifers eating home-grown hay.

A qualified technician from the Tarwin Veterinary Group teat-sealing heifers.

Rob and Jan Mortlock will return to once-a-year calving.

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Big picture is clearer after rough start STEPHEN COOKE

THE PAST two years have provided a tough

initiation for Stony Creek farmers Steven and Alison Bouma and their son Mark, but it has also provided food for thought as to which way to take their farm. Steven and Alison bought the Stony Creek farm two years ago, and with Mark worked for the first 12 months without farm help. The Boumas had previously farmed south of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, selling the farm 14 years ago. They left dairy farming but Steven remained keen to farm in Australia if the right opportunity arose. They almost purchased a farm near their current farm about seven years ago and although that did not eventuate, Steven remained keen on the district. “The wet country and the rainfall appealed to him as he was used to that in New Zealand,” Mark said.

Mark, 26, came to Australia after finishing school and spent five years employed in turf management in Melbourne, working primarily on golf courses. “I didn’t see a way forward in New Zealand for a young farmer,” he said. He then worked on a dairy farm at Larpent for a few years—managing it for the last 12 months—before returning to work with his parents once they purchased the Stony Creek farm. He will take on a 23 per cent sharefarming role from July 1—splitting all costs and milking 340 head owned by his parents. Steven and Alison bought a closed herd from Leongatha, including young stock (rising oneand two-year old heifers). The sellers were about to put them up for sale but were pleased to sell the entire herd. “When we bought the place it was after a hard summer in 2015–16. It was pretty tough. We arrived in April 2016, just before Murray Goulburn crashed.” Although they were supplying Burra Foods, Mark said the family “went into lockdown”.

“We went straight into a wet winter and also had to manage a rotary herd going through a herringbone shed. “It wasn’t until January/February the following year that they settled in.” Now, two years in, the Boumas have prioritised pasture improvement. “We want to run a low-cost system, improve pasture and grow more dry matter,” Mark said. The Boumas are currently running a pasture trial with Notman Seeds of 12 varieties. “We’ll probe that the next three years,” Mark said. “We’ve matched the seed dollar for dollar per hectare. Lower cost seeds went in at a high rate to see if we can get more yield over the next few years. “Notman approached us to do the trial. They are established varieties but Notman was keen to see what they do in this area. “We’ve previously had some varieties in as a mix but weren’t sure which was doing better in winter and which were persisting through summer. We’ll do it for two to three years to see.”

Mark Bouma will enter a sharefarming arrangement with his parents from July 1.

The Boumas plan to subdivide paddocks to better utilise some parts of the farm and also need to deal with couch and kikuyu grass, as well as summer grasses. “We’re trying to avoid summer crops because we see hit-and-miss crops and the reward may not be there for working-up paddocks, plus you have to manage softer topsoil on a wet farm through winter. “The farm has shown it has great growth and persistence through the summer months, if we can avoid using crops and stick to a simple grass based system.” Mark said favorable growing conditions make it easier to run a consistently higher stocking rate



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There are good shelterbelts on the farm but pasture renovation is a priority.

in New Zealand, whereas learning the different soil types and less consistent rainfall in Australia means stocking rates are more prone to fluctuate. “Last winter was dry so we could have miked 400 cows, but the winter before we were lucky to milk 300 as it was too wet. We need to find that happy medium,” he said. In their first season they produced 9 tonnes of dry matter/hectare, and have increased this to 11 tonne/DM/ha. “If we put work into soil fertility, pasture improvement and management there’s definitely further scope to improve.” They also plan to put further work into the cows through AI. The herd is an average size of 600kg and they would like to reduce this to 500-550kg. Mark said they were fortunate to be able to buy a closed herd with such a long line of quality genetics. The herd averaged 575kg+ milk

The Bouma family supplies Burra Foods.

solids per year on a low input system. Mark is involved in Matt Hall’s Young Guns group and is constantly picking up information that can be applied on farm. The group is utilizing DairyBase to better understand different farming systems which allows you to reassess and potentially make improvements to your own business. “Since I’m starting out, it has been great to listen to others in the group about they’re pathway into the dairy industry and the success they have had, especially with the uncertainty over the past two years.” he said. Mark said it was a far less stressful period now compared to the first 12 months. “In that first 12 months, so many things accumulated. We were getting the herd settled into the farm then went straight into a wet winter, but the challenges we had that year and what we learnt from them has set us up for future years.”

The rotary herd took some time to get used to the herringbone dairy.

Mark Bouma inspects cattle on his family’s Stony Creek farm.

soon. arming



Focus on better farming The final open days for the current round of Focus Farms are coming soon. Make sure you save the dates and come along for insights into share-farming arrangements, genetic gain, financial strategies, farm safety, transition management and maximising pasture. Everyone is welcome to the open days, where you can catch up with local farmers over a free lunch and a cuppa, as well as picking up valuable knowledge that can be applied to your farm business.

RSVP for all open days to GippsDairy on 5624 3900 or

Fish Creek Focus Farm Final Open Day When: Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Time: 10.15 am for a 10.30 am start to 2.30 pm Where: 195 Kerrs Road, Fish Creek Hosts: Graeme, Jenny & Shaun Cope Facilitator(s): Karen Romano, GippsDairy & John Mulvany, OMJ Consulting

Jindivick Focus Farm Final Open Day When: Thursday, June 28, 2018 Time: 10.15 am for a 10.30 am start to 2.30 pm Where: 335 Main Jindivick Road, Jindivick Hosts: Steve Ronalds & Brenton Ziero Facilitator: Matt Hall, Matt Hall Consulting Won Wron Focus Farm Final Open Day When: Friday, June 29, 2018 Time: 10.15 am for a 10.30 am start to 2.30 pm Where: 100 Greigs Creek Road, Won Wron Hosts: Paul & Lisa Mumford Facilitator: Matt Harms, OnFarm Consulting Presenter: Richard Shephard, Herd Health


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Dairy News Australia - June 2018 - With Gippsland Region  

Dairy News Australia - June 2018 - With Gippsland Region

Dairy News Australia - June 2018 - With Gippsland Region  

Dairy News Australia - June 2018 - With Gippsland Region