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Federal court gags Murray Goulburn Page 4 Dairy Business of the Year winners Page 8

Feeder wagon saves time Page 31

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issue 16: july 2011

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NEWS This issue Issue 16: july 2011 Front page: Veronica, Darron and Lorraine Charles on their north-west Tasmanian property. Taking the time to herd record has enabled Northern Victorian farmer Dave Revell to access superior genetics at discount prices.

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SA farmers Kym Pocock and Angela Yeates finished in the top 100 of the annual Dairy Australia Milk Quality Awards.

Landmark to source more export heifers from NZ LANDMARK WILL source more dairy heifers from New Zealand to export to China following the Federal Government’s decision to shut down the live beef export trade to Indonesia. Landmark exported 30,000 Australian dairy heifers to China last year – or 95% of its total dairy heifer exports – but managing director Richard Norton says the company will now purchase 50% of its dairy heifers from New Zealand. The company was initially considering purchasing 80% of future stock from New Zealand before the Federal Government reversed its decision to ban live beef exports to Indonesia on July 5. Norton says the decision has been made to satisfy its customers in China that it could still meet supply, should a total ban be placed on

live exports from Australia. The Government’s handling of the issue has made Chinese buyers wary, he says. “Their main concern is that trade will be closed down without consultation,” Norton says. “As an organisation, we are saying we can continue to supply and are mitigating our risk by getting more shipments out of New Zealand. “China doesn’t understand the difference between breeding and slaughter markets. They just saw it as our live export market was closed.” Norton says Landmark immediately began lobbying the Government when the decision to close the trade to Indonesia was made, explaining the differences between the slaughter and breeding trades and the high level of welfare it employs on its ships.

“We have always sourced 95% of our exports from Australia, whereas Elders do 50%. We will now follow a similar path to spread our risk.” Norton says Landmark has always been comfortable in the past sourcing such a high percentage from Australia, saying former Agriculture Minister Tony Burke was a strong supporter of the trade. “We will source 50% from Australia now for the next six months, while we see what political landscape we’re working in. It could change to 60% from Australia in future.” Norton says he hopes any issues the Government has in the future could be sorted with a discussion where all views are represented. “We don’t want to see the trade shut down overnight. That’s what frightens us – not animal rights groups.”

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Gippsland’s Ross Edgar and family are automating their dairy farm as much as possible.

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News����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������3-15 Opinion������������������������������������������������������������������������16-17 Agribusiness����������������������������������������������18-19 Management���������������������������������������������20-24 Animal Health���������������������������������������25-29 Machinery & Products����30-33 motoring�������������������������������������������������������������������������34

NSW dairy farmer Paul Condon, Gerroa, finished in the top 100 producers in this year’s Dairy Australia Milk Quality Awards, which recognise those farmers in the country with the lowest average bulk milk cell count. Read about the Condon family operation on page 25.


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  DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

news

Court gags Murray Goulburn THE FEDERAL Court has stopped Murray does not have sufficient funding. UDP issued proceedings on June 29 by filGoulburn staff from making statements about ing an application seeking an urgent injuncUnited Dairy Power’s financial position. Federal Court Justice Julie Anne Dodds- tion against Murray Goulburn after it says it learned MG employees Streeton ruled, in a hearhad been making negaing earlier this month, tive statements about that certain employees of Murray Goulburn field Murray Goulburn should officers have been banned UDP’s financial position to dairy farmers. be restrained from makLawyer Tony Watson, ing statements regard- from saying UDP is who acted for UDP, says ing the financial position experiencing financial the company was graveof United Dairy Power difficulty. ly concerned by the impending a full trial of the pact that Murray Goulmatter. Under her ruling, MG’s field officers cannot burn’s conduct would have on UDP’s business say UDP is experiencing financial difficulties, – particularly as UDP had recently announced does not have sufficient funds to pay its sup- its plans to expand its operations into South pliers, that suppliers risk not getting paid, that Australia. Watson said this was a serious issue UDP will close in the near future and that it for UDP and that UDP had to move swiftly to

protect the reputation that it has spent 11 years developing. Murray Goulburn denied making the representations. Judge Dodds-Streeton found that UDP had established it had an arguable case and there was a sufficient risk the statements alleged to have been made by Murray Goulburn employees would cause damage to UDP and the making of an injunction was appropriate. She ordered Murray Goulburn’s field officers be restrained from making the statements alleged to have been made. UDP Managing Director Tony Esposito says the decision is a welcome victory for UDP. Esposito says his company will continue to take any action necessary to uphold its reputation in the market place. The matter is listed for a further directions hearing on December 2.

DA to undergo review DAIRY AUSTRALIA will undergo an independent review of its performance in the lead-up to next year’s levy poll.

Sydney consultancy GHD will conduct the review, examining the company’s performance against its strategic, operational, risk management, fraud control and intellectual property

Warren Jacobs Mount Compass, SA: I’ve seen a lot of good work through DairySA and think I’m getting good value for money. Discussion groups they’ve supported have helped me improve my business. It helps me see what other farmers are doing and I can use those ideas.

management plans. A further objective of the review is to identify Dairy Australia’s effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the priorities set out in its strategic and annual operating plans – including the benefits to industry and government. As part of the review, GHD will undertake con-

Gino Pacitti Hindmarsh Tiers, SA: I’m not certain where all the levies are spent, but I have a handle on what’s spent to benefit the farming sector and I’m happy with those. If I paid attention to the website I’d have a better understanding. Programs like Cows Create Careers, Cool Cows and lameness prevention are all important. They are running a diverse cross-section of program so most farmers should get some benefit from those.

sultations with peak industry bodies and regional dairy producer groups and will consider written submissions from the wider industry. We asked several dairy farmers whether they think DA’s performance has been up to scratch and whether they feel they are getting value for their levy dollar.

Michael Connor Mount Compass, SA: I think their programs are essential, some more than others – but everyone would have their preferences. Situation and Outlook reports are essential for all agribusinesses, not just farms. It could reduce promotion of itself to its own members. There are so many issues facing the industry now that we need DA to coordinate a plan for the future. It really needs to take the lead.

Chris Rowntree Myponga, SA: I have benefitted from Countdown Downunder and DairySA. There is a lot of information through programs like InCalf, but it’s up to the farmers to take it up. These programs have been developed now so they can be run when required. I would like to see a Handling of Cattle program developed. I went to a pilot course, but don’t know if it went any further.

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Former SunRice chief to head MG maximise returns for their FORMER SUNRICE CEO farmer/shareholders. Gary Helou (above) has Helou has experience been appointed managacross a broad range of ing director of Murray roles encompassing the Goulburn. international and domestic He replaces Stephen food and agricultural O’Rourke, who made the industries. decision to resign last His experience dates November. Helou has back to 1989, when he been CEO of Ricegrowers helped Pacific Brands Food Limited, trading as SunGroup and Polarcup InterRice, since 1999. He begins national build their Asian with Murray Goulburn on presence. Helou gained October 3. further international expeMG chairman, Grant rience in Indonesia as Head Davies, says Helou has of Consumer Products at a strong background in the Indofood Salim Group. both agriculture and fast moving consumer goods. “As chief executive of The appointment of Ricegrowers Helou followed an Limited since 1999, Mr Helou extensive search. has supported the transformation of Ricegrowers to an It was after these roles integrated global company that he returned to Auswith strong brands and tralia and joined Ricegrowprocessed products,” ers. After one year general Davies says. “Ricegrowers manager, marketing, he is one of Australia’s largest was promoted to CEO at food exporters along with the age of 38. Murray Goulburn.” During his 11 years as Davies says the appointCEO, Helou identified the ment of Helou followed an opportunity for major extensive search process growth in the company which the board initiated and helped build it into one following O’Rourke’s anof Australia largest food nouncement that he would exporters. He also played retire. a central role in leading “I am very excited to be the company to being an joining Murray Goulburn,” integrated global company Helou says. “As global with strong capabilities in food demand continues to product and brand innovagrow, Murray Goulburn tion. is well positioned with More recently, Helou a strong balance sheet, helped manage Ricegrowdiversified product range ers s through a challengand customer base and ing period by retaining ownership of processing, momentum and delivering transport and brand profits, while there was assets.” almost no rice stock in He says this allows the Australia. company to capture and


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

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news

Opening prices higher than expected MOST MAJOR milk companies have opened their season prices higher than Dairy Australia’s forecast, although they are expected to finish the season within the forecast range of between $5.10-$5.50/kg milk solids. Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter announced their opening price of $4.90/kg MS late last month. Tatura Milk Industries opened with $4.82/kg MS in early June, while Fonterra was the first to open its price in mid-May at $4.65/kg MS. These four companies make up over

80% of Victorian and nearly 75% of south-eastern Australian milk production and so effectively shape milk prices across the southern regions. Dairy Australia reports that Norco Co-op has announced a lift in its opening milk prices – the first in three years – for its southern Queensland and northern NSW suppliers. Average prices are expected to be around 53 cents per litre. National Foods has also opened its price for its Tasmanian suppliers at $5.70/kg MS.

Dairy Australia published its annual Dairy 2011: Situation & Outlook report in mid-May and provided a milk price outlook for the 2011/12 season in the key southern dairying regions of the country. Based on commodity prices and exchange rate expectations, the outlook was for an opening price range of $4.60-$4.90/kg milk solids (MS) – up around 2% to 4% on 2010. DA went on to say this implied a full year average price range between $5.10 and $5.5/kg MS – similar to the current season.

Dairy Australia industry analyst Peter Wilson says increased volatility in dairy commodity prices over the last four years has seen a larger gap between opening and closing prices. “It does appear that the recent volatility in dairy commodity spot prices has eased over the last year and current expectations are that the gap between opening and closing prices will narrow in the 2011/12 season,” he says. “DA’s milk price outlook implies this, with a slightly higher opening price range – which we have seen in recent

company announcements – and a closing price at much the same level as expected for the 2010/11 season.” MG managing director Stephen O’Rourke says the co-op’s current market forecast suggests a final milk price of $5.30-$5.50/kg MS. The final step-up for the 2010-11 season was announced this month with suppliers receiving an extra 12 cents a kilogram butterfat and 30 cents a kilogram protein. This price increase will be back-paid to start of last season and paid out on July 15.

NSW National Foods suppliers in limbo NATIONAL FOODS has lost Woolworths’ private label contract in NSW – reducing the amount of milk the company requires from the Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative’s NSW suppliers. DFMC recently negotiated with National Foods for contracted milk needs in NSW for 2011/12 of 333 million litres, but this was dependent on National Foods securing the Woolworths’ private label contract. DFMC chairman, Ian Zandstra, says its farmer suppliers in NSW currently produce over 370 million litres of milk per annum. “This announcement now means DFMC suppliers have a secure home for only 268 million litres and we are now reliant on the two processors, National Foods and Parmalat, coming together to ensure the milk needed to fulfil the Woolworths contract is acquired from within NSW,” Zandstra says. “Parmalat does not have the supply volume in NSW

fident the co-op’s milk will find its way into Parmalat’s processing facilities. “The last thing the dairy industry wants to see is a situation where Woolworths’ milk products in NSW are supplied by milk sourced from outside the NSW dairy farmers state – when we suppliers produce know there is sufover 370m litres, but ficient milk in NSW to fulfil this conthe contract means a tract. “There is great secure home for only concern among 268m litres. dairy farmers this switching of retailer contracts will DFMC suppliers in NSW lead to a major reduction in will not know what their in- farmer contracts, as hapdividual contract volumes pened in Queensland reare for the 2011/12 season cently.” DFMC represents 1820 until National Foods and Parmalat come together to farmer members from 780 negotiate terms for the pos- dairy farms that produce sible transfer of milk vol- one billion litres of milk umes to Parmalat to meet each year. Since the sale of the the Woolworths contract. Zandstra says DMFC has Dairy Farmers business to enjoyed some constructive National Foods in 2008, preliminary discussions DFMC has supplied its milk with Parmalat and is con- to National Foods. to service this contract and we look forward to working with them to ensure the viability of DFMC farmers and to support a sustainable national dairy industry.”

Hoping to hit $6/kg MS NATIONAL FOODS supplier Darron Charles received the company’s opening price of $5.70/kg milksolids this month and is daring to dream step-ups may push the price to $6/kg MS by season’s end. Darron and his wife Veronica farm in partnership with Darron’s mother, Lorraine, at Mawbanna, in northwest Tasmania – producing 1.6 million litres of milk from from 312

cows, operating under a split calving system. “The opening milk price last season was $5.11 so prices are definitely heading the right way,” he says. “We supply milk in the winter so our operating costs are about $5/kg MS. With grain prices back to about $280 a tonne, the margin has improved so $5.70 is a reasonable price.” He says it would be nice to see $6/

kg, “but that’s a typical farmer’s approach.” The Charles’s would like to supply an extra 500,000 litres, but National Foods won’t guarantee the same price for additional milk outside of July, August and September. National Foods Tasmanian suppliers held their first collective bargaining meeting earlier this month in a bid to improve the terms of supply.


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  DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

news

Evans progression plan a work in progress stephen cooke U N F O R T U N A T E LY, MANY families can’t

broach the topic of succession planning at the kitchen table, so it was refreshing to hear WA farmer Peter Evans discussing his family’s approach in front of 200 people. Evans spoke at the Dairy Innovators Forum in WA, earlier this year, about the ongoing transition of rights and responsibilities between himself and wife Sue, and their son Grant. He says it’s not a succession plan, but a progression plan. The Evans milk 840 Friesians on 442ha of their 800ha property at North Jindong, near Busselton. The family, last month, won the Western Australian section of the Dairy Business of the Year awards, with a cost of production of $3.97kg of milk solids. Each cow averages 990kg of milk solids each year. The transition of this high-input, profitable business from Peter and Sue to Grant is underway. The details evolve over time, but the plan’s success to date can be credited to a big picture approach. “You can’t have plans set in concrete as circumstances change,” Evans says. “But you can have an overriding principal and be prepared to let it happen. “I’m happy to let go. People want to keep controlling kids, but you must be prepared to let go and re-

Peter Evans on his North Jindong property, near Busselton, WA. Picture: Derek Pool

spect them for what they are, which is a real life skill. There’s a lot of trust involved.” Evans speaks from experience. He returned to the family farm when he was 17 to form a partnership with his parents. The partnership became acrimonious because of differing visions of the roles of father and son – so the partnership

was split when Peter was 20. He began buying land off his parents and then more land to double the size of the holding. Peter and Sue have wanted to leave the management of the farm for the past decade. Grant, now 28, left school at 17 and returned to the farm for a year. He then left the farm, gaining further expe-

“I don’t try to make Grant what he isn’t which is where a lot of succession plans fall over.”

Dairy Australia Limited Performance Review Invitation for submissions The Dairy Australia Limited Statutory Funding Agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia requires the Company to commission an independent review of its performance prior to a Levy Poll. Dairy Australia has appointed GHD to undertake that review. A key objective of the review is to examine the Company’s performance against its strategic, operational, risk management, fraud control and intellectual property management plans. A further objective of the review is to identify Dairy Australia’s effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the priorities set out in the Company’s strategic and annual operating plans including the benefits to industry and government. As part of the review, GHD will undertake consultations with peak industry bodies and regional dairy producer groups and will consider written submissions from the wider industry. These submissions should be sent to Jan Paul Van Moort, GHD, Level 15, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000 or email jp.vanmoort@ghd.com by July 29, 2011. For further information regarding this review please contact Jan Paul Van Moort, GHD, on 02 9239 7031 or Stephen Harnett, Dairy Australia, on 03 9694 3846.

Grant and Peter Evans have a good working relationship.

rience on cropping farms and feedlots, and returned when he was 22. Grant was concerned he had not acquired enough experience to share the demands of running the farm. “We told him we’re still learning and we’re on our way out,” Peter says. Six months after the younger Evans returned home the neighbour’s farm was put on the market so they bought it as a trust with Grant and Peter as trustees. Grant started on wages, but two years ago he and his parents entered into a

profit sharing agreement. They take out a marketbased salary each and with Peter wanting to do less, he will receive less salary. Profits from each year – minus the wages, 20% of the changed value of the herd and an infrastructure allowance, which are distributed according to ownership – are divided between the two partners. The profits are divided according to land ownership. The dairy is given twice the value of the home property that produces silage, and three times the value of the third property. Peter says he and Sue will look at renegotiating the ratio if Grant believes it should be, but it has proven an accurate assessment. Last year they received a 7.6% return on the capital of the dairy, 4.15% on the home place and 2.77% on the third block. Grant was keen to buy the cows recently with his share of the profits, but discussions with a financial adviser revealed it was better to buy a 60% interest in the partnership – as this

provided more flexibility. “The succession plan has been risky, there’s been a lot of trust involved as we’ve had no documentation until now,” Evans says. “He’s borrowing money on commercial terms from the bank to buy cattle so the bank requires an agreement between us.” The transition has made it easier for Peter and Sue to get away from the farm when they want. They moved house six months ago and Peter says Grant’s expectations of him have reduced because he is now 10km away. His thoughts of leaving the property altogether, which started ten years ago, have diminished. “I’d like to go but your options are reduced as you get older,” he says. “I see now that to get Grant started, comfortable and happy is the most useful thing I could do. “We’re different, but I recognise and respect that. I don’t try to make him what he isn’t, which is where a lot of succession plans fall over.”


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

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Fuel excise review could hurt farmers THE NATIONAL Farmers Federation is concerned a new Productivity Commission review of Australia’s fuel excise system will negatively impact on farmers. Whether agricultural fuel is excluded from the carbon tax or not, president Jock Laurie says the NFF is adamant the current excise system – as it relates to agricultural fuel usage – must be maintained. “At the moment, farmers aren’t re-

quired to pay excise on the off-road component of our fuel, which is only fair considering that this vehicle use has no impact on the public road infrastructure.” Laurie says including agricultural fuel in the carbon tax or removing this rebate for farmers adds up to the same thing: “an unfair and unmanageable cost for Australian farmers that will erode our competitiveness and deplete our export income.”

Senate to probe foreign purchases FOREIGN

purchases

of Australian agricultural land and agribusinesses will be investigated by a Senate committee. The Liberals have secured support from the Greens for an upper house inquiry, which will address public concerns about the growing interest of foreign companies and government agencies in the agricultural sector. A Canadian pension fund recently became Australia’s largest timber plantation owner when it bought 252,000ha of plantations formerly owned by Victorian operator Great Southern. The sale of five Western District properties to Qatar-based Hassad Foods has also renewed calls to tighten foreign investment laws. Hassad secured 8500ha of farmland worth an estimated $35 million in the sale. To date, it is reported to have purchased 135,000 hectares of land across eastern Australia. The level of foreign investment in Australian agriculture at 31 December 2009 was estimated at $1.897 billion. One of the initiators of the inquiry, Victorian Liberal MP Dan Tehan, says the inquiry will examine the role of the Foreign Investment Review Board and its use of the national interest test. The board has specific restrictions in place for residential real estate, banking, telecommunications and the media, but not family farms. Tehan says foreign investment is vital for the Australian economy, but the community needed confidence that its concerns were met within the

“national interest” test. Liberal senator Bill Heffernan, who is expected to head the inquiry, says a current government audit of who owns what land in Australia was not sufficient. “It is a mish-mash,” he said of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences study. “We want to be comprehensive.” Heffernan says the buying of agricultural land by mining companies would also be examined. VFF President Andrew Broad says foreign companies looking to secure agricultural land and processors should be scrutinised if the investment is above $20 million, in a bid to tighten regulation surrounding foreign investment. “I don’t think the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) should stop every transaction, it’s just a matter of providing some oversight,” he says. Broad also says the sale of land to foreign investors is a missed opportunity for local farmers. “The disappointing part is it has taken away the option for our farmers to purchase that land. I think the family farm is still the best model and they are still the model that look after the environment as well as produce our food.” Currently, the FIRB only reviews purchases that exceed $230 million. However, Broad says Australia risks being left behind by not recognising that other nations are pushing ahead to ensure their own food security. He says Federal Government needs to realise that we should be selling the food.

“The current excise system must be maintained.” He says fuel is a major input cost for farmers, rural businesses and the rural supply chain, and the NFF are extremely concerned about the treatment of agricultural fuel under the proposed carbon tax. “This is of critical importance to our industry; as our businesses are dependent on fuel for everything from

driving tractors to plant crops, to using diesel engines to pump water and generate electricity, to trucking our stock to and from market.” Greens Senator Christine Milne says the Productivity Commission will examine fuel excise with a view to shifting the tax base onto the carbon and energy content of fuel under an agreement to keep fuel out of the carbon price. “The Greens have always said this

carbon pricing package needs to be a platform for stronger action into the future, and a detailed inquiry into Australia’s fuel tax regime is a critical part of that platform,” Milne says. “The mish-mash of policies which sees subsidies and taxes working against each other needs to be changed. We should change the fuel excise regime from a simple revenue-raiser into a real driver for change, taxing more polluting fuels more and cleaner fuels less.”

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  DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

News: Dairy Business of the Year

Fine grasp of details ensures profitability 250ha, of which 180ha is grazed, with the rest cropped. They now also own three other properties, including some of the land they were leasing, totalling YEARS OF drought saw northern Victorian dairy farmers Robyn and Paul 530ha that provides all feed for their Lindsay hone their management to the dairy cows. The Lindsays experienced their first point where they won the 2011 Dairy drought immediately after buying the Business of the Year award. This attention to detail has been dairy outright and this forced them to complemented by an investment in reassess their business. A feed pad was cropping land, machinery and a feed built and a Kuhn feed wagon purchased to ensure the right quanpad to reduce the varitity and quality of feed ables that can afflict was on hand. All silage feed and cash budgets as and feed is grown and much as possible. harvested by the LindThe Picola farmers says. have such a good grasp Cows receive a total of their operation they mixed ration through know the exact amount summer, moving of water required to through the feed pad and kick start their pastures, Who: then onto a sacrifice padwhile owning machinery Robyn and Paul Lindsay dock, which is rotated. means they can plant Irrigation of pastures and cut hay and silage Where: Picola on the dairy block starts when at its best. on March 1 to kick start This approach saw What: the ryegrass pastures Dairy Business them produce 635kg of the Year and grazing begins on milksolids per cow from April 1. This starts the 330 cows in 2009-10 at a rotation and within a cost of $3.67 a kilogram. This helped to achieve a return on capi- month the entire property is in action. The herd have an hour in the feed pad tal of 10.3%. The couple started dairy farming morning and night, before they are led with Paul’s parents and his brother 12 to the paddocks. The mixed ration constantly changyears ago, when the family partnership bought a farm with a disused 30-unit es depending on pasture availability. swingover herringbone dairy across the When pasture is plentiful, mainly fibre road from their cropping and livestock is added to balance the diet. The ration gradually transforms to a total mixed property at Picola. “We were selling hay and grain to ration in summer of around 23kgDM/ dairy farmers and decided to look for a cow. “We keep good records so we know property with a dairy so we could value add, particularly in times of poor grain how many megalitres are needed for that first watering,” Robyn says. “We prices,” he says. They were already rearing beef need 480 megalitres over a 6-8 week pecalves and were milking some dairy riod if we haven’t had rain so we keep an cows for themselves and decided to buy eye on the market and buy at the lowest more dairy cows and recommission the price.” Most of the cropping properties are dairy. They paid $600 each for 80 Holstein and crossbred cows, the quality of sown to grazing wheat, which they either harvest as silage or take through to which still makes them laugh. Six years ago, as part of the family harvest, depending on the season. This year they harvested 850 tonnes succession plan, the couple bought out Paul’s parents’ and brother’s shares of of grain and haven’t had to buy any. It the dairy farm, as well as half the crop- was stored in a 600-tonne silo built on ping properties. They also leased some the new cropping property. In drought years, they have bought of the remaining land for six years. The dairy farm now comprises failed standing crops and cut it them-

stephen cooke

Dairy Business of the Year winners Paul and Robyn Lindsay on their Picola property.

Robyn devises their mixed ration and it comprises all home-grown components – grain, hay and silage. “We have all our own gear so we can control the timing of everything, and therefore the quality,” she says. “It gives us more control as we can cut when the feed “We were selling hay and grain to quality is at a premium.” Robyn completed a dairy farmers and decided to look feed course at TAFE and for a property with a dairy so we uses a program to get the best result with the comcould value add, particularly in ponents they have on times of poor grain prices.” hand. This system contributed to the family locked up for fodder. The dairy block is winning the feed efficiency award with also irrigated and oversown every year a kilogram of dry matter: kg milk solids with tetraploid annual ryegrass. A fur- ratio of 10.34 – beating the northern ther 40ha of diploids are planted every Victorian participants’ average of 11.06 and northern Victorian top 10 contestsummer. Grasses are grazed early then nitro- ants of 10.93. The feed pad has also improved their gen and water is applied, which faciliprofitability as they save two bales per tates a fast recovery. selves. Cows are fed about two tonnes per cow per year of wheat/canola meal in the bail. One property has a centre pivot of 100ha and this is planted to wedgetail wheat, which is grazed initially then

feed that was trampled when spread in the paddocks. It also helps control the diets as Robyn knows exactly what is being fed. “We are controlling the diets better as our volumes are rising each year and the components are the best they’ve been.” The herd averaged 8259 litres with 635kg milksolids and protein levels continue to rise each year. In the awards year of 2009/10, their calf rearing system was highlighted for further attention and the Lindsays have already built a new shed with automated feeders. Every calf now receives the same amount of milk. “You can actually tell who isn’t drinking as much; we’ll see how that goes converting feed as they get older.” One can tell, with comments like this, the Lindsays are already looking for ways to improve their efficiency and profitability in the future.


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

9

Dairy Business of the Year: NEWS

Bench marking venture pays off NORTHERN VICTORIAN farmers Paul and Robyn Lindsay entered the Dairy Business of the Year awards to receive feedback on their operation and benchmark themselves against the best. They thought they could relax when they won the trophy for best Northern Victorian farmers, but were called to the podium twice more to receive the awards for cow efficiency and high concentrate system. Robyn says she was stunned when their names were called as winners of the Australian Dairy Business of the Year. The win was particularly satisfying for Paul who spent months in hospital during the competition year of 2009-10. He paid tribute to Robyn and sons James, Thomas and Nathan, and staff Stuart Trickey, Loiuise Vale, Adrian Hunt and Brett Hazelman – who ran the farm in his absence. The Lindsays were pipped at the post for the Trans-Tasman trophy, which was won by Sharon and Alan Davie-Martin from New Zealand. The Lindsays achieved a return on capital of 10.3% with a cost of production of $3.67/kg MS. All finalists spent two days together at

Werribee Mansion in Melbourne and Robyn says they shared similar philosophies. “Most were doing what we’re trying to achieve, growing and utilising as much grass as possible. We want to use the property to the best of its ability, not just treat it as a standing area. “All finalists were passionate about the industry, which was very positive.” It’s the second successive year the award has been won by a farmer from northern Victoria and Robyn says this further enhances the region’s reputation as prime dairy country. “We get mild winters here, which cows love, and even though summers are hot, we have them under the sprinklers in the dairy all day. It’s just us getting hot, running around to make sure they’re cool.” Paul says the competition judging was extensive, going as far as inspecting farm budgets from the two years prior to ensure no items were bought and carried over into the 2009-10 financial year. Entries were received from 84 farm businesses from across Australia. Red Sky Agriculture general manager Fiona Smith says the awards enables dairy businesses to compare their performance with dis-

trict benchmarks and find ways to improve farm profitability. Winners were announced for the different regions as well as low, medium and high-supplement systems, and dryland and irrigation businesses. There were also young farmer and sharefarmer awards.

WA farmers Sue, Grant and Peter Evans, North Jindong, via Busselton, won the supreme dryland award at the Dairy Business of the Year Awards. They are pictured with Dairy Australia Managing Director Ian Halliday (left) and Roddy Brown, Westpac (second from right). The family’s cost of production is $3.97kg/MS.

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10  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

news

CFI approved despite lack of detail THE FEDERAL Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative passed through the Lower House last month – despite a lack of details. The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a key part of the Gillard Government’s climate change agenda. The Government says it will help facilitate the sale of carbon credits on domestic and international markets, opening up new income streams for farmers and landholders across regional Australia. It was passed with the support of the independents and the Greens. The Opposition opposed the legislation with environment spokesman Greg Hunt saying while it favours the

principle of the CFI it can’t support the legislation until the details are on the table. The Greens supported the passage of the CFI despite saying they would block the bill. Greens Senator Christine Milne had earlier raised concerns about the plan, saying it wasn’t well thought through. However, after receiving assurances from the Government, the party agreed to pass the bill in the Lower House – pending further consideration in the Senate. “I have long expressed concerns that, just as happened with managed investment schemes, this could lead to monoculture plantations destroying prime

list’ they have provided. Senator Fiona Nash, a member of the senate Rural Affairs and Transport Committee investigating the scheme, questioned department officials on the Carbon Farming Initiative “It is difficult to see how during senate estimates. costs imposed by the carbon The officials confirmed there is not yet a definition of ‘common tax would be offset by onpractice’ for farming; the date for farm gains through the CFI.” when regulations will be finalised is unknown; and there are still no managed investment schemes could positive and negative lists – what’s in have been further encouraged by this and what’s out – for carbon activities. “We have no idea yet what the methscheme, and I am pleased that the Government has listened and explicitly odologies for carbon abatement are goruled that out in the ‘indicative negative ing to be,” Nash says. agricultural land, forcing food producing farmers out of business and soaking up precious water,” Milne says. “One of my major concerns is that

South Australian Farmers Federation President Peter White says there are many unknowns surrounding the CFI. “There are so many unanswered questions which makes it so difficult. It is difficult to see how costs imposed by the carbon tax would be offset by onfarm gains through the Initiative.” He raises the problem of bush fires and natural disasters impacting on any proposed carbon credits as just one of a list of questions yet to be answered by the Government. “If we invest in growing trees and they burn down, what happens? Do we lose or credits or have to pay them back?”

Can the CFI benefit dairy farmers? Neil Baker THE CARBON Farming Initiative (CFI) was developed in response to calls from the farming sector to recognize the contribution that agriculture can make to reducing carbon emissions. But is it worth the effort for dairy farmers? Participation in the CFI is voluntary so farmers have the choice between doing nothing and taking the price rise hits. Of taking action to minimise the impact, but not seeking any return from any scheme on their investment; or taking action and selling the carbon credits in the appropriate market. It is important to note that a reduction in emissions from diesel and electricity consumption is not covered by the CFI. To get involved you can’t just go and do something

and expect to get paid. You need to go through a process and be approved in advance for activities such as: Reforestation and revegetation There are some tight rules around tree plantings you need to be aware of to comply. Carbon in trees must be stored for at least 100 years and the obligation passes to the next owner. Apart from tree belts and on turnout paddocks, it’s hard to imagine dairy farmers turning over productive land to trees. Advice is to plant for other farm benefits and sell the carbon only as an aside. Reduced methane emissions from livestock This is easily the biggest source of emissions on

There may be opportunities under the CFI to cover effluent ponds to collect methane, which can be burnt off to the less dangerous carbon dioxide for carbon credits.

farm. Feeding highly digestible feed and cereal supplements is the most efficient way to control emissions at the moment. Many dairy farmers are already doing this. Research is focused on changing rumen microbes to reduce methane production. The good news is that any reduction in methane production will result in an increase in milk production. Wait for this one. Reduced nitrogen fertiliser emissions Products are being developed to add to urea to slow the conversion to nitrous oxide. The upside is that with less lost to the atmosphere there will be more N available for pasture and to boost growth rates. This is worth waiting for. But in the meantime,

follow best practice to reduce emissions by adding fertiliser only when it is needed and never when paddocks are waterlogged.

worth it.

Reduced emissions from soil or increased soil carbon sequestration Is it the great hope that Effluent many farmers believe it is? management Normal farming activity like cultivation and drying Emissions released from off paddocks over summer will bring a The easiest way to fall in soil raise soil carbon is to carbon, as will permanently underovergrazing. utilise grown pasture. Many dairy soils, particularly in irrigated/summer dairy effluent are very growing areas, already low from a whole-farm have high levels of organic point of view, but there matter (soil carbon) so may be opportunities to opportunities are very cover ponds to collect limited. methane and then burn it The easiest way to off to the less dangerous raise soil carbon is to carbon dioxide to claim a permanently under-utilise credit. You will have to do grown pasture – at the the sums to know if it is

carbon price suggested it is far from worth it. Lifting soil carbon levels for soil productivity is a good thing, but then trading carbon stored in the soil is a very risky business because it has to be kept at that level for 100 years. Can you guarantee that? The CFI has the potential to encourage some farmers to reduce emissions and receive a benefit for it. However, for dairy farmers there is unlikely to be any significant benefit until we can easily reduce methane emissions from our cattle and until fertiliser inhibitors are developed In the meantime, stay informed so that you can make the best decisions for your business. Neil Baker is project coordinator at the Macalister Demonstration Farm.


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

11

news

Australia must grow to feed the Dragon Liz Cotton THE AUSTRALIAN dairy industry has “untold opportunities” in export markets especially China - but it must get back to a platform of growth in order to capitalise. Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday says supply and demand is balanced in Asia and the weak $US has not resulted in a demand reduction, however Australia currently faces a 50-60% shortfall in its volume of exports to China. Halliday told guests at the recent Dairy SA South East Dairy Innovation Day that Australia is operating in a two-speed economy: domestic and export and should seek to capitalise on the latter.

“We need to capitalise on the China boom. Last year it imported 1 million tonnes of dairy produce and Australia’s contribution to that sat at around 70,000 tonnes.” He says while Europe is not proving a major threat, New Zealand and the United States are both looking to make big inroads into the Chinese market. US Production is steady with 1.6% growth forecast and they don’t have the systems in place at present to expand into export markets, they could be a threat within three to five years. New Zealand is also honing in on opportunities in China, with growth of 5-6% expected next year. “China’s imports are driving global demand, particularly as Chinese people

Consumers “greenwashed” on food choices CONSUMERS

move more into regional areas,” Halliday says. “Dairy is seen as a gold standard food and the Chinese are buying lots of dairy products, particularly milk powder and cheese.” He says on the domestic front; positive seasonal conditions are a boost for farmers, but a limited supply of cows and heifers needs to be addressed – as well as the emerging ethical and environmental issues of carbon, water and animal welfare. Halliday also says the “war for talent” persists with a renewed focus needed on attracting, retaining and growing the “people” inside of the industry. Domestically, consumers continue to be cautious about the supermarket price war,

but a 2% growth is forecast due to population growth. Halliday reminds dairy farmers that a focus on key drivers will ultimately underpin profitability. “The TasMilk-60 project analysed the financials of 60 dairy farms over three years and found the top three profit drivers are: pasture utilised, pasture quality and core count costs,” he says.

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being “greenwashed” into thinking that certain types of technology-intensive agriculture are not environmentally friendly. Delegates at last month’s Australian Farm Institute conference were told that relieving hunger and Roger Cady ensuring food security are inextricably linked to adoption of new technology. Roger Cady, Elanco’s sustainability leader, says if global food production has to double by 2050, as suggested by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, then 70% of this increase in production will come from new technology – due to limitations in land and natural resource availability. “Consumers are constantly being misled about the impact of some types of agriculture and this is often biasing their food choices.” Cady says it is easy to be swayed by impressions and intuition, without considering the science, productive efficiency, and environmental impact per unit of output. “Intensive agriculture is actually significantly “Intensive more sustainable than agriculture is most people are aware,” more sustainable he says. “Today’s technologythan most people aided, intensive agriculare aware.” ture is far more environmentally sustainable than historical agriculture. Fewer resources, less water and less land are used, with less greenhouse gases produced per unit of food grown than those used in historical farming methods.” Brett Stuart, from US agricultural analysis company Global AgriTrends, told the conference that most consumers do not understand the “social” implications of their perceived “socially-responsible” purchasing. “Organic, locally grown, free range, and other antitechnology production methods typically increase the use of water and feed resources and can lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. Stuart says it is actually “socially-irresponsible” to impose choice-restrictions on producers that then lead to higher food costs, felt mainly in the third world. “Because lower technology production is less efficient per unit of output, it inevitably contributes to the record food prices we’ve seen this year, pushing millions into food-insecurity. “Utilising technology effectively, will mean that while we need to double agricultural production by 2050, we will only occupy 13% more land used in 2008.”

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12  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

news

More bait available as mice wreak havoc CRIES FOR more bait to combat what has been described as the worst mice plague in 20 years have been answered – albeit belatedly. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, last month, granted an emergency permit to chemical supplier 4Farmers for production of zinc phosphide bait. 4Farmers will mix zinc phosphide with unsterilized grain to create bait for mice control. General manager Neil Mortimore says the failure of state and federal government agencies to recognise the mice plague as a problem three months ago has been to the detriment of farmers. Plagues of mice have not only affected crop plantings – with some farmers forced to replant entire paddocks – but have caused havoc in the dairy industry, eating on-farm grain supplies, chewing through wiring and take up residency in calving sheds. The cost of baits has added additional stress to budgets. The $10 a hectare cost to apply one of the three zinc phosphide formulations initially registered by the APVMA was too expensive for many grain growers. SAFF president, Peter White, says the top of Yorke Peninsula, Riverland and Mallee have been badly affected and farmers can’t get insurance against the plague. One farmer he spoke to has spent $90,000 on bait and others are either unable to sow crops or are re-seeding. VFF Grains Group president Andrew Weidemann says the industry has been crying out for additional supplies of mouse bait for months

This pile of dead mice at a northern Victorian dairy took the bait.

and the slow response to grant the emergency permit has exacerbated the problem. “This plague has had a significant impact from Queensland all the way down the entire east coast to South Australia,” Weidemann says. “Mouse bait producers have been unable to keep up with the unprecedented demand given the scope and scale of this event.” He says bringing an additional supplier to the market will help to alleviate the waiting period for bait, which has blown out to a month from existing manufacturers. Weidemann says while manufacturers have done a great job of increasing production, the record nature of this plague

necessitates additional supplies. 4Farmers has set up a mice-bait mixing plant at Walbundrie in NSW and is planning another for the Victorian Mallee, but is struggling to source enough zinc phosphide to coat farmers’ wheat. SA State MP and former Nuffield Scholar, Peter Treloar says the parliamentary process has been too slow in implementing measures to counter the plague, despite prior warnings given about its eventuation. “We highlighted the issue of a mouse plague last year so Government had fair warning that it was likely to occur again this year,” Treloar says.

Super funds invest in dairy THE SUSTAINABLE Agricultural Fund (SAF) has expanded its dairy portfolio in Tasmania with the acquisition of two dairies at Parkham for more than $10m. SAF invests in farms on behalf of Australian super funds. The Parkham farms combined cover more than 480ha of improved high quality pastures and modern infrastructure including a 50 bale rotary and 40 bale swingover Herringbone dairy. The farms previously milked about 900 cows and have Tasmanian dairy the immediate potential to milk 1200 next makes great season. Rainfall is over investment sense. 900mm and the farms have the capacity to irrigate if required with three centre pivots, laterals and travelling irrigators. The dairies were purchased from the Dawson family who developed the farms from small-scale dairies during 25 years. Harcourts Rural Director, John Hewitt, says these are the third and fourth dairies purchased by the Melbourne-based Sustainable Agricultural Fund. The sale included productive cows and the dairy heifers along with a selection of plant and equipment. SAF Chairman Arthur Apted says the acquisition increases SAF’s commitment to Tasmania, which also includes a 13,000 head beef operation on King Island. “Tasmanian dairy makes great investment sense in terms of exposure to profitable, quality, high rainfall areas which are well serviced by several domestic and export processors,” he says. “The clean environment also offers an added strategic marketing advantage.” Local dairy consultants and managers Macquarie Franklin, along with respected dairy farmer Paul Lambert, manage SAF’s Tasmanian dairy operations.

Floods hit mid-north NSW farmers THE NSW mid north floods have had a devastating effect on local dairies. Three days of heavy rain in mid-June has impacted heavily on communities in the Clarence Valley, Upper Hunter, Bellingen Shire and Kempsey areas. Major flooding has

forced the evacuation of some parts of the Macleay and Hastings Valleys with dairy farmers moving livestock out of the region or onto higher ground. Farmers cleaning up have found hay bales and silage washed onto their properties from neighbouring areas, due to the

force of the flooding. Lower Macleay dairy farmer Sue and Brett McGinn expect the flooding to be as serious as the three major floods that hit the area in 2009. The fourth-generation farmers were among about 10,000 residents isolated by the latest deluge.

This flood has added to a tough winter season.

“It’s already been a tough winter season, but this flood has added to it and it is just devastating,” McGinn says. Farms have been isolated by floodwaters and paddocks are saturated, which will now be vulnerable to pugging damage.

Australian Crop Forecasters managing director Ron Storey says there has been a sharp increase in the demand for fodder, mainly lucerne for protein. “Many local lucerne producers are sold out and hay may have to come from further afield,” Storey says.

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The Australian Fodder Industry Association has a network of members who have hay for sale for immediate delivery and can be found at: www.afia. org.au/services/hay_for_ sale The NSW Government has classified the affected districts Natural Disaster Areas and primary producers and small business owners can now apply for Natural Disaster Relief Assistance through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority. Those eligible can apply for long-term loans of up to $130,000. There is no interest charged or repayments due in the initial two years, after which the interest rate is fixed at a rate of 2.77%. These loans are available to those who can demonstrate that they derive a majority of their total gross income from farming or their small business and have incurred clean-up and recovery costs. Call the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit: www.raa. nsw.gov.au


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

13

news

Hastings Valley sells factory THE NSW-based Hastings Valley Dairy Cooperative has accepted an offer to sell its Wauchope dairy factory to Indian company Sungrow Australia. Sungrow says it will inject extra capital and resources into the factory to increase milk production, build a milk powder plant, as well as add Indian dairy products to the current range of Hastings Valley Dairy products. The company also intends to export more than 50% of its manufactured dairy products to the Gulf countries. Sungrow chairman Chiprasean Gulave told ABC Radio that it will export cheeses to Dubai. “This is a manufacturing company wanting to start dairy business here in dairy cattle and dairy processing making liquid milk and milk powder, all dairy product will be exported to Gulf countries,” he says. However, the sale does not include the ownership of brand names, trademarks and recipes developed by factory staff and management, which will be licensed to the purchaser for continuing manufacturing.

Co-op marketing manager Tim Walker says jobs at the factory will be secure. “The Hastings Cooperative Dairy factory has had very tricky and interesting time these last few years and this is a very positive step both for the factory, the Co-op and of course the community,” Walker says. The sale awaits the completion of an independent accountant’s report and is also subject to the approval of the Hastings Co-op’s shareholders. The Hastings Co-operative Ltd is owned by more than 8900 shareholders and supports 12 local dairy farms. It was established in 1916 by a group of local dairy farmers who brought their milk to be processed and fresh fruit and vegetables to be marketed. The co-op now owns the dairy products division, a department store in Wauchope, three IGA supermarkets in Wauchope, two Farm Supplies outlets in Wauchope and Comboyne, Ampol and Caltex service stations in Wauchope and a liquor store. 

Mixed fortunes for ex-Challenge suppliers BROWNES DAIRY will pay exChallenge suppliers the same amount as its existing suppliers until the end of the calendar year. Brownes, National Foods and Harvey Fresh picked up 47 ex-Challenge suppliers when the co-operative collapsed last year. The dairy processor collapsed late, last year with debts of about $21 million. However, many dairy farmers weren’t able to secure a price that would see them operating above their cost of production. Brownes announced last month it will pay ex-Challenge farmers the same amount as its pre-existing suppliers at least until the end of 2011. Brownes has not revealed the exact prices it is now paying suppliers. WAFarmers’ Dairy Section had been talking with Brownes asking the company to extract more value from the market place in order to bring these producers up to parity or run the risk of losing them to the industry altogether before next sum-

Fodder intake increases, prices remain static rain in the west consistent follow up will be required now and through the winter to promote growth,” Storey says. “However it is anticipated by many that feeding of hay to livestock will continue through to the spring time as cold winter temperatures Most hay consumed will inhibit pasture in Southern Australia growth.” Oaten hay has been produced sowings are expected to be up on farm. to 30% lower across the eastern states. Storey says the ban on cattle exports to Indonesia is are now all but depleted. a major concern for hay Canola growers still have producers who supply to some stored on farm pellet manufacturers for for their own livestock feeding on boats. consumption.” “While hay prices Winter temperatures, have not directly frosts, waterlogged responded to the news it is paddocks are all disheartening for growers contributing to fuel the to lose any market, even demand for fodder. temporarily.” “While there has been Storey says it is still too early to see how the ban will impact on this market. “Canola hay in Western Australia has been a valuable source of protein and supplies

Ex-challenge suppliers will get between 5-24 cents from every dollar owed by the failed co-operative.

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FODDER INTAKE is increasing as southern states are in the depths of winter but, with the exception of Western Australia, most hay consumed will come from what has been produced on farm. Australian Crop Forecasters managing director Ron Storey says there have been some small fluctuations in prices in the hay market, but these have been minimal and reflective of localised situations. “While prices are stable in Northern NSW this week, it is expected that through the winter hay prices will continue to rise,” Storey says. South Australian hay producers have enjoyed a consistent market for oaten hay into the Northern Territory – particularly for hay outside export specifications.

mer. WAFarmers Dairy Section President, Peter Evans, has commended Brownes’ decision. “WAFarmers would like to acknowledge our appreciation for the action to reward dairy producers in what are already difficult dairy retail conditions,” Evans says. He says the announcement could not have come at a better time. “Processors were at risk of losing producers following the collapse of the Challenge Cooperative last December.” Unfortunately ex-Challenge suppliers were told less than a fortnight later that they will get less than a quarter of the money they are owed. The co-op’s assets were sold earlier this year but, until now, it has been unclear how much creditors would get. Administrators PPB have now told dairy farmers they are likely to get between five and 24 cents in the dollar. The creditors’ dividend is not expected to be finalised for at least two months.


14  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

news

Price cut for northern Parmalat suppliers PARMALT SUPPLIERS in northern NSW and Queensland have seen another drop in their milk cheques as a direct result of the milk war, according to Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation president Brian Tessmann. Tessmann says the portion of branded-milk sales that farmers were rewarded for in May has dropped to 76.08% from 83.29% during the corresponding month last year. “This is the pricing system’s lowest level since it was introduced in 2000,” Tessmann says. “It means that farmers’ milk cheques have been more than $2400 lower in the same four months of February to May last year. “Across this supply group the cumulative impact to the end of May is mounting to close to half a million dollars and is getting larger the longer the retail milk price war continues.” Tessmann says a cruel irony is the underlying fundamentals

cut some 40 million litres from milk production in the seven months to June 2011 in the northern production region, with production for the first few months of 2011 being down by some 20%, according to Dairy Australia. Tessmann says DA’s Situation and Outlook report confirms the retail milk war has sapped confidence from Queensland farmers and is already directly impacting Farmers need to see real the pay cheques of more value at the retail end of than 180 dairy farmers. “The report says: Deep the value chain. discounting of fresh white milk products by major grocery retailers has stripped wholesale value from the milk category, demand for our milk. But farmers commoditising a wider range need to see real value at the retail of products,” he says. “This is end of the value chain so we can impacting farmgate returns for some producers and is be sustainable. farmgate milk “We are not getting those threatening prices for the next season as signals at the moment.” Floods, cyclones and prolonged supply contracts are due for wet weather are expected to renegotiation.” should be cause for much more optimism for dairy farmers. “As we recover from natural disaster, the seasonal conditions are sound. With a State Budget depicting Queensland in an ongoing boom, our growing population will need more and more fresh milk. “Clearly there will be a thirsty

QDO president Brian Tessmann

‘Lift farming ethics or face more controls’ SUDESH KISSUN NZ DAIRY farmers may need a licence to operate unless they stay ahead of the ‘game’ in sustainability. Farmers must keep pace with rising consumer sentiment over sustainable food demands or be dragged along by regulation. This warning came from Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden at the Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) conference at Kerikeri, NZ. More food is needed for a growing population but farmers face greater scrutiny

of how they farm, he said. They must take sustainability more seriously, van der Heyden said. “It’s about us changing, pushing it along, rather than have legislation force us to change. Legislation is the worst place for farmers to be.” Laws including a licence to operate could eventuate, he says. More scrutiny now applies to effluent management, animal welfare, inductions, milk quality, ETS and carbon footprinting. The average New Zealander believes more milk production means more

effluent in waterways, van der Heyden says. Embracing sustainability will help keep urban New Zealanders onside with dairying. Fonterra recently appointed Bruce Donnison general manager sustainability for Australia and New Zealand. Its ‘every farm every year’ (EFEY) scheme has independent assessors from AsureQuality or QCONZ visiting all 10,500 supplying farms, checking effluent management. But more improvement is demanded; the goalposts keep moving, says van der Heyden. “Farmers need to move

All NZ Fonterra farms face audit

with the goalposts rather than being forced to do so by regulation.” Keeping pace with sustainable farming is expensive, says SMASH chairwoman Fran Allcock, yet farmers cannot set the prices of their products or pass on costs. “Dairy farmers are coping as well as they can, and deserve and need support from the media and urban public instead of knocking and criticism. “Most farmers strive for sustainability, knowing if we don’t sustain our land and waterways how will we grow food?”

ANDREW SWALLOW FONTERRA’S ‘EVERY-farmevery-year’ (EFEY) check of

effluent management is like a vehicle warrant of fitness, says director of supplier and external relations Kelvin Wickham. “It’s a licence to operate,” he said last week after the co-op had done a first check of every supplier. “If we can’t comply with minimum standards, we won’t have a licence to operate.” Though nearly 75% of the 10,500 farms visited were unlikely to breach effluent consents, they will still be checked next year because situations on-farm, and in the regulatory environment, can change, he says.

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75% of farms unlikely to breach consents will still be audited.


Linden View av $1777 THE RECENT dispersal of the Linden View Holstein Stud saw 256 Holsteins sell for $455,000 at an average of $1777. Neville and Beryl Peck, Sale, recently sold their dairy farm, requiring the complete dispersal of their herd. The sale top of $3600 was Linden View Calvin Topaz, a GP 83 2-year-old backed by five generations of VG dams. She had just been AI to Bluesky. This cow was purchased by G & N Allen of Fernshade Holsteins, Nerrena, Vic. These same buyers also selected the top-selling

joined heifer Linden View Bolton Monique at $3300, an ABS Bolton daughter backed by five generations of VG. Northern Victorian buyers P & L Sprunt selected 20 cows including Linden View AC Rota, an Alta Colin 4-year-old at $3300, and Linden View Ice Timtam, a top young AltaIce backed by six VG dams at $3100. Local breeders Russell & Laws selected several lots including Linden View Shaker Slipper VG85, backed by a famed USA family, for $3100, and Linden View Grandprix Lustre VG 86, for $3000.

This young cow had been placed second in the East Gippsland on Farm Challenge. Buyers came from all parts of Victoria along with Bega and Forbes, NSW, and Mt Gambier, SA. Largest buyers were P & A Edmonds of Glencoe, SA, selecting 71 top young cows. In the breakdown, 25 spring calving heifers av $1972; 76 autumn calved cows av $1805; 121 spring calving cows av $1777; 30 carry over cows av $1570; 4 bulls av $1600. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services.

R & D funding retained FEARS OF funding cuts to the 15 Research

investment in rural R&D and the effectiveand Development Corporations (RDCs), in- ness of the model overall. This inquiry cluding Dairy Australia, were allayed last found that current funding arrangements, month with a Federal Government deci- as well as the high level of industry engagement and support offered by all sectors, sion to maintain its level of funding. The Australian Government currently made our RDC model unique amongst othmatches eligible R&D expenditure on a ers around the world. The inquiry also found a need to indollar-for-dollar basis up to 0.5% of an industry’s gross value of production. It has crease private investment in rural R&D recently committed to maintaining the and recommended lowering the cap on Government contrigovernment matching butions to encourage contributions. Cutting Government industry to contribute Government contribtheir own funding. uted more than $220 contributions will Federal Agriculture million in matching not attract more Minister Joe Ludwig says funding to the rural the Government does RDCs in 2009-10 and industry funds. not believe cutting Govthis is expected to increase this coming financial year. The ernment contributions is an appropriate decision was made as part of the Govern- method to achieve greater industry investment’s preliminary response to the Pro- ment.  “The Government’s matching contribuductivity Commission’s inquiry report on tions are a key factor in leveraging industry rural RDCs. The Government had asked the Produc- funding, but I do see a need to explore how tivity Commission to conduct an inquiry to optimise outcomes for industry and the into RDCs, which included an examination wider community within the current fundof the rationale for Australian Government ing arrangements.” 

SA program addresses lack of women leaders A LACK of South Australian dairy women in industry leadership roles is being tackled with the introduction of a new leadership development program. The DairySA program, 2Bherd: Learn, Link, Lead, aims to give women the skills and confidence they need to build pathways from the paddock to the boardroom. It will use the experience of recognised female industry leaders to motivate aspiring dairy women to develop leadership skills and action plans, so they can actively and assertively participate in dairy industry committees, boards and projects. Verity Ingham – execu-

tive officer with DairySA – says women are sometimes reluctant to get involved at a leadership level because they lack experience and confidence in committee and boardroom protocol. She says this program will address this by providing advanced training in communication and governance—such as teaching participants how to effectively participate in meetings; the responsibilities of boards and committees; how to develop industry ideas and where to take them; as well as how to manage stressful and difficult situations at meetings. “Simply building con-

fidence and developing skills around meeting procedures will make a huge difference to women who have leadership intent, but have not yet taken that first step into industry leadership roles,” Ingham says. Participants will also be coached on how to become involved, and stay involved, in industry leadership. Throughout the course they will also develop and implement individual action plans to facilitate their integration to committees and boards. More information and applications for the 2Bherd: Learn, Link, Lead program will be available at www. dairysa.com.au in late July.

Specialist livestock agency servicing Australia’s Dairy Industry Located in Geelong, Vicstock has a strong history in the dairy and livestock industry. Recently acquired by Will Crozier (former General Manager and now Managing Director) and Richard Kerr (Western District Livestock – Kerr Bros.), Vicstock is in the process of expanding its current services to include every facet of dairying and livestock agency services. Vicstock with its head office located in Geelong has an impressive client base of 3,500 businesses, located in the dairying districts of Gippsland, Western and Northern Victoria, NSW Riverina, Tasmania and South East of South Australia. With a current turnover of approximately $14 million per annum, the biggest component being in Bobby Calf sales. Vicstock is highly renowned for its excellent standard of service, strict regulatory protocols and modern, forward thinking philosophy. After one year of privatisation, the core business (supplying various domestic and export abattoirs with dairy cows and calves) of Vicstock has strengthened and continues to grow. Opportunities in the export heifer market and private cattle sales continue to expand and supplying a complete service for the Dairy Beef industry explored through developing markets throughout South East Asia.

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Frank Steers

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Lou Seuren

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Brett Lunghusen

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Ian Headon

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16  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

opinion Ruminating

editorial

Lack of vision hurts Australian farmers

milking it... No mucking around STRAIGHT FROM the “Have a

crack” files... Paul Lindsay, who with wife Robyn owns a farm at Picola recently named Dairy Business of the Year, reveals the $2000 investment that may just have secured them the top prize. In the 2009-10 financial year when they won the award, they had a paddock full of feed wheat ready to be harvested, but with no way to do it. Contractors were flat out and an almighty wet weather system was on its way. Paul was driving home when he saw an old header in a paddock with a $15,000 for sale sign attached. He inspected it and within three hours it was greased and in the paddock. “It was pretty slow alright, but the boys drove it and I

carted the grain away. The rain came after we had got the grain into the silo and we soon sold the header for $13,000.” With an operation geared around quality feed, that $2000 investment could well have made all the difference in a tight contest.

Ears are stinging WE MAKE lots of phone calls in this game, but we’ve never had the response WA Farmers Federation dairy president Peter Evans gave us when we called last month. “I’ll have to call back, I’ve been stung by bees,” Peter told us before hanging up. We checked back in an hour and Peter was counting the cost of his unexpected encounter – six bees had penetrated his winter clothes and he was counting himself lucky. Seems a storm the previous night had knocked down a

The cow with no name Al AIN Dairy, one of the largest dairy

farms in the Middle East, has about 6000 high-yielding cows, but they all yield to The Super Cow. An Al Ain dairy spokesman says cow 4307 can produce 100 litres a day if milked three times a day. “This cow is known informally as Super Cow. The nine-year-old has

good portion of trees, including one home to a swarm of bees that fell across a laneway of all places.

You’re joking PR SPIN is one of our absolute pet hates; so a regulation visit to the National Foods website left us enraged. Apparently National Foods is now “bringing more sociability and wellbeing to our world”. What does that even mean? How does a multi-national bring sociability to the world, let alone wellbeing? Let alone one who continually squeezes its suppliers and sacks employees in a bid to increase its share value! We would advise companies paying big bucks for slogans like this to do the right thing by your suppliers and employees and earn respect, because you’re not fooling those at the grass roots.

already produced 1,040,000 litres of milk,” the spokesman says. The Holstein from the Netherlands at first produced volumes similar to other cows, but after a few years began increasing production. The cow’s milk production feats have attracted international media attention so it may need to adopt the Super Cow moniker for good.

We guess it must be cheaper this way.

Two bites of the cherry WHO IS advising Prime Minister Gillard? Upon stopping the live export trade overnight, the Government is surprised at the consequences. Having failed to reopen the trade after sending Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to Indonesia with a 32-page list of demands – in English - they then believe they can placate the furious northern Australian beef industry by offering $270 a fortnight in welfare. As one Top End vet eligible for the payments says: That won’t even pay my phone bill for the month. We can’t think of anything else the Government could have done to insult either party more. An entire Government and their advisors didn’t think this through? Unbelievable!

‘Super Cow’ 4307

IT’S UNLIKELY former Prime Minister Ben Chifley would have held the nation’s highest office if he was a politician today. Apparently he had trouble stringing sentences together, which would most probably stop him gaining pre-selection for his party in today’s polls-focused, media-driven, adviserdependent political world. This would mean that the man behind the Snowy River Scheme and Holden’s manufacturing base, who threw his weight behind the post-war immigration scheme from Britain and Europe, would be lost to a country desperate for leadership. Chifley had a vision for achieving a golden age, which depended on expanding world trade and opening up new markets for Australian goods. It’s a vision that is lacking in the current Federal political scene – from both parties – and we’re all the poorer for it. There has been no greater example of a kneejerk response to the voracious media cycle than the Federal Government’s decision to ban live exports to Indonesia on the basis of the videos supplied to the ABC by Animals Australia. Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig – who by title should champion the interests of the multi-billion dollar agriculture sector – supported the Prime Minister’s demand to shut down the industry. No questions asked, no consequences thought of. It’s well documented how the ramifications for the beef live export industry have been huge and there are still consequences to come. Landmark has said it will start sourcing dairy export heifers for China from New Zealand; as it can’t be sure of the Government’s plans. The welfare of beef cattle on northern properties, and the small producers in particular, are also in trouble. This lack of leadership continued when Ludwig said Australian cattle exporters would lose their “social licence” for the trade unless animal welfare was safeguarded. Social licence? Which well-paid PR flak in the Government’s hour of need came up with that ill-conceived term? When the agriculture minister fails to tell the city media that isolated examples reflect poorly on an industry that takes pride in welfare of its animals, the industry is right to demand stronger leadership. Ludwig needs to get out on farms and see the work primary producers do to ensure they have healthy livestock. He needs to tell the media and the Labour Party this is all done to meet some of the toughest standards in the world – for no extra payment. He needs to stand up for all those represented by his Department. I have no doubt men of the calibre of Chifley would. It’s a shame that a potential inability to react quickly to the whims of a 24-hour news cycle would prevent the former PM from showing the leadership we desperately need today.

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17

opinion

Match cow to system for maximum profit Steve Snowden SHOULD YOU build your system around the cow, or the cow around your system? I’ve always had a strong belief that you need to define and understand your system and the economics within it, and then design a cow to match your system to give you the best economic outcome. When thinking about cows and systems from an economic view point, we need to ask ourselves some basic questions. • Risk: At low milk price and high input cost, can my system handle it? • Labour efficiency: Do I want a “keep it simple” system or a high input system? • Do I want the cows to work for me or do I want the cows to dictate to me? The challenge is to match the cow to the system that will give maximum

profit for the least input and effort. We also must question cow size and consider efficiency of production. With type traits including statue, angularity, body depth and rump width all having negative correlations to fertility and longevity, the tendency to select sires from the glossy magazines with all the type graphs running way out to the right needs to be seriously questioned. The first true-type model for the Holstein cow was developed in 1922 and served as a guide for the breed until 1977, when an updated true-type model was endorsed. The revised true-type model had a much more angular appearance, was much taller at the withers (145cm), much heavier (725 kg), noticeably taller in the front – relative to the rear of the cow – and much shallower in the udder, which was held completely above the base of the hocks. The ideal Holstein cow promoted

did not differ with time and had average body weight of 558kg (first calving), 596kg (second calving), and 641kg (third calving). On the other hand, cows in the large line had significantly larger body weights with time and had average Define and understand your body weights of 609kg (first calving), 664kg (second calving), and system and then design a 720kg (third calving). cow to match it to give you The difference between the lines the best economic outcome. was significant for all three parities and the difference significantly indicted to transmit large body size, while creased with parity—the difference in the other line was bred to sires predict- average body weight was 52kg after first calving, 70kg after second calving and ed to transmit small body size. Each year, the three bulls with the 88kg after third calving. The same study examined herd life highest size index were mated to cows in the large line, and the three bulls and reported that cows in the small line with the lowest size index were mated had productive lives that were longer by 88 days (15.4%) than cows from the to cows in the small line. Cows born in the two lines from 1983 large line. Cows in the small line were also more to 1994 were summarized, and body weights of cows within the small line efficient producers of milk, healthier by the Holstein Association USA since 1977 has been significantly larger and sharper than previously. In 1966, at the University of Minnesota the large cow-small cow trial was started. One line was bred to sires pre-

and had greater ability to stay in the herd. So why do commercial dairy farmers continue to place a premium on high-scoring cows that are larger? When considering the cow that will best suit your system, keep an eye on the scientific trials and results. Utilising them can improve the economics of your system. All trial data on crossbreeding verses purebred since 1949 has shown crossbred cows to be more profitable. My personal experience is a 17- 23% higher operating surplus with a three-way cross, compared to Holstein Friesians. There are many ways to maximise profit in all areas of a dairy business, matching the cow to your system can substantially increase your profit. Steve Snowdon is a dairy farmer from Tyers, Victoria, who was runner-up in the 2009 Australian Dairy Business of the Year Awards with 18% return on assets.

Develop employees for the best results WORKING WITH teams both sides of the Tasman enables me to see various approaches to getting the best out of people. So I’m thinking about teamwork, in particular the merits of different leadership styles. People respond to leadership challenge in different ways. Managers and supervisors commonly ask why staff are not simply self-motivated. They are often mystified that employees don’t perform at levels natural to business owners and farming families. Many believe that when people are paid well they can be expected to perform. But this mindset falls short of what is needed to fully release potential through effective leadership. It contrasts autocratic

Kerry Ryan my-way-or-the-highway leadership style with more democratic, consultative and collaborative management methods. These two extremes of the leadership spectrum we may call ‘transactional’ vs ‘transformational’ leadership. Transactional leadership says staff are paid to do as they are told. It assumes employees are there to work and the boss

is there to give instructions and monitor results. In return the business rewards agreed performance outcomes; it rewards an employee’s compliance with requests and his/her working within agreed systems. Here the leader’s time is mostly spent refocusing people on the desired outcomes from their role. Now contrast the transformational leadership style. This typically grows the skills and capabilities of team members. Though focused on performance outcomes, it gets results by developing people, with deeper appreciation of each individual’s personality, learning and work style. This style recognises training and systems development secure gains

from a culture of continuous improvement. Transformational

tasks are unlikely to benefit from development of wider skills and capabilities. But such output focus “Striking the right tends to limit balance in these growth potential within the busiaspects of people management is as much ness. Transformaan art as a science.” tional leaders recognise that leadership is about helping by developing their team people change to better they can delegate more, meet the needs of the so reducing time they operation. Leaders mentor and collaborate so that their people better understand what is expected of them and how they can contribute to results. Each method has its place. The transactional (more functional) focus is valid for short term projects or situations where results from operational

the better to ‘read’ what is going on for individuals and the team. This, in turn, engenders motivation and enthusiasm for developing people and a team culture to get best business performance: sustainable profits and delegation to protect the business focus and lifestyle of team leaders. Kerry Ryan is an agribusiness consultant based in New Zealand.

must spend on management, and instead work more on entrepreneurial or business development activities. Striking the right balance in these aspects of people management is as much an art as a science. A fundamental is for leaders to truly understand themselves, including continuously improving their self-awareness and emotional intelligence,

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18  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

Agribusiness Fonterra invests $3.9 million at Cobden site FONTERRA HAS started a $3.9 million to upgrade its cream treatment equipment and reduce water consumption at the company’s Cobden manufacturing site. The site employs around 200 people and manufactures 65,000 tonnes of dairy product each year – including butter, dairy spreads and whole and skim milk powders. The project is due to be com-

National Foods will produce Mersey Valley Cheese at its expanded plant in Burnie, Tasmania.

Green light for Nat Foods expansion NATIONAL FOODS has received the green light for the proposed expansion of its cheese manufacturing facility in Burnie, Tasmania. The company has effectively received approval from Cradle Mountain Water and the Burnie City Council on its plans to manage trade waste. National Foods announced back in March that it would invest $122 million in its Burnie site following a review that saw the closure of cheese manufacturing sites at Simpson and Campbellfield in Victoria, as well as Kings Meadow and Heidi Farm in Tasmania. It is also trying to sell its two SA sites at Murray Bridge and Jervois. Managing director Peter Kean says National Foods, Cradle Mountain Water and the Burnie City Council have agreed to work through ways to utilise the existing infrastructure at the Round Hill sewerage treatment

current cheese making capacity of 10,000 tonnes per annum to 25,000 tonnes. “We are working closely with stakeholders and community partners to ensure the proposed expansion at the site proceeds in alignment with National Foods will spend a e n v i r o n m e n t a l further $20m at the Burnie expectations, now in the future.” site, taking its commitment andNational Foods will produce the to $142m. brands Tasmanian Heritage, Heidi Farm, Mersey Valley and expansion of the Burnie site South Cape at the site. The company had planned come to fruition. “This is the best outcome to invest $122 million in the for the local community and Burnie site, but will also spend the region. In agreeing the way a further $20 million building forward, all parties are now a new anaerobic waste water working through ways to utilise treatment plant on the site to enable it to meet all regulatory the existing infrastructure.” Kean says it effectively gives guidelines. This takes the total National Foods the go ahead to investment at the site to $142 expand its site at Burnie from its million. plant to manage the waste water from the expanded site at Burnie. Kean says the agreement is a step in the right direction and will assist in seeing the planned

pleted in September. Fonterra Australia managing director Simon Bromell says the project takes the company’s total investment in the region to more than $10 million. “Our Cobden site has an important role to play in Fonterra’s value-add strategy in Australia, in particular manufacturing high quality butter and dairy spreads for the domestic market,” he says.

Fonterra’s Cobden site manager, Rob Howell, says the new equipment will save 10 million litres of water a year. “Our ability to process large volumes of milk efficiently is imperative not only for production purposes, but also so that we can give our farmer suppliers confidence to continue investing in and improving their own businesses.”

Fonterra raises $300m through Australian bond release NEW ZEALAND’S Fonterra Co-operative raised A$300 million this month through its first ever issue of corporate bonds in Australia. The bonds are for a five year term, maturing in July 2016.  These were issued by an Australian subsidiary, guaranteed by Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited. They are expected to be rated A+ by Standard & Poor’s and AA- by Fitch, consistent with the agencies’ current ratings for Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited. General Manager Treasury Stephan Deschamps says the bond proceeds will be used to refinance bank debt in Australia. “Fonterra has a large business in Australia and it makes sense for us to seek a greater alignment between our funding activities and our asset base,” he says. “Fonterra has not participated in the AUD corporate bond market previously and we are pleased with the strong demand from institutional investors.” The AUD bond issue comes just a fortnight after Fonterra successfully entered the Chinese currency bond market, raising 300 million Yuan (about A$43 million). “The strong interest in both of these recent bond issues demonstrates how Fonterra’s business profile and financial strength are well regarded by international investors,” Deschamps says. Meanwhile, earlier this month, Fonterra acquired 100% of its NZ rural supplies chain RD1, prising the stake back from Landmark. In 2006 it sold a 50% stake in RD1 to Landmark, then owned by AWB. However, as part of

that agreement, Fonterra had a pre-emptive right to buy back RD1 if Landmark or AWB were sold. This opportunity arose in December, 2010, when Canadian company Agrium bought AWB. Chief executive Officer Andrew Ferrier says Fonterra is excited at the prospect of RD1 rejoining the fold. “Since 2006, RD1 revenues have increased from $394 million to $741 million, producing great returns for both Fonterra and Landmark,” Ferrier says. “RD1 is a solidly performing company with strong farming roots and it’s great to have it back in the family.” Over the next three months Ferrier says Fonterra will review the business and analyse any opportunities before announcing initiatives to better leverage RD1 for shareholders. RD1 was formed in 2002 with the consolidation of the trading store networks of both the New Zealand Dairy Group and Kiwi Co-operative Dairies Limited.

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Global volatility shapes opening milk prices DAIRY AUSTRALIA

published its annual Dairy 2011: Situation & Outlook report in mid-May and provided a milk price outlook for the 2011/12 season in the key southern dairying regions. Based on commodity prices and exchange rate expectations, the outlook was for an opening price range of $4.60-$4.90/ kg milk solids (MS) --- up around 2% to 4% on 2010. DA went on to say this implied a full year average price range between $5.10 and $5.5/kg MS – similar to the current season. All the major companies have now announced their opening prices and the general trend has been towards the top end of the DA range. The companies’ claimed season average prices have also steadily increased as announcements have been made. Summarising these in chronological order: Fonterra Australia came out quite early in mid-May with $4.65/kg MS; this was followed by Tatura Milk In-

global impact Peter wilson dustries in early-June with $4.82/kg MS; Warrnambool Cheese and Butter came out in late-June with $4.90/kg MS; while Murray Goulburn announced at the end of June also with $4.90/kg MS. These four companies make up over 80% of Victorian and nearly 75% of south-eastern Australian milk production – so effectively shape milk prices across the southern regions. A question asked recently was whether the gap between opening and closing prices has been getting larger in recent years? Or to use foreign currency jargon, “have the open / close spreads been widening”?

The short answer is ‘yes’. DA’s farmgate milk price models show that over the four years from 2003/04 to 2006/07; the increase from opening price to closing price averaged 17%. However, move to the next four years from 2007/08 to estimates for 2010/11 and the chart below shows a picture of significant variability. Across the last four years the average also happens to be 17% -- but take out the 7% step-down on 2008/09, when dairy commodity prices collapsed, and the figure jumps to 25%. The reason why is simply due to the increased volatility in dairy commodity prices seen during the last four years. We have all seen charts showing how southern Australian farmgate milk prices simply track dairy commodity prices and so reflect this volatility. These market conditions mean significant uncertainty surrounds dairy company planning

for the season ahead. Add to that planning environment a volatile exchange rate, with every market player having a different view and method of managing these risks, and one can understand why a certain degree of caution is used in setting opening prices. Plus no-one wants a repeat of 2008/09! Nevertheless, it does appear the recent volatility in dairy commodity spot prices has eased during the last year and current expectations are that the gap between opening and closing prices will narrow in the 2011/12 season. DA’s milk price outlook implies this, with a slightly higher opening price range – which we have seen in recent company announcements – and a closing price at much the same level as expected for the 2010/11 season. Peter Wilson is industry analyst for Dairy Australia and can be reached at pwilson@dairyaustralia. com.au

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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

management Holistic view helps cut production costs Stephen Cooke WHETHER VISITING a dairy farm overseas or on a farm walk closer to home, Rob Frampton is searching for something – anything – that could be used to reduce his cost of production. Rob and his parents, Norm and Lesley, run 440 crossbred cows on a milking platform of 160ha at Gawler, near Ulverstone, Tasmania. They continue to break down the cost of production during their budget process in a bid to improve their efficiency. Any new method that will help achieve this is seized. “We aim for a low cost of production,” he says. The Framptons had a cost of production of $2.76/kg MS in 2009-10, with animal health costs of $15 per cow. To reduce the cost of production, the Framptons don’t simply cut costs, but find ways to improve their efficiency. Labour is included in the budget process so time management is appraised. Any labour efficiency immediately becomes financial savings. “Efficiency is everything and we have improved by making as many jobs as possible one-person jobs,” Frampton says. The three family members are able to calve the 440 cows, run all replacements, mate, spread their own fertiliser – only using outside labour for baling hay and relief milking – while still managing a good lifestyle. This approach has seen them finish in the top three of the Tasmanian Dairy Business of the Year awards twice. They were finalists in the recent awards judged on the 2009-10 financial year, when they achieved a 7% return on assets with an EBIT per milking hectare of $1843. The increase from a ROA of 5% in 2008-09 compared favourably to other participants in the DBOY awards whose ROA fell from 6% in 2008-09 to 3% in 2009-10. The average COP of these participants was $4.26/kg MS. “I enjoy visiting other farms to compare ideas and to see what’s around to help us manage our farm better,” Frampton says. One of the simplest ways the Framptons have

Who:

Rob, Norm and Lesley Frampton Where:

Gawler What:

Cutting cost of production

be outweighed by the cost. “We haven’t pushed productivity gains and that amazes a lot of farmers,” Frampton says. “Aiming to increase production, but not at the expense of profit is our main goal. We could use more nitrogen, but it’s not always as profitable as it’s made out. Nitrogen does have hidden “Efficiency is everything many costs”. and we have improved The Framptons have by making as many tried to avoid jobs as possible producing silage because one-person jobs.” of the cost of production. to cut back from three “It certainly has its place tractors to one. You can do everything without getting but it can be overused. When you work out the out of the tractor – except labour, wastage, plastic opening gates.” disposal – the costs add up. Automatic gate openers on timers, save a lot of time It is often more expensive than grain.” and lameness when walkDepending on the year, ing cows to the dairy. Extra and milk and feed prices, productivity isn’t pursued if there’s a risk the gain will cows are fed 0.3 - 0.8 reduced labour costs is by utilising a simple back hitch on their tractor, enabling the operator to switch wagons or trailers without leaving the cabin. The hitch was first seen by Rob on a dairy farm in England a decade ago. “That’s a huge labour saving. We have been able

Above. Rob Frampton on his family’s dairy farm near the Gawler township. Right. This back hitch enables the operator to switch wagons or trailers without leaving the cab.

tonnes of barley each. With an emphasis on achieving a return on investment, most of their profit is made in the spring, which means the farm focus is capitalising on spring pasture growth. The herd is usually dried off by the end of April, but it may be earlier if the weather is unfavourable. This period enables the family to take annual leave before the calving season, which has been brought forward from August 1 to July 1, over the last five years. Seven spring-fed dams over the property, with a total of 220 megalitres, are used for irrigating and are supplemented by a bore. The liquid effluent is injected into the irrigation over summer. Solids are composted and used as fertiliser. There is currently a maintenance fertiliser of

single super over the whole farm, with extra phosphorus and potassium added to selected paddocks and, more specifically, certain areas of the paddocks. A stocking rate of 2.8 cows/ha is maintained across 40 paddocks. The family has a set rotation plan for each season, which is constantly updated according to conditions. A glance of the whiteboard outside the house reveals all. Holsteins have been replaced with crossbred cows, utilising Jerseys,

Ayrshires and New Zealand Friesians. “Holsteins didn’t suit our system so we began cross breeding in 1985, when we experimented with a few Ayrshires,” Frampton says. “We started getting serious about ten years ago.” Now, small cows are mated to NZ Holsteins while the larger cows are mated to Ayrshires or crossbred bulls. The primary objective is fertility, longevity and good uddered cows, followed by fat and protein percentage.

Currently the herd has an 11-week calving spread, with no inductions or synchronisation. The cows peak at 22 litres/day and are dried off when about 10 litres/day. The herd currently averages 320kg milk solids. Although always looking for improvements the current production target suits the family’s objective of an enjoyable lifestyle and a return on investment. “Farming is simple – the hardest part is keeping it simple,” Frampton says.


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

21

management

Sexed semen fuels expansion WESTERN VICTORIAN

sess each individual heifer in its own context. “Some are just smallerframed animals, so we have to take that into account in submitting them,” he says. Sedgely uses the GMS Genomate program to Who: select bulls that are suited David and Shirley to a pasture-based system Parkinson and will meet the ParkinWhere: son’s goals. The Genomate Koroit system selects for pedigree in order to avoid inbreedWhat: ing, while balancing proSexed semen duction and type. Calving ease is also critical with first joining heifers. also found that early seaIn the past two years, son calves grow out bigger Focus has been the than those born later, so predominant bull used the sexed semen cohort is submitted as early as possi- for sexed matings. This year with more matings ble in the mating program. of Focus heifers to sexed Most will have reached the semen, Topshot and Isley critical weight threshold (both Shottle sons) have for sexual maturity by been used. 14-15 months and will be By getting an average of ready for mating. 90% heifer calves with the “We want to get them sexed product the Parkininto a growing pattern so sons achieve a substantial they make the best use of leap in genetic gain. The ABS team Other ABS uses timed blanket bulls used on the herd this inseminations with a year included 12-day syncronisation Bluesky, Goldenboy, program on the herd. Magnetism, Dragon, Brookview and grass production between Sentry. April and December,” Par“We look for a high prokinson says. “That way we duction cow with strength expect to get bigger, better about them.” conditioned heifers that The Parkinsons are aimare more efficient milkers ing for 400-420 replacewhich we can submit ments each year as they earlier.” double their herd size. The heifers are grown “The sexed semen helps out on agistment to ensure us to build in quality and they meet weight gain will enable us to cull heavtargets. ily in order to move the tail The aim is to calve them out of the herd,” he says. at around 550kg, although “We want to increase the Parkinson says that is a number of useful animals ‘rule of thumb’ as they asand increase the size of the animals. Parkinson says while it’s more expensive using the sexed semen it is actually an economic management tool. “We are prepared to bear those extra costs for a few years to get the herd to where we want it.” Although at this stage of their expansion program the Parkinsons are also buying in a number of replacements each year, ABS Sexation offers them the option of running a closed herd. This can help to prevent the introduction Adrian Parkinson, ABS’s Tim Sedgley, David Parkinson of disease that may enter and farm employee Todd Leddin with calves produced the farm with bought-in using sexed semen. cattle.

farmers David and Shirley Parkinson are using sexed semen as part of their expansion program – submitting 258 first-year heifers this season. The couple, farming at Koroit, near Warrnambool, are in the middle of their expansion program, with their sons Vincent and Xavier, aiming to milk up to 1900 cows on two properties. This season they will milk 1600 through two rotary sheds. They started using ABS Sexation sexed semen four years ago, with about 100 units and have steadily increased that number each year. From a business perspective, the Parkinsons wanted to get the best results from their investment in sexed semen and decided to hand over responsibility for their entire AI program to ABS Australia. “You can have too many irons in the fire in this game,” David says. “Now Tim Sedgley and his crew do the AI job and we do ours.” ABS Australia’s Warrnambool AI team uses timed blanket inseminations with a 12-day synchronisation program on the herd. All the heifers in the sexed program are joined in one day in an intensive 3-4 hour operation. There are obvious management benefits in the tighter calving pattern that results from a synchronisation program. Calving is out of the way in six weeks to two months, rather than dragging on for up to six months. The Parkinsons have

Shirley and David Parkinson aim to milk up to 1900 cows on two properties.

Get the lowdown on winter grazing Continuing damp conditions across much of Australia’s dairying areas require clever pasture management techniques this season. Good winter ryegrass pasture management optimises growth and ensures high utilisation. Here are some key messages arising from the Project 3030 findings – a project supported by dairy farmer R&D levies through Dairy Australia, WestVic Dairy, GippsDairy, Murray Dairy, Dairy SA, and DemoDAIRY, along with the Gardiner Foundation, the Department of Primary Industries Victoria and the University of Melbourne. Achieve target pasture cover at grazing Use rotational grazing, adjusting the area of pasture offered each milking, to allow the pasture enough time to reach about the 2.5 to three-leaf stage of growth. This will be equivalent to a mass of 2500-2800 kg DM/ha at grazing. If the target mass is not achieved, lengthen the rotation by offering slightly less area per grazing and more supplements. If pastures are looking like they will exceed the target, quicken the rotation by offering slightly more area per grazing and less supplement. This is a key factor in achieving high pasture growth rates over winter and reducing dependence on supplements, which helps curb overall feed costs. Achieve target post-grazing residue Aim for the same level of residual as at other times of the year, 4-6cms between the clumps. Adjust supplement feeding to achieve the desired pasture height after grazing.

Minimise pugging damage Pugged pastures grow less feed for the remainder of the year. While it might not be possible to avoid pugging entirely, minimize the damage by grazing better-drained pastures while wet paddocks dry out. Consider increasing the daily allocation by about one-quarter if a wet paddock must be grazed. However, be aware this will increase the rotation rate and will result in less pasture mass being available in next round if this happens for too long. Use nitrogen tactically Nitrogen fertiliser is applied if the expected response makes it cheaper than the next best feed alternative. When needed, nitrogen is applied at 30-50 kgs nitrogen /ha after grazing. Do not apply nitrogen fertiliser if runoff is likely around the time of application. Cereals All cereals can be grazed at any time from early to late tillering but do not graze cereals while soil is very wet. Grazing can start if plants pass the pluck and twist test. Grab a plant at the anticipated grazing height, then pull and twist. If it snaps off, it should be ready to graze. If it pulls out of the ground it means the plant isn’t ready. Be wary of high nitrate levels in cereals which are leafy. Do not graze with very hungry stock. Graze down to 5 to 10 cm. Grazing cereals at or past stem elongation (a node or hard collar can be felt near the base of the plant) will reduce silage yields. If grazing is to be done after this stage, try to mow/graze well above the top node.

Project 3030 is one of the many examples of the dairy service levy at work. Farmers receive a benefit of $3 for every $1 invested by Dairy Australia on their behalf. For more information on this and other levy investments visit www.dairyaustralia.com.au


22  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

management

High value from four-legged fertiliser spreaders IMPROVING THE management of cow manure provides the single greatest opportunity to improve nutrient efficiency. That’s the message from the Victorian DPI’s Cameron Gourley, who says dairy farmers should start putting a price tag on manure to get the best value from nutrients on dairy farms Dr Gourley is the project leader of the Accounting for Nutrients project – a national study into maximising the production value of nutrients on dairy farms. “Internationally, as dairy farms increase productivity and intensity, the effectiveness of nutrient use declines –

resulting in nutrient surpluses and greater environmental impacts,” Gourley says. “For example, we found on the 44 dairy farms studied, the overall efficiency of nitrogen use ranged from 14 to 50%, averaging 26%.” He says a major factor in causing these low use efficiencies is the excessive

use of bag fertiliser and poor distribution of excreted manure. “Cows are the forgotten fertiliser spreader. Only 20% of the nitrogen and 25% of the phosphorus consumed by cows ends up in milk,” Gourley says. “That means 75 to 80% is excreted in urine and dung and directly deposited by cows.”

Smarter nutrient use could increase farm profitability by $26,000.

For nitrogen, this equates to around 50 tonnes per year for a 300-cow herd and has a value of $60,000 if purchased as fertiliser. Surplus nutrients waste money, particularly as fertiliser prices rise. Gourley estimates that fertiliser costs are likely to continue to rise from increasing demand and

Annual nutrient excretion by lactating cows on the farms surveyed (kg per cow per year). Average Range

Nitrogen (N)

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sulphur

Calcium

Magnesium

140

20

110

14

30

17

65-260

7-43

39-218

6-33

10-68

7-29

Farmers told to ‘keep it simple.’

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FAMILY PARTNERSHIP Rod, Jenny, Andrew, Abbey & Darren LOCATION Nowra (1000 acres) and Cootamundra (1700 acres) HERD All breeds; mainly Holsteins NUMBERS Milk 900 cows all year round ROLLING HERD Average 8750 Litres / 3.9% Fat / 3.2% Protein It seems to have a massive impact on the ability of the cows to transition through stressful times, whether that be calving, feed changes or environmental conditions. They seem not to move on the vat level, nor their appetite. It has also helped our reproduction as well. The cows cycle much stronger and feel much better when we mate them. This is very important in a 900-cow herd, as cows can get missed so easily. The cows look healthy and look like they enjoy doing big litres of milk. Their attitudes in terms of appetite and coming onto the platform are much better. What would you say to a friend who was thinking of investing in Performance - but wasn’t sure? Try the Healthy Calf Plus first and see the benefits that Probiotics can achieve. If this works then progress down the line of products and get rid of antibiotic in your feeds. We like the idea of feeding the cows biologically, rather than relying on antibiotic buffers and ionophores. Live microbial products like Performance are the way of the future for agriculture and we are very happy with the results from this system. Has it saved you time/ money/ effort? How? Darren Crawford with Coolea Goldwyn Lara, Supreme Intermediate Champion (Holstein Female) at this years Sydney Royal Easter Show. PHOTO MELINDA VOXCELL

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DFM for the Milkers, Fire Up in Springer Ration, Healthy Calf Macro in Calf/Heifer Ration and Healthy Calf Plus for the calves getting milk, DFM gels are used for show cows and any crook animals.

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energy costs. The study shows smarter nutrient use could increase profitability on the average dairying property by $26,000 and save the dairy industry $70 million annually. “This is not only about dairy farmers saving money today. It is also about making the Australian dairy industry competitive and sustainable for the long run,” Gourley says. “From a farmers’ perspective, any expenditure on fertiliser that’s not providing production gains is a waste of money.” Visit the project website: www.accounting4nutrients. com.au

What is the major benefit you see in using Performance?

THANKS TO THE CRAWFORD FAMILY FOR THEIR ONGOING SUPPORT OF PERFORMANCE PROBIOTICS.

a large degree that sweet spot is an outcome of 10 years not a target because each year it will shift according to seasonal and market conditions. “There are a lot of good ideas and products out there, but you’ve got to sift through them and find what makes a positive difference to what you do. You should consult, but you have to be judicious about saying no when you need to.” McEachern says seasonal timing is also important. “Two-thirds of your profit will be made in one third of the year so farmers

‘Keep it simple’ is an old adage, but it still works for farmers. Holmes Sackett’s Sandy McEachern says the philosophy is even more important for today’s farmers as they work through a multitude of options. Holmes Sackett is a farm consultancy business which benchmarks the performance of farms to provide performance detail and analysis. McEachern spoke about `What Profitable Farmers Do’ at the recent Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s Farmers should aim annual for high production conference in Hamilton. but not necessarily the His main recommendation highest possible level. is for farmers to adopt simple, cost effective need to make sure their production systems suited system is geared around to the climate. good seasonal and market “Our benchmark conditions when they database shows the most come.” profitable farmers are He says some farmers three times as profitable as have been in “survival the good farmers.” mode” over the past McEachern says he decade. would advise farmers to be “Since 2002, many careful not to chase high farmers have been in production at any cost. drought management but “You should aim for they should look at their high production, but not business plans and have a necessarily the highest good strategy in place for possible level. Producers the better years. need to be very cognisant “Now we’re in a good of the point at which year, with good prices, the extra production is not temptation might be to profitable.” relax a bit. However, that’s He says farmers need to the time they need to work aim for the “sweet spot” really hard to make the where production costs most of it.” don’t outweigh returns. To


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

23

management

Superior genetics at discount prices Stephen Cooke TAKING THE time to herd record has enabled Northern Victorian farmer Dave Revell to access superior genetics at discount prices. The Girgarre sharefarmer runs 180200 Holstein cows on an effective milking area of 50ha at Girgarre, near Kyabram. Milking area will be expanded as water availability improves. Dave pays for a fixed percentage of the grain used in the dairy and receives the same percentage of the milk cheque. He began improving his employer, Lewis Watson’s, herd of cows when he first started 23 years ago. Watson has funded the AI program and the genetic improvement - particularly in the last decade - has paid off in terms of production and a larger milk cheque. “When I first came, I felt the cows were light and narrow, so I used European semen to correct this,” Dave says. “Not knowing what was in the herd prior to my arrival, I chose Euro genetics to put frame back on the cows and to prevent any inbreeding. After a couple of years I switched back to Australian semen.” He has been interested in AI since completing an AI course at the Dookie Agricultural College and still tries his hand (no pun intended) each year, although the majority of AI work is handled by technicians. The spring calvers are inseminated in October each year, while the autumn calvers are joined to bulls. About 70% of the herd are spring calvers. The decision to introduce split calving occurred 12 years ago when Dave decided to join the empty cows that would have been milked through and culled.He can capitalise on higher winter milk prices and also reduce his dependence on water in spring and summer. Water has been a precious commodity in northern Victoria for the past decade. Even though the irrigation system and dams were filled with the summer rain, more rain is required this winter. He says the genetics companies ask their clients to progeny test to improve the performance figures of their bulls. “I saw it as a way of improving my herd at a reduced cost,” Dave says. “You get the first opportunity to use the good bulls. I paid $8 a straw for some of my recent ge-

Dave Revell runs 180-200 Holstein cows at Girgarre

ing more milk at the same stage. Dave Revell He also uses ABS Where: Global’s Cornerstone Girgarre program, which he What: has applied across Herd recording a quarter of his cow herd annually for the past 20 years. The progeny-test program aims to identify superior sires netics and they are now worth $22.” He records information about the by assessing their daughters’ performresulting progeny test calves when they ance under commercial conditions. The information collated is used are born and again when they come into the herd. He is paid incentives by his ge- to evaluate the sires for more than 30 netics supplier, ABS Global, along the traits including production, manageway for each calf. This equates to about ment, durability and conformation to ensure each generation is superior to $30/cow. Dave says it takes 15 minutes to the last. ABS says about one in 10 bulls inrecord the necessary data and he enters it straight into the Easy Dairy program volved in the progeny test program go on his computer. There are further on to become proven sires. With higher feed and irrigation costs benefits as the Easy Dairy program immediately shows the full history of the during the decade of drought, keeping a cow’s mother and whether it is produc- lid on expenses is highly important to Who:

Dave and another attraction of the Cor- daughters averaged 3.4 per cent protein and 4.4 per cent fat with an average PI of nerstone program. “Cost is a big priority for me. I usually 103. Their dams’ PI at the same age only pay $8/straw and buy 40 to 45 doses of averaged 92,” he says. “Their temperament is also outstanding and proof that progeny test semen a year. “I use all the PT semen first before PT programs can pay huge dividends.    “People sometimes say to me ‘what starting on the proven bulls,” he says. “The average bulls I use otherwise cost about the risks, you don’t know what you’re getting’ but me between $18 I don’t think there and $24/straw.” “Cost is a big priority are any risks,” Over the years, he has been one for me. I usually pay $8/ Dave says. “With the genetic adof the first dairy straw and buy 40 to 45 vancements that farmers with have been made, some outstanding doses of progeny test the chances of genetics includ- semen a year.” getting an absoing daughters by lutely useless cow Pontiff (a high component Donor son), Dr Seuss and at are very remote. I’ve never had a bull I present has six heifers by Throttle who, wouldn’t use again.” Although every bull isn’t a winner, he in April, will become the first domestibelieves with the genetic advances that cally proven Shottle son. The Throttle heifers are the highest have been made, even those animals that don’t make the grade can have a classified daughters in Australia.    “They really are top quality. The beneficial impact on herds.

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three times greater than SUMMER GROWN maize an average irrigated dairy has proven the most water farm of only 0.8 t DM/ML.” efficient forage in a recent He says while good three-year trial. yield stability of perennial The new study has forage species is crucial shown a 300% difference for long-term productivity, in water use efficiency good yield stability is also between forage species crucial for maintaining under ideal growing high WUE over time. conditions. It also shows Over the three years of summer grown maize the study prairie grass, is the most water use kikuyu, paspalum and efficient forage, chicory had the most stable producing 4.3 tonnes yield, with WUE for prairie dry matter per megalitre grass ranging from 2.5 t of water consumed (t DM/ML in year one, to 2.1 t DM/ML), while the least DM/ML in year one. efficient is summer grown In contrast, perennial cowpea, which produces ryegrass, plantain, red and 1.4 t DM/ML. white clover were the least The study was led by Dr stable in yield, with WUE James Neal (pictured left), of perennial ryegrass research agronomist with decreasing from 2.7 t DM/ Industry & Investment ML in year 1 to only 1.6 t NSW, who says water use efficiency (WUE) is a useful DM/ML in year 3, with the decline in WUE being assoway to measure the ability ciated with a sharp decline of a plant to convert all the in plant density over the consumed water (rainfall, first summer. irrigation and soil water “The decline in plant extraction) into grazeable, density of perennial plant dry matter for dairy ryegrass together with the cows. poor tolerance to high temNeal says a key finding peratures typically experiis the strong relationship between yield and WUE for enced over the summer, led to a decline in production both annuals and perenand WUE, particularly in nial forage species. late summer and autumn,” “The implication is that Neal says. the greatest improvements “While white clover was in WUE on farm will be achieved by targeting strat- able to maintain ground cover under optimum irriegies that increase yield per hectare rather than trying to reduce water use per hectare”, he says. Perennial ryegrass is “The dairy less than half as water industry’s challenge is to efficient as maize. produce the biggest bucket of milk from every bucket of water.” gation, numerous diseases The Dairy Australiaand pests were probably backed research was conducted over three years responsible for its declining productivity and WUE at Camden, NSW. This was the world’s largest irrigated by year 3.” Neal says the water forage comparison for conversion efficiencies WUE with some 32 forage recorded in the trial are species and 284 plots, which allowed the creation much higher than the industry-standard of 0.8 of a league table for forage tonne per megalitre, which WUE. highlights the potential The harvested annual forages such as maize, of correct water, fertiliser and pasture management wheat, triticale, and maple to substantially improve peas generally had higher WUEs. WUEs than the remaining “The gap between poforages typically used for tential and actual pasture grazing. production provides an inWhile perennial ryecentive for farmers to raise grass dominates the feed the benchmark to pursue base on Australian dairy higher yields and hence farms, its WUE was less higher WUEs,” he says. than half of maize at only “It should be remem2.1 t DM/ML. bered that while yield Neal says changing and WUE are important forages to improve WUE criterion for choosing isn’t necessary – as better dairy forages, they are only forage management could two factors in a complex do the job just as well. system, and choice of for“Removing the limitaages must be considered on tions of water and soil a whole-farm basis and infertility and optimizing clude nutritive value, cost management led to perenof production and risk.” nial pasture WUEs up to


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

25

Animal Health Condons stay down for the count in Gerroa CONSISTENTLY WINNING a place in the top 100 Australian farms for their low bulk milk cell count (BMCC) during the past 10 years might suggest fourth and fifth-generation famers, Paul and Frank Condon, have a fail-proof formula up their sleeves. However, according to the father and son duo from Gerroa on the NSW South Coast, staying on top of mastitis requires a careful combination of herd health, hygiene, milking plant maintenance and solid genetics – rather than any secret to success. “Everyone knows what they have to do to keep their counts down,” says Frank. “It’s just a matter of doing it, every time, all the time.” The Condons run 110 head of Holsteins on 61ha, with an annual yield of around 8000 litres/cow. This year, they again find themselves in the top 100 BMCC performers across the country, as judged in Dairy Australia’s Milk Quality Awards. And while the property, Sea Breeze Holsteins, is on prime land overlooking a wide arc of beach, high coastal rainfall means staying on top of environmental mastitis is no walk in the sand. “We’ve had a bit over five inches already this winter,” explains Paul, “so there’s a lot of mud and moisture to deal with. We keep the herd clean by maintaining our laneways and varying our yard approaches, but it really just comes down to staying on top of it.” “Wet winters are not easy,” Frank adds. “You do all the things you normally do; except you have to do them better.” Mud aside, the Condons teat spray every cow after milking, using an eighta-side double-up automatic take-off system, as well as taking individual cell counts with the Dairy Express herd recording program. “A lot of farmers don’t teat seal all cows at each lactation and don’t take a reading of every cow’s count, but we’ve found that works for us over the years – so we keep doing it,” Paul says. Cows that have previously returned a high count are milked last. If they’re still returning a high reading after three or four days, they are immediately treated with antibiotics and dried off. “There are a few different ways of dealing with high-count cows, but we

Paul and Frank Condon teat spray cow after milking and take individual cell counts with the Dairy Express herd recording program.

prefer to milk them last to avoid crosscontamination and keep a close eye on them after that.” The Condons also avoid wetting the teats, unlike many farmers who wash and dry them before every milking. “We find adding water creates more problems than it solves, so we avoid it altogether,” Paul explains, adding that they still wash and dry the cows when they’re dirty. “What works on one farm might not work on another, so we do what works best for us. Our process these days is definitely a product of much trial and error over the years.” With more than 50 years of dairy farming under Frank’s belt, the Condons arguably have a lot of trial and error to work with. But that doesn’t see the older farmer pulling any punches when it comes to herd management.

NEW

consistently low BMCC. “Good udders are very important,” Frank says. “Low, swinging udders just don’t work, so we avoid them through good genetics. The same goes for legs; they need to be strong and straight or there will be problems.” Who: As one of eight Condon family other local farms Where: contracted to Bega Gerroa Cheese, the ConWhat: dons say their long Mastitis prevention relationship with the company has also helped their low count record. “We made the decision to go with The herd at Sea Breeze is all registered stud Holsteins, and holds the sta- Bega in 1988 and it was the best move tus as a Master Breeder herd. It makes we ever made,” Frank says. “Like most processors, they offer sense then, that the Condons credit their AI breeding program with their financial incentives for maintaining “Age is an important one,” he says drily. “Like old people, old cows just have more problems, so if they develop high counts after their fifth or sixth lactation, we’re pretty quick to cull them.”

low bulk counts, and we’ve never been penalised for having a count over their benchmark of 250,000 cells/ml.” “But the best thing is they come and check our plant at least once every 12 months, which is very important when it comes to having the right vacuum pressure at the teat end.” Switching to an automated take-off system eight months ago means the Condon’s set-up is still relatively new to them. But it’s been a welcome upgrade so far. “It’s been pretty good and like the manual take-off we were using before, really just requires a bit of experience and consistent hygiene and it all works fine,” Paul says. “Turns out you can still learn something new,” Frank adds quietly. “You can never really stop improving.” • SA farmers finish in top 100 pg 29

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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

27

animal health

Accurate calving dates help smooth transition plan IT’S JULY and the spring calving cows are enjoying a great rest out in the dry paddock. However, for dairy farmers, the work doesn’t stop when the cows go out. The dry period is an important time of repair and regenanimal health eration, and the dry period rob bonanno ends as the cow transitions transition tend not to occur into her next lactation. Massive improvements in isolation. One problem at or around have been made in the understanding of the meta- calving time predisposes to bolic changes that occur in another, and another, and those last weeks of the dry even if successfully treated, period and the first days of the longer term effects on reproductive performance the new lactation. Widespread uptake of can be quite marked. For example, a retained lead feeding has been responsible for reductions set of foetal membranes, in metabolic diseases and or case of mastitis can put has kick-started lactations a cow off colour enough to by enhancing rumen adap- stop them eating. It has long been known tion. There have been literally that problems related to enthousands of articles writ- ergy balance at or around ten on the topic of Transi- calving may lead to distion dairy cows. To try to eases like Ketosis. Ketosis cover all the knowledge at calving greatly increases that has been accumulated the risk of poor reproducon the topic of transition tive performance (prodiets and management is longed periods of anovuway beyond the capability lation) and complications like LDA. of this article. A well co-ordinated transition plan can help to Widespread uptake smooth out the of lead feeding has time of a cow’s lifecycle where been responsible most of the prob- for reductions in lems are likely to metabolic diseases. occur. The period eiMilk fever at calving is ther side of calving is also known as the periparturi- another metabolic disease ent period. Diseases of the that is commonly impliperiparturient period are cated in the cascade of peria cause of economic loss parturient disease. This is why managing and poor reproductive performance in the following feed intake (energy and protein balance) with a lactation. Over the years practic- well-planned lead feeding in Victoria, one of the ing program and rapidly biggest differences I have detecting and treating the noticed compared to the diseases and disorders that herds I worked with in occur at this critical time NSW (which were year- can reap great returns. Understanding the conround calving herds) and when I was in the USA cept that any disease or (which was a very large disorder at calving can herd with great systems, snowball out of control is perfected over years) is how why such effort has been few herds have accurate expended on better understanding the critical time of calving dates. This is often compound- transition and why putting ed by the pregnancy diag- in place robust protocols nosis being done late, when to identify the critical conit is difficult to be more ac- trol points and manage curate than plus or minus them will reap great animal health and economic benone month. This is important be- efits Monitoring urine pH cause most of the strategies for managing transition re- in close up cows to assess quire a reasonably accurate the success of anionic salt calving date. For example, feeding, testing transition too long or too short peri- cow NEFA levels, or ods on lead feed can cause frequent monitoring for metabolic problems. More ketones in fresh cows, are importantly, diseases of some of the successful

strategies that can be implemented to monitor energy balance. Regular and co-ordinated monitoring for mastitis and metritis in the fresh herd and checking cows for LDA are also worth consideration, especially if these diseases are occurring at levels higher than anticipated. Bringing your local dairy vet into the team with

your nutritional advisor to develop a good transition diet and to implement management strategies that allow for the early detection and treatment of periparturient diseases will ensure the transition period from dry cow to peak lactation is as smooth as possible. It will also ensure production and reproductive targets can be met.

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28 

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

animal health

Top 100

Change liners every six months THE ARRIVAL of winter is a good time

to change the teat cup liners in the dairy plant. Dairy Australia Countdown Downunder project leader, Dr John Penry, says liners should be changed every four to six months, or after 2500 cow-milkings – whichever comes sooner. “The age of liners is calculated in terms of cow-milkings and the Countdown Downunder Farm Guidelines show how to calculate liner life in cow milkings. However, if you haven’t changed them in the past six months, now is the time,” Penry says. He says as a rule of thumb, if you notice an improvement in milking performance after replacing liners, the old ones were used for too long. “Using liners for too many milkings increases risk of teat end damage and concurrent mastitis infection.”

Subtle and progressive damage can occur over several weeks and may only be detected by careful examination and scoring of teats and teat ends. “The liner is the most important part of the milking machine as far as the cow is concerned, because it is the only part of the plant in direct contact with the teat during milking,” Penry says. Cows are attached to machines for 50100 hours every lactation, so there is plenty of opportunity for teat damage if there is any problem with the milking system. Trying to squeeze a few more weeks or months from the liners in a dairy is almost always a poor option. As liners age, their shape, tension and surface condition changes gradually. Both the internal surface and milking performance of liners tend to deteriorate more quickly once they reach their designated use-by date.

The Countdown

Down Under Milk Quality Awards started 20 years ago as a Gippslandbased competition before it became a national competition in 2000. The awards are based on bulk milk cell count (BMCC) data supplied to the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme by all dairy companies across Australia. The monthly averages for each farm are used to calculate an annual BMCC.

The awards serve to recognize the efforts of farmers in improving udder health, the overall quality of milk produced in Australia and inevitably their profits. The top 5% of farmers across the nation with the lowest BMCC are acknowledged and from this comes the top 100 farmers in the country. Dairy News Australia congratulates all those acknowledged.

Gippsland Alan & Judith Bacon

Kelvin Burgess

Robert & Denise Clench

Ronald, Penelope & Danny Fenton

Gerald, Teresa & James Coleman

Greg & Julie Frankcombe, Geoffrey & Lisa House

Robert & Merryn, Peter & Sheryn Cutler

Len & Loretta Goss

Ron & Alison Douch Judy Grant Jim Harvey Bruce & Lynda Heywood Peter & David Jeffries Gordon & Kerry MacAulay Henry & Lola McKenzie

Arthur & Jennifer Bradley Stuart & Jill Cameron Cosimo & Rosie Cavallaro

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Rodney & Nicole May Rodney & Kellie Oates John Parravicini Jenny Trigwell Glenys & Peter Wright

Western Victoria Phil & Jenny Ayres Trevor & Carolyn Beasley

Mario & Nancy, Paul and Matthew Demase

Fred & Maree Clarke, Danny Clarke & Bronwyn Hain

Robert & Ann Fisher, Shirley Ross

Phil & Robyn Couch, Paul & Michelle Fowler

Fay & Peter Hansen

Vicky Curran, Neil Kent

Jeff Harrower

Les & Lois Daff

Jon & Nadine Holland

Harry & Brenda Elliott

Bruce & Jane McNaughton

Gregory Ferrari

Sue Merkel

Paul & Karen Finlayson

Stephen & Lynda Quast

Steven Gleeson

Malcolm Star

Mary, Robert & Helen Grieve

Ian & Deirdre Williams

Queensland Keith & Sandra Dagan Barry & Gwen Heilig

Jennifer Hand Mac & Deb Jones Anthony Kavanagh

Des, Cheryl & Keith Trevor

Antonius & Danielle Kokshoorn

Noel & Fay, Grant & Kylie Wieck

AJ & LM Leeson

Dallas, Adrian, Glen & Melvyn Zischke

Darren & Camilla Moloney

South Australia

John & Donna Madden Robert, Teresa & Rachael Morey

Jack Bramley

Mick Nolan

Arthur Crompton

Graeme & Robyn Pleming

Graeme, Trevor, Kevin & Laurel Golding

Colin & Annette Price

Kym Pocock, Angela Yeates

Craig & Annette Smart

Gary & Sue Slade

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Richard & Erica Moody

Don & Linda Bowers

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Ben Letchford

Harold & Mark Griffiths

Rob & Jill Beecroft

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Harold, Joan & Bevan Harrison

Graham Manning

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Paul & Maxine Condon , Frank & Carol Condon

Jack & Helen Wright

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Terry & Kaye, Matthew & Angela Brett

Donald Warner

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Kevin Beal

NSW

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Norris & Barbara, Martin & Joanne Nailer

Charles & Janice Pinch

Bruno & Maria Turra

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Brian & Julie Margots

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Noel & Barbara Tonkin

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Rocky & Wendy Murdica

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Edward, Elizabeth, Neil & Nigel Harrison

Rod & Gayle Moss

Neil & Vicky Smith

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Stephen & Sharon Fowlie

Gerald, Teresa & Matthew Coleman

Eric & Eugenia Deppeler

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Tasmania

GJ Robertson Tim Taylor Keith & Murray Taylor Hans & Suzanne Vogel


IN UDDER WORDS... Metricheck™ your herd for a clean return to pregnancy

Angela Yeats and Kym Pocock have strategically culled their herd from 180-150 milking cows during the last decade.

Preventative approach cuts cell count on SA farm Katherine Lindh PROMPT DETECTION, instant treatment, attention to detail and strategic culling have pushed SA husband and wife team Kym Pocock and Angela Yeates into the top 100 of the annual Dairy Australia Milk Quality Awards. It is the fourth year in a row the Echunga couple has recorded an annual average bulk milk cell count (BMCC) in the lowest 5% of the country. Kym and Angela had an average BMCC of 80-90,000 cells/ml per month for the year. The couple milks 150 Friesians in a seasonal calving herd on their 90ha farm. Pocock says prompt detection, instant treatment; attention to detail and strategic culling have contributed to maintaining a low BMCC in the herd. “Our figures have gradually improved over the last 10 years,” he says. “While I can’t put a finger on one reason, it is a combination of factors which have helped keep the BMCC down. “During this time, we have strategically culled our herd number from 180 to 150 milking cows, which has allowed us to manage the cows we have more effectively. This has also taken the pressure off, which means we can concentrate on the business thoroughly.” He says they have been more efficient with detection and prompt treatment of mastitis and used consultants to analyse results, as well as vets to check the animals on a regular basis.

“In the past, we used dry cow treat only on high cell count cows, but now we treat every cow in the herd at dry off. While this is expensive initially, if it reduces clinical mastitis, it is beneficial to cow health and milk quality in the long run. “We also use “teatseal” at dryoff for every cow, which in the past, we only did to problem cows. This process has helped dramatically reduce the number of clinical cases at calving.”

In 2010, the couple had an average BMCC of 80-90,000 cells/ml per month. The highest recorded in the past few months has been 113,000 cells/ml per month, but this has been attributed to a large influx of fresh cows. “Our BMCC remains fairly consistent over 12 months, with spikes

Who:

Kym Pocock and Angela Yeates Where:

Echunga What:

Mastitis prevention

Up to four calving paddocks are used each season to reduce bacterial load.

during calving and at dry off when there are a large number of stale cows,” he says. Pocock has been in the dairy industry for more than 30 years, taking over from his father 23 years ago. Yeates says attention to detail is what has made the business successful to date. “We supply to National Foods, and we have always reached the top quality bracket for their requirements,” she says. “It is a personal goal of Kym’s to produce top quality milk, and he is always reading articles, asking questions and giving new ideas a go to strive for this quality. “Kym uses industry current best practice. He uses up to four calving paddocks each season to reduce bacterial load. It is his attention to detail which has meant the BMCC has remained under 150 for the last 5 years,” she says. When asked what Pocock would recommend to other farmers wanting to reduce their BMCC, he says not to be afraid of seeking outside help and feedback from your vet or a consultant. “There are always ongoing changes in the industry and different treatments available. Prevention is better than a cure, so seek advice from your vet, and always treat clinical cases promptly.” Pocock says sometimes it is hard to detach yourself emotionally from the animals and you need an outside perspective to help make clear and objective decisions. “It’s also about being aware of your animals and responding to issues and maintain where you’re at with your business,” he says.

Undetected uterine infection after calving can wreak havoc on fertility and delay return to pregnancy – but many producers do not realise their cows have a problem. Coopers® Animal Health Technical Services manager Jane Morrison said producers should work with their vets on reproductive health. “Uterine infection, or endometritis, is a common cause of infertility which leads to reduced conception rates and prolonged intercalving intervals if it isn’t treated. With nearly 20% of cows within seasonally calving dairy herds at risk, the affect on fertility can have a significant economic impact,” she said. At risk cows include those that have retained foetal membranes, suffered dystocia, delivered a dead calf or a calf that died within 24 hours of birth, and cows that have had a vaginal discharge more than 13 days after calving. However, any cow can develop endometritis in the post-partum period and should be examined before mating to ensure that they are treated effectively. Mrs Morrison said that checking the whole herd, using Metricheck, will help ensure that any problems can be picked up. Cows identified with a problem can then be treated. “Sometimes it can be hard to find these infected cows, but with the Metricheck device inserted intravaginally, they are quickly detected. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment is often pretty easy.” “If these infected cows aren’t detected, they often cycle normally and have similar submission rates to the remainder of the herd. Fertility problems won’t become obvious until pregnancy testing, when a significant proportion of at risk cows will be late or empty,” Mrs Morrison explained. Metricheck makes checking the herd simple. “Metricheck is a quick and easy way to diagnose vaginal pus which allows large numbers of cows to be examined in a relatively short period of time,” she said. “It’s a very convenient way to help the vet identify cows needing treatment, and can be easily incorporated into whole herd fertility examinations.” Producers should work with their vets for effective diagnosis and treatment of endometritis to help get cows in calf earlier and reduce reproductive losses. Tips for Endometritis management 1. Record ‘at risk’ cows at calving. 2. Examine ‘at risk’ cows 2-4 weeks postpartum. Your vet can recommend an intrauterine treatment for affected cows. 3. Metricheck the whole herd a month prior to mating starting date and talk to your vet about treatment for any that test positive. For more information on Metricheck, visit www.coopersanimalhealth.com.au or contact us on 1800 885 576 ™ Trademark ® Registered Trademark


30 

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

machinery & products

Automation helps Gippsland growth about the advantages of “WE WANT to grow big crossbreds”. heifers,” says Ross Edgar “We have a self-refrom Gormandale, in placing herd, but we buy West Gippsland, about in the odd cow to top half way between Traralup the genetics. We are gon and Yarram. “So it’s selecting for a higher a high inputs business percentage of fat and here.” protein and at the moThe way the Edgar family want to achieve their working clothes ment we are getting over chris dingle 600kg of solids.” targets is to automate They milk through their dairy farm as much an 18 double-up shed at Timbs Crossing as possible. Edgar and his wife, Tam, farm in and an 8 double-up at Kingslea, so not partnership with his parents, Ron and surprisingly milking can take between Heather. The main property is 130ha at 5 and 6 hours. Five full-time staff are employed for Timbs Crossing about 5km out of Gormandale, and 100ha at the home farm milking as well as a couple of other cas‘Kingslea’ on the outskirts of Gormand- ual workers. “The major thing is to free us up, so ale. They also maintain run-off properthat we can spend time with the family,” ties about 20km away for cropping. Ron and Heather came to this prop- Edgar says. They are big grain feeders; 2500kg erty in 1977, at that time they had 36ha and leased the place next door, milking per cow, per year. “We buy in a lot of feed, so we operin the ubiquitous walk-through dairy of ate our own truck, which makes it $40 the time. “It’s interesting,” says Ross. “That’s – 50 per tonne cheaper.” Ron drives the the way we started and in a few years truck. Edgar sums up the philosophy of we’ll be back to that system – with rothe partnership; “We want to do the botics.” Ross Edgar has been involved with best job we can with what we have, and the farm partnership since he left that’s where the electronic and autoschool and they now have 8oo milkers, matic machinery works, to help us out with split calving – autumn and spring. as we’ve grown.” Their automation started with a couThe herd is mainly Holsteins with some crossbreds, but he’s “not convinced ple of Lely CALM calf feeders. Kuhn Ag & Arable Frm Combi - Half Page_Layout 1

COMBILINER

Ross Edgar with one of the two Lely Cosmix M automatic feeders the family owns. The feeders read ID tags and ration out the correct amount of grain accordingly.

“We got our first in 2005, then the second one a couple of years later. We now have a third about to be installed.” The Edgars feed the calves colostrum for five days, then move them into the calf shed with the automatic feeders. “This autumn we raised all our bull calves and we have 166 on the automatic calf feeders at the moment. We’ll have 200 in spring; we keep all our heifers.” The high demand for beef has cre02/03/2011 17:05 Page 1 ated the desirability of raising the bull calves. They mark them at anywhere between two and 10 weeks, depending on the workload. The automatic calf feeder supplies the correct portion of either milk powder and hot water or fresh milk during the day, resembling the natural behaviour of the calf, instead of the manual system when it is restricted to once or twice a day. It recognizes the animals from their ID ear tag and knows exactly how much milk the calf should have. Due to this individual recognition, the shed has two groups feeding from each machine. “We have 85 calves on one machine at the moment and 81 on the other, in pens of about 40. When we turn up after milking, we only have to look after the sick calves, if any. It’s a twice-a-day 0988-GAM-PRESSENRU-FR

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Ross Edgar with his family’s Lely CALM calf feeders. A third is about to be installed. Disc coulter

“We would love to do robotic milking and we will move that way. We need to be more financially secure, but we’ve done the budgets and it all stacks up. We were actually ready a couple of years ago, before the dairy crash. “Voluntary robotic milking is a very logical way to go. In spring we have to lock the cows in the paddock during the day. They’re full of milk and want to come up to be It recognizes the animals from milked.” their ID ear tag and knows Before that next step is taken, the Edgars have exactly how much milk the calf plans to build a 50 stall should have. rotary at Timbs Crossing. All the steel is already Lely Cosmix M automatic feeders. They there from a disassembled shed. They operate in a similar way to the CALM will retain the rotary and the robots will calf feeders, reading the ID tag and ra- probably be installed at Kingslea. “That’s in the future. We’re not settioning out the correct ration of grain and protein (canola and lupins, plus ting too many goals. I’d love to say next additives) for each calf – after they’ve year, but the reality is that it’s a couple of years off. We’re all in agreement regard‘graduated’ from the calf shed. The Lely Cosmix immediately as- ing the technical progress. It’s purely a sesses if the heifer should eat, and how financial decision – you have to crawl much. No feed is wasted, because feed before you run.” Working Clothes will focus on the is dispensed according to her eating speed. Each machine can look after 70 performance of a new machine in the paddock each month. Send suggestions calves. Ross Edgar says that they will eventu- to Chris Dingle on 0417 735 001 or email chris@springbankfarm.com.au ally have six on the farm. management tool. “We still think putting up with the downside is worthwhile. I like to set up my own trials with things like fortified milk rations. The calves are fed ad-lib grain in the calf shed and exit it in about six weeks.” The Edgars’ focus on automation has seen them now move into two new

3 Parallelogram design for controlled seeding depth at high speeds. 4 Depth control and press wheel to ensure sound seed-soil contact.

KUHN’s high-speed pneumatic combination drills are designed with the versatility to operate on ploughed or unploughed land and have rapidly become popular with farmers and contractors alike. The COMBILINER Venta NC leads the range, combining the established Venta pneumatic technology with the latest HR1004 series power harrow. The innovative SEEDFLEX coulter bar that is so advantageous is now also available on Venta LC and Moduliner drills.

mixers are capable of passing where a 70 hp tractor 1

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•Vertical Augers suitable for all rations (2). •Compact dimensions: height 2.55m and 2.40m width for the model 14 m3 (3). •Electronic programmable weighing system: 80 programmable rations and 15 different ingredients (4).

Drilling is 50% of successful crop production, so the ease of adjustment, consistency in seeding depth, speed and reliability provided by KUHN’s range is vital. www.kuhn-seedliner.com www.kuhn.co.uk

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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

31

machinery & products

Time saver mixes on the way out TONY BENNY DUTCH FARM machinery company Schouten’s newly available feeder wagon promises to save farmers both time and money, the company says. The Schouten VDW Quickfeed feeding wagon can take a mixture of feeds, e.g. silage, maize and palm kernel – for mixing and feeding out in the paddock. “You put your product in it, you go to your paddock, then you start up the machine and you start to feed out

straight away,” says Schouten’s New Zealand representative Marcel can Hazendonk. “With a mixer wagon you have to start up the tractor first and the mixer, then you have to fill it up and it has to be going the whole time till you’re finished because you cannot turn it off. “This one, you can turn it off, go somewhere else or leave it for a few hours and start again.” Large-scale dairy farmer Roel Wobben, at West Eyreton, Canterbury, NZ, has just bought one of the Schouten

“You put product in, go to your paddocks, start up the machine and feed out straight away.” machines. “It’s a cross between a silage wagon and a mixer wagon but mixer wagons are very expensive and heavy, whereas this is like a normal silage wagon and it mixes as it goes,” Wobben says. Designed for use in feedlots in Europe, the Quickfeed wagon has been modified for New Zealand with the ad-

dition of a tandem axle and wide tyres to protect pasture. It has onboard weighing and can be operated from the tractor cab. The mixed feed can be delivered out either side. “The company has been going 30 years in the Netherlands,” van Hazendonk says.

Farmers with Dutch connections are among his first customers and the word is starting to spread. “For us the most important thing is looking after the customer – we’re set up with the parts if something goes wrong.” Australian farmers can put orders for the feeder wagons through: www.schoutenmachines.co.nz

Fibrous waste kept in line SMARTER... LELY HAS ALL THE ANSWERS!

EFFLUENT GEAR from

GEA Farm Technologies is saving a Waikato, NZ, dairying couple hours every week. Simon and Joanne Belton, Matamata, own a 73ha (eff.) 300-cow farm and their intensive operation has required a sustainable, economic effluent solution. Three years ago, after milking two herds on separate farms, they decided to maximise the return off the land they had rather than buying the lease block the other herd was on. This involved a big spend on the home farm, including a 40-bail Westfalia rotary shed and a feed pad capable of handling cows milked all year round, with individual cows dried off 50 days prior to calving. The cows’ diet is based on Keenan approach: high fibre in the form of straw acting as a rumen buffer for other feeds, addressing carbohydrate, starch, protein and energy requirements. Those feeds have included kiwifruit, soda grain, soy meal and maize silage. The regime delivers record production – 146,000kgMS off 300 cows for 2010-2011, but also fibre dense effluent that typical effluent irrigators cannot cope with. Says Belton, “Before we went with the GEA system I would have spent an hour a day during spring unblocking nozzles and pump heads. It couldn’t manage the slurry going through.” The GEA system includes Houle pumps and components designed specifically for effluent management. A Houle Agi-Pump with a 16” chopper propeller transfers feed pad waste to a slope screen separator. “To get the most out

LELY COMPEDES: The Lely Compedes rubber flooring system provides the ideal surface for cows to walk on. No Slip-Ups!

LELY CALM: Automatic calf feeder, the best start for calves.

of effluent you need to separate the solids from the liquid stream,” Belton says. Effluent with any sort of solids going into a storage pond is simply too difficult to manage later on, and only transfers the problem.”

GEA Farm Technologies effluent expert Murray McEwan says slope separators are not new technology, but the beauty of the GEA design is no moving parts, no augers or motors that can break down. Belton will use the dry

solids on the 17ha of maize he grows every year. “Last year we spent $25,000 on fertiliser for maize. If we apply this and need no other fertiliser I can save about 5c/kgDM on the maize cost.” Tel. (03) 9335 9533

LELY COSMIX-M: Concentrated feeding to fit environment and puts an end to overeating.

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32  

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

machinery & products

Benchmark your machinery purchases

new products chris dingle THE AUSTRALIAN Fodder Industry Association is about to launch a program it believes will help farmers make better decisions when purchasing machinery. The Machinery Benchmarking program is designed to allow farmers to easily calculate whether a potential machinery investment or changeover is worthwhile. One of its features analyses a business’s level of machinery ownership in comparison to turnover, to see whether it is leveraging its machinery investment successfully. “It’s like a health check for a contracting business or a farm with considerable machinery investment”, says Nick McClelland, Industry Development Manager for AFIA. “This percentage of machinery ownership to turnover will tell you whether you can afford to invest in more machinery.” The program can be used to identify ways a business can change their machinery investments to more sustainable levels.

Heads up on ATVs THE ATV is a common sight on virtually every dairy farm, so operators need to be aware the mandatory wearing of helmets, while driving them around the property, is about to become law. WorkSafe Victoria is seeking voluntary compliance with the new rules, but failing to comply with a ‘safety improvement notice’ may lead to prosecution. In New Zealand, the authorities there ran a campaign based on “If you think it’s tough being a farmer, try doing it from a wheelchair.” Worth thinking about!

Dairy confidence is good for the towns

Confidence in the dairy sector has fuelled ATV and second-hand tractor purchases.

IT’S BEEN a great June for Rhys Evans at Colac, according to salesman Sean McGuane who says the growing confidence in the dairy industry has given sales a boost. “It was mainly ATVs and some tractors – new and second-hand. Last year was tough, but the wet year has made ATVs very popular. “Our early order program has been received well by both contractors and farmers, but it will be in August and September that we’ll see the majority of orders. McGuane says most people are optimistic, and he’s predicting a really good year. “We’ve geared up heavily, particularly with hay tools because we know there is a problem with supply and there’ll be no ‘top-ups’ available. “What we’ve got now is what we’ll get. We knew that!” Farmers he has talked to are really positive; “the dairy industry is hugely important and the confidence here will be very good for the town.” Over at PFG Australia, Tim Lawrence says mower-conditioners are

starting to arrive and his inclination is to look early at what you want, rather than to leave it to the last minute. “Having said that, McHale balers are in good supply and delivery won’t be a problem.”

Large width seeding with precision KUHN HAS released a new, largewidth seeder that they claim offers a high level of precision. The new RXL precision seed drill can sow up to a width of nine metres and still provide a three metre transport width. It can be fitted with 9, 10 or 12 rows and seeding can be carried out over a width ranging from 6.75m to 9m. That equates to a work output up to 60ha per day, which will make it attractive for large dairy farms and contractors. Depending on the configuration, the foldable frame is fitted with extensions made up of either one piece beams over a transport width of 4.40m, single telescopic beams for a transport width of 3.5m, or double telescopic beams for a transport width of three metres. The seed drill is designed in three

BEFORE AND AFTER USING ACRAFLEX WALL & FLOOR COATINGS. IT’S YOUR ANSWER? What is Acraflex? The Acraflex Wall & Floor Coating System is a pure Acrylic Hi Build 5 coat system combined with a solvent glaze finish that provides a hard, durable, attractive, easy to clean surface which is ideally suited for the harsh working conditions Where to Apply The Acraflex System is used extensively throughout the dairy industry, in abattoirs,food processing and fish processing plants. It’s Tough The Acraflex System is acid and alkali resistant and all dirt and grime is easily washed away without the use of high

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pressure cleaners and time consuming physical methods It’s Quick Our fully experienced applicators can apply the Acraflex System to your shed in between milkings, no down time is needed to transform your work environment and with minimal disruption to production. It’s Guaranteed The Acraflex System can transform your workplace quickly and effectively. Select from our range of colours and enjoy the many benefits it will make to your environment, including ultimate protection of wall and floor surfaces that will be fully guaranteed for up to ten 10 years PO Box 1135, Warragul, VIC 3820 brett@btpaintdec.com.au www.btpaintdec.com.au

independent sections, for improved ground contour following. Depending on the configuration, it can be fitted either with wheels at the front for stony soils, or at the rear for soil with less carrying capacity. Options include their KMS 412 control box for seeding management from the tractor cab, a front mounted fertilizer hopper and a pneumatic centralized microgranulator to reduce the risk of clogging. You can find out more from Kuhn on (03) 9873 5267.

Tractor sales bubbling along THE LAST month hasn’t seen much change in tractor and machinery orders says Alan Kirsten at Agriview, but “the spectre of supply limitations is still there”. “Dealers generally haven’t been run off their feet with ‘end-of-financialyear’ orders, but pre-selling for 2012 is bubbling along. “There is still some nervousness overseas from the Global Financial Crisis and a level of artificial capping has led to the revolving theme of mak-

ing sure farmers are planning ahead for their requirements. “In Japan we’re just now seeing the effects of the earthquake on component manufacturers – it’s caught up.”

New guys on the block CROP PACKAGING company Tapex has appointed a couple of new territory managers to lift their customer service to both the resellers and dairy farmers. Jason Parker is based at Murray Bridge and will look after all of South Australia, including Kangaroo Island. Meanwhile, Nick Cooper is responsible for northern and central NSW from his home-base at Orange. Both commenced in March and have big areas to cover. They say that they are glad to have started in the off-season so they can start building relationships before the hay and silage season really takes off. If you need to sort out your twine, net and silage film issues in these areas Jason is on 0447 848 616 and Nick can be reached at 0407 130 133. Contact Chris on 0417 735 001 or email chris@springbankfarm.com.au

in brief New drenching gun less work THE EZI Squeeze Cattle Pour-On drench gun has a 70mL capacity and is suitable for all cattle pour-on products. Its manufacturer, Instrument Supplies, says the new SoftLock valve technology gives improved refill of the gun and only requires 60% of the usual effort to squeeze the trigger. The selector dosage on the 70mL Ezi Squeeze drench gun is 10 to 70 mL, in increments of 2.5mL. The reverse dial-a-dose is a simple, accurate method to change the dose without wasting product. The drench gun has an offset barrel which is designed to improve priming. Instrument Supplies are keen to get

operators into the habit of going to ‘P’ on the scale to get the maximum dose to prime, then wind down to the required dosage. The company says there won’t be any loss of chemical in the process. The gun comes with an angled shower nozzle for convenient application and farmers have commented that “the drench seemed to run out in better flowing droplets without splattering like some other guns”. The 70mL Ezi Squeeze drench gun is robust and easily repaired and is simple to dismantle for cleaning and relubrication. More information is available from Bainbridge Veterinary Instruments on 1300 721 099 or at www.bainbridgevet. com.au


DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011 

33

machinery & products

Cue-Mate helps lift conception rates FIXED TIME Artificial Insemination (FTAI) eliminates the need for heat detection and utilises oestrus synchronisation – creating a tighter calving pattern as well as follicle stimulating hormones to increase conception rates. Two new products from Bayer Animal Health can be used in FTAI programs. One is Cue- Mate, an intra-vaginal device that releases progesterone to synchronise oestrus. The other is a cutting-edge hormone treatment that helps stimulate follicle development for a larger, more dominant follicle. Heat synchronisation with Cue-Mate ensures cows and heifers are cycling together and can be joined in a shorter time frame, resulting in a tighter calving pattern. Knowing that a tighter calving pattern will ensue means labour require-

Dr Gabriel Bo

ments can be planned more efficiently and cost effectively. And, in the long run, a tighter calving pattern means earlier milk profits. Bayer says stimulating the development of a larger follicle is more likely to result in first service fertilisation. This improved conception rate at first service saves time and money and also helps achieve the desired tighter calving pattern.

According to recent research undertaken by Bayer Animal Health, only 8% of dairy farmers are using a FTAI program or variation. However, this protocol demonstrates the greatest gains in reproductive efficiency in research undertaken by western Victorian vet Dr David Beggs. His data showed oestrus synchronised FTAI achieved 68% six-week In Calf Rate (ICR), well ahead of all

other breeding protocols – including natural joining. Bayer and Bioniche Animal Health recently hosted seminars by Dr Gabriel Bo, an Argentinean veterinarian with a world-class reputation. Bo stressed that reproduction performance is the most important factor for today’s dairy farmers, and that close calving patterns are paramount to breeding success. His presentation demonstrated findings that compare the ICR across a number of breeding protocols. Two of these studies were completed in Australia. Bo stresses that predictable breeding programs improve conception rates, increase tighter pregnancy rates and calving patterns, streamline labour requirements and save time and money. Tel. 1800 678 368

Easier life for cows in yard

AGRI-MAT INTERLOCKING panels of rubber matting will this season give a Kaimai, NZ, herd an easier life in the dairy shed yard. The Kaimai farm is owned by Ken and Thelma Hollinshead with son Tony and his wife Kirstin. Increasing use of yards as on/off pads protects pasture during wet weather; cows also benefit from the softer surface. At milking, the cows can stay longer and the greater expanse of concrete gets greater use. When Dairy News visited they were halfway through covering the yard. “We

spread the project over two seasons, thinking if it doesn’t work we’ve made a big financial commitment,” said Hollinshead. But it has worked and they are now ready to lay the second section when the cows are dry. The Agri-Mat panels are interlocking on all four sides, are 1190 x 850mm x 24mm thick, each covering 1m2. Agri-Mat Kura have a stud base so the hoof can sink into the mat and have maximum traction and comfort. The Agri-Mat Kura Slat Mats can be ordered in Australia through Sterling Supplies on 1800 621 103 .

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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA // july 2011

motoring

Volkswagen releases luxury SUV

New Audi A6 redefines the Executive Class THE NEW Audi A6 will debut in Australia with three powerplants: two petrol engines and one TDI unit. They have outputs ranging from 150 kW to 220 kW. All variants come standard with quattro all-wheel-drive system and Audi’s seven-speed S tronic transmission. The A6 is the latest version of Audi’s Drive Select dynamic handling system, which now includes an additional mode – the Efficiency program. The company says its design embodies athleticism and elegance. The sedan is 4.92 metres long and 1.87 metres wide, but just 1.46 metres high – the sportiest proportions in its segment. All Australian-delivered 2.8 FSI quattro, 3.0 TDI quattro and 3.0 TFSI quattro A6 models come as standard with Audi’s dynamic S line exterior package including lower

and deeper front and rear bumpers for a powerful and dynamic on-road stance. The body of the new Audi A6 is exceedingly light, stiff and safe, thanks to an intelligent composite design concept. More than 20% is made of aluminium, with numerous aluminium components and high-tech steels; reducing its weight by 30kg compared with the previous model. Audi is launching the new A6 with a choice of three powerful, highly efficient six-cylinder powerplants. All of these engines are married to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed S tronic transmission. Each of these three engines also makes use of technologies from the brand’s modular efficiency platform – the innovative thermal

management concept, the start-stop system, and the energy recovery system. Fuel consumption has improved by up to 21% - compared with the previous model. The first engine is the 2.8 FSI. Developing 150kW and 280Nm, it provides pulling power right across the engine’s range and with a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.0L/100km. The second petrol engine is the supercharged 3.0 TFSI. Using efficient directinjection technology, it pumps out 220kW and 440Nm, catapulting the A6 3.0 TFSI from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds – while consuming just 8.2L/100km of fuel. The diesel option comes in the form of the 3.0 TDI. Outputting 180kW and a 500Nm, class-leading performance is assured, along

with fuel efficiency at just 6.0L/100km.  The Audi A6 2.8 FSI quattro will sell for $93,900, the A6 3.0 TDI quattro for $116,500 and the A6 3.0 TFSI quattro for $121,500. All prices exclude dealer delivery and government charges.

VOLKSWAGeN HAS released the second generation Touareg in Australia. It says the Touareg is a luxury SUV offering a high level of comfort, sporty driving properties, avante-guard styling and excellent quality and expedition capabilities. While the new Touareg maintains all the space, comfort, refinement and off-road and towing ability of the first generation, Volkswagen says it has taken the model forward by using lightweight construction techniques, more fuelefficient engines and new technologies. Despite being lower and thus appearing sleeker, the new Touareg is larger than the previous model. It is almost 50 millimetres longer in wheelbase, its overall length has increased by 144 millimetres, but weighs up to 90kg less and is up to 20% more fuel-efficient. The new model has a standard fitment of a new 8-speed automatic transmission and there is a choice of new options avail-

able including an advanced Driver Assistance Package, which incorporates a range of features such as Lane Assist, Side Assist and ProActive Occupant Protection System. All new Touaregs feature BlueMotion Technologies including brake energy recuperation and Start/Stop functionality. Standard equipment across the range includes nine airbags, ABS, Brake Assist, Auto Hold and Hill Hold Assist, ESP with active rollover protection function, EBC and Off-road Function with Anti-lock Braking System (ABSplus) and Hill Decent Assist. Entertainment and technology equipment fitted as standard includes coloured Multi-function Display and Bluetooth® connectivity. Prices start at $62,990, excluding dealer delivery charges, which may vary from dealer to dealer and statutory charges, which vary from state to state.

Skoda Fabia offers value for money

ED E F K C I U Q GONS

WA T U O D E FE Schouten feedout wagons for mixing and feeding out at the same time. With the large augers and purposely designed knives the Quickfeed can handle a wide range of feed types. All mixed and fed out in one go, especially when the products are loaded in layers. The exeptionally robust construction will ensure a long trouble free working life for the Quickfeed. An important reason in controlling your feedout costs.

• No heating • Homogenous mixing stribution of • Cutting,mixing and di d minerals. silage/bales/straw an nt method of cie effi • An economic and feeding out. www.schoutenmachines.co.nz Schouten Machines Ltd ph: 0064 3 208 8059 P.O. Box 309 cell: 0064 27 711 7270 GORE 9740, New Zealand info@schoutenmachines.co.nz

WITH SALES of well over 1.5 million worldwide, the Skoda Fabia is now available in Australia. Skoda says the combination of low running costs; advanced powertrain technology and value for money make the Fabia the perfect all-rounder. The new Fabia offers the driver a high driving position. All models feature height adjustment on the driver’s seat, along with height and reach adjustment on the steering wheel. Inside, the new entertainment system, steering wheel and materials provide an enjoyable driving environment. Three-spoke leather steering wheel with radio and phone controls, multi-function trip computer, cruise control and Bluetooth adds to the high comfort and convenience levels. All models boast large cabins and practical boot areas, and for the

hatchback 315 litres of boot space. Skoda says the Fabia balances the need of its passengers with the demands of its driver. In terms of road handling and comfort, it features MacPherson struts at the front, mounted to a three-part sub frame. This assembly is attached to the bodywork with anti-vibration mounts that help to keep noise and vibration to a minimum. The Fabia will be available with a range of engines which are all designed and engineered to offer more performance, lower emissions and improved fuel consumption. The internationally popular Fabia 77TSI Hatchback with a 1.2-litre TSI engine producing 77kW is featured for the first time in Australia. The 1.2-litre TSI engine uses direct injection and turbo charging to deliver a

low combined fuel consumption of 5.5L/100km. The 77TSI is fitted as standard with a five-speed fully synchronised manual transmission and comes standard with six airbags and ESC (Electronic Stability Control). DSG transmission will be available from 2012. The Fabia Monte Carlo 77TSI is enhanced by sporty styling and a bespoke interior. Skoda says the Fabia RS 132TSI is the high performer in the range. It says this model encompasses all the Fabia features, but with more power and the looks to match. The Fabia 77TSI Hatchback will sell for $18,990, the Monte Carlo 77TSI for $21,990 while pricing for the Fabia RS 132TSI will be revealed next year. All prices exclude dealer delivery charges and statutory charges.


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DNA 16 July 2011