Page 1

Good seasons fuel national production Page 9 Field laboratory New pasture trials Page 20

Watch out! Tornado coming Lely updates baler Page 31

march, 2012 Issue 23 //

DOWNPOUR Crops, pasture washed away PAGES 4-5


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New Zealand’s Cropmark Seeds recently released an impressive new pasture variety, Helix, that is already impressing farmers who have tried it. Bred for high overall yields and improved pasture quality, Helix is a midseason heading Enhanced® perennial ryegrass that flowers six days later than Nui. In Helix, Cropmark has targeted that

most awkward of periods for grass farmers, late winter and early spring when high quality, as well as quantity, of feed is most needed to see stock through lambing and calving — and historically a time of feed pinches. Before release, Helix underwent intensive on-farm trialing on farms throughout Victoria and in South Australia. Its high yield potential was

borne out. It consistently showed improved yields across seasons, years and regions. Jason Hill, Cropmark agronomist in Victoria’s Western Districts says Helix is exciting for him: “I’m running several trials in the region. They’re all on farms rather than research stations, so that we can compare our varieties with others’ under real farming conditions, and under

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Helix – helping match feed supply and demand Helix Enhanced® perennial ryegrass is an exciting new release from the Cropmark breeding programme. A mid heading variety at +6 days (cf Nui), Helix is showing exceptional yield across seasons, years and regions, but particularly over late winter and early spring – providing more feed when it is needed most around calving and lambing. Helix is high in metabolisable energy and digestibility, and is extremely palatable. Stock love it and eat it readily. Helix is suited to high performance dairy, beef or sheep farms in regions which receive 600+mm rainfall; particularly areas which do not receive reliable late spring rain; or where grass staggers is an issue. Helix is suitable for all pasture renovation, including over-sowing.

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“The Helix is very dense and productive, so it competes well against weeds. It is always ahead of other paddocks in the round and the cows clean it up better than older grasses especially around heading time Some of my Helix paddocks are 3 years old and they are just as dense as the year they were sown.” Ben Kenna – dairy farmer, Noorat, Western Districts


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different farming systems.” “In every one of these trials the performance of Helix has been exceptional, with consistently high yield performance across trial sites and across seasons. We have also noted strong persistence to date.” “Another factor to come through for Helix is palatability. The cows consistently graze it preferentially. We put this down to the meadow fescue in its breeding background.” “Helix will find a strong fit in higher performing dairy, sheep and beef farms in higher rainfall regions or under irrigation. However, because it is midheading, it is also highly suitable for areas that don’t receive such reliable spring rains, and perhaps into slightly more marginal areas where some of the other perennial ryegrasses don’t perform.” Performing on farm Ben Kenna milks 380 autumn calving Friesian cows on 700 acres at Noorat in the Western Districts of Victoria, and is a firm believer in Helix. Ben points out a paddock of Helix that he is especially impressed with, commenting “It is always ahead of other paddocks in the round. Previously the paddock had never performed and was full of barley grass. I have tried other grasses in the paddock, but have only had mixed results! Sowing it down to Helix has been a great improvement. The Helix is very dense and productive, so it competes well against weeds. It is softer and finer and the cows clean it up better than older grasses – especially around heading time.” Ben is mindful of choosing varieties with good persistence; a lesson he learnt the hard way when a competitor tetraploid variety he was using was only lasting 2 years. “Some of my Helix paddocks are 3 years old and they are just as dense as the year they were sown!” Pathfinder Angus principal Nick Moyle, keeps a keen eye on every part of his business. He runs 1500 stud and commercial Angus breeders plus 2000 prime crossbred ewes, on 7000 acres of owned and leased country on 5 different farms from Hamilton to Naracoorte SA. Nick knows that to produce top quality bulls he must feed them the best quality pasture possible, so they can achieve their true growth potential. Nick has been watching closely a local pasture trial run by an independent agronomist and a consultant at Penshurst, to see which variety works best in his local environment. “Helix has topped the trial there and its performance has improved as the trial has continued. So last year I sowed a paddock to Helix and have been extremely happy with it. It was very vigorous to establish from sowing and the plant numbers quickly thickened up to a very dense pasture.” “I know that it out-yields other top quality ryegrasses that I have tried, and it has grown even more feed than I expected. The biggest benefit though is its persistence.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

news  // 3

MG sacks staff to lift farmgate price

Cover photo by Ruth Kydd, Blighty, NSW.

Murray Goulburn has said 64 job losses

Colac dairy farmer Mark Billing has diversified his forage base. PG.23

Gippsland farmers Kevin and Helen Jones reveal how they reduced their rising cell count. PG.25

at its Rochester processing plant will ultimately lead to higher farmgate prices. The changes follow a detailed review of the cooperative’s operations led by new managing director Gary Helou. Helou said the review considered a range of factors including available processing capacity and the significant reduction in local milk production in northern Victoria and the Riverina in recent years. As a result, the milk powder drying operation at Rochester will be closed and placed into a “care and maintenance” program until higher milk production levels return to the region. While cheese and whey processing operations will continue on-site, the plant will now be managed as a satellite of the company’s Cobram operation. Other Rochester based services, including milk transport and field services, will continue as normal.

Helou said the changes were necessary to improve manufacturing efficiencies, increase the co-op’s global competitiveness and deliver higher farmgate prices. Helou said the changes to the co-op’s northern Victorian operations would not affect the company’s ability to supply its domestic and international customers. “This was a difficult decision and one made following an extensive internal review, which took into account the impact of recent milk production conditions in Northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina,” he said. “Although there are encouraging signs of a recovery in milk production in the region, unfortunately it will not be sufficient to justify the continued full operation of the Rochester site at this time. “We will continue to invest in programs and initiatives to significantly lower our operating costs and strengthen our dairy foods portfolio.”

Helou spoke at a Gardiner Foundation lunch last month and said he was committed to cut more than $100 million in costs from the company to return higher prices to its suppliers. He said he planned to expand dairy into every meal time and increase the co-op’s presence into liquid foods and beverages, as well as ingredients and pharmaceuticals. Helou said there seemed to be too many processors supplying the Australian domestic market, describing it as a “crowded house”. He said a priority issue for the Federal Government was to improve market access for Australian dairy products into China through the negotiation of lower tariff barriers. Australia currently pays tariffs of 10-15% on dairy exports to China, compared with New Zealand that now pays 6-8%. New Zealand in five years would pay none thanks to a Free Trade Agreement it had signed with China.

South Gippsland farmer Allen van Kuyk has been putting a New Holland T6050 through its paces. PG.30

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

This photo by Lynn Goldstraw is one of 40 entries submitted so far for the 2012 Great South West Dairy Awards farm photo competition.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

4 //  news

Riverina farmers cop six months rain in five days Their cows had already dropped proRuth Kydd received more than half their duction because of the trouble feeding average rainfall earlier this month – in them. “Some paddocks have 4-5 feet of five days. The Kydds, who farm at Blighty in water at the entrance. We’re trying to southern NSW, copped 97mm in 2 1/2 graze wherever we can. It’s too wet to hours, another 97mm two days later in feed silage. “We’re feeding hay in the cow yard a five-hour period and 38mm two days and palm kernel in the concrete laneafter that. “Our average rainfall is 400mm,” way.” Ruth said. “We’ve had six inches (150mm) in a downpour before but nothing like this. We’ve been here 27 “We’ve been here 27 years and haven’t had anything like years and haven’t this before.” had anything like this About 200ha of the Kydd’s prop- before.” erty remained underwater a week after they copped the third fall of Despite the setback, Ruth wasn’t 38mm because there are no rivers, creeks or floodways near their property. complaining. “There are a lot of people worse off There are drains but they were never designed to take such an onslaught of than us,” she said. She and Neville were already planwater. The Kydds have been pumping but ning how to overcome a feed shortage that will occur later in the year. this posed its own problems. “We have a lot of paddocks full of “We were pumping the water from the front half of the property into the water and they will need to be resown. It drain but it couldn’t cope so the drain will delay the sowing of winter pasture and cause a feed gap later on. It should flooded into the back half,” Ruth said. It would take about 10 days to only be a short-term gap if we can get the water off soon.” remove the water.

Riverina farmers Neville and

About 200ha of the Kydd's Blighty property remained underwater a week after the torrential rain.

Dairy industry rallies for flooded farmers Flood-affected


have on-the-ground support to cope with the immediate and longer-term affects of the floods. An emergency meeting convened by Dairy Australia during the worst of the floods saw representatives from Murray Dairy, the Victorian Farmers Federation, all regional milk factories, the Geoffrey Gardiner Foundation, the DPI and Goulburn Murray Water, as well as leading local farmers, devise a response to the situation.

UDV president Kerry Callow said the group was extremely aware of the hardship facing farmers. “The legacy of previous floods, along with droughts and cyclones elsewhere in Australia, gives us insights into how we can help our fellow farmers,” Callow said. Murray Dairy will be working with UDV as lead agencies in the dairy response effort, which will be centred at Murray Dairy in Tatura. Murray Dairy chairman Jeff Odgers

said it was important to note this flood requires different approaches for different areas. “For some people it’s a matter of pasture loss, of fodder loss, and for some it will be the ongoing problem of backdrainage,” he said. Dairy Australia’s website already has fact sheets on coping with floods. The organisation is checking the availability of mastitis treatments and will be assisting with hoof health and laneways post-flood.

DA’s Julie Iommi said farmers could take photos of hay, pasture and laneway damage as soon as possible to help future insurance claims. The Victorian Government has released funding to the Victorian Farmers Federation to co-ordinate delivery of fodder to the state’s flood-affected farmers. At this stage the VFF is using its existing network of members and local farmers to source good quality fodder and is not seeking donations from

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across the state. Any farmer seeking assistance or any local farmer wishing to donate fodder should contact the VFF on 1300 882 833. “It’s important that people only donate good-quality feed because that’s what livestock need following these wet conditions,” VFF President Andrew Broad said. The VFF has been granted limited funds by the Department of Primary Industries to reimburse donors’ freight costs.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

News  // 5

Hundreds of dairy farmers were expected to be affected, with some having to move herds and milk in other dairies.

Silage in this flooded paddock near Katamatite, nothern Victoria, sits in half a metre of water.

Billion dollar flood wreaks havoc Record rainfall and subse-

quent flooding in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have caused an estimated $1billion damage, including tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage on individual properties. Record rainfall in southern NSW and northern Victoria early this month followed huge falls in south-east Queensland late last month. Far-east Gippsland also received flooding. The National Farmers Federation has estimated the damage in northern Victoria and southern NSW alone could top $1 billion. It is the third major flood to hit the area in 18 months. Affected farmers are also preparing contingency plans for mastitis problems and fodder shortages in the coming weeks and months as a result of the floods. Falls of 100mm in 2 1/2 hours, 230mm in three days and 300mm in a week were not uncommon with records

set over 150 years ago smashed. Some local Goulburn Valley farmers said this current flood was worse than the 1993 flood. Huge seas of water covered areas bordered by Griffith in the north, Canberra in the east, Shepparton in the south and Nathalia in the west. Hundreds of dairy farmers were expected to be affected, with some having to move herds and milk in other dairies. The rain had left a lot of cows standing in water and muddy paddocks, with one farmer forced to stand 350 cows on 60 metres of laneway. One farmer planted 250 hectares of annual pasture on the promise of rain and this had been washed away at a loss of between $50,000 to $60,000. Many have also lost hectares of forage crop, including corn that will have to be harvested despite its worthlessness as feed, as well as silage and hay. The Murray Dairy group and pro-

cessors - Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, UDP and Tatura Milk - are helping coordinate the movement of cattle onto neighbours’ farms and advising on stock management. “At this stage it’s too early to be sending in fodder to most properties,

given there’s nowhere to store it on farm,” United Dairyfarmers of Victoria regional representative Daryl Hoey said. “The tankers can still get in to pick up milk, but fodder can’t be delivered.” Hoey said animal welfare was the top priority as the wet conditions could lead

This farmer is trying to find dry ground to feed cows near Numurkah, northern Victoria.

to lameness and mastitis in cattle. “There’s also a lot of people autumn calving who’ll need to keep quality feed up to their herds.” If there’s a bright side, those that hadn’t committed to their annual pastures will now have a full soil moisture profile and significantly cheaper irrigation water. Large downpours across Queensland’s Sunshine Coast caused havoc on the roads and flooding for some farms. Up to 340mm was estimated in 24 hours in parts and about 40 roads were cut across the region. A number of farms on the Mary River and tributaries were affected by the rain and flooding, as well as roads and bridges. Some milk wastage occurred as dairies were cut off and several farmers had cattle stranded, with some being washed downstream before they managed to find dry land.


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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

6 //  news

Fonterra wants more profit from Australian arm Sudesh Kissun

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings

has told the cooperative’s New Zealand suppliers that he wants the Australian, Middle East and NZ businesses to generate more cash. Spierings said the co-op would not be asking its New Zealand suppliers for cash to fuel future growth. Spierings also hinted at downsizing Fonterra’s US and Europe busi-

ness saying their relevance had “gone down”. “We’re not saying we won’t be in the US and Europe but will look at the cost and cash delivery of business units,” he said. The co-op’s growth strategy will target China, south-east Asia (ASEAN) and Latin America. Spierings will later this month present his growth strategy to Fonterra’s board for approval. Spierings said milk volume and

growth in value were crucial for Fonterra. “The long-term outlook for dairy product demand is bullish. Global demand is forecast to grow by 160 billion litres by 2020,” he said. Spierings said the question for Fonterra was whether it would only focus on New Zealand milk or look at overseas milk pools. He said Fonterra’s market power in dairy would diminish if it was unable to obtain more milk to meet global

Making most of a mucky situation

Agricultural profits to rise nationwide to rise across all Australian states and territories this year for the first time in 30 years, according to a recent Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecast. The Agricultural Commodities report, released at the annual ABARES Outlook conference, showed the agricultural sector will continue to grow over the short and medium term. The ABARES report predicts that farm export earnings will rise by 9.4% in this financial year to $35.5 billion. ABARES Executive Director, Paul Morris, said assuming that favourable seasonal conditions continue, earnings from farm exports are forecast to be around $35.1 billion in 2012-13, after an estimated rise of 9.4% to $35.5 billion in 2011-12.

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“Over the medium term, to 2016-17, the value of farm exports is projected to be maintained around the current level in real terms. “By 2016-17, the value of farm exports is projected to be around $35.1 billion, in 2011-12 dollars.” The ABARES report follows the release of the National Farmers Federation Farm Facts bulletin for 2012 last week, which showed that farm export earnings for 201011 equalled $32.5 billion. “The ABARES report shows that for the first time in 30 years, farm business profit and the rate of return will be positive for all states and for all of the broadacre industries, including cropping and livestock,” NFF president Jock Laurie said. “After a very challenging period, these predictions show that the agricultural sector and our farmers are back on their feet.”

Agricultural profits are expected

A quick snap of a mucky situation could see friends Melissa Meade and Stacy Wood (pictured) win this year’s Great South West Dairy Awards farm photo competition. The photo by Garvoc farmer Melissa of Stacy is one of 40 entries submitted so far for the event. The girls had been bringing in the cows on a particularly wet day last winter. “My bike was getting bogged so I got Stacy to give me a push from behind. My wheels spun and she got mud and cow poo flicked all over her,” Melissa said. They took this photo at the next stop. Dairy awards project manager Barbara Collins said photos by local farmers and amateur photographers were using a wide variety of images to illustrate life on dairy farms in the region. “The quality of what we received so far this year has been quite outstanding,” Collins said. The award is open to all images from amateur photographers that illustrate living and working on a south-west dairy farm. Nominations for the best farm photo and dairy industry honour board are open until March 23 and images can be emailed to The winners of all categories will be announced at Glenormiston College on April 26.


Japan and China, tackling obesity and convenience foods. At the same time Fonterra needed to protect its market share in China, south-east Asia and Latin America, regions that take 50% of its milk. “If we don’t protect our market share, we might lose our position. “If that happens, 50% of our milk that goes to this region will end up on the GDT (global dairy trade auction) and that would make a huge impact on the milk price.”

demand. The strongest demand growth was being recorded in emerging markets like India and China while demand was flattening out in the US and Europe, he said. Fonterra, which sends 40% of its milk to Asia, is well placed to capitalise on growth opportunities, he said. Spierings wants Fonterra to use both its brands and ingredients businesses to target four key platforms; nutrition for mother and child as Asia’s population grows, ageing population in

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

Murray-Darling Basin: News  // 7

Burke wants to buy water IRRIGATORS and farm

groups have lashed out at the Federal Government’s fresh calls to buy irrigation water in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. Environment and Water Minister Tony Burke quietly announced a “new, strategic water purchase initiative” to begin from February 27, 2012. He said the Government would call for expressions of interest from irrigators who divert directly out of the rivers in the southern part of the basin. “The initiative is designed to test the market for targeted water purchases,” Burke said. “It will include strategic purchases of water entitlements from within irrigation districts, but only where irrigation network operators advise the sale is consistent with their plans to modernise and reconfigure irrigation delivery networks. “Water will only be recovered from those that

choose to participate in the Government’s programs through take up of infrastructure grants and voluntary water purchase. “The Government will not be cutting anyone’s water entitlements or forcing them to sell.” However, the Victorian Farmers Federation has accused Burke of having broken a promise to stay out of the water market in the southern basin until 2013. VFF president Andrew Broad said he was shocked to discover Burke launch another water buyout, “without any consultation”. “Last November, Mr Burke promised the Federal Government would not just wade into the water market,” Broad said. “What he’s done today is say the Government is willing to buy water off any river diverter. “We see this as random scatter-gun approach that risks the viability of irrigation communities

MDBA shuts down debate Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF)

president Andrew Broad has accused the MurrayDarling Basin Authority of stifling debate on its controversial draft basin plan. The MDBA has run public meetings in Swan Hill, Shepparton and Mildura, but consultation in Echuca, Cobram, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Albury-Wodonga will run as “open house” sessions. “While ‘open house’ sessions have a place, large agricultural areas like Echuca require proper consultation from the Authority,” Broad said. “Last week I spoke to Craig Knowles directly and asked that the MDBA hold a public meeting in Echuca. Campaspe Shire Council has also asked for the same thing. “Open houses are little more than information booths staffed by a couple of MDBA staff. “It’s not how you gauge community opinions. It’s just a way to quash public

anger and avoid media attention.” Mr Broad said MDBA’s failure to provide public consultation where it was needed let down communities whose lives depended on the basin and its rivers. “Our calls for public meetings began prior to the release of the proposed Basin Plan. Many of these requests have not yet been answered. “We’re yet again calling on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to smarten up its act, and give communities in Northern Victoria proper public consultation and the level of respect they deserve,” Mr Broad said. “Given that when the MDBA held a public meeting on the first draft plan in Echuca and hundreds and hundreds of people attended, to not hold one with this plan is an insult to those communities. “A public meeting with the entire community is really the only way the Authority can properly assess how people are feeling.”

throughout the southern basin.” By claiming the latest government buyout would be “focusing on acquiring entitlements held outside of shared irrigation delivery networks”, Broad said Burke was trying to claim this latest buyout was not a general water tender, but

simply a call for expressions of interest from irrigators wanting to sell. Burke was also saying these expressions of interest would then be assessed against criteria the Government was yet to release. VFF Water Council chairman Richard Ander-

son said a halt on all purchasing of entitlements was necessary to rebalance the Federal Government’s investment in recovering water for the environment. “The Government has pumped $1.8 billion into buying water since 2008, yet the spend on upgrading irrigation infra-

structure has fallen way behind,” Anderson said. NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson said Burke’s announcement did not send the right message to farmers and rural communities that water purchases are being made on the basis of sound policy rather than politics.

“Without an understanding of how much water a community needs to support itself, how can the Federal Government possibly know what the tipping point for survival of that community is, and whether these `strategic’ purchases will cause that threshold to be crossed?”

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

news  // 9

European milk wave no threat The Australian dairy sector has little to fear from an estimated nine billion additional litres of milk expected to “flood” the global market once European dairy quotas are fully lifted in 2015, according to a visiting expert in European dairy. Rabobank senior global dairy analyst Kevin Bellamy told Australian dairy producers and exporters last month that the staged lifting of quotas – which have historically capped dairy production in European countries – that is due to be completed in 2015 is unlikely to have an adverse impact on the Australian industry. “While there will be some increase in European dairy production as a result of the quotas being lifted, it is unlikely to be the tidal wave that some people are fearing,” Bellamy said. “Continued strong medium-term growth in world demand for dairy is set to absorb the additional supply.” Bellamy is based in Rabobank’s global head office in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and was visiting Australia as part of his company’s Visiting Experts program. Rabobank forecasts indicate that when quotas are fully lifted, an additional nine billion litres of milk will be produced annually out of Europe.

Seasons fuel production rise Australian milk

These included limited availability of agricultural land, high cost of finance, environmental restrictions and retail price wars that shrink farmer margins. “There’s no reason this will change as a result of quotas being lifted,” Bellamy said. “What we will see though is dairying moving from the less-efficient production regions in the south and east of Europe to the "While there will north and west, be some increase where production will increase if price in European dairy incentives remain production when high enough.” quotas are lifted in The coun2015, it is unlikely to tries with the be the tidal wave some most potential to increase their dairy Kevin Bellamy people are fearing." supply include Denmark, western Bellamy said the role of quotas in suppress- France, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and ing EU milk production had been somewhat northern Germany. Bellamy said the cost of producing over-stated. “Quotas are not currently a constraint in milk in Europe should reduce as milk supply most EU regions, with many areas producing moves from less favourable areas and consolbelow the quota amounts anyway, due to other idation of farms achieves some economies of scale. limiting factors,” he said. “Of this additional production, it is estimated that 3.6 billion litres will be absorbed by additional demand out of the EU,” he said. “While the remainder will likely find its way on to export markets, it will be to destinations such as the Middle East and Russia, not into Australia’s main export markets of South East Asia and China.”

production is expected to rise to between 9.4 and 9.5 billion litres this financial year from 9.1b litres last financial year. Production rises in northern and western Victoria and southern NSW and similar results from Tasmania after favourable seasonal conditions in those areas have underpinned growth. The forecast was made in Dairy Australia’s Situation and Outlook February Update released last month. Dairy Australia manager, strategy and knowledge, Joanne Bills said Australia’s milk production was up 3.6% on last season for the six months to December at 5.6 billion litres and expects the trend to continue. “Generally favourable seasonal conditions, lower feed costs, good soil moisture levels and high water allocations should support profit margins and make

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this season one of consolidation for most dairy farmers in southern exporting regions,” Bills said. Bills said milking cows remain in short supply and retention rather than export of heifers would be critical to maintaining future production growth. Live cattle exports have slowed, down 4% to 73,900 in the 12 months to December 2011. Bills said the Australian dairy market had been fairly positive over recent months, despite ongoing consumer cautiousness. “Domestic sales volumes have lifted for all the key dairy categories; but only very marginally for cheese and yogurt. “While domestic sales volumes for milk have grown, value has been undermined by lower supermarket prices.” The full report of the February Update is available at www.dairyaustralia.

Specialist livestock agency servicing Australia’s dairy industry Vicstock, with its head office located in Geelong Victoria covers the dairying districts of Gippsland, Western and Northern Victoria, the Riverina in NSW, Tasmania and the South East of South Australia. Our core business of supplying various domestic and export abattoirs with dairy cows and calves is continuing to expand, as does the export heifer market and the private sale market which enables us to supply a complete service for the dairy/beef industry. Our newly appointed Tasmanian team has also expanded, with 7 agents now servicing the whole of Tasmania, specialising in dairy, but also servicing the beef and sheep grower sector. We offer a personalised agency service through our one to one on farm dealings, benefitting both the vendor and the purchaser. We have a good market for cull cows, bull and bullocks, as well as some exclusive export heifer markets into China and South East Asia that are being cemented through our Vicstock International team consisting of Mr Will Crozier (Managing Director), Mr Harold Sim and Mr Bruce Tang.



Your team of Dairy Specialists Bernard Atkins

Forget brands, concentrate on ingredients AUSTRALIAN DAIRY

exporters shouldn’t waste time marketing to consumers, says an international expert in food marketing. David Hughes is Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at London’s Imperial College and a regular visitor to Australia, most recently at the Australian Dairy Conference. Hughes said Australian exporters should instead market themselves as producers of world class ingredients. “You can sell these ingredients into high value world markets, where you get your premium from the investment that you’ve made over time in research and development rather than consumer marketing,” he said. “I don’t think you

can make it in consumer marketing, you haven’t got the culture, you haven’t got the history and you haven’t got the track record.” Hughes said heading down the path of branded products was both costly and potentially risky. Successful brands were often older, with 60% of the world’s brands developed more than 50 years ago. He said Danone’s yoghurt brand, Activia, is the single most successful dairy brand but they had spent $27 million each year in marketing. “If you are into big brands, you have to think deep pockets and longterm.” Hughes asked whether the Australian dairy industry wanted to become a supplier to the world’s wealth or a provider of nutrition to

the poorer countries. Both markets were actually growing, he said. “You only have to look at McDonald’s, on the one hand they’ve seen rising sales from the 99 cent burger and on the other from the $9 Grand Angus burger,” he said. “And they’ve seen exceptional economic growth in the past three years.” Hughes said developing nations remained an untapped market for the dairy industry but more volatile food prices – as is seen now with dairy – would impact on demand from these markets. If prices doubled, demand in countries where the percentage of income spent on food was higher, including China (38%), the Philippines (50%) and Vietnam (40%), would fall.

North West / State Manager

Dairy, Beef, Stock advisor, Stud Stock specialist

Ph. 0417 593 158

Peter Collins

South / Southern Co-ordinator Dairy, Beef, Sheep

Ph. 0427 547 145

Haydn Bean North

Dairy, Beef

Ph. 0438 678 206 Joanne Groenewold North / North West Dairy

Ph. 0417 927 275

Adam Crawford

At the Australian Dairy Conference in Warragul last month were Ian Mathers, Cohuna, and Kerry Kelly, Mathoura (above); Grant Williams, Hallora, and Paul Bethune, Lake Boga.


Dairy, Beef

Ph. 0400 550 412

Anthony McDougall North East Dairy, Beef

Ph. 0438 502 188 Also find us on Facebook Head Office Will Crozier ( Director) Richard Kerr (Director) Bernard Atkins

Geelong Geelong Western Victoria Tasmania

(03) 5222 5688 0429 672 372 0437 577 363 0417 593 158

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

news : Australian Dairy Conference  // 11

Energy reduction funds sought Lobbying is underway

to gain Government funding for a national program to conduct energy assessments in dairies. Gabriel Hakim told the Australian Dairy Conference last month he was hopeful the Dairy Unplugged project, developed by his company, AgVet Projects, would receive funding for a July start. AgVet, Dairy Australia and other major dairy companies are working together to secure the funding. “Finding energy savings in the dairy is not rocket science, but it does take a methodical approach and a good understanding of the way each individual farm is set up and operated,” Hakim said. AgVet has launched

a national dairy energy assessment tool which Hakim said provided a standardised way to approach and record the information required to deliver a dairy energy assessment according to the Australian Standard. The national tool is a further development of the tool developed in NSW and accommodates many of the differences in dairy set-ups (calving patterns, dairy types, electricity tariffs) found across Australia’s dairy regions. “The way water is heated nowadays is quite varied and the tool can account for the various ways this job is performed,” Hakim said. “It also incorporates additional checking calculators and help to ensure assessors make reasonable

Gabriel Hakim’s Top 5 tips to reduce energy use 1. Water heating. For many farms this represents over 30% of electricity use. The opportunities to reduce the energy used for this purposes are significant – from reviewing clean programs and improving insulation properties to installing re-use systems. Savings in energy: 5%-90%. 2. Milk cooling This can represent up to 40% of electricity use. Improving plate cooler performance is undoubtedly the easiest way to reduce the cost of cooling. The performance of the vat’s refrigeration system is another area often overlooked. In many dairies, the milk vat (and the refrigeration system) was installed to meet operating conditions quite different to those of today. Herd size, daily milk production, and milking throughput have all increased. This has probably challenged the performance and efficiency of the vat’s cooling system. Reviewing the performance and taking corrective action will reduce energy use. Savings in energy: 5-25% (savings can be substantially more when

the plate cooler performance is poor). 3. Get a full dairy energy assessment done periodically If you have not already done so it is time to organise an energy assessment. Knowing where the energy is being used and how much it is costing puts you in the driver’s seat about whether spending time and resources on improving energy efficiency is worthwhile for your business. 4. On-going monitoring Power prices are trending upwards rapidly. Waiting for the next monthly/quarterly bill is too long a wait. And often, the bill won’t provide the detail or the analysis required to know if something’s not right. Automated monitoring systems are now available, and they can be used to supplement manual checks. 5. Negotiate a better price Getting a better tariff rate or reviewing whether the tariff schedule best meets the dairy’s operation will often lead to lower costs. However, the savings will be enhanced if the amount of energy consumed (kWh) is also reduced.

Gabriel Hakim

assumptions. Greenhouse gas emissions are also calculated. “Validation work over the past month gives us good confidence that dairy

energy assessors using the tool will provide a report that sits well within the Australian Standard as far as accuracy goes.” Hakim gave the audience his top five tips to reduce energy use and costs. “What has been striking about the farm assessments over the last two years is the differences between farms,” he said. “So be aware that these tips are general principles.”

Wendy and Oscar Negus, Busselton, WA, and Bevan and Graham Ravenhill, Albany, WA, at the Australian Dairy Conference in Warragul last month.

Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

12 //  news

Work with banks to move ahead Liz Cotton

Traditionally, the

bank manager may not have been the most popular visitor to the farm. However, specialised agribusiness sectors are now a feature of most banks and ANZ Mount Gambier agribusiness

manager Tom Rymill says there are a few key areas farmers can focus on to satisfy the bank’s needs and strengthen their business. Rymill, who oversees a diverse portfolio of dairy clients and farmers in South East SA, said the fundamentals of good business practice hadn’t


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businesses, collateral, succhanged - get the books cession and business done regularly and keep planning as well as risk records up to date. management strategies are Banks required up-toall taken into account. date financial statements, “Setting achievable not more than 18 months budgets and having a old, he said. backup plan taking into “Dairy farmers should account management is aim to get their financials done within six months of important. “It can be a good idea the new financial year. to create two budgets; “This delivers a twoone based on your worst fold benefit; farmers case scenario and another know where their busibased on current milk ness sits and can address any issues early, and banks price, fodder and input costs. can act faster on client’s “Then, if you are having requests.” a review with the bank, Annual budgets with you can say; this is what monthly cash flow breakwe budgeted, you can list downs are also important off the reasons for any difbusiness indicators for both farmers Banks like to see the and financial institutions. “peaks and troughs” “Preparof a business when ing budgets assessing for risk that take into against lending. account cash flow cycles will ferences and finally, you help farmers prepare for the dry months, and those can show how you have enacted a plan to deal with times where they might those changes.” need more room in the Ensuring appropriate overdraft. insurances are in place is “Money can be put away in advance to prepare also fundamental to providing security for the for such events, or indeed business into the future, any unforeseen circumas well as in the face of any stances.” unexpected events. He suggests farmers “It is important to refer back to their budgets on a monthly basis to com- make sure that life insurance is up to date, as if pare their current situasomething happens to the tion to their projections key man, the next of kin and goals. (who is often guarantor) “If things are going off is left responsible for any track, it’s best to know what the situation is early, debt payments.” Like all businesses, rather than a year down finding the time to sit the track. This way, there is less chance of things get- down and do the books is often a challenge, but ting out of control.” Rymill said banks liked Rymill said it need not take any more than a day - or to see the “peaks and two afternoons spent in troughs” of a business the office - a month. when assessing for risk “Keep an eye not only against lending. on the production side of “The best case is for the operation but on the a farmer to be able to say cost side too. on one spreadsheet; this “It comes back to being is what we expect, and able to mitigate against on another; this is where any unforeseen problems we’re at. and being able to deal with “While the ecoissues early and know nomic landscape has about them before the changed since the global bank does. financial crisis, our focus “Don’t just be optimisremains on management tic – have a plan in place if and the ability to manage things should go wrong. the cyclical nature of agriIt’s okay to take calculated cultural production and risks, but always have a dairy more specifically. plan B.” “In addition, aspects such as the profitability of Utilise bank analysis - p13

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

news  // 13

Good days ahead for night milk andrew swallow

New Zealand’s Synlait Milk plans to market a powder made with cows’ production during the hours of darkness, and promises to pay suppliers a premium for the raw material. Dubbed Night Milk it contains higher melatonin levels. “Melatonin plays a key role in helping humans regulate day-night cycles, and by selectively collecting milk produced by cows during the night we can create a 100% natural sleep aid,” says SM research manager Simon Causer. “Having determined the feasibility of production and that the change of routine has little effect on the behaviour of the cows, the next step in the process will involve carrying out a clinical trial to demonstrate efficacy of the product when taken by a study group comprising patients with insomnia.” SM general manager for market and product development, Tony McKenna, says products such as Night Milk command a substantial premium over conventional milk powders, and offers a means of capturing additional value for

Synlait Milk and its suppliers. “We have identified a significant market for such products in Asia and Europe, with key consumers likely to be professional people, the elderly and international travellers, all of whom can experience a high incidence of sleep disorders... [and] because much of the value is created on farm, our milk suppliers for this product will share in the premium, just like our colostrum suppliers do.” McKenna told Dairy News Australia what premium Night Milk suppliers will earn is “in discussion and yet to be finalised. It is also commercially sensitive.” Baby and infant products are a possible future development as they are also an obvious demographic for such a product, however such markets are “sensitive and strictly regulated,” he notes. “We need to work through more of a detailed process with key customers in this area.” Rather than patents to protect the concept, McKenna says the IP (intellectual property) is “in the how we do it”.

Night milk markets have been identified by Synlait.

“Our facility is set-up to allow us to do special things on the farm and then to keep these milks segregated through manufacture... “Special milks produced on farm are central to our strategy for the very reason it takes advantage of the great farm-processor-customer supply chain we operate with.” As for whether a concentrated formula is planned, to avoid the potential pitfall of Night Milk users getting to sleep well, only to wake up needing the loo an hour or two

later, McKenna said “we are working on a number of product options and applications”. Product trials will involve patients drinking a glass of Synlait Night Milk 30 minutes prior to going to bed, with various measures of sleep quality taken during the course of the night to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product compared with conventional milk. The Night Milk programme is part of a suite of initiatives Synlait Milk is working on to develop its nutritional products business, a cornerstone

of which has been the opening of a $100million infant nutritional plant in November 2011. Bright Dairy & Food, China’s thirdbiggest dairy company by volume, bought a 51% stake in Synlait Milk in July 2010. Last year Synlait Milk commissioned a second drier and packaging plant at its Dunsandel, NZ, site allowing it to produce high value milk powders including infant formula for the Chinese market where Bright Dairy has an extensive distribution network.

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ties with professional business partners – such as bank managers, accountants and financial consultants – could be very rewarding for the business. “Farmers speak to their animal health, agronomist and rural suppliers on a weekly basis yet can go months or more between speaking to their financial services professionals. “Ideally, they should try to maintain regular

contact to keep the business end of the operation in good check and get the best value out of the bank manager. “If a farmer needs funds at short notice, it is much easier to contact the person with whom you have a good relationship rather than one with whom you haven’t spoken for a year – and that’s a big value for the farmer in the end.” - Liz Cotton


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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

14 //  news: world

NZ supermarket price war SUDESH KISSUN

NEW ZEALAND dairy farmers need

not worry about major farmgate losses should a supermarket milk price war break out. With 95% of New Zealand milk processed for exports, a retail milk price war will not greatly affect the farmgate price, says Nosh Food Market owner Clinton Beuvink. Beuvink slashed the milk price at his four stores to $1/L, in effect issuing a challenge to the two major supermarket chains. He says supermarkets are making 30% profit on milk and can bring prices down. Public expectation is on dairy farmers to drop prices but the supermarket chains have to play ball, he says. “I understand supermarkets make 30% profit on milk – highly unusual for that type of fast moving product line,” he said. However, unlike in Queensland, where the Australian milk price war affected farmgate returns, New Zealand farmers have nothing to worry about, he says. “Queensland farmers produce milk for the domestic market.” Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation president Brian Tessmann

agrees. “We’ve seen in Australia that the impact has been worst in states geared toward drinking milk. States with greater export capacity such as Victoria have not been impacted to the same degree,” he said. NZ farm lobby group Federated Farmers has thrown its support behind Nosh saying more focus should be on supermarket margins on milk. Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson Willy Leferink said Nosh is doing more to open up competition at the retail end than any narrowly focused inquiry can ever achieve. “Federated Farmers hopes this milk

Clinton Beuvink

skirmish is the first step in a wider retail milk price war between Foodstuffs and Progressive. It’s happened in the UK and Australia so why not here? “The focus needs to be on the

supermarkets because if dairies can sell milk cheaper and a small supermarket like Nosh can sell it as a loss leader, surely Foodstuffs and Progressive can do the same? In two locations at least, Foodstuff franchisees already are.” Tessmann said New Zealand farmers should continue to remind consumers about the real value of milk, a nutritious and important food. Farmers must also keep pressure on governments to ensure competition in the retail sector. “Farmers must ensure supermarkets do not gain such power that they

can place unsustainable pressure on the remainder of the milk value chain. “The impact of the retail milk war has been felt worst in drinking milk states of Australia, such as Queensland, where production is geared toward fresh milk rather than other products or export. More than 90% of milk in Queensland is fresh milk, so the retail shelf price has a strong correlation to the farmgate price. We’ve seen a number of contracts come up for negotiation since the price war began, and there is no disputing the downward pressure on farm margins.”

Parliamentary milk inquiry on PETER BURKE

New Zealand’s parliament is to

resume its inquiry into the retail price of milk. The commerce select committee’s new chairman, MP Todd McClay, said that members felt under obligation to continue the work of the previous

committee. Details have still to be worked out. “A lot of work was done by the previous committee. Some 70 submissions were received and hearings were held.” Some important developments have happened in the milk industry since the committee met last year, with positive impacts for consumers and producers, McClay said.

“So the Committee will have to consider what has transpired since it last looked at this issue.” The committee has yet to decide whether it will hear more submissions. “Many people on the committee are new, including myself, so we need to get an opportunity to fully understand the amount work done under the previous Parliament and then col-

lectively decide the next steps.” While he won’t put a date on it, McClay said he would like the committee to draw conclusions in a “pretty reasonable time frame,” dependant on other work pressure, some of which is time sensitive. “This one isn’t,” he said. The select committee meets every Thursday Parliament is sitting.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

news: world  // 15

High input focus hurts New Zealand Massey emeritus Prof Colin Holmes speaking at the Small Herds Association field day in New Zealand recently.



and 1964, when farmers stopped massaging cows udders before cups went on and manually emptying out teats after the cups had finished. “Even though the research revealed farmers got 18-30% more milk from stripping and stimulating, they stopped,” Holmes said. The genetics of the national herd changed so that the remaining farmers who did strip were gaining only 5% production in the late 1960’s compared to 18-30% when the change started. This change is now being seen in OAD

milking is the only way New Zealand will retain its competitive advantage, Small Herds Association field day participants have been told. The key speaker, Massey University Emeritus Professor Colin Holmes, says the current focus on production over profitability in New Zealand is hurting dairy farmers and the industry in general. “New Zealand has been able to do well in farming because of the country’s lowcost pastoral “The best way system. Now to return to a we’re talking competitive, about highprofitable system is cost, highsupplement, to change the focus high-input from production to systems; profitability.” we’ve lost our competitive farmers equalling or advantage.” surpassing the production Holmes says the they once got when best way to return to a they milked twice daily. competitive, profitable “Farmers are starting to system is to change the breed OAD cows for the focus from production OAD system.” to profitability and from With these kgMS/cow to kgMS/ developments it is now ha. His experience on possible to eliminate farms in Wairarapa, NZ, costs, keep production suggests OAD achieves high and use workers that, he said. and equipment more In the first year efficiently. farmers tried OAD, Holmes reckons it production dropped should be possible for 5% but on-farm costs each person to milk 180 dropped 26%, increasing cows by 2030 if OAD is profitability in the adopted, compared to 140 first year by 15%. But now. the national average “If New Zealand production loss due farmers continue down to switching to OAD the same path of high is reportedly 18-25%, making farmers reluctant inputs with confinement feeding we will be using to change. exactly the same system Holmes compares the as competitors. I believe current debate over OAD once a day can become versus twice-a-day to the the major milking system movement away from stripping and stimulation used on pasture grazing systems.” for cows between 1958

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

16 //  OPINION Ruminating


If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck...

milking it... Banks come out of the woodwork There must be confidence in the dairy industry because bank staff are out and about. Whether it’s an open day, a field day or a conference, representatives with bank logos on new corporate outfits are thick on the ground. It’s the same in New Zealand by all accounts, reflecting the confidence over the Tasman. They certainly weren’t so easy to spot three years ago.

Got milk? The Australian Dairy Conference in Warragul last month was a credit to the committee and event manager Esther Price, who assembled a firstclass line-up of impressive speakers. However, the Fonterra-sponsored lunch made a few delegates choke on their flavoured milk. On seeing an unfamiliar brand, they decided to check the fine print – you guessed it, made in New Zealand. Surely there was some local milk in Gippsland with which to fuel Australia’s premier dairy conference. It certainly gave a couple of Kiwis in the crowd something to crow about.

Not happy, Simon Australian of the Year Simon McKeon gave the Tom Reid Oration at the Australian Dairy Conference, speaking about the need for science, the value

Dairy News Australia is published by RNG Publishing Limited. All editorial copy and photographs are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions or comments expressed within this publication are not necessarily those of the staff, management or directors of RNG Publishing Limited.

Dairy News always happy to help




From the farm Dairy Australia will launch a   to  India, Jess  marketing campaign this month aims for gold featuring athletes Jess Rothwell and David Crawshay. Under the banner “Milk the Moment”, both athletes reveal how milk is used as a recovery aid in their preparation and recovery. We think the use of endurWill sponsors walk the walk? ance walker Rothwell, who comes from a dairy farm at Katunga, northern Victoria, is inspired. In fact, we suggested she should be used to promote milk back in July, 2010. We’re glad they listened and are happy to waive our usual consultant’s fee. JESSICA  ROTHW ELL 


all and was even the attributes to more satisfying become a nahills when time permitte as it came after battling tional favourite d. at this year’s injuries Jessica would contribu for four months. Commonwealth It also earned te on Games in India the farm like most her an invitation in October. kids – milkto represent ing cows, feeding hay, Australia at the The 21-year-old Games where helping walker is ar- she with calving – is now one of the ticulate, talented, and wouldn’t favourites shirk determined, to her duties even take out the gold tough, modest – medal in the solid after a and above all, women’s 20km walk. afternoon of training she’s the proud product of a or competition. northern Victorian dairy farm. Jessica returned to her fam- She is one of the favou rites to win ily’s Katunga farm – north of the wome n’s 20km walk at Shepparton in the Goulburn the Valley – last month Commonwealth after comGames. peting overseas in the IAAF Jessica grew up on 20km race walking the Katunchallenge ga farm Phil says he noticed series. owned by her parents Jessica Rothwel her coml on her parents’ petitive edge as Phil and Anne. Katunga dairy She finished ninth she grew older, farm. in two wanting to complete Anne says her daughter events against the a given refined world’s best to to this day. train for cross country used task in the dairy quicker in La Coruna, Spain, than sessions take up run- her dad. and Chi- ning Jessica is now training five hours each huahua, Mexico, events as a kid by with a day, with learning experien living up to her running squad of Melbour travel on top of that. From starting up and down ce for the billing as the top ne walkers as with the young racer who cross part of the irrigation country female walker Jessica says race will compete channels in place Victorian Institute running through in Oceania in 2009. of hills, which of at 23 or 24, which walkers peak with others 10 Lit- Sport and tle Athletics, Jessica to 15 years her aren’t prevalent in studying coincides with The ninth placing health sci- her turned her ence the district. senior. in Chihuagoal of representing attention in Melbourne part-time Anne would also hua was her best Austral. ia at the 2012 drive Jes- enjoyed to race walking and She trains “International racing senior result sica Olympic Games in six days a week it. Coaches saw her for miles to practice is a and London. whole new learning nat- sometimes on sand ural techniqu experience. slips in a run on e which has been her Walking Local and internati is a very tactical rest day. Training onal com- and race and recovery it’s certainly not petitions until then a non-conwill be a tact sport,” she says. Footwear company ASICS provides some shoes and The authors of the clothing and the study concluded Vic- that after torian Institute of immediately after 12 weeks, women Sport also provides exercise and then consuma physio once a week and a massage ing milk as opposed to sports drinks an hour later. They exercised five allowance. in the early post-exer days a week for 12 weeks and changes cise period following resistance With success predicted in their body training gained lean composition were in this year’s Commonwealth Games and the 2012 muscle and strength as well as losing measured. DETERMINATION Olympic Games, fat. Lean muscle mass  TO BE the best Jessica seems the increased in both and rewarded to represent their ideal candidate for those drinking milk The after his Olympic researchers country comes at sponsorship from and carbohydrate gold medal a dairy investigated but a in Beijing but financial cost for whether women with a greater gain company wanting after years of sacrifice. Australian athletes. consuming skim in those drinkto promote versus milk ing milk, Only a handful the health benefits In Jessica Rothwell a carbohydrate drink and fat mass was of athletes receive of milk. ’s case, her pardecreased such as lucrative sponsors ents have supporte readily available A recent study in the milk drinkers hips and often only sports drinks with d her financially by researchers only. at equal number an after they’ve had McMasters Universit The evidence success on the world through her junior career and of calories would y in Canada sugshe gests that gain health benefits is there of milk’s stage. Pole vaulter receives some Federal lean muscle mass milk supports favourab Steve Hooker was and in Jessica it would and lose fat mass Government body le ter resistanc af- seem there sponsorship. composition changes e exercise. is the perfect athlete in women to undertaking resistanc promote this. The young women e training. drank either skim milk or a Let’s see if any dairy carbohydrate drink companies join her expanding group of supporters.

of innovation and the necessity to embrace it. The CSIRO scientist prefaced his talk with an admission the speech was one of the few he hadn’t written himself over the past 12 months, before imploring the dairy industry to embrace science and talk to the CSIRO about what it could do with the dairy dollar. We have always found Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday calm and measured but it’s fair to say the address left him hot under the collar. Neither Dairy Australia’s commitment to dairy research nor any of its funded projects were mentioned during the address. Halliday caught up with the speech writers at the conclusion of the

address to help them critique it.

There’s always one A detailed discussion at the final Foster focus farm open day at Kevin and Helen Jones’ property was punctuated with some light-hearted ribbing. Kevin and Helen, like others who take on the Focus Farm program, shared every detail of their business and their farm’s progress over two years, in a bid to help them and those involved in the group improve. Changes, including employing staff, had given them more free time. “I spend a lot more time with the kids than I ever did,” Kevin said. “That’s because you’ve got them working for you,” his neighbour said with a grin.

Nobody comes out well from Federal Water Minister Tony Burke’s sneaky ploy to buy irrigation water in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. The announcement took farm groups, the National Irrigators Council and affected communities by complete surprise. It also damaged any hard-earned goodwill the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Burke had managed to accumulate recently during a very bitter process. There was no consultation with anybody. Burke’s announcement of a “new, strategic water purchase initiative” came while the entire media focus was on the Gillard-Rudd leadership stoush. This was done to minimise publicity. Burke said at the announcement that the scheme would start four days later! When was the last time the Government rolled out something so quickly? The Government is now calling for expressions of interest from irrigators who divert directly out of the rivers in the southern part of the basin. In a display of weasel words, Burke said the initiative is “designed to test the market for targeted water purchases” and that it is not a general water tender. Well, if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck... Burke also said the expressions of interest will then be assessed against criteria the Government is yet to release. Hey, trust us, we’re the Government. Forgive our cynicism, but we’re pretty sure the Government is keen to go to the next election telling voters – green and otherwise – we’ve acquired this much water for the environment. They don’t care about how, or what the outcome is, as long as they have a figure that will fit snugly into newspaper headlines. How else would you explain what’s happening? Vff president Andrew Broad described the Government’s approach as “scatter gun” and it sums it up well. The work conducted under the Tony Windsor inquiry, the submissions made by affected groups and the current consultations all seem to count for little if the Government then decides to throw cash around to tempt irrigators to sign their water away. No thought is made for those in the districts that remain. A halt on all purchasing of entitlements is necessary to rebalance the Federal Government’s investment in recovering water for the environment. The Government has pumped $1.8 billion into buying water since 2008 yet spending on upgrading irrigation infrastructure has fallen significantly behind. These water purchases are being made on the basis of politics rather than sound policy. These methods may give the Federal Government a figure for a headline leading into next year’s election, but the damage caused by this scatter gun approach will cause irreparable damage to communities.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

opinion  // 17

Yes, you can grow from nothing John Mulvany

There has been considerable discussion about the future growth of the Australian Dairy Industry at this conference. In my view the answer is simple. The industry will grow if the total return to the dairy farmer is adequate for the costs incurred, the risk taken, owner-operator effort and the value of the assets invested. There is always exhaustive discussion, modelling and spreadsheet calculation regarding the first three factors but not a lot regarding the last – asset value. Yet, this is the one that generates the most inquiry from the younger members of the industry, that is, the future, hard core of the industry. Consider the facts from the DPI (Vic) Dairy Farm Monitor Project 2010/11 about the asset base of a typical dairy farm: ■■ 305 cows milked ■■ $3,586,424 of assets owned at 68% equity or net worth of $2.44

million. This equates to $11,756 per cow or $23.85/kg of milk solids. ONFARM Consulting data from Gippsland, Western Victoria and the North East supports very similar capital requirements. Most people running a business expect at least a 5% return on asset per year, plus capital growth (the same as several superannuation funds have indicated they require), so the true profit of the business must be $179,332 plus growth – a reasonable ask in a high risk industry. Even more daunting for any young person today who is skilled and passionate about the dairy industry and has a dream of their own farm, if we use 40% equity as the lowest equity required by lenders, this means our young farm purchaser requires a cool $1,434,569 initial equity – that’s a bit different to the purchaser of a first home at 10-20% equity. Consequently, the questions frequently asked by people starting the dairy life curve are: ■■ Is it still possible to

start with nothing and be on your way to owning a herd and mobile plant within 4-5 years? Answer: Yes. Absolutely, definitely – if you are good enough. ■■ Is it harder now to follow the traditional pathway from farm employee to sharefarmer to farm ownership? Answer: Yes, it is harder. There are two forces acting that make it harder. Firstly, land reflects 80% of the total capital required for the dairy business. In the past 10 years it has generally increased from $8000 per hectare to $18,000 per hectare, a 225% increase - great if you are in the capital market – as long as you have saleable capital. Northern Victoria would clearly be an exception to this trend. Secondly, 10 years ago a rough guide in terms of dairy farm profitability was that if you could retain $1000-$1300 per cow, after farm working expenses, to pay yourself, debt, capital and tax, then you were

doing reasonably well. This net figure has not changed in 10 years nor has the stocking rate increased significantly; hence the ability to pay for the increased capital value of land has not been matched by increased margin.

has decreased so anyone who has been able to hold their $1000-$1300 per cow margin has done well. The fact remains that it is harder (but not impossible) to follow the traditional pathway.

It is possible to start with nothing and be on your way to owning a herd and mobile plant within 5 years. This dilemma has been reflected by many people simply paying interest only on land debt because there is limited potential to reduce principle. The result of this is that overall asset growth depends on an increase in capital value of the land. Furthermore, milk price

The pizza shop approach

Consider a couple who have become pizza shop owners – their skill is in making pizzas, some of which are complex and others simple, just like dairy production systems. They rent the premises and would rarely own it, and certainly in most cases would not have the equity to own it at the start. They are prepared to work long hours and keep costs as low as possible – identifying that critical marginal point where more mozzarella does not

improve customer satisfaction or pizza price. Even though the oven is not a good investment because it depreciates and in five years will need replacing, it’s a necessary evil. The infrastructure as well has to be provided by our pizza business owners. If they are good enough, the pizza business will provide an operational profit which will enable wealth creation – a dairy farm business is no different. Consider someone wanting to operate a dairy business rather than make pizzas. In our typical dairy asset scenario above, of the $3.6 million asset provision, 20% is non-land, that is cows and mobile plant valued at $720,000; if we can scrape in at 40% equity to please lenders we now need $288,000 to start our dream – much less daunting than $1.4 million.

People often confuse the operational profit generated by a dairy business and capital growth. There are great examples of people who may not be the “best” or “most profitable” dairy farmers who manipulate land capital to grow enormous wealth – but the ability to do this is because there is a profitable operational dairy business – that’s the key. A second key to success is ensuring the operational surplus from the dairy business is invested wisely or used on servicing debt on other assets that are growing in value. John Mulvany is an independent consultant with ONFARM Consulting, based in Gippsland. This article first appeared in the 2012 Australian Dairy Conference program and was used as part of a panel discussion moderated by Mulvany.

Letter to the editor

Why BJD matters Colloquium on Paratuberculosis meeting in Sydney, in my role as the farmer representative of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF). As I listened to the presenters from around the globe who had gathered to share their challenges in managing Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD), I realised I came with a bit of an attitude I suspect many farmers have about this disease. BJD seems like an issue that involves a lot of talk, but it has never been a problem for me on my farm. So why are farmers funding a heap of professionals to manage BJD with our levy? Over the course of this meeting, I started to realise how wrong I was. I came to appreciate just how real the risks are posed by BJD to our markets and therefore the future viability of our dairy farm. I heard how well the Australian dairy industry was handling the challenge and how we lead the world in many aspects of BJD control. After wondering many a time if it was a waste of our industry funds, I finally understood why the industry was pushing the BJD program. While it is difficult to quantify the return on investment, this is a risk management program that benefits all Australian dairy farmers.

Our industry has protected us well in the event our markets come under threat from food safety concerns about dairy products. I was seriously impressed by our team from Dairy Australia, which is professional, passionate and technically competent, and act as strong advocates on behalf of the dairy industry. The “best practice” calf rearing practices the dairy industry promotes are helping minimise the spread of BJD on our farms. Hygienic milk harvesting and milk processing standards ensure the safety of our products. The Dairy Assurance Score gives us a tool to assess the risk of bringing BJD onto our farms when we introduce stock. I thought “the only thing missing here is our dairy farmers’ knowledge of this program”. So I’m putting pen to paper in the interest of sharing these new insights with you, my fellow farmer, who I represent. I feel we have some great people doing great work protecting our markets and minimising the impact of BJD on the Australian dairy industry. Roma Britnell Woolsthorpe Victoria

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

18 //  agribusiness

Fonterra must “protect” China CHINA IS a ‘must win’

according to Fonterra chairman, Henry van der Heyden. He said China now accounts for 20% of New Zealand’s dairy exports and that Fonterra needs to ‘protect’ the Chinese market. Van der Heyden says the Chinese market is important, not only in its own right, but because it is growing the overall global demand for dairy products. Each year about 20 million Chinese move from rural areas to the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. There is a rapidly rising wealthy middle

class which is gradually gaining a taste for dairy products. Ten years ago Chinese per capita consumption of dairy products was just 10kg per annum – now it’s over 25kg and rising. Fonterra brands feature in supermarkets – even such Kiwi foods as Mainland Cheese. Other ingredients are used in hotels and restaurants. He says these trends have forced Fonterra to become much more focused on where it wants to go in China. And the way of protecting the exports is to invest in China. The investment to

date has been in the form of two large dairy farms with a third already under construction. This move has raised the ire of some New Zealand dairy farmers who see it cutting them out. Not so, says van der Heyden. “China is a country where the value of our exports there has increased immensely. China has its own dairy industry so the consumers there want our product. But there is an expectation for us to do business in China that we bring modern ideas, technology and know-how to the Chinese dairy industry. That’s the balance,” he says.

Van der Heyden says the strategy of Fonterra expanding its farming operations in China will continue, but he’s not saying exactly how. “Do we need strategic or financial partners? That’s for future discussion. This is all about protecting the exports out of New Zealand and growing our business in China,” he says. He says China is a must win. “We want an integrated supply chain there because then we’ve got control of the supply right from the milk production through to the consumer.”

Henry van der Heyden

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Half-year profit boost for A2 Milk SUCCESS IN Australia

has boosted specialist New Zealand-based milk producer A2 Corporation’s (A2C) sales by 50%. It has helped the fledgling company achieve an aftertax profit of $3.1 million for half-year to December, 2011. After-tax profit for the previous comparable half was $893,517 and $2.1 million for the financial year ending June 30, 2011. Sales revenue for the six months to December 2011 was $28.3 million, an increase of 48.7% on the previous half. Chairman Cliff Cook says the result was pleasing in the face of continuing price discounting in fresh milk in Australia. “Whilst the Australian supermarket chains are going head to head in discounting standard milk, a2 brand sales have continued to accelerate with no change in our pricing. The current market share by value of a2 brand fresh milk in the grocery channel is now estimated to be 4.7%. “Our success in Australia gives us confidence for our international expansion. The formation of a joint venture with the largest fresh milk dairy company in Britain, Robert Wiseman Dairies, is a major milestone and will open a market three times

the size of Australia.” Managing director Geoffrey Babidge says a focus on marketing and management of costs ensured earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the 2012 half year of $2.27 million (2010:$1.58m) grew broadly in line with sales. Settlement of a legal dispute with a former Korean licensee contributed $1.1 million, underscoring the strength of the company’s intellectual property. “Increasing sales in Australia demonstrate that consumers in this market understand the a2 brand proposition and are willing to pay a significant premium over standard milk for our products.” The company will launch its fresh milk into the UK later this year with further expansion into new markets planned. An a2 brand infant formula is being development, commencing with a market in Asia. A2C will commission its own new fresh milk processing facility in Sydney later this month. Initially, the $A8.4 million plant will produce product for New South Wales allowing contract processors to support growing demand in other states of Australia.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

agribusiness  // 19

Small step-ups return to past As Dairy Australia said in its recent 2012 Situation & Outlook – February Update, the stability of the international dairy market has been remarkable given the on-going turmoil in global financial markets and the deteriorating outlook for the world economy over recent months. Demand has remained resilient - led by SouthEast Asia, China and the Middle East – so far absorbing the increase in production seen during 2011 from most of the major exporting countries. Consequently, international dairy commodity prices have remained fairly stable. Nevertheless, the perception has been that farmgate milk price step-ups in the southern exporting regions have been rather cautious this season – in terms of both

global impact Peter wilson size and frequency – due to the widespread economic uncertainty. When we look at the data, it is in fact true that step-up payments to southern farmers for the season to February do represent a smaller proportion of the opening price than in recent years [excluding the 2008/09 step-down] as shown in the accompanying chart. Interestingly, this is actually a return to a more traditional pattern of step-

ups and is in line with the more stable international market conditions that have prevailed so far in 2011/12 compared to previous years. Opening prices from the exporting manufacturers would now appear to have been closer to the mark than in recent more volatile years, with less need to make additional payments through the season. Current DA modelling suggests a likely final average southern price range of $5-20 to $5-30 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2011/12 season. This estimate can only be “indicative” as the proliferation of alternative payment systems means individual farmer payments will vary greatly around this average. As usual, the outlook for 2012/13 farmgate prices in southern export-

ing regions will be heavily dependent on the international dairy market balance and its influence on dairy commodity prices and Australian dollar [AUD] exchange rate movements. The AUD has appreciated strongly against the US dollar [USD]; supported by interest rate differentials with major economies. The relatively high level of interest rates in Australia is in stark contrast to many other developed economies - drawing in more funds and supporting a stronger local currency. Furthermore, the AUD is expected to remain at higher levels for some time given a likely extended period of low interest rates in the US and Euro zone. The high AUD will continue to limit returns to

Modelling indicates an increase in the Australian dollar from 105 to 110 US cents would reduce farmgate prices by 30c/kg MS. local exporters, at the same time EU exports are becoming increasingly competitive, and US manufacturers will be finding exports more attractive. Next season looks like presenting plenty of chal-

lenges at this stage. DA modelling also indicates that an increase in the Australian dollar from 105 to 110 US cents would reduce farmgate prices by 30 cents/ kilogram milk solids or

around 2.2 cents/litre. While exporters will have hedged a large proportion of current season sales, they will be more exposed to a high and potentially variable exchange rate in the coming year. Peter Wilson is the industry analyst – Australia for Dairy Australia. He can be contacted at

Rising dollar hurts export returns While Australia’s production is on the rise, so too is production across the US, UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. It is a different picture compared to 12 months ago when global dairy supplies were limited. Bills said the outlook for the international dairy market was critically dependent on demand for dairy products continuing to absorb additional milk supply. “Demand has been resilient in key Asian markets and the Middle East. There have been concerns that US and EU dairy consumption would fall as a result of their continued economic woes, however, product sales have increased or remained steady,” Bills said. Chinese WMP imports slowed in the second half of 2011, finishing the year down 1.8% on 2010. However, this is still around twice as high compared to three years ago. Total Chinese dairy imports have increased more than 20%.

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On the global scene, while dairy markets have been remarkably stable, the wider economic situation remains uncertain, according to Dairy Australia Manager, strategy and knowledge, Joanne Bills. Currency movements are impacting the competitiveness of exporters. “The high Australian dollar will continue to limit returns to local exporters, while EU exports are becoming increasingly competitive and exports more attractive for US manufacturers,” Bills said. “Exchange rates will have an impact on 2012/13 farmgate prices, as exporters have hedged a large proportion of current season sales, but will be more exposed to high and changeable exchange rates in the coming year.” Analysis undertaken as part of the Situation and Outlook February Update suggests a likely final average southern Australian farmgate milk price range of $5.20 to $5.30 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2011/12 season.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

20 //  management

Kiama dairy cows double as lab rats While Nick manages farm operations, Michael has developed the Mandelyn and Tangalla Holstein studs A highly productive working dairy which have enjoyed considerable breed which doubles as a field laboratory is success. With their three-times-a-day milklooking to rewrite the pasture manual for southern coastal New South Wales. ing routine, Clover Hill Dairies holds The Strong family, whose dairy the majority of NSW class production bloodlines trace back seven genera- records and two cows hold Australian tions, run Lemon Grove Research Farm production records for litres of milk and milk solids in a lactation. on one of two properAnother major ties they operate at Jamgrowth driver came in beroo, just inland from 2008 with the opporKiama. tunity to lease Lemon Lynne Strong is the Grove. Although the public face of Clover Hill two properties are close Dairies which takes its together they are very name from their home different. farm. Together with Who: Clover Hill is 50ha of her husband Michael Lynne, Michael and rich volcanic soil located and son Nick they have Nick Strong in steep, high conserpushed the enterprise Where: vation value rainforest through a phenomenal Jamberoo country on the north growth curve over the What: On-farm research east face of Saddleback past decade. Mountain. They are now milkLemon Grove is 68ha ing 550 cows three times a day at better than five cows per hect- of alluvial flats at the head of the Minnamurra River flood plain. are, 2 1/2 times the industry average. Despite receiving a third less annual Converting to the third milking – 4am, noon and 8pm – in 2005 resulted rainfall than the 1500 to 2000mm in a 15-20% increase in production from recorded at Clover Hill, the family have boosted stocking rate capacity by 150% the same area. Lynne said this had proved an effec- and increased milk production 350% in tive money-making proposition to say just two years. Lynne said the establishment of nothing of the environmental benefits. Through increased feed conversion effi- Lemon Grove Research Farm was prociency, their greenhouse gas emissions viding an opportunity for regional scientific input. Their proactive approach were slashed by 30%. Their sustainable farming ethos was was also helping to garner an increase in recognised with the award of National the share of industry and government Landcare Primary Producer of the Year research funding to NSW. Research trials are overseen by the in 2010. The business went through a signif- respected independent consultancy icant transition in 2000 with the deci- SBScibus, founded by Professor Ian sion to convert the Illawarra herd to Lean, an international authority on large-framed Holsteins based on North dairy health, nutrition and herd management. American genetics. Gordon Collie

Lynne Strong is the public face of Clover Hill Dairies.

Lynne and Michael Strong run Lemon Grove Research Farm on one of two properties they operated at Jamberoo, inland from Kiama.

An early major focus is challenging the traditional coastal pasture orthodoxy which is heavily based on grasses such as annual rye in winter and spring and kikuyu or paspalum in summer and autumn. Seasonal feed gaps are an issue and the search for a year-round perennial grass species has proved challenging. Another major drawback of grass dominant pastures has been a heavy reliance on nitrogen fertilisers for optimum performance. The recent spike in fertiliser prices and the greenhouse gas implications of being reliant on nitrogen input were motivating factors for the family to explore alternatives. New pasture options being trialed, based on perennial legumes and herbs rather than grasses, are showing promise. “We are still in our first year so it is early days yet, but the results are encouraging,” Lynne said. The mix includes lucerne, red and white clovers, chicory and plaintain. Lucerne with its deep tap root is capable of accessing moisture and nutrients well below the reach of common grass species. This growth habit helps stop nutrients reaching the water table and extends the growing season in drier periods. Red clover grows rapidly in the first

year while lucerne is getting established. White clovers selected are spreading cultivars that fill spaces left by other plants that die out. The herbs are also deep rooted and able to use the nitrogen fixed by the legumes in these pasture mixes. The trial pastures are responding well to nutrient supplied by dairy effluent, offering the benefits of reduced inputs and adaption to climate variability.

Seasonal feed gaps are an issue and the search for a yearround perennial grass species has proved challenging. Lynne said the pasture research was being fully documented and compared against electronically recorded herd performance. “Our capability with fully trained staff using best clinical practice will ensure we are an attractive site for future dairy research,” Lynne said. The Lemon Grove property is focused solely on milk production with all reproduction and calving activities centralised at Clover Hill. After mating, cows are moved to a nearby lease block and come back to

Clover Hill about three weeks before calving. All cows spend the first 150 days of their lactation at Clover Hill. This simplifies farming operations at Clover Hill and also vital early lactation health monitoring. This is overseen by veterinarians and students from the University of Sydney who provide the family with a detailed herd health status report once a fortnight. Lynne has forged close links with university researchers as a member of its Dairy Research Council. Projects include key research on the development of robotic dairying at the Camden Campus. She has also been an active champion for the dairy industry in the regional community. “As farmers we need to be actively engaged with our customers in urban areas. If we hide behind the farm gate we risk losing our social licence. “We can either build consumer trust and credibility with the public or accept the demand for Governments to crackdown and regulate our industry.” Her interests include chairing Dairy Youth Australia which runs innovative programs to engage with younger people such as Art4Agriculture, the Archibull Prize and the Cream of the Crop competition. There will be two Lemon Grove field days on the new pasture program on March 26 and 27.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

management  // 21

Hunt is on for best doers PETER BURKE


run by DairyNZ to find the dairy cows which are the most efficient converters of feed to milk is progressing well. Scientists say within a year they should be able to confirm a genetic marker can clearly identify such high performing animals. The trial is being carried out at the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) at Hawera. It is being replicated in Australia under the auspices of the Department of Primary Industry in Victoria. The results of both trials will be combined to ensure sufficient scale to confirm the validity of results. The trial started in 2008 with a special facility built at the research centre. This consisted of 28 pens and feed stations for the 224 calves on the facility at any one time. DairyNZ senior scientist Kevin Macdonald has been supervising the trial. “Initially we put calves that were between six and eight months of age through the pens for 60 days,” Macdonald said. “We measured their live weight and their intake for 46 days and identified which were the most efficient and which were the least efficient. “All told we put through about 1050 calves, and we’ve kept the 10% most efficient and the 10% that are least efficient.” From the differences found between calves, LIC identified a likely set of gene markers for feed conversion efficiency (FCE). The markers were used

only difference is that we have to give a dry feed.” Waghorn said typically a cow eats about 17 kg/DM per day of pasture which equates to about 120kg of “wet feed”. The essence of the trial is based on the biochemistry of the cow and inheritability of genes that set apart the more efficient converters of feed from others. To ensure accurate results Waghorn said a large number of cows have to be screened. “We have found that some are more efficient than others and the differences are big between the least and most efficient – A genetic marker in some cases it’s identifying high 20%. performing animals “That means should be found that some will need 10/kg DM within a year. per day while another will require only The animals are fed 8/kg DM for the same special lucerne pasture cubes imported from Aus- growth. So it’s worth chasing,” he said. tralia. The cubes enable As well as the Hawera intake to be measured trial, the cows are being accurately and are closer put on pasture on farms to replicating pasture. and some have been sent DairyNZ senior scito an AgResearch facility entist, Dr Garry Wagin Palmerston North for horn, said the choice of methane production tests. the cubes over pellets was Macdonald is conductcritical. ing further trials on some “You cannot measure farmlets. feed intakes from pasture “We have 126 cows on because it’s about 85% these 11ha farmlets and moisture… so we have to while they are not exactly have dry feed,” he said. representative of what “The cubes are good happens on farm, they do because we can easily enable us to look at differweigh and measure them. ent stocking rates,” WagAlthough pellets are more horn said. readily available they “Stocking rates are not are not really an option because of the very screwy critical but it gives us an indication of whether the results they would be more efficient animals do likely to deliver. need less feed and if are “We must have a trial they more or less competiwhere the evaluation is tive than the least efficient roughly the same as in the cows.” real pasture world, the to screen 3700 cows from commercial herds and 214 cows were bought as either efficient or inefficient. Macdonald said they are now feeding the cows in the pens with the objective of validating the marker genes by conducting the same test. The feed intake, live weight and milk production are measured for 35 days. The feeding regime is strictly controlled. Each cow or calf carries an electric collar or ear tag so it is recorded when it puts its head into one of the feeding stations. It instantly records how much an animal has eaten.

The idea of producing as much milk for less feed could lead to lower stocking rates and improved environmental outcomes. “What’s really good about this is that there’s no genetic modification,” Waghorn said. “All we are doing is identifying cows that are actually out there and we are selecting the efficient and identifying inefficient ones. “Even if you measure breeding worth you still don’t know how much they ate to get there.”

Focus on feet Unseasonally damp conditions across much of Australia’s dairy areas have brought the focus onto feet. Keeping an eye on feet not only saves a cow from pain, it makes financial sense. Dairy Australia calculates that each lame cow costs an estimated $600 to $700/year through lost milk production, decreased fertility, an increased risk of culling and actual treatment costs. About 80% to 90% of lameness occurs in the feet, and most commonly in hind feet because this is the part of the body the cow most uses for propulsion. Extremely wet conditions are associated with higher rates of lameness in dairy cows. Prolonged exposure to moisture causes the hoof to soften, making bruising, penetration injuries and white-line disease more prevalent. The skin between the claws and around the foot also softens, leaving the skin more prone to infections. The higher bacterial loads present in wet muddy environments add to the problem. Larger stones and sharp gravel in farm tracks are also exposed after the fine toppings are washed from track surfaces. Calm and patient stockmanship reduces wear and injuries to softened hooves. Cows will place their feet carefully if given time to walk at their own pace. Allow the herd to move slowly along tracks giving them time to choose where they place their feet.

The idea of producing as much milk for less feed could lead to lower stocking rates and improved environmental outcomes.

Scientist Kevin Macdonald is supervising a joint Australian-New Zealand trial on feed efficiency.

Consider putting slow walkers and young cows in a separate herd to improve cow flow. Smaller herds reduce the competitive pressure between cows. Give cows additional time to choose a path through restrictions or through areas where the track surface has been damaged. If you suspect lameness, examine the hoof using an examination kit comprising: • a soft rope for tying the leg • hoof testers • a sharp hoof knife (double-sided) protected with a pouch • sharp hoof trimmers, and • sharpening tools. You can restrain a cow in a crush, rotary bale or even on the platform in a herringbone dairy. The more stable and comfortable a cow feels, the quieter she will stand. Having a non-slip surface and/or straps to support the weight of the cow will assist. Examine the foot, looking for signs of: • • • •

sole injuries white line disease foot rot, or interdigital lesions.

Treatment could include antibiotics, antiinflammatories/painkillers, trimming and paring, grinding, blocks or rest. Remember to record lameness treatments. If more than 7% of the herd is affected by lameness in a season it’s likely to indicate there are identifiable management problems that can be worked on.

This is one of the many examples of the dairy service levy at work locally. 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

Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

22 //  management

Tools aid corrective breeding HOLSTEIN AUSTRALIA has released two breeding services it says will accelerate genetic improvement in the Australian dairy industry. The conformation evaluation service, traitplus, and complementary breeding program, mateplus, are available to all farmers. Holstein Australia CEO Matt Shaffer said the Australian-developed technology would remove the guesswork associated with corrective breeding. “Traitplus is a professional conformation evaluation service that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your cows, while mateplus is a mating program that carefully matches these strengths and

weaknesses to your chosen sire team,” Shaffer said. “Combined, they will help producers get the most from their investment in genetics by adding consistency and objectivity to their breeding decisions.” Shaffer said both services could be provided as a same-day service for as little as $3/cow. The new services were showcased at a series of information sessions throughout Victoria, Tasmania and Southern NSW earlier this month. Shaffer said traitplus was a “scaled down” version of the classification system used by pedigree breeders throughout the world. Under the program, Holstein

Holstein Australia offers a new corrective breeding service for the cost of $3/cow.

Australia Senior Classifier Richard Anderson said HA’s classifiers assess each cow for 11 key traits using the same internationally-recognised standards that HA classifiers use in classification. “This information is then used to identify the key areas for improvement,” he said.

“Cows are assessed during milking or as they enter or leave the dairy, so there’s no extra work required on behalf of producers.” Mateplus then determines the best mating for each cow based on its conformation, production records, pedigree information and the latest Australian Breeding Values. HA Genetic Improvement Research Manager Rohan Butler said unlike other breeding programs, mateplus leaves producers in charge of sire selection. “They can nominate whichever sires they like provided they have an Australian proof or converted Australian proof,” Butler said. “They can even select different sire

teams for different groups of cows or desired blend price. “That said and done, we’re here to help with impartial and expert advice if they want it. “Our staff can help producers to establish breeding objectives appropriate for their management and, if desired, identify a suitable sire team using the ADHIS Selectabull program.” Shaffer said he believed traitplus and mateplus will deliver many important benefits for the Australian dairy industry. “At the very least, this technology will allow producers to make more informed breeding decisions and get the most from their investment in genetics,” he said.

Real farmers. Real results. DOWEL FAMILY KORUMBURRA, VICTORIA A TESTIMONIAL BY COLIN & JENNY DOWEL | Phone 1800 118 872 Stuart and Louise Murray

‘The cows have greater feed conversion, resulting in more litres and higher milk components’.

No playing favourites FROM FAVOURITE


Dowel Family Korumburra, Victoria Herd 330 stud Jerseys. Calving 25 calving in Autumn; remaining herd June onwards. Production herd average 5,080 litres; fat 5.1%, protein 3.8%. What Performance Products do you use and how do you use them in your system? We use the Gel on all new calves and ailing animals as a quick pick-me-up solution to get the gut working again. We also use Healthy Calf Plus, Healthy Calf Macro, DFM pellets and Fire-up. What are the Benefits you have seen since using Performance? We have fitter, healthier calves with a stronger constitution to combat diseases, less mortality, more eagerness to forage and utilize calf meal and pasture hay whilst using the Healthy Calf Plus. The heifers seem to grow out better to yearlings with the Healthy Calf Macro in their mix. The cows have greater feed conversion resulting in more litres and higher milk components. We have noticed the cows also chew their cud a lot more. The Fire-Up has helped the springers in their transition period with complete ease. Overall we have had reduced Vet costs.


Can you put a ‘monetary’ figure on these benefits? The calves and cows seem to be a lot healthier having Performance Probiotics in their diet. This has resulted in vet costs decreasing. Would you recommend Performance Probiotics to another farmer? We would definitely recommend to another farmer. Performance Probiotic products are backed up with sound nutritional advice and seem to be user-friendly. The field reps are down to earth and are actually very interested in seeing what you do, always go out into the paddock and/or in the calf shed and look at what is happening!

cows to programmed objectivity, producers Stuart and Louise Murray reckon they have come a long way in the dairy breeding business during the past two decades. The Murrays milk 550 Holsteins at Bamawm, northern Victoria, and are gearing up to introduce 230 new heifers to the herd. Stuart Murray says these 230 heifers will be better cows than their mothers. The Murrays knew what they wanted in their herd and they knew there were faults such as weak rear udders, high rump and the angle of feet and legs that they wanted corrected. They were some of the first to use the traitplus and mateplus programs when they trialled the services two years ago. During the next calendar year, about 230 heifers bred using the programs will join their herd. The traitplus program is a professional conformation evaluation service that identifies the

strengths and weaknesses of each cow using the same internationally-recognised standards of classification. The mateplus program carefully matches these strengths and weaknesses to nominated sires using a range of production, conformation and pedigree data and the latest ABVs. “What attracted me to traitplus and mateplus initially was that they were truly unbiased,” Murray said. “I could still go to the AB centres and seek advice about certain bulls but the joining decision is made independently and ahead of time - not on the spot. “Plus, I could still stick to my budget and use my favourite bulls. What the programs guarantee is the best possible joining of cow and bull. “We have a herd of extremely productive, long-lasting cows. “We don’t profess to have stud quality animals and I feel that has allowed us the freedom to concentrate on production and not genetics, though I do admit you really can’t have one without the other.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

management  // 23

Think herbs now, reap summer rewards A trend is emerging on Victo-

rian dairy farms towards high quality summer active perennials on a portion of the grazing area to fill key feed gaps. Greg O’Brien, Department Primary Industries, Ellinbank, says Project 3030 trials have identified the value of summer active perennials in the feed system and two promising options are the herbs chicory and plantain. Project 3030 is a program – joint funded by Dairy Australia, the Victorian DPI, the Geoffrey Gardner Foundation and the regional dairy bodies – aimed at increasing profit through improvement in the consumption of home-grown forage. “Both chicory and plantain are able to produce high amounts of feed during the warmer months, with the feed being of high quality,” O’Brien said.

“They can be used to support high milk production or to grow out young stock. “Farmers have found it beneficial to have summer active species on a portion of the grazing area but they are a little different to manage than ryegrass.” O’Brien said the herbs do best with rotational grazing, do not stand pugging damage while chicory does not like wet feet. “They tend to be short-lived perennials, providing high yields for 2-3 years. “Both can regrow from self-sown seed, so with the right management, the stand can last longer. “It is important to do some homework to be sure it is something that suits your farm system as well as your

management style and skills.” O’Brien said a potential concern is the control of broad-leafed weeds. “These herbs are both sensitive to herbicides used to control weeds, particularly plantain. So the key here is to control weeds a season or two before sowing. “With this in mind, select paddocks now for sowing to herbs in spring. Spray for a complete kill then cultivate the paddock.” O’Brien recommends sowing the paddock with a short-lived annual that will not be affected by herbicides used to control broad-leafed weeds during late-autumn or winter. He said grazing cereals are a good choice as they provide good autumn/ winter feed and can be grazed out in late-winter to prepare for sowing to

Maximising forage year round Maximising forage growth on farm drives the pasture management strategies of Western Victorian dairy farmer Mark Billing. Billing runs 450 dairy cows on a dry land pasture-based seasonal calving operation at Colac. He is looking to expand his herd to 500 cows within 12 months. Underpinning his success has been Mark’s ability to diversify his forage base so that it delivers quality feed all year round. He has established a ryegrass base, made up of a mix of annual and perennial varieties, and supplements this with a variety of pasture management strategies that collectively give him maximum forage. Some of his forage maximising strategies include: ■■ Planting ryegrasses with Endophyte AR37. This has given his ryegrass planting protection against black and red-headed cockchafer infestations. ■■ Making sure he mixes his endophyte ryegrasses to ensure he is getting maximum persistence and productivity. By carefully choosing his ryegrass varieties he gets the best of both worlds. He has planted Wrightson Seeds’ Base AR37 for it

Colac farmer Mark Billing has diversified his forage base.

production benefits, and Extreme AR37 for persistence. ■■ Implementing a “speed feed” to give his winter grazing a kick along. In autumn, Billing sows down a mix of Feast II Italian ryegrasses with high winter growth Appin turnips to get quality forage fast. ■■ Using turnips as a summer crop rotation as part of his pasture renovations. Billing sows down Wrightson Seeds’ Barkant turnip, grazes then re-sows with ryegrass. It means his paddocks under renovation still deliver fast growing, high yielding summer crops. Essentially, Billing isn’t afraid to give new things a go. For example, Bill-

ing currently has 12ha under Wrightson Seeds’ Stamina GT6 lucerne. Not traditionally grown in his dairying area, Billing first sowed lucerne down in spring 2008, then again in spring 2009. He is looking to sow more in 2012. He has found the GT lucerne responds very well to summer rain. He has also found that without summer rains, GT lucerne provides good quality feed, which is especially important once ryegrass goes out of season. Underpinning all this is his willingness to work with local agronomists to trial new varieties against proven varieties and to experiment with combinations of varieties and different pasture species.

plantain or chicory. “If summer weeds are also a problem, sow a summer grass crop such as millet to allow control of summer weeds before sowing to herbs the following spring.” For best results, he suggested direct drilling the plantain or chicory in early spring. This allows them to establish before the onset of summer heat. Their roots will be well into the soil and be able to continue to grow through summer. “Later sown crops often grow much less over the first spring/summer,” O’Brien said. “Direct drilling the herb, without cultivating again, decreases the potential of seeds coming to the surface to cause weed problems later. “As these crops tend to have a fairly

open growth habit and grow relatively slowly in winter, there is a temptation to sow a companion species so sowing a prostrate clover such as sub or white clover is a good option. “ O’Brien said planting sub or white clover fills in the gaps and reduces the weed problems, while providing high quality feed and nitrogen, which improves the yields of chicory and plantain. “Some sow perennial grasses, but ryegrass tends to be fairly competitive and tends to reduce the amount of herb in the stand,” he said. “Tall fescue is more open so is a better match than ryegrass. “Both herbs will benefit from the strategic use of nitrogen fertiliser, and can be treated much like ryegrass in terms of rates.”

US expert appeals for more lucerne research Years of drought are responsible for an upswing in interest in lucerne in Australia, according to a visiting American expert who has appealed for more investment in researching the field. Professor Joe Bouton, speaking at the Australian Grassland Association’s legume conference in Melbourne last month, said interest in legumes, and lucerne in particular, was growing more in China and Australia than any other country. “In China it is more to do with inability to dedicate cereal grains to their dairy industry, in Australia a 10-year drought got people interested in it because it is a good dry land crop,” Bouton said. “Lucerne has been around for a long time but there is a rediscovery of its benefits as a global product.” A white paper to guide future research priorities is being developed as a result of the legume conference. The Senior Professor from the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma said all farms should have some alfalfa or lucerne. “It has high yields, high nutrient quality, wide adaptation and improves soil structure.”

Bouton said lucerne’s strong performance in the production of milk made it a natural choice for Australia. “Ryegrass and clover are important but sometimes we overlook the value of lucerne.” Bouton said there was also potential for lucerne to become a major part of tropical or sub-tropical production systems. “It can be of value in different grazing systems and in combination with other companion species.” Lucerne could help overcome deficiencies in perennial ryegrass and white clover systems, he said. “It provides protein and energy to livestock, especially during dry weather, and helps fight against rising costs of feed, fuel, and nitrogen fertiliser,” Bouton said new research aimed to improve lucerne’s tolerance to soil acidity and aluminium toxicity, improve multiple pest resistance and was based on a grazing-tolerance approach. There was great potential in biotechnologies to speed up the selection process, Bouton said.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

24 //  management

A spoonful of sugar helps farm profits go up Dairy farmers’

Locally-developed high-energy perennial ryegrass could lift profits more than $200/ha, early research indicates.

Making the switch to robotic milking. Lindsay operates the farm with his wife Jacinta, and children, they also employ two casual and one full-time worker.

Netherlands and see the Astrea working first hand. Upon his return Lindsay had this to say: “The Insentec Astrea 20-20 ticked all the boxes for me. It’s extremely energy efficient and uses

Even so, It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain staffing and control costs. Milking “The Insentec Astrea 20-20 his 220 cows more efficiently and cost 20-40% less energy than other effectively was the major products on the market. criteria. “There was a huge difference To achieve his aims, Lindsay made the bold decision to install a robotic dairy system. “We did a lot of research and looked at everything available in Australia,” he said. But it was only after seeing the Insentec robotic milker, distributed in Australia by Daviesway Dairy Equipment with their installation service based in Warragul, that things started to fall into place. Daviesway arranged for Lindsay to visit Insentec in the

in price, installation looked quick and the product had clear technical advantages.” According to Daviesway, the Insentec Astrea 20-20 is extremely advanced yet remarkably simple. In the past, automated milking focused mostly on life style and reduced labour in the barn. The problem was that in exchange for a simpler and less labour intensive milking routine, the owner had to accept a complicated machine

and increased operating and maintenance costs. In contrast, Insentec built their automated milking system alongside a robotic arm that was over engineered, extremely capable, very gentle when working around the animal and only required a six month lube. This robotic arm had been utilised in 100’s of demanding

To encourage the cows to accept the robot, a new grazing system was introduced. After Lindsay’s robot was up and running in December 2011, the adjustment period for the majority of his King Vista Jersey herd took no time at all. He said a major benefit of the new system is it’s ability to milk the cows in exactly the same way, every time. “This system

ticked all the boxes for me.” has changed manufacturing industries around the world. Insentec carefully ensured that all this state-of-the-art equipment focused on the cow’s wellbeing.

our lives for the better” said Lindsay, “and I can see more robots in our future.”

For more information, contact Daviesway Dairy Equipment T 1800 666 269.


In 2011, Lindsay Anderson, a 7th generation dairy farmer & owner of Kings Vista Jersey Stud, Athlone, (near Warragul Victoria), made the decision to embrace robotic milking.

future profits could soon be sweetened with access to locally-developed, highenergy perennial ryegrass. An investigation using data from two recent on-farm trials indicates the potential benefit could be more than $200/ha, according to University of Melbourne PhD student Cameron Ludemann. Ludemann, a member of the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre project, told last month’s Australian Dairy Conference that the Dairy Futures CRC is currently using gene technology to increase the sugar concentration in perennial ryegrass. “Research in the UK has shown that high-energy varieties of ryegrass can improve milk production by 21%,” Ludemann said. “And it is the water soluble carbohydrate (sugar) levels in those varieties that make them go down more easily. “The high sugar levels in the grass result in more energy being used for milk production with less energy spent on rumen digestion.” Many of the UK varieties have not performed well under Australian conditions and don’t always express their potential energy concentrations, which is why the Dairy Futures CRC is attempting to modify sugar concentration in perennial ryegrass. “This is so the higherenergy perennial ryegrass varieties will perform consistently under local conditions – and in particular, a drying climate. “Gene technology holds the key to more consistent expression of the high sugar trait. It could also increase sugar to levels not achieved using traditional breeding methods.” Ludemann said the aim of the CRC research is to boost perennial ryegrass

by one megajoule of the metabolisable energy per kilogram of dry matter (1MJME/kg DM). His role is to investigate the on-farm benefits of high-energy ryegrass and the potential impacts of a range of factors, such as drought and temperature, on those benefits. On-farm trial data for the 2009-10 season from two research stations – DemoDairy at Terang, Vic, and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Dairy Centre, Elliott, Tas. – has been used. The energy concentration in the modified grass consumed by the cows was assumed to increase by 1 MJME/ kg DM compared with standard ryegrass varieties. The value of the additional energy from the modified grass for either option was estimated by multiplying the change in energy per hectare by the cost of feed barley in $/ MJME consumed. No additional costs were assumed in having the modified ryegrass instead of standard ryegrass. “Results from the economic analysis suggest significant financial gains can be made from a higherenergy ryegrass. “It shows greatest benefit during spring with an $87/ha increase for both trial sites. The significance of the $217/ha and $206/ha annual values for Terang and Elliott provides good reason to pursue more detailed investigation.” Ludemann said benefits could be captured in several ways: ■■ A farmer could reduce the equivalent amount of grain or concentrates fed to reduce feed costs. ■■ Supplementary feed use could be maintained so the farm can reap the gross margin benefit on any additional milk produced from the extra energy.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

animal health  // 25

Small changes halt rising cell count through the hot water system. The mixture wasn’t tested, either. ■■ A teat inspection showed 33% of teats assessed were considered to Slight changes to their milkhave “rough” teat ends, around 10% ing practices helped rectify an unexhad “open orifices” and 18% had pected jump in the bulk milk cell count significant teat end firmness after of Gippsland dairy farmers Kevin and cluster removal. Teat skin was also Helen Jones, who milk about 400 Holconsidered a little dry. stein cows at Foster. A visit from mastitis specialists Dairy ■■ The liner change interval was much Focus provided the Jones’ with low-cost more than the recommended 2500 tips on how to reduce their cell count cow milkings. and they are now back to supplying ■■ Some milkers did not wear gloves “premium grade” milk to Burra Foods. and their technique when hanKevin said they were at a loss to dling cups often involved hanexplain why their cell count rose so dling the liner mouthpiece. Others dramatically in the winter and spring used rubber gloves which were not of 2010. smooth like nitrile gloves. “The year got really wet at the start ■■ The clusters did not “fall” freely of calving we had our worst results ever, after vacuum shut-off and this was up around 500,000,” Kevin said. causing some rough cup removal. “We didn’t want to sell cows because ■■ A significant number of cows were we needed milk to service our debt.” being over milked by about one to They called in Rod Dyson and Rob two minutes. Moyle from Dairy Focus who watched All these issues were contributing to the Jones’ perform a typical milking and their higher cell count and Dairy Focus told them where they provided recommendacould improve. tions to help the Jones “It made sense. You address them. look over your worker’s Kevin and Helen shoulder, who looks over also made some signifyours?” Kevin said. icant changes in their Dairy Focus apply the dairy and around the Countdown Downunder farm, including upgradprinciples and guidelines ing their milking plant over five key mastitis after the first audit – Who: Kevin and Helen Jones risk areas that need to they changed from a Where: be addressed to achieve swing-over to a doubleFoster mastitis control on any up dairy and installed What: farm – these are dryingautomatic cup removLow cell count off, calving, lactation, ers, which addressed the environment and culling. issue of over milking. Under the Dairy Focus Mastitis Risk Major track and drainage work was Assessment, the Jones’ had an initial also undertaken around the dairy and risk score of 26 out of 60, considered the farm which they said also signifia typical “first up” score. The key was cantly contributed to the better results. to reduce this risk to 15 points or lower. The Jones’ were told teat disinfecKevin said they didn’t pull any tion was the most important job in the punches. The major areas needing dairy and the hardest to get right. attention were: “All milkers should concentrate ■■ Teat disinfection, which was their efforts and technique to ensure the entire teat surface is covered,” the achieving less than ideal coverage report said. of the teats. ■■ The teat spray was being mixed “They should pay particular attention to the front side of the teats where using town water that has been STEPHEN COOKE

Kevin and Helen Jones with employees Alan Stark and Christina Ermolov.

it is more difficult to get good coverage.” It was recommended that the Jones’ regularly check and adjust the spray nozzles to get a good “splat”. A technique to achieve good coverage - about 20 ml per cow is required – should be practiced. As it turned out, Kevin said they didn’t require more spray to get better teat coverage; the nozzles just had to be adjusted slightly. Dairy Focus also recommended changing to a “Ready to Use” teat spray product, eliminating the risks associated with mixing a product, and ensuring the correct concentration is available all the time. They also recommended monitoring teat skin condition and suggested adding extra emollient to the mix for a short period during wet conditions to avoid dry and chapped teat skin. Dairy Focus said liners need to be replaced at a maximum of 2500 milkings or six months, whichever occurs

first, as worn liners will directly affect teat condition, mastitis risk and milking performance. Milking 380 cows twice daily equates to a liner change every 66 days (9 1/2 weeks). Kevin said wearing gloves while milking is a pet hate so it was recom-

More spray wasn’t required to get better teat coverage; the nozzles just had to be adjusted slightly. mended he modify his technique when handling cups to reduce the contact with the liner mouthpiece. Helen said the Dairy Focus team also made dry off recommendations, so that the cows received Cepravin Dry Cow Therapy and Teat Seal at dry off.  “While we had always blanket drycowed the herd, the Cepravin was stron-

ger than our previously used treatment, and we hadn’t used Teat Seal before.” The changes helped rectified the cell count problem and, as the Jones’ were involved in the Focus Farm Project at the time, a field day was held last year to discuss the solutions. It was particularly well attended and had an excellent response from farmers. Those present were told: ■■ Understanding the way cows become infected is important, so that infection can be prevented. Taking milk cultures from cows that have clinical mastitis or a high cell count is a great way of finding out what bugs are present and how to best deal with them. ■■ Lowering the risk of mastitis is better than finding cows that have mastitis. It is also less expensive. ■■ Make a plan to manage the risk of cows being infected with mastitis. ■■ Be prepared to change your plan if the environmental conditions change.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

26 //  animal health

Feed pad takes edge off wet winter Gippsland farmers Matt Loader and

Gruyere farmer Tyran Jones, Matt Loader, Megan Kirk with Jayda in her arms, Ken and Val Kirk and consultant Matt Harms on the recent Gippsland feed pad tour.

IN UDDER WORDS... Metricheck your herd for a clean return to pregnancy Undetected uterine infection after calving can wreak havoc on fertility and delay return to pregnancy – but many producers don’t 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 effect on fertility can have a significant economic impact,” she said. Cows most at risk include those that have retained foetal membranes, have had a difficult calving, 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 can be treated effectively to allow the best chance of an early conception. Mrs Morrison said that getting your vet to check the whole herd with a Metricheck device will help ensure that problems can be picked up. Cows identified with a problem can then be treated before the start of mating.

“If infected cows aren’t detected, they may 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. “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.

Megan Kirk were so concerned about the impact of the wet season last year that they built a feed pad in late May. In hindsight, Matt and Megan say they would never attempt to build a feed pad in winter if they had their time again but once completed, the pad proved invaluable. The couple took part in a field day as part of the Future Ready Dairy Systems project last month, where 100 local farmers toured six feed pads in the region. Dairying for Tomorrow coordinator Gillian Hayman said the wet conditions of the past 12 months had created many headaches for Gippsland dairy farmers. “Always looking to improve farm management, minimise soil and pasture damage and maintain cow health, many farmers are considering the option of a feed pad,” Hayman said. Matt and Megan Kirk share farm for Val and Ken Kirk in the hills of Krowera, west of Korumburra. They milk 300 seasonally calving cows on 110ha (2.7cows/ha) with the first cows commencing calving on June 1. They made the decision, in conjunction with Val and Ken, to build a feed pad in late May, 2011, only two weeks before calving. The feed pad was completed about a fortnight later, after 21 truck and dog trailer loads of rock was shifted by Ken with the tractor and bucket as it was too wet to get the trucks to where the pad was being constructed. The gravel and stone pad was built on land adjacent to a laneway at the


Matt Loader and Megan Kirk Where:

Krowera What:

Feed pad

back of the dairy shed. When not in use, it is fenced off and the laneway functions as normal. It is the intention to use the pad solely to feed silage during the winter, however if the need arises to purchase northern hay, it would more than likely be fed on the pad even in summer or autumn to save time and reduce wastage. Construction comprised 12 loads of 150mm rock on the base, topped with 10 loads of Cranbourne 20mm rock that is used on cow laneways. There are enough Waste-Not feeders to comfortably feed 200 cows. The cost of installation was around $32,800, not counting the time of Ken and Matt doing minimal earthworks, tree removal, trough removal and carting the stone 100 metres. It was estimated about $7500 of the cost was additional stone because of the wet conditions. Without this additional stone, the project would have cost around $25,000. The pad allows for the feeding of fibre to the cows prior to grazing, although at times the cows were fed both pre- and post-milking. It can also be used as a stand-off area in extremely wet conditions should the need arise. The feed pad is estimated to have reduced feed wastage by up to 50% this winter, and it was felt that at some times the cows may not have been able to be fed in the paddocks as it was too wet and

dangerous. Throughout the winter of 2011, they were only fed in the paddock once. The incidence of LDAs was reduced from a usual five or six in a normal year to none this year. It has been a huge timesaver, with feeding taking around one hour per three days to fill the feeders and prepare bales, compared to two hours a day beforehand. A silage bale grab was purchased to enable bales to be moved and stacked closer to the pad, saving time and making feeding time easier. No other machinery or equipment has been purchased. In the future, they will investigate the manufacture of chopped bale silage to prevent cows pulling longer feed out from the feeders and dropping it. Barrie Bradshaw from the Department of Primary Industries provided information at the field day about effluent management from feed pads as well as things to consider when siting and designing feed pads. Tyran Jones, who leads the Future Ready Dairy Systems project in the Gippsland region, said it aims to showcase onfarm action where farmers are making decisions in response to the variable climate in which they farm. The Future Ready Dairy Systems project is funded by Dairy Australia and the Federal Government.

Tips for Endometritis management 1. Record ‘at risk’ cows at calving 2. Examine ‘at risk’ cows 2-4 weeks post-partum. 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. Contact Dr. Morrison on 1800 226 511 for more information.

® Registered Trademark

Consultant Matt Harms with Philip Ould and Paul Sherar, discuss the feed pad they built at Loch as part of the recent feed pad tour in Gippsland.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

animal health  // 27

Pads provide year-round versatility Feed pads have proven as it forms the entrance a reliable method to main- to the cow yard and is the main laneway access. tain cow health, minimise In the current season, soil and pasture damage extremely wet conditions and improve farm manhave created the need to agement. lock the cows on to the Interest is at a high in pad to minimise paddock Gippsland following one damage. of the wettest years on Andrew Bacon milks record last year and more than 100 farmers attended 300 cows on 140ha on coastal flats at Toora in a two feed pad tours last month at Loch and Foster. share farm arrangement with his parents. Their Fifty people took part rock-based feed pad was in the first tour at Foster installed in 2007, out of a where feed pad design, desire to enable flexibility planning, construction in feeding during the wet and on-going management was discussed in detail More than 100 with the help of consultant farmers attended Matt Harms. two feed pad tours Farmers from in Gippsland last as far afield as Yinnar, Yarram month. and Yannathan attended. winter months. The day was organised During the months of as part of the Future Ready June, July and August the Dairy Systems project. feed base on the farm is Ray and Bec Stefani’s under intense pressure Fish Creek property was due to the high stocking the first stop where a conrate, the wet nature of the crete pad was built in farm and now the earlier 2008. calving date. Mainly used between About 60 farmers June and October to feed attended the second field the herd of 270 cows, the day in the Loch district. feed pad proved invaluPeter Notman shared able in the wet conditions the experience of building of 2011. Effluent is managed by his feed pad 11 years ago. The concrete feed scraping the solids twice pad is part of the laneway weekly with the tractor to system with feed troughs holding areas along the side of the pad and liquids up each side. Generally the pad is run to a pit and flow to an used to feed silage when effluent dam close to the pasture is short and can end of the pad. also be used as a stand The effluent dam off area in winter and late was formerly a rarely summer periods when used small dam that was enlarged and now acts as a pasture damage from over grazing can occur. place to store liquid effluPeter shared his experient from the pad. There is ence of planning, building no flood wash system nor and making use of the feed is one required. Solids are applied to the pad as well as the things paddocks when it is possi- he would do differently in hindsight. ble to do so. In the midst of the wet Stuart and Jacqui winter of 2011 many farmTracy, who milk 450 cows ers took the decision to at Waratah Bay, installed build feed pads to manage their feed pad in 2002, using it to feed the milkers the adverse conditions. Paul and Louise Sherar all year, with the feed mix who sharefarm on Phillip varying depending on the time of the season and the Ould’s property did just that. stage of lactation. The 60m long and 15m Most of the time cows wide gravel pad was built are fed prior to milking,

in May last year. Using Waste-Not feeders, up to 120 cows are fed in batches as they leave the shed following milking. The pad proved to be an extremely valuable resource in the very wet winter conditions.

Andrew Bacon, Tim Cashin, and Stuart and Jacqui Tracy were all part of a feed pad tour in Gippsland last month.

Mastitis doesn’t need to be so frustrating. With the Teatseal® Combo program, you can manage the frustration mastitis can sometimes cause. A recent Australian dairy trial1 showed a further 70% reduction in mastitis when Teatseal® was administered in combination with a Pfizer dry cow treatment, versus a dry cow treatment alone. So talk to your vet today about the Teatseal® Combo program and keep the swear jar empty. ®

Dairy Health. Performance. Growth. 1800 335 374 Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd 38–42 Wharf Road West Ryde NSW 2114 ® Registered trademark of Pfizer. PAL0384/DN Reference: 1. Runciman DJ, Malmo J, Deighton M. The use of an internal teat sealant in combination with cloxacillin dry cow therapy for the prevention of clinical and subclinical mastitis in seasonal calving dairy cows. J Dairy Sci. 2010 Oct;93(10):4582–91.

Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

28 //  animal health

Lepto worse than “man flu” Sometime around

animal health rob bonanno breath. My throat was raw and painful. After a couple of days when I still felt lousy I assumed that I had picked up the flu, or maybe a

throat infection. When after a week I was getting worse, not better, I felt I must have gotten a bad dose of “man flu” so went to visit the doctor who agreed that some antibiotics would sort it out. Two weeks later I still felt like I had been hit by a bus. Pregnancy testing cows when every muscle and joint in your body is painful is not much fun, pulling calves and wres-


Herd owners should vaccinate their herd with “7 in 1” every year to protect the safety of themselves, their employees and their vet.

the end of September last year I visited a farm and examined a cow. No real surprise there, I am a cattle veterinarian. Around the end of the first week in October, I started to feel unwell. We had been on a staff retreat and I just presumed that I had overindulged. I had really swollen and tender lymph nodes, intense headaches, muscle pains and shortness of

Time will be on your side when treating mastitis. We know that getting milk into the vat quickly after treating mastitis is really important. That’s why Pfizer Animal Health has released a new mastitis treatment with great benefits. • Shortest milk withholding period available – 48 hours • Successfully treats the most common causes of mastitis, including E.coli • Short 7 day meat withholding period • Trusted worldwide This makes it the perfect first choice mastitis treatment for your dairy. Talk to your vet and ask them about the latest in clinical mastitis treatment and put time on your side.

Dairy Health. Performance. Growth. 1800 335 374 Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd 38–42 Wharf Road, West Ryde NSW 2114 ® Registered trademark of Pfizer. PAL0609/DN

PAL0609_DairyNews_260x187_V3.indd 1

9/02/12 11:20 AM

EVERY dairy farm should tling with down or lame be vaccinating for this discows felt like running a marathon while carrying a ease. I would advise all herd bag of wheat on my back. owners to vaccinate their Despite my 20 years of herd every year to protect experience working with the safety of themselves animals, I did not immeand their employees (and diately think that I would most importantly their have picked up what is vet). called a zoonosis, some There are a number of sort of infection picked up diseases that people can from them. After several months of catch from cattle and some lethargy, muscle pain, joint of them can cause very serious consequences. swelling and lymph node Zoonotic disease is swelling I realised that often not the first thing there must be something that a medical practitioner going on. will consider when examAnother visit to the Doctor and a whole raft of ining a patient. It is important when blood tests later I finally you visit your doctor that knew what the problem you tell them that you was - leptospirosis. work with livestock so that Leptospirosis (or they will consider the poslepto) is probably best sibility of a zoonotic disknown to dairy farmers ease in their differential as a leading cause of abordiagnosis list. tion. Ringworm can be What is not as well caught from calves as can known is that it can infect cryptosporidiosis and seripeople and causes serious ous diseases like Q-fever and sometimes fatal concan be picked up by dairy sequences in humans. farm workers. It is caused by a bacteria and the most common source of Leptospirosis infection is urine. can infect people I do not know which cow passed on and causes this infection to me, serious and the chances are the sometimes fatal cow was completely consequences in clinically normal. I have looked back humans. through my appointMost veterinarians ment book for the few are vaccinated against weeks before the sympQ-fever, but I am stunned toms started and did not how few dairy farm workinvestigate any “abortion ers are protected. storms” in this time. This is another reason It could have been why it is so important to a splash in the eye as I tell your medical practitiowalked through a shed, it could have been picked up ner that you are in contact with cows. through a cut or scratch, I All dairy employers will never know. should make it a condition What I do know is that leptospirosis is something of employment that all of their staff and family espeyou would not wish on cially those who work with your worst enemy. calving cows are vacciPeople cannot be vacnated against Q-fever. cinated against lepto, the Your dairy veterinarian only way that you can preis one of the most imporvent yourself, your family and your employees catch- tant sources of information on how to prevent ing it is to vaccinate your diseases spreading from herd against this disease. your herd into yourself, Most dairy farmers are your staff and your family. familiar with “7 in 1” vacI would encourage all cine. This vaccine will proreaders to discuss the pretect your herd from the vention of zoonotic dismajor clostridial diseases and the two most common eases with their vet at the next herd visit. strains of lepto. Rob Bonanno is president of With an increasing the Australian cattle Veteriawareness of the employer’s obligations to provide narians Association and a director of the Shepparton a safe working environment, I would suggest that Veterinary Clinic.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

animal health  // 29

Preventing facial eczema using zinc Steve little

Facial eczema (FE) is again

causing concerns for dairy farmers across Gippsland, as it did in summer and autumn last year. Zinc supplementation can be protective against FE if it maintains the cow’s blood serum zinc level at 20 to 35 micromoles per litre. This is difficult to achieve using zinc sulphate via drinking water as

animals’ daily water intakes can vary for many reasons. Feeding zinc oxide in grain/ concentrates (as a grain mix or pellet) in the bail at milking can be very effective for FE prevention in the milking herd on Australian dairy farms. However, the amount of zinc oxide included in each tonne of grain/ concentrate for “FE prevention dosing” must be carefully calculated to achieve the required dose of 20 mg elemental zinc/kg liveweight/day and minimise the risk of zinc toxicity. Problems supplying zinc oxide via grain/concentrate (as a grain mix or pellet) most often occur when: ■■ The incorrect zinc oxide inclusion rate per tonne of grain/concentrate

Gippsland dairy herds on high alert Gippsland dairy

farmers, particularly those in West Gippsland and Yarram, are being urged to feed their herds supplementary zinc immediately, if they are not already doing so, with current conditions posing a very high risk of facial eczema. Dr Jakob Malmo, of Maffra Veterinary Centre, who is coordinating Dairy Australia’s spore monitoring program, said spore counts had risen in late February, particularly in West Gippsland. While counts in the Macalister Irrigation District have not risen dramatically, the current climatic conditions – rain and warm nights – could encourage further multiplication of facial eczema spores so farmers needed to be prepared. “Now is the time for urgent action if you haven’t already started feeding a preventative zinc supplement,” Dr Malmo said. The overall average spore count for Gippsland is now more than 80,000 spores per gram of pasture, well above the level likely to cause liver damage with prolonged exposure (which is 20,000 spores per gram). In West Gippsland, many of the farms monitored have spore counts above 100,000. Cattle grazing pastures with this spore load are more likely to develop acute liver

damage and photosensitisation. “We are starting to get reports of cases of facial eczema across Gippsland. By the time this happens, the liver damage has already occurred,” Dr Malmo said. “The greatest cost of facial eczema to dairy farmers is from the 80% of cows with liver damage but no skin lesions. These cows will have lower milk production and fertility. That’s why preventative zinc is so important.” Dairy Australia introduced a spore monitoring program this summer/ autumn, prompted by a widespread outbreak across Gippsland last season, with the likelihood of favourable conditions again this year. Facial eczema is caused by toxic levels of spores from the fungus, Pithomyces chartarum. Commonly mistaken for a skin disease, facial eczema is caused by ingestion of spores of the fungus Pithomyces chartarum which lives mainly on ryegrass. These spores release a toxin in the cow’s gut which damage the liver, and in some cows, cause skin lesions (photosensitisation). Dairy Australia’s website has the latest spore monitoring results and information on preventing facial eczema at au/facialeczema

is used for the daily feeding rate and average milking herd liveweight. ■■ The zinc oxide settles out of the grain/concentrate before or during feeding. ■■ Each cow does not receive and consume the intended amount of grain/concentrate (kg/cow/ day) in the dairy bail. ■■ The grain/concentrate feeding rate is changed mid-batch. If you are unsure whether you are successfully maintaining your cow’s blood serum zinc level within the target range of 20 to 35 micromoles per litre, the best thing to do is to get your vet to blood test at least 10 cows. Remember that by the time you see some cows in the herd affected by the photosensitisation caused by FE, a

Feeding zinc oxide in grain or concentrates in the bail at milking can be very effective for FE prevention. large proportion of the herd is likely to have already suffered liver damage, for which there is no specific treatment. (Zinc can only prevent FE. It cannot reverse liver damage already done from exposure to the toxin.) So early intervention is critical use prevailing weather conditions in combination with pasture spore counting to predict and identify periods of pasture toxicity, and

take preventative action when local pasture spore counts trend upward of 20,000 spores per gram and weather conditions look favourable for sporulation. Gippsland farmers can keep track of local pasture spore counts via the Dairy Australia facial eczema pasture spore monitoring program at www. This webpage also contains a fact sheet with a checklist you can use to ensure your zinc oxide supplementation program is effective and safe. Steve Little is a member of the Dairy Australia Facial Eczema Working Group and Dairy Australia’s Grains2Milk project leader. Tel: 0400 004 841 or email


• ScouRing calveS dehydRate – dehydRation killS • Quick action iS ReQuiRed • RehydRate calveS with electRolyteS


• theRe iS not one Single cauSe of calf ScouRS • diagnoSiS iS vital foR tReatMent and pRevention • coopeRS can help identify a Specific cauSe on youR faRM


• continue hydRation with electRolyteS • Manage ventilation and hygiene • antibioticS May SoMetiMeS be ReQuiRed • enSuRe newboRn calveS Receive coloStRuM • conSideR vaccination foR futuRe pRevention

For immediate action to diagnose the cause of your calves scours call Coopers® on 1800 885 576 or talk to your local vet. ® Registered trademark.

Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

30 //  machinery & products

Agnes farmer finds plenty of grunt Allen van Kuyk of Agnes, between

Toora and Welshpool as you travel down Victoria’s South Gippsland Highway, reckons staying with the same dealership for machinery comes down to the people you talk to talking commonsense. “We have sales people calling by here every week, trying to sell you someworking clothes thing,” van Kuyk said. chris dingle “They think that dairy farmers are doing all right and have money to spend. New Holland T6050 that was bought Over the last seven or eight years pretty four years ago. It has a six-cylinder 150hp engine well all our machinery has been bought through Gendore Tractors and Machin- that Allen said has “plenty of ery at their Leongatha branch - but we does everything I want it to do”. “The run-off block that we have is in usually check prices first.” Allen and his wife Lisa lease the hill country, the T6050 is fantastic with property from Allen’s parents who the mower behind it. “If you start losing power, you just bought the original dairy farm in 1984. Allen came back to the family farm in hit a button to change gears. It has easily 1996 after doing his dairy farm appren- enough power.” The T6050 has New Holland’s ticeship on other farms. Range Command trans“I like the outdoor mission with six Powerlifestyle and taking up Shift speeds across three this business opporturanges. nity was a way of getNew Holland said the ting ahead early in life,” IntelliShift gear changes he said. are a key feature of all The home property these models and that covers 100ha of milkoperators love it. ing land and they lease The tractor operates another 90ha of hill Who: a Giltrap feed-out cart country above WelshAllen van Kuyk which is used for discpool. They have just Where: ing the paddocks and bought another 20ha Agnes spreading fertiliser. nearby which needs to be What: Allen said it used renovated and resown. New Holland T6050 to run an older model At this stage it will be forage harvester, before used for the calves and he switched over to contractors for some cropping. They are milking 217 Holsteins on a hay and silage work, because there just 15 double-up shed with rapid exits that wasn’t enough throughput to justify running their own gear. Allen built himself in 2005. The tractor has cab suspension and They use automatic cluster removers and auto drafting and he says that air seats that Allen described as very it’s a pretty basic set-up, using Velcro comfortable. “There’s a bit of rocking and rolling leg-bands with transponders, but it is at first, but it’s very good once you get working out well. The main piece of machinery is a used to it.”

South Gippsland farmer Allen van Kuyk has received good value from his New Holland T6050.

“The T6050 is fantastic with the mower behind it on the hill country.” The van Kuyks have also had an 80hp New Holland NH TL80A since 2005. “It’s very much a base level tractor, nothing fancy.” They have bought quite a bit of machinery through Gendore Leongatha, so the dealership must be looking after them well. As well as the two tractors, they have purchased a Taarup tedder, the Giltrap feed-out cart, Tonutti rake, and an Agware super spreader. “A Monroe post driver was actually the first piece of equipment bought from them,” Allen said. They plan to be milking 280 cows next year.

Allen’s parents look after the calfrearing and he employs one worker, Scott Benton, who finished his dairy apprenticeship about 12 months ago. “Scott does whatever needs to be done around the place, except for using the post rammer,” Allen said. “I’m very conscious of the dangers there, and nobody works it except me. “We’ve got the place reasonably well set-up now, and we’re not looking for big changes in machinery decisions or big spends. “We’re researching re-using our effluent for irrigation in the future.” He keeps in touch with a group of seven or eight young farmers to have open discussions about farm issues and techniques and attends focus farms from time to time. “Last year was a fantastic year,” Allen told us when we called in during early February. “This year has been extremely wet,

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as we’ve never seen it before. We were lucky that we had a calving shed and a feed pad. “It’s all starting to come good with the summer drying, there’s been lot’s of green pick at the moment. There’s about three years’ hay in the shed.” The farm has an Agnes River frontage and the nearby hills overlooking the property are dominated by the windmills from the Toora wind farm. Wind farms attract many critics, but Allen said they’ll have no objections from him. “Good on ‘em, I say! Farmers have benefited from the extra income around here and one dairy farmer had some good roads put in that he wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.” Working Clothes will focus on the performance of a machine in the paddock each month. Send suggestions to Chris Dingle on 0417 735 001 or email

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

machinery & products  // 31

Next Tornado coming up During the 2009 Agritechnica exhibition, Lely presented the Lely Welger RPC 445 Tornado as a Yellow Revolution. The technology that was incorporated in this machine made it the first genuine variable baler wrapper combination. Two years after that successful launch, Lely is presenting the next step: the Lely Welger RPC 245 Tornado. Using the proven RP 245 Profi fixed chamber baler as the basis for this combination, Lely has

managed to link the wellknown baling qualities of this machine to the fastest wrapping system in the market place. The set-up of both Tornado models is much the same. The baler is placed higher so the bale can be easily and quickly transferred to the wrapper table. The ring wrapper does not vary in wrapping height because the bales always have the same size. In addition to the fast bale transfer, the machine offers the benefit of a fast

Lely claims its new Welger RPC 245 has the fastest wrapping system in the market place.

starting wrapper ring even before the tail gate is closed – which means a huge gain in output. The Lely Welger RP 245

Profi baler provides the best silage bales. The 2.25m camless pick-up has five tine bars to ensure a clean pick-

ing up. After that, the 80mm rotor in conjunction with Xtracut 25-knife chopping system takes care of

chopping and transport of the crop to the bale chamber via the Hydroflex feed channel. The 18 steel rollers and mechanical locks on the bale chamber guarantee the highest bale density as well as optimum bale shape. The Profi baler has the heavy duty bearings ensuring reliability and durability in even the most testing conditions. The use of a fixed chamber baler means that the Tornado 245 is more compact than ever.

The machine has an overall width of 2.7m. With the ring wrapper in the vertical transport position even the smallest roads can be negotiated. Manoeuvrability is enhanced by the positioning of the single axle. Customers now have the ability to choose a fixed or variable baler depending upon their situation and requirements. The Lely Welger RPC 245 Tornado will be available in limited numbers for the 2012 season. Tel: (03) 5484 4000.


Kuhn releases Planter 3 drills THE RANGE of Kuhn

precision seed drills is evolving. The new Planter 3 seed drills are replacing the Planter 2 seed drills. Drilling precision and low seed drop height (below 10cm) always ensure the best seed positioning in the seeding row, the company says. The Planter can distribute a wide variety of seed types such as rape seed, beet, maize and sunflower, or even zucchini or mustard. The new fertilisation system features a spline distribution row by row, resulting in a homogeneous seed growth with a continuous fertiliser distribution in the row and an even distribution between the rows. The fertiliser hopper range is reinforced with new capacities of 2x190 litres, 2x260 litres, 950 litres and 1,350 litres for a volume adapted to the work outputs and required applications. KMS208 and KMS412 control boxes enable controlling that the seeding operation is progressing smoothly. The control boxes can now receive

The new range ■■




PLANTER 3 M (Single bar) 3 to 18 rows PLANTER 3 TS (Telescopic simple) 6 to 8 rows PLANTER 3 TI (Telescopic with indexing) 6 rows PLANTER 3 R (Foldable) 8 to 12 rows

hopper bottom sensors (fertiliser hoppers and microgranulator). For optimum seed distribution particularly on field angles, the KMD112 enables disengaging the row distribution independently in order to avoid an overlap of two seeding rows. The seed hopper design has been reviewed and now delivers a 47L capacity while preserving a row spacing of minimum 25cm. This volume provides a large operating range especially when sowing maize. The manufacture of the closing wheels has been completely reviewed, to increase the machine service life; the Planter 3 features double sealing systems with nylon flanges.

more freedom more control more milk The natural way of milking. Just like all our solutions for dairy farming, the new Lely Astronaut A4 milking robot has also been developed from a clear-cut starting point: the cow. The robot guarantees the highest achievable milk quality and thanks to its unique management tools you are in full control of your herd. Also designed with Australia’s grazing systems and larger herds in mind and therefore the Lely Astronaut A4 is ideally suited to Australian conditions. You can rely on the Lely Astronaut. And on us; 24/7.

It’s a Lely; the natural way of milking… Live Life Lely! innovators in agriculture

Lely Australia Pty. Ltd., 48 Mackay St, Rochester, VIC 3561 Ph: (03) 5484 4000 Email:

Please tick one or more of the items below and send to: Lely Australia PO Box 199 Rochester, VIC 3561 Please send me the new ASTRONAUT A4 DVD. Please send me the new booklet “ASTRONAUT, a perfect fit for robotic milking down under”. I would like to find out how I can make robotic milking work on my farm. Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Email . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Phone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

32 //  machinery & products

Fast farm clean-up

New Holland’s Dejan Dakovic is impressed with the new 4000 psi water blaster from Aussie Pumps.

When it comes to farm clean-up, using a 4000 psi engine drive pressure cleaner can dramatically cut water use and provide a better quality job at the same time. Conventional small electric drive units don’t offer the flow or pressure required and can extend cleaning times.

Aussie Pumps has released the latest version of the popular Scud series, called the AB40 Scud. Aimed at the farming community, this 4000 psi pressure cleaner is the latest member of a new premium range of machines and accessories designed to provide cost effective cleaning solu-

tions, with minimal environmental impact. To cut water usage even further on difficult jobs, the machine can be teamed with an Aussie Turbo lance that boosts effective working pressure to 6000 psi without using any extra water. That cuts cleaning time resulting in even more

water savings. “With the AB40 Scud we’ve designed a great value machine that farmers can rely on to work well every time,” said Aussie Pumps’ product manager Peter Evans. “Combining a 4000 psi top quality Bertolini triplex pump and genuine Honda engine means that

cleaning times and water usage are slashed.” The heart of the Aussie-built machine is a “Big Berty” Bertolini triplex piston pump backed by a three-year manufacturer’s warranty. Aussie has powered this with the popular Honda GX series industrial petrol engine.

Stock feed specialist, Rivalea, has launched the brand new Veanavite website, aimed at helping producers make every calf count. It provides information on rearing a wide range of young livestock as well as successfully rearing orphaned animals.

Website helps with calving A new website – www. – launched by Rivalea, provides producers with a range of up-to-date information to assist with the current calving system, from tips on rearing to nutritional advice. The original Veanavite Rearing System for calves was developed in the 1970s in conjunction with researchers at Sydney University. Today, the Rivalea range of Veanavite rearing products includes milk replacers, pelleted feeds, meals and supplements suitable for a wide range of livestock including calves, foals, lambs, kid goats, piglets and more. Practical advice on the successful rearing of young livestock, including nutritional information, housing, health and management is part of the Veanavite philosophy. The website has been structured intuitively to provide nutrition and feeding advice in animal specific categories, making

it easy for producers to source the information they need at any one time. “Our overall aim was to develop a website which provides the information to help savvy producers to make the most of the calving season ahead,” Rivalea Stock Feed brand manager Justin Wheatley said. “The 2012 calving season is particularly important given the current favourable market conditions and industry outlook, with Dairy Australia predicting a 1.5% increase in 2011/12 milk production. The lesson for producers is to forward plan to make every calf count.” The new website contains a collection of testimonials to enable producers to learn from their colleagues, along with a section dedicated to news and industry events. Information is also available to assist producers in rearing young orphaned animals. Visit www.veanavite.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA march, 2012

machinery & products  // 33

Record start for tractor sales In an unexpected turn-

around, tractor sales over the last couple of months have been unseasonally high. Alan Kirsten, at Agriview, reports January was very strong for tractor sales right across the board, and as final numbers are being tallied, February is shaping up for a similar result. January tractor sales were a record high, up 60% on the same month last year, and February is looking to be an increase of 30%. Kirsten said demand is strong in most states with farmers chasing productivity gains through purchasing new technology. The agricultural machinery trend is out of step with general economic sentiment.

Kubota hard on the acquisition trail We mentioned last month that Kubota was in the running to buy Norwegian manufacturer, Kverneland Group, in its quest to become a “genuine global company”. We can now confirm a deal has been settled as other bidders have pulled out, and by January 20, Kubota had acquired 79% of the company’s shares for 17 billion yen (US$219 million). The move leaves Kverneland’s agreements with other large corporations to supply hay equipment and round balers in doubt. It is reported Kubota made an excellent deal with the acquisition of this

new products chris dingle well-proven brand. It bought an asset in a foreign currency with a strong yen, as the yen has appreciated 45% against the Norwegian krone over the past five years, so it all comes at an attractive price. In other Kubota news it appears the company plans to buy an international farm equipment manufacturer in a deal that could top 200 billion yen (US$2.6 billion). Well-known tractor brands Same, Deutz-Fahr and Claas could be potential targets, so it will be extremely interesting to see how it all pans out and the effect that it may have on the market here in Australia.

Epoxy coating for JD irrigation filters John Deere branched out into irrigation products a few years ago and over the last year has launched its D5000 drip line, S2000 micro sprinkler, S5000 plastic impact sprinkler and E1000 online dripper. The company has now introduced a range of metal filters, including hydrocyclone, media, automatic hydraulic, automatic electric and semiautomatic filters. Also new to Australia is

The Amazone Green Drill seeder has been described as a smart solution for sowing fast growing “catch crops”.

the F9000 Gravity Filter, which uses the force of gravity to filter up to 130 microns. To protect against corrosion problems endemic with Australia’s harsh water, an internal epoxy coating is applied in the manufacturing process to all John Deere filters produced for Australia. While polypropylene coating - the standard method of corrosion prevention for filters - is a form of powder coating, epoxy coating reacts to make a bond with the metal itself. John Deere said this result in a hard robust surface that adheres to the steel, making it one of the most effective methods of preventing corrosion.

Three new machines from Amazone Amazone has released three new cultivation and precision seeding tools on the market – the Amazone AD-P Special 1000 litre pneumatic seed drill, a 200 litre Green Drill seeder unit and the KG rotary cultivator, all suited to dairying enterprises. The AD-P seed drill has a 1000 litre seed box mounted directly on the cultivator unit, and a variogearbox, in conjunction with staggered normal and fine metering wheels, for accurate seeding at rates from 2kg/ha to 400kg/ha with all seed types. The Amazone Green Drill seeder is described as a smart new solution for sowing fast growing “catch crops” between major

crops and for reseeding grass and turnips. It is designed to sow a complete range of small and large seeds including dairy fodder crops, cereals, rape and canola. An in-cab terminal provides a menu to assist the calibration test and includes a display of the forward speed, the worked area and the operating hours. The new Amazone KG rotary cultivator can be driven by tractors up to 300hp and its 60mm rotor shafts are capable of handling very tough workloads, with “Super On Grip” tines that pull the machine down into hard or un-worked ground. These tines have a wide profile to increase strength and longevity.

The Lely Hibiscus 915CD Vario double-rotor rake has an 8.9m working width.


Lely Hibiscus double-rotor rakes Lely has started the 2012 season with two new central delivery double-rotor rake models – the Hibiscus 745 CD Vario with a 7.40 m working width and the Hibiscus 915 CD Vario with an 8.9m working width. The rotors of both models have a universally jointed suspension to the chassis whereby the crossshaped pivot point is configured before the rotors. Consequently, the pivot point can be positioned as low as possible so that the rotors have a smoother action as well as following ground contours more effectively. The suspension of the front wheels to the front of the rotor carriage can swivel as well as pivot. The wheels are positioned very close to the tines to allow a very accurate working height adjustment. Swivelling eliminates damage to the sward as a result of “wriggling” wheels in sharp bends. The Hibiscus 915 CD rear wheels feature tandem axles instead of a single axle to ensure optimum stability; and are optional for the 745 model. Both rakes feature hydraulic working width adjustment. During the raking operation, the swath width can be adjusted by means of a double-acting spool valve. Contact Chris on 0417 735 001 or email

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.

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

into a grazing

Live Life Lely For more information visit:

*Talk to your local Lely Center ™ Dealer regarding tailor-made Lely Finance to suit your cash flow – Conditions Apply.

Lely Australia Pty. Ltd., 48 Mackay St, Rochester, VIC 3561 Ph: (03) 5484 4000

innovators in agriculture


Dairy News AUSTRALIA march, 2012

34 //  products & machinery/motoring

Keeping tradition alive on-farm Vintage machinery and tractor shows are increasing in in popularity in New Zealand, and working ones more so, as people hang on to, want to experience or even reminisce on how things were done many years ago. David and Jan Poppe of Vision Harvesting, near Maxwell, west of Wanganui, in New Zealand’s North Island, have acquired some vintage harvesting and threshing machinery off a farm near Raetihi and instead of putting it in the shed, have put it to use. “This is a dying art and is how my grandfather and father, years ago, had to harvest the crops,” David says. “It is important we preserve some of these activities.” David and Jan had planted a crop of Awatapu oats, an older breed, near their base at Maxwell. Like many crops in the area this year, there was more “green” than normal, due to the great growing conditions for weeds with the wet summer. The oats have to be harvested when the seed head is still milky. These then harden in the “stook” and the stalk dries out, enabling chaffing. The Andrews and Bevan reaper and binder that David and Jan use is more than 100 years old and apart from getting clogged with the green in the crop, ran like the proverbial Swiss watch. They have had to replace the old canvas carriers and, with small modifications, have used plastic covers as the old canvas covers were slightly too narrow. Of course, in original application, this machine was horse drawn and the drawbar had been modified many years ago to be towed by a tractor. David was keen to get one of his father’s antique tractors for the harvest to keep the authenticity, but logistics foiled that, so the newer Kubota tractor was pressed into service. The tow behind harvester cuts the oats using a sickle bar knife, which fall

on to the canvas and are then moved along the canvas, up and over where the machine ties the oats into bundles which are deposited on the ground beside the machine as it moves along. Remember that this machine was originally horse drawn, but I noticed the tractor Jan was driving, although slow, moved along at a what would be described “as a good clip” for a horse. String is used to tie the bundles of oats. “Bale twine is unsuitable, and string has to be used and sourcing that can be challenging, especially in the big balls we want” says Jan. After harvesting, the oats have then to be “stooked”, which is where the oat bundles are stood on their ends to dry ­- a time consuming and labour intensive job. David’s father, Graham, told me that when he started out contracting that there were as many as 10 people in the paddock doing the stooking. The stooks consist of six bundles, and these are left to dry in the paddock for about a week to 10 days before being pitch-forked onto a wagon or trailer and then shed stored for about another month. Then the oats will be chaffed using the old thresher. David says word of mouth has ensured a demand for the chaffed oats, and while he and Jan work very hard, it is also a labour of love. Vision Harvesting have just purchased a 305 horse power Case Magnum to go with the Axial Flow Harvester and to cover the broad spectrum of agricultural work. Being a very good cropping area, a large amount of maize grain is grown, and this is one of their specialist jobs. These two intrepid contractors are enjoying the experience, and have done their oat harvest like this for the past three years, reliving and keeping the past alive.

David and Jan Poppe put their vintage machinery to work.

This Andrews & Bevan binder is still going strong after 100 years.

Friendly face for capable truck Adam Fricker

THE SMILING corporate face

Photo: Damien O’Carroll, NZ4WD Magazine

of Mazda on the front of a ute makes a bold statement. Not everyone has found it a comfortable mix, the curvy swoops that are Mazda’s signature look melded onto the more traditional profile of a ute, but in the metal it looks good. Different, but good. On the road, the new BT-50 is a revelation. The 3.2L 5-cylinder I5 20-valve turbocharged, intercooled diesel is all torque and nonchalantly throws the Mazda up hills and down straights without raising an eyebrow. Power is a healthy 147kW, maximum torque is 470Nm generated at 1750-2500rpm – right where you want it for off

roading and towing – and the fivecylinder growl makes the BT-50 far more interesting than a fourpot diesel. The chassis dynamics of the BT-50 and its close cousin the Ford Ranger have drawn much praise from the motoring press (the mechanically identical Ford was named Autocar magazine’s Car of the Year). The steering is accurate and the chassis, within the limitations of a cart-sprung rear – comfortable and capable in a way most commercial vehicles are not. A spirited drive took in a mix of straight and winding sections of road, and some indifferent road surfaces, all of which the BT-50 easily took in its stride. It lopes along in the most effortless fashion. Off road it was only stopped by

its road-oriented rubber. Among the many active safety features is hill descent control which will safely ‘walk’ the truck down steep terrain, requiring the driver to do no more than steer. To help it get back up the hill is a diff lock. Tick the automatic gearbox option, as fitted to the Limited test vehicle we drove, and you’ll get the excellent ZF 6-speed automatic. Manual buyers also get six cogs. The higher gearing offers better fuel efficiency when cruising, the claimed average being 9.2L/100km, although Dairy News Austalia’s lead-foot driving technique saw consumption closer to 10.5 – still good considering the grunt on tap. The praise heaped on Ford/Mazda’s new ute is largely deserved. Prices for the Mazda BT-50 Freestyle and Dual Cab models range from $32,590 to $52,710.


The hours you spend in the milking shed removing clusters are unproductive. DeLaval Automatic Cup Removers not only give you back that time, they also help you milk faster. By detaching automatically, you’ll avoid over or under milking, reduce mastitis and, of course, lower your labour costs. Say goodbye to throwing the cups around.


Talk to your local DeLaval dealer today and start imagining more. Call 1800 817 199 or visit

WHAT’S ON THE CARDS FOR YOUR PASTURES? YOU CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE, BUT YOU CAN PLAN FOR IT. You can’t always be sure what Mother Nature’s going to deal you. So it makes sense to plan now so you don’t fall short with your feed requirements. For over 70 years, we’ve been giving Australian farmers a hand in reducing risk by helping them plan and sow for the future. This commitment is reflected in the new Wrightson Seeds Pasture Guide. It’s packed with proven varieties, planning advice, field services and productivity tips. Now all the information you need to make the most out of your land is as close as your back pocket.


Don’t leave your winter and spring pastures to chance, call 1800 421 868 to order a copy of our FREE Pasture Guide.

Dairy News Australia March 2012  

Dairy News Australia March 2012