APRIL, 2019 ISSUE 102
Fodder is the key Eastern Murray farmers concentrate on feeding the herd see page 12
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
2 // MURRAY REGION
Seek solutions for areas out of balance BALANCE.
Finding balance is an ongoing practice since life is always going to give us unexpected curve balls. Perhaps, now more than ever, we need to try and strike a balance not only in our working life, but also in our social and community interactions. For many of us, our operating environment feels out of balance right now, with continuing high water prices, high grain and fodder prices and mounting tension over the persistent dry weather. There is no easy solution but I can say that tuning into those areas that are out of balance can help us focus on solutions one step at a time — it’s about making a “priority” not “priorities”. In these times, developing a plan – or a few – can also help to focus your energy. Make the most of Dairy Australia’s free Taking Stock consultations, which can be used for assistance with feed and nutrition budgeting; managing your water; reviewing your finances; succession planning or exit strategies; and a range of other services that have value to you. You might just like to sound out your ideas to take you through the autumn to the spring. Since my last column, I am sure that many farmers have prepared as best they can for the coming season and have made decisions about feed options for their situation and how they will get the best out of the water that is available to them. If you are not on the Murray Dairy eNews
list please give the office a call, there is lots of information available at your fingertips from programs that may support your current business needs, to social events, or tools to build on your skills. The Murray Dairy ‘Feed Planning’ webpage includes updated seasonal information and resources on the management of cereals, pastures and water. Last month I spoke about the bigger picture for dairy – a strategy that is being built not only from a regional perspective, but also a national one, will co-ordinate effort and guide investment for dairy going forward at a local, state and federal level. Future Focus, the dairy industry plan for our region, has now been published online. Find it at http://bit.ly/MDFutureFocus I also spoke about the Australian Dairy Plan, a plan that sets the agenda on a national scale and that will provide direction and focus for dairy into the future. Future Focus will feed directly into the Dairy Plan. As farmers we need to feel confident about our futures; being confident allows us to scale the current challenges that will always be present to one degree or another, but the whole of industry working together to achieve this gives us a strength that cannot be achieved working as individual entities. I encourage farmers to participate in consultations that will take place in the development of our national plan. Looking ahead, in May, Murray Dairy will run the inaugural Murray Muster, featuring a range
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of international and local guest speakers, new research and rigorous discussion focused on how we can take our farm businesses forward. Dairy Australia’s executive team will again be visiting our region, providing farmers with the chance to engage with both the Murray Dairy Board and the Dairy Australia Leadership team. It’d be great to see you there, whether it’s for one day or two. The event is open to all regional dairy farmers at no cost. We will also be running Water Information Sessions across the region, providing a detailed picture of water management at a basin level and regional level, and what this might mean for your farm business. Finally, don’t miss the Stepping Back and Exiting workshops in May and June. These popular workshops provide you with real examples of the options you might consider as you step back or out of the industry. In closing, I encourage you to try and find that balance by focusing on one priority at a time and find those solutions that will give you confidence to move forward, both personally and in your business. Remember that there’s always support available, whether it be from industry, service providers, your family or your neighbours. · Karen Moroney Chair, Murray Dairy
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Dairy farmers Ian and Amy Mathers hosted a visit by Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack.
Pollies get a message SECOND GENERATION farmers Ian and Amy Mathers were able to tell Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack exactly how much pressure dairying is under when he visited Cohuna in March. Mr McCormack spent time at their dairy farm and found out why they are winding up their dairy operation over the next few months. Mr Mathers’ dairy business generated $1.5 million annually — 90 per cent of which returned to the local community. “I am just one of 23 other farmers who have exited before me. It’s feasible to think
$100 million will exit this shire before this ends,” Mr Mathers said. Mr McCormack acknowledged the northern Victorian dairy industry was hurting. He said the government had provided $7 billion in drought assistance and would continue to support the community. The assurances did little to reassure the crowd. Dairy farmer Stephen Brown said Mr McCormack danced the dance, but it meant little. “There was no joy in the room today and they all live in la la land,” Mr Brown said.
Dairy farmer Harry Rowlands said the message he took from the day was to go home and get his affairs in order. Cohuna’s David Elliot said it was disheartening to see what was happening to the community. “I hate to see what is going on. The hardship and sheer frustration people are going through is terrible — they have just had enough,” Mr Elliot said. “I hope something can be done but the reality is it’s so far out of control I don’t think they know how to stop it.” Event organiser and industry lobbyist Andrew
Gibbs from Primary Partners organised the visit. He acknowledged it was good Mr McCormack spent five hours in the town. “The decision-makers need to know what is going on. From October to March, 15 300 milking cows have left the shire (they would have produced enough milk for 396 000 homes for a year), no-one is being held to account and if we continue to do nothing, nothing will get done,” Mr Gibbs said. Continuing dry conditions and soaring temporary water prices are placing increased pressure on the farming community.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
4 // MURRAY REGION
Young couple eyes future in dairy farming YOUNG DAIRY farmers Cody Tricky and Rachael Barnes hope to one day make Cody’s family farm their own. Cody and Rachael, from Finley, are working hard to achieve their goal and are well on the way to building up their own milking herd which includes around 70 head. Cody and Rachael are well aware of how hard it is in the industry but this hasn’t deterred them from still wanting a future in dairy farming. “We are only 21 and we know things are pretty tough at the moment. Water is our biggest issue moving forward, not just for the dairy industry but the whole community who is suffering alongside us,” Cody said. This year they purchased 16 three-monthold cross-breed heifers for $40 and they have plans to join the more Jersey-like animals back to Jersey and the black and whites to Holstein.
The business is currently milking 270 cows but that number could reduce even further if the drought continues to bite. Normally they would have 12 months of fodder up their sleeve; this year they only have weeks. “We will start to work a bit of ground up, plant some cereals and pray for an autumn break,” Cody said. In a normal year they grow rye and cereals on irrigation, with a bit of dryland cropping thrown in. They do grow lucerne and some sorghum but 2018–19 has definitely been on the ordinary side for fodder production. In November last year the family business joined the Victorian Dairyfarmer Consortium after previously supplying Murray Goulburn for 28 years.
Cody Trickey and Rachael Barnes with Llandovery Queens Claire1969th, the Reserve Champion All Breed at this year’s International Dairy Week.
“We joined for financial reasons and to get more say in our milk price rather than be just dictated to,” Cody said. “Three months down the track it has helped keep us here and has been worth an extra $70000 – $80 000 for our business — it has all been spent this year but in a normal year we would be laughing,” he said. Cody said this sort of pricing model was something they would stick with in the future. “Everyone in the group has their own input and it’s a good model. Paramlat had the best offer and that is why we went with them. We are the
only farm in NSW currently but I am sure there will be more of us in the future.” Cody’s family moved to Finley from Gippsland in 2014 because ironically it was tough farming in wet conditions and land prices were just too expensive. Initially they purchased two 80 ha farms, but sold them in 2016 and purchased their current 390 ha property. “We were looking for cheap land so we could grow affordable fodder for our herd,” Cody said. “It does get hot and dry up here but the heat is certainly easier to manage than the wet.”
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MURRAY REGION // 5
The 44-unit rotary dairy.
Cody loves working with machinery and growing crops while Rachael’s love lies in the cows, especially Illawarras. She developed that love while working with them at high school through the school’s agricultural program. “I love the cow side of farming. I got introduced to showing and every year I would fall more and more in love with it. I love seeing an animal I have worked with and prepared, out in the ring,” Rachael said.
Rachael takes Llandovery Queens Claire1969th for a walk
Rachael’s family sold their dairy herd in 2014 and like Cody she always loved the farm, the space and working with the animals. The couple definitely has plans in the future of expanding the Illawarra show team and adding a few Holsteins and Jerseys down the track. “I was never into showing until I met Rachael but I am really enjoying it,” Cody said. The couple recently attended International Dairy Week with Llandovery Queens Claire1969th. She was Rachael’s birthday gift from Cody
and while she turned up to the farm a little wild and untamed, Rachael soon worked her magic on her and she went on to win Junior Champion Illawarra and was named Reserve Intermediate Champion All Breeds. The win has certainly inspired Rachael and Cody to continue on the show path, and they recently purchased a heifer from the second stage dispersal sale of Robert and Maree Newton from Ovensdale Illawarras at Whorouly. “I was really nervous before the sale but we
got the one we were after and I am so excited,” Rachael said. “We had a good look around the herd on inspection day and to me she was the best, most correct heifer, and her pedigree was great. “She is due to calve in April and we have plans to get her in the ring after that,” Rachael said.
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6 // MURRAY REGION
Automated milking systems explained MILKING FROM the armchair, fact or fiction? This is what researchers from the Milking Edge project will reveal to dairy farmers when they visit Dookie College in May, as part of The Murray Muster. Milking Edge is a three-year project to develop a training program, resources and networks to support farmers to consider, invest and operate Automatic Milking Systems. The project is run by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in collaboration with Dairy Australia
The project builds on a decade of existing research and the experience of 50 farms across Australia who have decided to invest in the technology. In their presentation at The Murray Muster, researchers will share the fundamental concepts of successful AMS farming and the major differences between conventional and robotic systems. The researchers will also present performance and economic data from current AMS farms in Australia and overseas.
and DeLaval. Lead researcher Nicolas Lyons said the project was designed to address some of the common questions raised around this technology. “Farmers who are interested in AMS really want to know: Will it save me labour units? Will it save me time? Will it impact on production?” Dr Lyons said. “Our project aims to address these questions, not only by looking at the potential of AMS but how it’s being used on commercial farms.”
“We want to help farmers optimise AMS,” Dr Lyons said. “That means understanding what robots can and can’t do; and setting up the farm and processes to make the most of the system. Or for others it might be reading and interpreting data, and then knowing what to do with it.” You can catch the Milking Edge team on day one of The Murray Muster — Murray Dairy’s two-day regional event on May 22–23. Tickets are available online or by calling Murray Dairy.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
MURRAY REGION // 7
Water plan rolls on say MPs CALLS FOR a pause to the Murray-Darling
Basin Plan may be growing around the region, but the Federal Government won’t be joining the chorus. That was the clear message delivered by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum during a visit to the Goulburn Valley in March. Speaking to a drought summit at Valley Pack in Mooroopna, Mr Drum said he “couldn’t agree more” with the sentiment of the Pause the Plan movement. Yet he said the answer was not pausing the plan, but moving forward a review of the southern basin, scheduled to occur in 18 months’ time. “If we pause the plan we have no control over how we restart it.” The comment failed to resonate with the crowd, with a chorus of “it couldn’t be worse” rising from the crowd. “Well, 4000 Gl for the environment is worse than 2145 Gl,” Mr Drum said. The support for a review did little to placate the frustrated crowd, with many demanding
swift action. “Eighteen days is just about too much,” Katunga dairy farmer Bridget Goulding told Mr Drum. Katamatite dairy farmer Simone Ross said starting a review today would be too late, while Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Chris Brooks said a review could soon be pointless. “No-one is going to be here in 18 months’ time,” he yelled from the crowd. Some, including Tongala’s Wade Northausen, called for the Federal Government to go even further and initiate a royal commission to explore the creation of the basin plan. Although conceeding the basin plan was far from perfect, Mr Littleproud would not commit to pausing it. “No,” he said when asked whether he would consider a legislative stop. “I don’t want to stand here and lie to you, I’m going to tell it like it is … be careful what you wish for. “I’ve got to get a solution that will at least deliver something.”
Water Minister David Littleproud speaks to dairy farmers and other irrigators in Mooroopna.
Cobram East dairy farmer Paul Mundy believes the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan is “unpalatable, unworkable and flawed”. Speaking after the drought summit meeting last week he said he didn’t believe the plan was formed on proper science. “However if this is blown up or rescinded, then our concern is: what do we end up with next time? “And that, although we are in dire peril now,
the outcome could be far, far worse for those of us that are left — and regrettably there will be a lot of us fall by the wayside. “The challenge the minister has, is how does he implement those suggestions with the states involved? “It’s a hell of a mess that has compounded over the years.”
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
8 // MURRAY REGION
Sally Mitchell and Barry Ashwin.
Solemn day for Torrumbarry couple SOPHIE BALDWIN
OUT OF dairy, into beef.
Thirty years of dairy breeding kicked up the dust in the yards as the cows made their way onto the back of B-double trucks. Sally Mitchell and Barry Ashwin could only watch as the trucks drove away from their farm at Torrumbarry, taking with them decades of hard work. Mrs Mitchell points to one of the cows in the yard. “That’s 7210, she is one of our heifers and she will make someone a great cow in a few years. I spent a lot of time building up our herd and we had a good young herd,” she said. But with the roar of an engine and a swirl of dust, another load drove out. “Our cows have just gone into the four winds and disappeared,” Mrs Mitchell said. It was a bittersweet moment for the couple, which has lost faith in the northern Victorian irrigation system. They are grateful to have options and they know come nightfall they will have a roof over their heads and food on the table — but the decision to sell their cows still hurt. “I had a sleepless night last night,” Mrs Mitchell said. “It feels like everything we have done for the last 30 years has been ripped away from us. “Cows have been my thing for so long. I was the herd manager, I did everything from AI to calf rearing while Barry did everything else.”
Thankfully, their 550 cows are making their way to various herds across the state — not to the abattoirs. It was going to cost the business $300 000 to get its stock through to spring. Not only was there 550 cows, there was also 300 head of young stock on the property. “The cost of water, the dry outlook from every weather model and almond developments at Robinvale and their ability to pay more per meg of water than us, meant the return was no longer there,” Mrs Mitchell said. “We have lost confidence in the irrigation system and it is a sad day when we can make a better return selling temporary water.” Mrs Mitchell said she also felt let down by
the lobby groups supposedly set up to help and support the dairy industry. “I am a UDV member and they have done absolutely nothing.” The couple is going to diversify into beef but the business model has changed forever. Three of the couple’s four employees have been let go and the list of 40 or so local businesses the dairy supported will go in the bin. Across 30 years, the business has employed more than 40 people. “I can remember growing up in Cohuna and it was such a vibrant place. I went to school with kids of sharefarmers, it was green and thriving and that was all because of the dairy industry; now, that’s gone and it’s such a sad thing.”
The dairy herd has been sold and the couple will be moving into beef.
“It feels like everything we have done for the last 30 years has been ripped away from us.”
Less worms, more milk.
A business case for drenching dairy cows with Epricare® Pour-On
common challenge for most businesses is finding a balance between reducing inefficiencies and improving productivity. In doing so, successful businesses are persistent in their efforts to continually identify and drive improvements in the current system that reduce costs and increase revenue. This is no different in commercial dairy operations, where producers look to maximise sustainable production and minimise cost, constantly measuring and assessing profitability and return on investment (ROI). Although efficiency and productivity are both important to successful businesses, they commonly compete with each other, as efficiency looks to strip resources out of the system while productivity attempts to increase production. In tough years, the high cost of inputs in relation to farm revenue sees many producers adopt a lean businesses model, as it is less risky to cut spending than it is to increase productivity. As a
result, many farmers focus investment on activities that are perceived to generate the highest ROI, including herd genetics, nutrition and technology while cutting other costs perceived as less important. However, how do you know the value of each input or activity if you don’t measure it? One such input that is commonly overlooked is treating cows with an effective drench to control worm burdens throughout lactation. There is a common misconception that worms don’t have a significant effect on mature cattle. Although gastrointestinal worms rarely cause clinical signs of disease in dairy cattle, with most animals appearing healthy, it has been found that gastrointestinal worms will decrease feed intake and reduce the efficiency of feed utilisation.1 So, not only are the cattle infected with worms eating less, they are less efficient at using what they do eat. A study conducted in Australian dairy cattle showed that effective control of gastrointestinal
worms in early lactation can significantly increase milk volume and the quantity of fat and protein produced. The study, involving more than 2,500 dairy cattle run under commercial pasture-based production systems in Australia, showed that effective worm control in the first 100 days of lactation can increase milk production (47 L), increase milk protein (2.2 kg) and increase milk fat (1.8 kg).2 In milk yield alone, this is estimated to be an increase of 21c/head/day or around $15,750 per year, for a 250 cow dairy herd.*^ Outside of the scheduled dry period, every day that a cow is not producing saleable milk impacts on the profitability of the business. One variable that has a significant impact on the annual production of the herd is the average calving to conception interval. With a shorter calving to conception interval, the herd can start producing milk sooner, increasing the number of days in
production and therefore total herd output. A recent study3 showed that post calving control of gastrointestinal worms with Epricare can reduce first-calving heifers’ average calving to conception interval by 12.9 days, when compared to untreated cattle. If achieved, this can increase saleable milk output by around 250 L#, at a value of $114 per first-calving heifer in the milking herd.* Although efficiency and productivity can compete within a business, it is possible to find the right balance through assessing the ROI of farm inputs and activities, and selecting the ones that bring the highest returns to your business. As you can’t accurately manage something that you can’t measure, talk to your local CRT store or call your Boehringer Ingelheim territory manager about assessing worm challenges in your herd throughout the year, and selecting the most effective drench program for your operation.
Animal Health Solutions exclusive to CRT “The cost of water, the dry outlook from every weather model and almond developments at Robinvale and their ability to pay more per meg of water than us, meant the return was no longer there,”
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Available from your local CRT store. *See product label for full claim details and directions for use. Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia Pty. Ltd. Level 1, 78 Waterloo Road, North Ryde NSW 2113 Australia. ABN 53 071 187 285. ®EPRICARE is a registered trademark of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. GENS.15.06.0146
*Milk price of 44.2c per L ^300 days of lactation #Milk production of 20 L per day References: 1. Coop. R & Holmes. P., (1996) Nutrition and parasite interaction, International Journal for Parasitology, (26), Issues 8–9, pp 951-962, ISSN 0020-7519, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0020-7519(96)80070-1. 2. Little et al., (2000) Effect of Eprinomectin at Calving on Milk Production of Dairy Herds. Proceedings of 17th Annual Seminar of Society of Dairy Cattle Vets, NZVA. 3. McPherson et al., (1999) The Impact of Eprinomectin Treatment on Dairy Cattle Reproductive Performance. AAVP Proceedings, 44th Annual Meeting, New Orleans 1999; 44th Annual Meeting: 41 See product label for full claim details and directions for use. Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia Pty. Ltd., Level 1, 78 Waterloo Road, North Ryde, NSW 2113 Australia. ABN 53 071 187285. Epricare® is a registered trademarks of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group. All rights reserved. AUS-EPRI-191001
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
10 // MURRAY REGION
Future Focus a road map for shaping change A STRONG, confident, agile and forward-looking dairy industry in the Murray region is the goal of Future Focus, the regional dairy industry plan released by Murray Dairy and the Committee for Greater Shepparton. The plan has been assembled in collaboration with Dairy Australia, Agriculture Victoria and the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria. Future Focus has been over a year in the making, with 165 dairy farmers, service providers and processors from the Murray region consulted during its development. The plan includes research and analysis of the current state of the industry across northern Victoria and the southern Riverina, with goals and recommendations to guide effort and investment into the future. Murray Dairy chief executive Jenny Wilson
said the plan was developed to provide the industry, government and supporting organisations with a road map for shaping change across the industry. “Farmers in this region are continuing to undergo significant change to respond to the variability we see from climate, water policy reform, and the impacts of global and domestic dairy markets,” Ms Wilson said. “The conversations we had with dairy farmers, processors, the service sector and others involved across the supply chain all indicated that we needed to understand what the future of the industry might look like, and we needed a clear strategy to support businesses undergoing change to be sustainable.” The Murray Dairy region, spanning from Swan Hill to Corryong and into southern NSW, is a
major producer of dairy products nationally. In 2017–18 the dairy industry in this region generated a farm gate value of $916 million. Farms have been adapting in response to these changes in the operating environment, with a trend towards fewer but larger and more efficient farms. Future Focus provides recommendations for research, education and training, investment, planning, communication and promotion to support the dairy industry to continue to adapt, and outlines the roles that all levels of government, industry and supporting organisations and agencies can play to achieve its goals. chief executive officer of the Committee for Greater Shepparton Sam Birrell highlighted the importance of this project for the region. “Last year, dairy’s economic contribution into
our region’s communities was $730 million,” he said. ‘We know this industry is resilient and that this region offers real potential for dairy production to expand, that’s why having a plan that we can all get behind is so important,” Mr Birrell said. The plan has widespread industry support, including from Dairy Australia, Agriculture Victoria and the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria . It will feed into the Australian Dairy Plan, a national initiative backed by Dairy Australia, The Australian Dairy Industry Council, Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Dairy Productions Federation and Gardiner Dairy Foundation. The Future Focus plan is on the Murray Dairy website: murraydairy.com.au
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
MURRAY REGION // 11
Scaling back to cope MARK AND SUE WOODS were planning on
milking 400 cows this autumn. The Leitchville couple had spent some muchneeded capital on extending the dairy yard and buying a bigger second-hand vat. They had the stock numbers, the infrastructure and everything was looking great for them to kick their business into the next gear. But instead of ramping up, there is a very real possibility they will be scaling their business back to the bare minimum. If it doesn’t rain this autumn and water allocations continue to look dismal for 2019–20, they could quite possibly cut the milking herd back to 100 and their two employees will be looking for new jobs. They are yet another northern Victorian
“We are trying to make the best and most informed decisions we can; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
farming family feeling the pinch of a tough season made even more impossible by high temporary water prices. “Water is just too expensive to buy. Normally we would buy around 400 Ml a season, but we haven’t bought any this year,” Mrs Woods said. The couple has instead bought and used 170 tonne of hay and is desperately hoping the 100 tonne they have left, combined with some home-grown silage, will be enough to get them through. “We are trying to make the best and most informed decisions we can; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Mrs Woods said. “If it rains and we get 100 per cent allocation we would certainly keep milking numbers up but we are just not prepared to go into any more debt to keep farming and it just doesn’t look promising any way we look at the moment,” Mr Woods said. The Woodses still have all their young stock and are selling non-performing milkers. “Cows we would normally persist with have gone on the truck, we just can’t afford to carry
Sue and Mark Woods.
anyone this year,” Mrs Woods said. The couple is looking to cut costs wherever possible and that includes running bulls this autumn instead of buying semen. “If things stay tough we might be doing that in spring as well, but there aren’t too many more places left to cut costs,” Mr Woods said. The couple is planning on sowing the whole milking platform, just with cheaper seed to cut
losses if it continues to remain dry. “We have financial commitments and we can’t just stop milking or farming. On a positive, milk price is being talked up — but it needs to be,” Mrs Woods said.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
12 // MURRAY REGION
Focus on spring fodder boosts dairy season WHOROULY DAIRY farmers John and Elise
Former Murray Dairy Focus Farmers John and Elise Pethybridge from Whorouly have learnt a lot from their two-year tenure, lessons they have incorporated in to their management moving forward.
Pethybridge are fairly happy with the way their 2018–19 season has been tracking. The former Murray Dairy Focus Farmers (2016–18) attribute much of their success to one of the key lessons they learnt while involved in the program — to grow as much fodder as possible over spring. “We pushed hard over spring and used a lot of
fertiliser to grow 1600 tonnes of silage which gave us a fair bit of security this season. We also grew some dryland sorghum which was lucky enough to snag a couple of timely rains,” John said. John said while there wasn’t enough water to sow a corn crop this year, he has been able to save some for an autumn start which should see the business milking 290 cows. John said his involvement as a Focus Farmer
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
MURRAY REGION // 13 “It would be nice to get all the start to align but the next six months will certainly be interesting.” taught him to look at every aspect of the business objectively and always ask questions. “It is so important to grow as much homegrown feed and silage as possible, especially in a season like this one. We have maximised ours and did the best we could with the cards we have been given.” Like most areas, the Whorouly rainfall has been well below average this season but an opportune 50 mm dumping in December did help the sorghum crop. John said looking ahead to next season, establishing an autumn feed base remained a major priority to ensure a 2019–20 season. “We won’t have a huge area to start with but it will be close to the dairy for easy grazing access.” He said the business has been focusing quite heavily on soil fertility over the years and recent soil tests had indicated a significant improvement. “We might be able to take the foot off the pedal this year with our fertiliser use and save a few dollars.” John has also been able to export a few spring heifers to take some of the pressure off along with selling any empty spring cows. The herd is still averaging 25 litres. “Odds would dictate milk price will be significantly better next season,” John said.
The business will be approaching autumn with a 290-cow milking herd.
The Pethybridge family has been supplying Dairyfarmers for two years and John is really happy with the way the company operates. “That’s one less thing we have to worry about; we left Murray Goulburn and the mental side of things has improved significantly — but price is only one part of the puzzle,” he said.
“It would be nice to get all the start to align but the next six months will certainly be interesting.” John said it was important to remain positive and his business was poised and ready to milk as many cows as possible. “The big player processors are going to need
as much milk as possible and they are going to have to pay for it.” He said in his area the only milk supply option has Murray Goulburn, but since Dairyfarmers, Fonterra, Bega and ACM moved into the area, he has been able to mitigate some risk.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
14 // MURRAY REGION
Tatura moves into goat milk powder TATURA MILK has begun processing goat milk,
signing a five-year deal with premium infant formula company Bubs Australia to convert fresh goat milk directly from the farm gate into infant formula. Bubs Australia founder and chief executive Kristy Carr said the product would address growing demand for premium infant formula products. “Parents in Australia and abroad are looking for authentic provenance and traceability when it comes to infant nutritionals,” Mrs Carr said. “With the goat milk supply chain under our
control, and using only Australian fresh goat milk, we will be able to label the product with ‘Made in Australia from average 70 per cent Australian ingredients’, which will be unrivalled in this market. “We aim to further increase our Australian sourcing of total ingredients to over 90 per cent within 12 months. “Being able to produce our goat infant milk formula in a single step directly from farm gate is an Australian first for goat dairy, that is only made possible because we have exclusive ownership of fresh goat milk from the largest milking
goat herds in Australia.” The conventional raw milk will be converted to milk powder before being rehydrated, often months later, and wet-mixed with additional ingredients and nutrients before being spraydried again. “The one-step nutritional blending and conversion of our own exclusive goat milk supply by Tatura will bypass the intermediate step, delivering a fresher product, an improved nutritional and taste profile, and better solubility when made up for consumption,” Mrs Carr said. “Importantly, the one-step conversion
generates a number of critical efficiencies for Bubs — the production and ingredient cost are significantly reduced, making the new production method margin accretive.” Successful trials have already been completed, with the final product bound for major supermarkets and pharmacies in Australia and e-commerce platforms in China, with an option to renew the contract for a further three years. Bega Cheese chief executive officer Paul van Heerwaarden said the company was looking forward to producing the product, which could be “genuinely positioned as Australian”.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA APRIL 2019
MURRAY REGION // 15
Avoid summer calving: heatstress study WITH THE hot climatic conditions in the Aus-
tralian summer, lactating dairy cows usually experience heat stress which could reduce their milk production. Dookie Campus scientists from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agriculture Sciences at the University of Melbourne investigated the impact of heat stress on milk production performances of cows differing in stage of lactation in summer. “For dairy farmers, it is very important that their lactating cows are in the best production condition as possible to produce milk,” Dr Paul Cheng said. Dr Brendan Cullen said lactating cows showed the optimum milk production performance within the thermoneutrality zone with an upper limit of temperature around 26°C. “With high temperature conditions in summer, the heat dissipation ability and milk
production of lactating cows are reduced,” Dr Cullen said. The study conducted at Dookie Campus Robotic Dairy Farm used 109 Holsten-Friesian cows between February 1 to 18, 2017. It consisted of a seven-day pre-heat stress period, during which the milk production records were used as a baseline data. It was then followed by a fourday heat stress period and a seven-day recovery period. Cows grazed pasture and were grouped into three calving groups: “early stage of lactation” (January, 2017 calving), “mid stage of lactation” (August-September, 2016 calving) and “late stage of lactation” (April-May 2016, calving). Daily milk production was recorded by Robotic Milking System. By the end of the four-day heat stress event, the late- and mid-lactation stage groups had
decreased their milk production by 17 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively compared to their baseline, and the milk production recovered to their baseline level approximately seven days post the heat stress event. While for the early lactation stage group, their milk production increase rate dropped from 2.2 kg/day in baseline period to 0.17 kg/day during heat stress event, and then only recovered to 0.79 kg/day post the heat stress event. “We can see from the results of this study that heat stress showed a strong negative impact on cow milk production performance,” Dr Cheng said. “Dairy cows in different lactation stage had responded to heat stress differently. “For the mid- and late- lactation cows, reduced milk production recovered soon after heat stress period. However, the early lactation
THE MURRAY MUSTER 2019 AU TO M AT I O N , C O N S U M E R S & C L I M AT E
cows could not recover and lost their production potential, which could imply that dairy industry should avoid calving in summer period, unless there is an efficient heat stress mitigation strategy in place on-farm.” Dr Cullen said future study would be conducted with Robotic Milking System to understand the impact of consecutive heat stress events’ impact on cows with different stage of lactation and diverse genetic background. The study was published in Australasian Dairy Science Symposium 2018 Proceedings. The work was a collaborative effort by Dr Paul (Long) Cheng, Dr Brendan Cullen, and Prof Frank Dunshea from the University of Melbourne, and Chole Charlot from AgroParisTech (France), and Dr DongWen Luo from AgResearch (New Zealand).
This May, pull on your boots for our inaugural industry event, The Murray Muster. Over two days and one night, hear from Australian and international guest speakers with new research and rigorous discussion on Automation, Consumers & Climate. The Murray Muster 2019 will get you thinking about what comes next for the dairy industry in the Murray region.
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 Ever considered an Automated Milking System (AMS)? Get real information on the potential of this technology from the Milking Edge team, with a decade of research, data and analysis from commercial farms across Australia. Join US professor, Russ Hovey, to have a close look at the udder to better understand mammary function and development, and improve the prevention and management of mastitis in your herd. Dr Hovey will also highlight how we can be on the front foot when it comes to animal health and welfare issues.
DAY 2: THURSDAY, MAY 23 Hear from a panel of dairy farmers about their business plans for a future with potentially less water and more volatility. Talk to the Dairy Australia and Murray Dairy leadership teams about effort and investment to ensure a sustainable, forwardthinking dairy industry in this region.
Join us for one day, or two, this not-to-be-missed event is open to dairy farmers and industry service providers at no cost. Tickets available online at murraydairy.com.au
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Dairy News Australia - April 2019 - With Murray Region