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Jacqui Lambie, ACCC hear from farmers PAGES 4-5


BULL IN THE HOUSE What Trump means for dairy PAGE 14


Conversion leads to expansion PAGES 16- 17


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NEWS  // 3 This image taken by Shane Charleston features in the 2017 Dairy Love ‘Cowlander’, produced by Mead dairy farmer Di Bowles (inset). Farmers supplied photos from across the country for the calendar and word spread quickly through the Dairy Love facebook site with almost 3000 calendars distributed. If you’re very quick, you can still get one. Di started Dairy Love last year. “The only good thing to come out of last year was that,” she told us. The facebook site now has more than 10,000 members.

Calf sells for $251,000. PG.19

Strong silage yields. PG.22

Gas prices could lower farmer returns RICK BAYNE

New Lely mixer wagon. PG.26

NEWS�������������������������������������������������������3-11 OPINION�����������������������������������������������12-13 MARKETS������������������������������������������� 14-15 MANAGEMENT��������������������������������16-19 ANIMAL HEALTH��������������������������� 20-21 PASTURE IMPROVEMENTS���22-23 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS�������������������������������������� 24-26


Victoria’s dairy farmers could be left out of pocket because of increased gas prices in 2018. In a submission to the ACCC, Saputo’s Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has warned that the cost of gas for its Allansford plant will increase by 50 per cent from 2018. “This will in turn negatively impact the milk price paid to suppliers,” the submission states. However, the Victorian Government has rejected the claim, saying

Fairbrae Milk Co

the WCB argument ”doesn’t stack up”. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter said it expected the gas price to rise because of “government policy restricting gas exploration”. Saputo Company Secretary, Paul Moloney, said Warrnambool Cheese and Butter had no further comment on the submission, which also raises concerns about the cost of power and water and the impact of government policy. “A sustainable, affordable and consistent supply of both water and power is required for the industry to maintain the current level of

production,” it states. “Recent government policy in regard to these resources has significantly increased the cost of power and added a level of volatility to the water market which intensified the cost-price squeeze on farm businesses. “Clear, balanced and consistent policy is required in this area for the industry to prosper and to foster an environment that will permit growth.” Minister for Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said the Andrews Labor Government was protecting the ‘clean, green’ reputation of

Victoria’s agriculture sector. “Our farmers produce some of the world’s cleanest and freshest food. We won’t put that at risk with fracking,” Ms Pulford said. “There are no proved or probable reserves of commercial onshore gas and so this argument simply doesn’t stack up.” She said there had been numerous exploration permits issued in Victoria, particularly over the last 10 years. The Labor Government says it is also reforming the gas market to improve competition and reduce prices.

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Dairy takes centre stage MADELEINE BRENNAN

A BETTER deal for farmers in contracts, abolition of retrospective “clawback” payments and the impacts of $1L milk were just some of the many topics canvassed in submissions to the two whole-of-sector dairy inquiries currently underway. The Senate Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry – initiated by independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie – has finished its public consultation and is set to report on February 24. Meanwhile, the ACCC began its national tour of public hearing last week, starting in Queensland. A third inquiry into the actions of Murray Goulburn and Fonterra during last year’s farmgate milk price cuts is also be undertaken and, according to ACCC chairman Rod Sims, is at its “advanced stages”. Groups across the dairy supply chain are keen to make sure their voice is heard, including industry bodies, processors and individuals who either made a submission or are attending hearings. Fixed pricing On the contracts front, increased access to fixed pricing, for the southern markets most exposed to global volatility, was flagged by Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC) as a way to reduce farmer risk. In its submission to the ACCC the co-op, owned by 345 dairy farmers across Australia, said farmers should be able to fix the price for up to 50% of their milk for three years, or all of their milk for one year. A submission by Lion Dairy & Drinks showed fixed price options had already enjoyed strong take-up since being offered in 2013, with about 92% of eligible farmers in the southern milk region electing to have this option to at least part of their volumes in 2015/16. “Fixed pricing gives a greater measure of certainty to farmers who are wholly exposed to market pricing, as is the case in the Southern Region,” the Lion submission said.

The ACCC inquiry, launched by the Federal Government, and a Senate inquiry, led by Jacqui Lambie, are running simultaneously and industry submissions to both are similar. Which member of parliament has more success in implementing recommendations from the inquiries remains to be seen.

$1/litre milk The issue of $1/litre milk was also a feature of submissions, with various views on its impacts on the market. Dairy’s peak farmer lobby group, Australian Dairy Farmers, maintained that $1L milk had taken millions of dollars out of the value chain, and, contrary to promises made by retailers at the time, had failed to increase milk consumption. “It is time for Coles to raise the price of $1/litre milk to a sustainable level,” it urged. Meanwhile, processors were keen to highlight the challenges they faced in sourcing and managing perishable product across large distances, the current price squeeze at both the local and

“While it may seem a simplistic response, Bega Cheese believes the actions were wrong and did not reflect the traditional way price has been managed or the trust relationship that is so important between suppliers and processors.” It said the current pricing system works well for both dairy farmers and milk processors “so long as the pricing methodology involving opening prices and pricing updates is diligently managed and clearly communicated to dairy farmers”. Several submissions, including ADF, highlighted the need for an industry rather than government-led solution to current issues.

global levels, as well as their efforts to maintain good relations with suppliers and keep them informed of market conditions. They attempted to address any concerns about contract transparency by pointing to the terms of the standard milk supply agreements readily available on their website and to suppliers. “MG does not consider these terms to be ambiguous,” the Murray Goulburn submission said. Murray Goulburn In regards to the current milk pricing system, Bega Cheese again took a swipe at the actions of Murray Goulburn for cutting the price late in the 2015/16 season.

THE SEARCH FOR A FAIRER DEAL WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING: ■■ New laws relating unfair contract terms for businesses - ACCC/Fed Govt ■■


Drafting of a Code of Best Practice on Contractual Relationships - ADF and Australian Dairy Products Federation Development of a commodity milk price index (Dept. of Ag and Water Resources)


OTHER IDEAS FLAGGED: ■■ Tighter terms of payment (within 14 days) - Farmer Power ■■

Producers which currently exists in the US - Farmer Power

Effect test amending competition laws (Still to be passed by Parliament).

An insurance scheme against price fluctuations and nonpayments, such as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy


Dairy product labelling to show consumers whether a fair price has been paid Katter Australia/QDO


Homebrand milk sold for at (least) $1.35L - Peter Notman


Milk supply co-operatives to negotiate contracts with processors - DFMC

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“Farmers need processors and processors need big business – so the solutions require all of us to come together to ensure a positive future,” interim chief executive John McQueen said. Despite the optimistic mood for change, ADF stated that, while it continued to fight for farmers, not all issues were within its control. “Even though we won’t be able to solve all of the issues farmers are facing, we are working to relieve some of the pressures to create change to ensure that an unfair share of the risk in the value chain is not taken by the farmer and the recent events in the industry don’t happen again,” the submission said. Toowoomba meeting With more than 100 farmers attending the first ACCC hearing in Toowoomba last week, Queensland Dairyfarmers vice-president Ross McInnes said farmers welcomed the opportunity to contribute. “It was a good, constructive meeting,” Mr McInnes said. “Farmers have an expectation that some tangible recommendations will come out of it. And then it’s up to government to accept it and pass it.” Information of the ACCC public hearings can be found here: https://



Milk price index not needed: WCB MADELEINE BRENNAN


processor Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has told the ACCC the new commodity price index given $2 million by the federal government is not necessary. “It is our position that there is already a plethora of tools available to the processors and farmers in the form of commodity price indices, futures markets and general market information,” company secretary Paul Moloney said in the submission. It cited the Global Dairy Trade platform, Rabobank updates and

Dairy Australia’s Situation and Outlook report as just some of the places useful data could be found. “Dairy Australia were publicly advising the downturn of global prices throughout the latter half of 2015 in a timely and accurate manner,” it said. “Any perceived market failure here is, in WCB’s view, not the quality of the information but its dissemination to and understanding within the broader farmer community.” The view is in contrast to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell who wrote: “There is lack of price signalling that is visible

and communicated across the industry so that trends and opportunities are unclear and not understood.” She welcomed the development of an index by the industry, as well as efforts to ensure farmers knew how to apply it. Fonterra noted it had already taken steps to better inform suppliers,

with its monthly Australian Global Dairy Update launched last year. The update includes information on market conditions, commodity prices, currency and input costs, it said. In a sign it may have learned from the mistakes of last year, Murray Goulburn also favoured improved transparency

of pricing and an independent managed and tailored commodity milk price index. “While the final milk price must reflect market conditions, we are looking at our internal processes to ensure the market signals are reflected back to our milk price as early as possible,” its senate inquiry submission read.

“The co-operative has to pay a FMP that reflects market conditions.” However Peter Lavery, a former dairy exporter with over 46 years of experience in the industry, cautioned against placing too much importance on the index. “It is a little like the stock exchange- one knows what the index is

today, but that indicates nothing about what the index will be tomorrow or what dividends will be (overall or from individual companies) over the forthcoming period. “In the end, predicting likely farm-gate prices is as more about experienced judgement than science.”


Fixed price contracts would help industry A FARMER co-operative has said farmers should be

able to fix the price for up to 50% of their milk for three years, or all of their milk for one year, in its submission to the corporate watchdog. Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC), which is owned by 345 dairy farmers across Australia and supplies 270 million litres of milk to Lion Dairy & Drinks, made several recommendations for milk contracting between farmers and processors, covering fixed-pricing, collective bargaining and the length of notice periods for an end to milk supply. The co-op also recommended that farmers should be required to give processors a 90-day notice period when they decide to cease supply; and processors should be compelled to negotiate milk contracts with collective bargaining groups representing suppliers.

“Processors should be compelled to negotiate milk contracts with collective bargaining groups.” DFMC Chairman, Duncan McInnes, said more transparent and competitive milk pricing and contracting is needed in the dairy value chain. “Fairness across the dairy value chain, together with more transparent and competitive milk pricing and contracting, are needed to make dairy farming profitable,” Mr McInnes said. The DFMC submission also addressed the use of ‘claw backs’ (retrospective price reductions),’loyalty payments’ and milk swaps by processors as well as the sale of ‘$1 milk’ by supermarkets. Mr McInnes said loyalty payments and retrospective pricing should cease. “We see processors using ‘price step-ups’ - dressed up as ‘loyalty payments’ – as a mechanism to reduce farmers’ ability to take advantage of better offers from other processors.” He said milk swaps between processors should only be used when they do not artificially lower farmgate prices (when the processor is only saving freight in moving milk from one plant to another).

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6 //  NEWS

Analysts predict opening price below $5.50/kg RICK BAYNE

FARMGATE PRICES are heading in

the right direction but farmers might have to endure a few hiccups along the road to recovery. More step-ups are predicted over the next few months, particularly to close the differential between processors, and opening 2017-18 prices are tipped to reflect a stronger international market. However, new season prices are likely to be early-to-mid $5. Dairy Australia industry analyst John Droppert said the market for the calendar year was looking more positive than 2016 but farmers were still coming off significantly lower prices and face unprecedented hurdles. “Everything is heading in the right direction but there’s probably more risk than what we’ve seen for a long time in terms of commodity price,” Mr Droppert said. “There are a lot of

Fonterra lifts milk price FONTERRA


increased its farmgate milk price by 6 cents per kilogram milk solids for butterfat and 15c/kgMS for protein. Fonterra says its price is now $5.20 a kilogram of milk solids. However, Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedo said individual suppliers’ milk prices will vary across supply regions, depending on the individual things that could upset the apple cart.” Mr Droppert said he expected the gap between prices offered by milk processors to close towards the end of this season. “There’s probably a bit more in the tank in terms of step-ups,” he said. There have been some gains after a differential of about $1 in 2016 opening prices. Mr Droppert said farmers receiving a floating price were getting

farm’s milk profile, regional production factors, milk quality and farm management systems. Mr Dedoncker said the revised price, announced on February 2, reflected improvement in the global commodity markets and progress on key initiatives for the Australian business. “Production has fallen across the about $5.30, contracted farmers were getting as high as $5.50 while some are still below $5. “Closing the gap is a hot topic with so much milk moving between processors this season,” Mr Droppert said. “Everyone is going to be looking at it. I’d expect most if not all farmers to be doing their sums and doing comparisons. I’d expect they will be putting pressure on their processor to make

major exporting regions, particularly Europe and New Zealand, and we’ve seen a significant decline in Australian milk supply,” he said. “This has helped to rebalance global supply, while demand has remained firm. As a result there has been a steady improvement in global dairy commodity prices and this is reflected in our farmgate price.” sure they’re getting the same deal as the farmer down the road. While saying it was too early to accurately predict 2016-17 opening prices, Mr Droppert said “at the rate we’re going I’d expect it to be low $5 rather than mid-$4 like it was last time”. “It will probably not be too far off where we finish this season, assuming the market stays where it is at the

moment.” However, Mr Droppert warned that international markets could be volatile. “There’s the whole question of where trade is going with Donald Trump, Brexit and the unknowns out there and what’s happening with the European skim milk stockpile and European production more broadly in 2017,” he said. Gippsland-based dairy consultant Matt Harms from OnFarm Consulting said he was not particularly optimistic about milk price. “Some are talking about $6; I don’t want to take a stab at it but I’m saying to people be a lot more conservative than that. I’m starting to do some preliminary budgets now for next year at $5.30 to $5.50.” “I’ve heard some predict $5.80$6 but I think `where is that coming from?’ I don’t see the foundation for that.” • Read John Droppert’s Global Impact column on page 15.


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8 //  NEWS

Hay, grain prices fall but check quality RICK BAYNE

THE BIG round bales of hay seen across Australia might seem like good news for farmers, but quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. The latest Dairy Australia hay report confirms there are good volumes of fodder in most regions and that hay prices are well below previous seasons. Dairy Australia industry analyst John Droppert said there were huge volumes of hay but a patchy spring and summer made it difficult to get hay off the paddock, leading to issues with quality. “As you go around the country side you see round bales just about everywhere, but farmers should tread carefully with where that fits in the ration and how they can feed that product and make the best use of it,” Mr Droppert said. The report states that as more fodder becomes available on the market, prices continue to ease as growers look to remain competitive.

The quality of fodder is contributing to the soft pricing after recent rain in many parts of the country.

“This is particularly evident in southern regions where hay prices are well back from the previous season.” However, the quality of fodder is also contributing to the soft pricing after recent rain in many parts of the country. Farmers are advised to obtain a mould and yeast test as well as a feed test to assess fodder quality and value for money. Mr Droppert said the international picture was very positive for grain

buyers. “The international influence isn’t the huge pull on wheat that we saw a few years ago where they were exporting as quickly as they could, which was keeping prices elevated here. “The market is fundamentally oversupplied at the moment which is good news for buyers.” The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted El Nino or neutral conditions are likely for Australia’s next growing season.

Water prices fall as low as $50/ML RICK BAYNE

WATER PRICES have fallen from more than $300 a megalitre to $50$60 and many farmers are also enjoying the benefits of a wet spring and strong storage levels. Australian Dairy Farmers Basin Taskforce chairman, Daryl Hoey, said the market price for water was the lowest for a number of years. “It’s around the $60 mark and there is plenty of water to buy at the moment at $50-$55 a megalitre,” Mr Hoey said. “That’s a reflection of the amount of water in storage and the cashflow for farmers who are not able to go out and purchase it.” “Supply and demand has certainly kicked in post-Christmas. If you’re operating without a large water entitlement it means you can go into the market place and purchase water at a good price.” Mr Hoey said water supply for next year was almost assured. “We’ve still got another 18 months of good water allocations to go; after that it will just depend on rainfall.”

The wet spring has meant farmers have started watering later than usual, and the relatively mild summer so far has helped reduce consumption. “Most farmers would have water saved up to be able to start autumn pastures early or at least go to the market place with the price the way it is,” Mr Hoey said. “We should be able to set ourselves up for a good autumn to try to recover some of the losses we’ve made in the past 12 months”. Mr Hoey said farmers buying water could lock in a good price for the next few years. “It still comes back to the farmer’s ability with cashflow to take advantage of that situation,” he added. Despite the positive outlook, Mr Hoey said there were still some frustrations about the planned changes to the Water Act 2007. “We’d like them to be far more engaged and listening to a lot of our concerns around the need to meet the 650 gigalitres (GL) in offsets and the socio-economic impacts of taking 450gl from agriculture will have on communities,” he said.


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NEWS  // 9

No levy poll unless farmers unite THERE WILL be no dairy levy poll this year unless farmers band together and demand one by lodging a petition. The Dairy Levy Poll Advisory Committee has unanimously decided not to request a levy poll. Committee chair, John Lawrenson, said the decision was made after several meetings, where a submission from Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia (DA) were discussed. The joint submission canvassed various options regarding the levy and the advantages and disadvantages of each option, with a final recommendation that there be no change. There is an opportunity for dairy levy payers who are Group A members of Dairy Australia and

who disagree with the committee’s decision to request a levy poll by lodging a petition with Dairy Australia within 75 days of the committee’s notification. This would see a resolution put to Dairy Australia’s Group A members to convene a levy poll. The petition would need to represent 15% of the levies paid to Dairy Australia and must be lodged within 75 days of the levy committee announcement on January 25. Mr Lawrenson said the Committee had been very mindful of the current state of the dairy industry and the impact prices are having on farm profitability. “In considering the level of the levy, the committee was cognisant of the need to ensure that an appropriate level

of funding is available to Dairy Australia to support the current and future long term research, development and extension strategy for the dairy industry which is critical to improving farm productivity,” he said. “The committee was conscious of the impact that falling farmgate prices and milk

production will have on DA’s future income – both the levy and the matching Federal government funding.” The committee considered Dairy Australia’s 3-year Strategic Plan (2016/17 to 2018/19) and the anticipated benefits from the projected research, development

and extension (RD&E) investment during that period. The committee also reviewed the services that Dairy Australia provides to dairy levy payers and reviewed benefit cost analyses from recent investments. “The committee noted the positive returns to industry from Dairy

Australia projects, the significant increase in investment in extension to compensate for the reduction in state government activity and the increased investment in pre-farmgate RD&E,” Mr. Lawrenson said. The automatic requirement for a levy poll, previously held every five years, was

cancelled last year through Federal Government legislation. The last poll conducted in 2012 saw 39% of farmers vote for zero levy, which would have meant the abolishment of Dairy Australia. The current levy is 2.868c/kg milk fat and 6.991c/kg protein.

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Saputo seeks complete ownership of WCB CANADIAN PROCESSOR Saputo is offering

Warrnambool Cheese and Butter shareholders $8.85 per share in a bid to take full ownership. Saputo currently owns 88.02% of WCB. If it reaches 90% ownership, it will be able to compulsorily acquire the remaining shares. Rival processor Lion owns 10% of WCB shares, with small shareholders holding the rest. In an email to shareholders, WCB Company Secretary, Paul Moloney, said WCB recommended that shareholders accept the offer. Mr Moloney said the offer represents a premium to recent trading prices, including: A 24.8% premium over the closing price of $7.09 per WCB share on January 27, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the Offer; and A 30% premium over the six month volume weighted average price of WCB shares to January 27. The offer is conditional on Saputo receiving a relevant interest in at least 90% of WCB shares. It has already received Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

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Nicoll appointed to Dairy Australia board SOUTH GIPPSLAND dairy farmer and GippsDairy Chair, Graeme Nicoll, has been appointed to the Dairy Australia Board after being nominated by the Board Selection Committee. Mr Nicoll fills the casual vacancy position which has arisen out of the resignation of former Board member Lisa Dwyer at last year’s AGM. Mr Nicoll will occupy the role until this year’s AGM in November, with the position to be re-advertised in the middle of this year. The Board Selection Committee will then nominate a candidate for the role who will stand for election at the AGM. Mr Nicoll, who milks about 300 cows at Fish Creek with wife Gillian, has been a GippsDairy Board member for five years, serving almost 1.5 years as Chair and two years as Deputy Chair. He has also been

to Mr Cochrane. The Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation said a drop of this magnitude would farmers to a single send financially struggling meeting! dairy farmers “over the Since its formation, edge”.

Dairy Australia has which reportedly farmer members received around cost Dairy Australia in the south-west $500 million from around $750,000, of Victoria, we resulted in only applaud the stand an estimated 600 taken by Senator “What farmers witn David Leyonhjelm in dairy farmers industry value chain and would ‘milk’ could confuse consumers; DAIRY CONNECT has called for spent onbelavi opposing the changes attending workshops being particularly ramping up its efforts and non-dairy products lacked a truth in labelling ‘crackdown’ on to the five year poll of nationwide. annual forecasts co greater equity to dairy health benefits processed plant liquids sold to retail the nutritional andAustralian Dairyto deliver the dairy levy.* improved milk pro delivered by fresh milk from producers. consumers as ‘milks’. Farmers, who We are concerned This strategies would be donefor either Non-dairy ‘milks’ marketed everyday dairy cows. achie contacted all licensed thatcashew, this is justHis the comments a pan-industry voluntary were part of throughfailure nationally include soy, to advise th calling of ofdairy code of conduct or by the Dairyfarmers Connect’s almond, oat, hemp,latest rice illustration and a preview theconsidering true state of the legislation advocacy focus for for the comingto year. Government coconut extracts. farmers how Dairy Australia focusing on commercial short form The agency would be lobbying Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn support these change, fails to represent Morgan said the use of the word for greater fairness along the contracts. the interests of dairy did so with a limited compulsory levies on has budget of around farmers and is an farmers in addition sam $3,000-$5,000, which to around $300m attempt to eliminate the elicited a response farmer’s democratic in government far from only a small rights to have a say. funding (with no fro minority of farmers. The panel direct financial We believe they do contribution from that developed Da The couple now see annual together as a team,” Janelle said. IRREWILLIPE not reflect the views the proposals dairy manufacturers “To be able to block out four analysis as vital as they work their app Danny SHAREFARMERS of the majority, changing the with a third despite their presence inf way to farm ownership. person was goodand O’Donnell and Janellefor Fisher say hours thebeen results tainted levy advisor processbecause was there have board). one-on- ma The on free,the confidential, timesare when working with a skilled dairy with experienced dairy int Danny and I have to sit-down through Dairy Australia’s Taking by by tried a failed sessions Far from advancing dominated advisors are still being offered free wa but you don’t really achieve anything Stock program got thempeople workingwho on are Farmer Power, which the interests of not to dairy farmers in Victoria, South at the end of it. the same page. dairy farmers, pri independent of Dairy has no funding “So to have that time locked away Australia, Tasmania and NSW. “We were too busy in our own Dairy Australia has bei base, has been able Australia and who For more information call WestVic worlds focusing on what we did you get in, you get it done and you overseen an industry bel 5557 1000. havea a purpose.”to attract over 600Dairy on (03) individually and not therefore bringing ithave

an active member of the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria. In taking up the casual directorship, Mr Nicoll has stepped down as GippsDairy Chair.

achieved on a lease farm. Due to the success of the industry dinner at last year’s event, the day will be followed by a “let-your-hair-down-andcelebrate-the-dairy-industry” dinner that evening at Lighthouse Beach. For more information, contact Esther Jones at

Western Victoria

Fresh eyes when taking stock


GOT SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND? GOT SOMETHING on your mind about the latest issues affecting our dairy industry? Put your pen to paper or your fingers to your keyboard, and let our readers know what you think. Don’t forget to put your name and address. Note: Letters may be edited. (Names can be witheld from publication on request.)

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Dairy Connect leads label crackdown

Dairy Innovation Day at Busselton Day will be held on May 4 on the lease property of Robin, Betty, Wes and Sarah Lammie at Busselton. The theme is innovation in business and the Lammie family will put their business completely under the spot light. It is a remarkable story of what can be

said Parmalat is currently agree on a price before FARM GATE contract paying around mid-50 the 2016 contract ended negotiations between cents a litre, but wanted on December 31. farmers, represented by to drop this by 1.5 cents/ Gympie farmer, John Premium Milk, and dairy Cochrane, is representing litre. processor Parmalat are financial interest in BEHALF This represents a 193 farmers,of who headed towards disputeON the outcome. Farmer which drop of more makePower, up nearly 50% of thecollective resolution. levy poll, dairyfarmers. He The than last $3 million, according Queensland’s The parties failed to represents

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Northern Victoria

Survey to help fight against insect pests INSECT PESTS are

increasingly costing northern Victorian and southern NSW dairy farmers time and money, but new research is now being conducted to shed greater light on the problem. An online survey had been developed as part of the research in order to improve understanding of the type, distribution and frequency of major insect pests of perennial pastures across the south east Australia dairy regions. The survey work will be used to help target R&D in the future.

The survey can be found at https://www. AUInsects Gundowring farmer Ian Holloway said his farm had been badly impacted by the red-legged earth mite, black beetle and redheaded cockchafer over the past year or so. “It affected our whole system,” Ian said. “I had to re-sow 70% of the farm and our production is 12% down because we haven’t had the grass for the cows to feed on.” “There’s costs across the board associated with this. The cost in grass –

South Australia

Union Dairy Company seeks suppliers THE UNION Dairy Company – a partnership between The Midfield Group and Louis Drefus Company – has contacted South Australian farmers to discuss supply. Union expects to complete construction of its Penola plant this financial year and begin production “mid 2017”. In a flier sent to prospective suppliers, Untion said its milk model is “based on farmer needs identified at supplier forums throughout our target regions”. Union says it will offer: ■■ Smooth seasonal pricing and cash flow payments ■■ Multiple monthly payments ■■ Simplified productivity, volume or growth incentives ■■ Guaranteed minimum full year milk price (no step downs) ■■ No obligation to enter multi-year contracts Interested suppliers can email milksupply@midfield.


Lessons from 2016 at Dairy Conference NEW ZEALAND farmers will discuss how they managed

with a lower milk price at the 10th annual Tasmanian dairy conference next month. Under the them ‘Managing the challenges of change’, the conference will be held at the Launceston Country Club Casino on March 29. The conference will offer plenty of practical information, ideas and solutions for farmers through a blend of Q&A sessions and farmer forums. It will feature local, national and international speakers, including a panel of Tasmanian farmers discussing their experiences over 2016. For more information, visit

usually we would get two feeds off a paddock and we only got one. It costs in seed to re-sow, the cost in labour, fuel, time loss and bought in hay. “We only cut half as much silage, which left us with half the fodder reserves we normally do, so now we are already buying hay to get through.

Ian, who milks 1000 cows across two farms, has about 750ha of milking area and sows up to 500ha every year. He believes having access to more targeted information on insect pests would be very helpful. “It takes a lot of the guess work out and will help us treat the problem

more effectively and save on extra, unnecessary costs,” he said. Dairy Australia program manager Richard Romano said said he had heard from a number of farmers across the Murray Dairy region about different insect pests and the damage they were causing across the region.

“The dry conditions late last year and early this year were perfect for a variety of insects to come in and deplete thousands of hectares of pasture from underground,” he said. “And it looks to be another dry spell coming up, so we need to be more prepared to deal with them to minimise the

costs. “Farmers lost a lot of pasture and crops in autumn, which put them behind for the rest of the season. It is a major cost just having to deal with eradicating the pests let alone the flow on effects of re-sowing and diminished homegrown feed.”

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The waiting game

MILKING IT... Mixed messages

Rewriting history

“Lesson for today: Dairy Australia must be scrapped and replaced with a group that only represent dairy farmers, not dairy importers.” So tweeted Senator Jacqui Lambie following her in appearance in Tasmania for the Senate Inquiry she called into the dairy industry. Given that Dairy Australia is not the representative body for farmers, but an ‘investment arm’ of the industry that invests in projects for the benefit of both farmers and processors, we wonder if she has a full understanding of the various roles of the dairy industry bodies. One thing is certain about the current inquiries, the amount dairy farmers pay in levies each year will come under intense scrutiny as part of the hearings.

It’s hard to rewrite history in the age of the internet. Those who try look even more foolish. Take former MG chief Gary Helou, for example. Helou fronted the Senate inquiry this month and pinned the crash in Murray Goulburn’s milk price paid to farmers on “a Chinese regulatory change regarding cross-border trade via e-commerce”. However, at the time, Murray Goulburn said the changes caused a slight interruption to trade but “would not have a material impact on MG’s business”. Seems Helou has had a change of heart between then and his appointment with the Senate hearing. MG’s actions at the time punished its suppliers. The least the suppliers could have received was some honesty from their former (well-paid) CEO about his part in the downfall.

Bovines unite

Together at last

NSW dairy advocacy group Dairy Connect’s push to stop processed plant liquids using the term ‘milk’ has been given a push from some ‘heavy’ hitters. The Australian Camel Industry Association and the Australian Buffalo Industry Council throwing their weight behind the push. Dairy Connect says use of the word ‘milk’ could confuse consumers; and non-dairy products lacked the nutritional and health benefits delivered by fresh milk from everyday dairy cows. Non-dairy ‘milks’ marketed nationally include soy, cashew, almond, oat, hemp, rice and coconut extracts. Dairy Connect is framing its argument on nutritional lines, saying it does not believe plant-based milk alternatives have the same nutrient content as cows’ milk, saying they could negatively affect the development of children under 5. There is a push along similar lines in the US and success there could give the Australian campaign some momentum.

Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin has been winning the hearts and minds of many farmers with his forthright views on the dairy industry and treatment of suppliers post the price crash. However, his ‘good bloke’ rating received an added boost when Bega purchased Vegemite last month. Bega’s $460 million purchase of Mondelēz International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business includes Vegemite, returning the iconic brand to Australian ownership. Bega announced the deal on January 19 and part of us would have loved the announcement a week later – on Australia Day. However, we can’t blame him for wanting to share news like this as soon as possible.

Advertising Brett Matthews

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

0417 440 009

WE hoped by now to be able to report on the findings from ACCC and ASIC investigations into the actions of Murray Goulburn and Fonterra during last year’s farmgate milk price cuts and whether these amounted, legally, to misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct. At the time of press, we’re still waiting, but we’ve been assured by ACCC chairman Rod Sims their inquiry is at its “advanced stages”. The waiting will continue until November when the findings of the second and broader ACCC broader inquiry into the into the functionality of the Australian dairy industry will be known. The ACCC’s new powers to report on the profit margins across the supply chain should be particularly telling. The challenge from there is that the recommendations are supported by both government and industry bodies and then acted on. With effects test legislation still yet to be passed into law, and a general lack of appetite by both major parties for more regulation, it’s hard to see how more legislative solutions will be found to the mess. Especially when industry bodies and processors alike are advocating for industry led- rather than government-led solutions. But we live in interesting times politically, and in the new era of increased power of the minor parties, it’s not improbable to imagine Jacqui Lambie or Nick Xenophon horse trading with the coalition for changes that, in their minds, better support farmers by pushing some of the risk further back up the supply chain. Jacqui Lambie has publicly said she supports the 50c levy on milk proposed by fringe farmer group Farmer Power. In the meantime, efforts by ADF, state member bodies and the Australian Dairy Products Federation to drive an industryled response, in the form of a Code of Best Practice on Contractual Relationships are to be applauded. It’s been a long time coming, but combined with new unfair contract legislation which came into effect on November 12 last year, it creates the opportunity for fairer terms for farmers and more transparent contracts. And it’s likely, despite the code not being mandatory, it will force the hand of all processors to sign up or risk losing supply to those that have. As long as the dispute resolution process has teeth, and doesn’t end up with farmers needing to take processors to court, it could represent a genuine shift in the bargaining power of farmers.

Editor Stephen Cooke

0427 124 427 Publisher Brian Hight Production Dave Ferguson Becky Williams Senior Journalist Madeleine Brennan

Web Cameron Wilson Published by RNG Publishing Ltd Printed by Newsprinters Pty Ltd

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.


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OPINION  // 13

For the love of ice cream OVER THE summer, I

found God. Well, it wasn’t God exactly, but it was a religious experience of a kind that took me far away from the trials of 2016 and transported me to a happy place. A quiet place. A place of bliss. I discovered Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream. If you haven’t tried it, treat yourself: it is a true brush with the divine. As a magazine for farmers, it’s right that this modest rag should focus its attention on the quality and quantity of fresh milk produced by the thousands of farms across Australia. But the aim of this column is also to celebrate all the delicious products made wonderous by the transformative power of milk. Global export markets reduce milk to mere commodities – whey, skim milk powder, nutritionals – and in the daily grind of milking can make it easy to forget the end game, but let’s take the time to honor and rejoice in the dizzying heights with which this most essential of ingredients can soar. Just think of the joy dairy farmers spread globally day in, day out. There’s so many ways to enjoy dairy, but for me, nothing showcases the extraordinary power of the humble glass of milk when it becomes that most delicious of foods – ice cream. Butterfat – at least 10% of it - is at the heart of any good ice cream. There is no room for imposters. Anyone who has tried Tofutti can attest to that. Without milk, it’s just a frozen dessert. And an unfulfilling one at that. Is it any wonder that we learn very early on in life that ice cream is one of life’s true simple gifts? The Mr Whippy van music is the lure, but it’s the promise of ice cream that can really motivate parent and child alike to chase that truck down the street.

On that note, I’m off to the freezer. Dairy Australia figures suggest the average Aussie eats 18kg of ice cream every year, and it would appear I’ve got some catching up to do.


Tapping into the childhood memories of comfort and joy, Australian-owned Bulla Family Dairy last year launched a range of ice creams which included the classic combinations of Cookie Crumble, Cookie’s and Cream and Fairy Bread flavour. It’s part of the company’s ‘Unfakeable’ campaign, and it’s spot on because it’s the natural goodness of milk that gives the product it’s authentic taste. ‘Unfakeable’ is also a subtle dig at those other dairy-free imposters – almond, soy and coconut ‘milks’. Fresh, local milk has also been at the heart of the success story that is Timboon Fine Icecream in south-west Victoria. Since 1999, Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons have perfected their recipes for their unique brand of gourmet ice cream. Hard work, their rich creamy mouth feel and a willingness to keep trying new flavours (such as Apple Pie; Orange and Cardamon; Licorice) has seen the business recently grow to include a new cafe, a Sundae School (it’s a growing religion) and an expanding list of distributors. Of course, sometimes experimenting with flavour can go a bridge too far. I’m willing to put money on the fact the Vegemite flavoured icecream currently being served up at Heston Blumenthal’s Australian restaurant crosses that bridge and keeps running. Give me a spoon and a serve of your bog standard vanilla ice cream any day.





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14 //  MARKETS

A raging bull in the house THE FLURRY of orders from the

desk of Donald Trump as US President while unexpected of an elected world leader, should have come as no surprise: Trump is doing what he promised with the blunt force and lack of consultation that he threatened. Business, industry advocates and established institutions of US society and the world are reeling from a very angry and confusing agenda that shows little respect for humanity, history, science, economics, the planet or logic … and no time for reason. It’s hard to line up the potential consequences from much of what’s been ordered (and threatened) with the benefits to the Administration’s constituents – US business, farmers, rust-belt communities for a few – that Trump claims to have championed. While we’ve never seen so much humorous rebuttal of the regime and its figures, what’s actually happening isn’t funny. I’ve just returned from a major gathering of the US dairy industry, where it was evident that Trump’s actions and intent are making manufacturers and farmers very anxious. Trade with the rest of the world is critical to most major ag sectors in the US – dairy in particular. The industry’s

FRESH AGENDA STEVE SPENCER milk output has a strong steady growth trajectory which exceeds the potential demand from its own consumers. External markets are crucial to continued wealth creation on farms and in processing businesses. Trump shows little belief in the benefits of two-way trade for the US economy. A promise to tear up and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada has profound implications. The US dairy sector has issues with its northern neighbours over some protective policies claimed to discriminate

US products, but Mexico is a different matter.A trade war over the flow of Mexican manufactured products into the US could not only damage the Mexican economy and slow dairy demand, but may spark a tit-for-tat action that damages or even stops US dairy exports altogether. Mexico is by far the biggest dairy export market for both cheese and low-fat milk powders. Interestingly the EU and New Zealand have each announced it will speed up efforts for FTAs with Mexico. Europe has a bit of milk powder on its hands. A bigger worry is Trump’s dispute with China over trade, currency and sovereign territory. If this dangerous Trump has shown little interest in dispute escalates the impact on dairy and export incomes would be gutted trade (China is an important whey with a fall in output. Again, hurting all observing conventional political process in the US, bypassing legislators market) would be a small part of a far consumers and many other jobs. Trump’s line on the issue has soft- where possible, surrounding himself greater economic problem, and provide Trump with his own political night- ened a little, but he shows little interest with a tight group of compliant minisor attention span to take on board evi- ters of state, and firing senior bureaumare. US consumers (including Trump’s dence from reports or experts. Industry crats that disagree with opinion and rust-belt battlers) have thrived on low- is not convinced any rational attitude process. Control of the highest courts cost consumer goods – electronics, will be held or that agriculture will be is on his agenda, clearly with little respect for the separation of powers clothing, and other goods – supplied favoured. Maybe buddying up to Vlad Putin of judiciary, legislative and the execuby Chinese factories. Replacing those with higher-cost US products – the could offset damage to dairy. The tive that is central to the constitution. Many Republicans logic of his protectionist in Congress are just as words and tweets – will alarmed, but torn between hurt those he claims to Trump shows little belief in the benefits of two-way trade for the US the opportunity to govern most protect. and the destruction of Back to the US itself, economy. A promise to tear up where a deportation and renegotiate the North American societal and party values. This period is redefining of immigrants working power and influence and on dairy farms could Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with given the role of the US cause major disruption. Mexico and Canada has profound economy, its foreign interThe industry has long implications. ests and its currency, it’s claimed and demonnot an option to tune out strated that immigrants play a vital role filling jobs that can’t former EU’s cheese pipeline to Russia of Trump’s latest series of reality TV. As a former head of the CIA told the be filled from US residents in farming was worth more than 250,000t per annum before Russia banned western US dairy audience this week – buckle regions. The peak farm lobby, National Milk dairy products, and then went broke. up, you’re in for a rough ride. Producers Federation (NMPF), sur- Getting paid would be a new challenge, • Steve Spencer is a director of Melbourneveyed farmers in 2015, concluding the even if US products were exempted based firm Freshagenda, a specialist food analysis, advisory and consulting busieffect of reducing immigrant labour from the embargo. It’s hard to know how far this will ness which provides a range of clients supply would be catastrophic, as more than half of US dairy farm jobs are held go. The new White House resident with insights on market trends and develseems intent on picking fights with opments, strategy development and impleby immigrant workers. NMPF says farms retail prices of most major countries and blocs in the mentation, supply chain analysis, and project evaluation. milk (and presumably cheese) will lift interests of “America First”.

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MARKETS  // 15

Forecast more promising than 2016 but risks attached Export demand remains strong Dairy NewS aUSTraLia june, 2012

agribusiness // 17

abandoning ventures. With season 2011/12 only a few incremental change in milkOut production in the(year-on-year) broader has begun in weeks much the from ending, attention is now 2012/13 milk prices as farmmarket, the balance same way as focused 2016 on ended; ers consider strategies for the coming between upside and with a well-balanced year. In some domestically-focused regions, renegotiated downside pressures is global commodity market, contracts incorgLobaL impacT porating lower prices and reduced ‘tier JohN DropperT keeping commodity prices and some improvements one’ access are undermining farmer confidence and supply stability. For GLOBAL IMPACT stable in the short term, to (still challenging) private label DROPPERT contracts and promany farmers in export-oriented Shifts inJOHN regions, a lower price outlook relative to cessor rationalisation have seen milk after a steady recovery margins on farm. current season not only adds to the companies adjust their intake requireduring the second half of The latterthe have challenges of doing business, but seems ments and pricing to meet the changdemands a highly pressured retail to contradict the positive medium 2016. through recruitment. from term overing 10% forofthe benefited from a outlook of Asia-driven dairy demand marketplace. Lower contract prices and Sentiment drove Most processors have first four months, to continuing easing of a lack of alternative supply opportunigrowth. those in south-east and the Middle flows. 2012 milksome production in the the US recovery, ties present challenges withexperienced Dairy Australia’s outlook andAsiathe also 8.5% for the season to in a market grain and hay prices, and indicative for southern farm gate milk prices – limited manufacturing capacity. Despite is up around 4% on 2011 for the year to East maintain consistently higher ecofundamentals have since form of post-farmgate December. many farmerspublished in southern support in the recent Dairy 2012: Sit- these challenges, the underlying domes- April (leap year adjusted), whilst early nomic growth rates that increased dairy consumption. Howand Outlook report, is for an tic market is stable, with steady per-cap- data suggests EU-27 milk production caught up. The question setbackfinished in the past year, Dairy Australia’s regions have uation seen further the March 2012 quota year up ever, the surge in supply has outpaced opening price range of $4.05-$4.40/kg ita dairy consumption and a growing is: what next? period broader market is thatproviding this a degreewith step-ups recently. demand growth A in the market. 2.3% on the previous year. New Zealand of cer-the MS and a full year averageexpectation price range population This situation has seen the scales between $4.50 and $4.90/kg MS. The tainty beyond the current adjustments. production is widely expected to finish of consolidation around downturn, and intricacies gap will narrow further The trendreport is not In the seasons following the 2008 this season up 10% on last year - a huge tip in favour of buyers in dairy marconsiders the wider market pickets, with commodity prices retreatmarket influence given 95% of NZ milk crisis and subsequent ture and summarises the many current commodity ofcomthe Chinese market the but factors remainfinancial significant, uniform however, at play; the key theme of the current sit- modity price recovery, farmers in is exported. Argentina is also enjoy- ing steadily over recent months. Butter pricing seems most cited factors. with full season and domestic,uation fresh some 30% from their being that of re-balancing in the export-oriented regions have seen solid ing solid production growth, but a sig- prices are down likely. 2011 peaks, whilst nificant supplyplayers gap in Brazil prevents In supply growth (see chart) - with supply chain. short, the powder globalprices have Downstream productionglobal totalling milk-focused dairy regions In regions of Australia focused on higher-cost competitors in the North- much of this additional milk from leav- lost more than 20%. Farm gate prices milk supply picture have also had their between 6 and 8% lower are experiencing the have subsequently been reduced in producing drinking milk, many farmers ern Hemisphere amongst those expand- ing South America. most exporting regions. The average Despite wider economic uncering output as their margins increased. re-balancing marketthan in the form remains cautiously share of setbacks, the 9.5 billion litres other end of face thea cycle, of renegotiation of supply contracts This season, favourable weather con- tainty, demand has remained resilient basic farm gate price for milk in France positive for sellers, with Bellamys, Viplus, produced in 2015/16. with price reductions from 32 Euro and reduced access to ‘tier one’ supply. ditions have further enhanced milk as importing countries like China and for example, dropped 12%with only the US currently Camperdown Dairy Lower total milk flagged for a number of showing growth amongst International and intakes pose a challenge producers. the major exporters. Camperdown Dairy for processors; one that Nonetheless, as the New Zealand and Company amongst is not distributed evenly, season has progressed, the EU warrant close those cutting sales given the success of some the year on year drop austraLian DairY, ASEAN-Australia-New FTA (AANZFTA). and wine exporters toin Zealand watching, but for now, forecasts, encountering growing their share in Australia’srice milk “Protectionist sentiMalaysia are the biggest milk flows in both regions filling the volume gap trade restrictions, or production has narrowed, ment over agricultural winners in a free trade and


cents/litre in March (AUD 41c/L) to 28 Euro cents/litre (AUD 36c/L) in April. Profit margins are under pressure in the US, and in NZ Fonterra has announced the final payout for the 2011/12 season has been cut from NZ$6.75-$6.85/kg MS to NZ$6.45-$6.55/kg MS (AUD$4.96$5.04). Effectively, global dairy markets are rebalancing. Lower prices will both slow production growth and stimulate demand, and as this occurs we will ultimately see a price recovery. Key factors to watch on the global scene will be the rate at which milk production overseas slows in response to lower prices, the impact of the current financial worries on consumer confidence, the path of China’s economic growth, and the value of the Australian dollar. Demand for exported dairy products remains a positive and will continue to grow with the middle class in are likely to remain large emerging markets such as China, with changes in diet and with increasing constrained. urbanisation - and also in conjunction New Zealand, withIn global population growth.wet Locally, the domestic market is supported conditions early in the by a growing population and stable perseason caused Whilst extensive capita consumption. the dairy market is currently a challenging pasture damage and place to be a seller, all signs indicate that balpugging in some areas and ance will ultimately return.

delayed maize planting. The weather has since improved, however damage to pasture stands from the earlier wet conditions is reportedly limiting actual growth. Europe remains a mess to provide portion pack austraLian FooD of conflicted signals, with (200-330ml) configuracompany Freedom Foods tion for beverage prodGroup Ltd is to build a some processors passing new milk processing plant ucts. The NSW location will to cash in on growing on higher commodity provide access to the most demand in Asia. prices while the European The plant, to be built in sustainable and economic Pactum has southeast Australia, will be source of Commission ismilk. funding strong links to the Austrathe first Australian greena program to incentivise fields expansion in UHT in lian dairy industry and will expand its arrangements 10 years. farmers to reduce milk with dairy farmers for Freedom’s wholly production. supply of milk. The new owned subsidiary Pactum plant will increase scope Australia will run the In addition, the plant. Some of its products for Australian milk supply Netherlands is grappling – value-added, sustainable will be sold in Australia. and export focused. The company says with the need to reduce Initially the plant will given Asian consumproduce 250ml and ers’ rising incomes and phosphate output to 1Lmeet UHT packs from a process improving diets, demand EU limits, and may line capable of 100see mil- as there will grow for qualL. The and ity dairy products from aslion much 10% ofprocessing its dairy low-cost production bases packaging plant will emit herd culled (or relocated less carbon, use less water, such as Australia, whose and be moreto energy-effimilk is well regarded. across borders) achieve cient than equivalent The new plant will this. UHT facilities in Austraallow Pactum to meet and SE Asia. Pactum growing demand for Thus lia far, the sum total expects site preparation to UHT dairy milk, and add in October 2012in and to capacity for valuehas beenbegin a slowdown

Malaysia FTA benefits dairy Freedom

Foods plant targets Asia

agreement (FTA) signed between the two countries last month. The deal, signed after seven years of negotiations, allows a liberalised licensing arrangement for Australian liquid milk exporters and allows access for higher value retail products. It guarantees Australian wine exporters the best tariff treatment Malaysia gives any country. It also allows open access arrangements from 2023 for Australian rice with all tariffs eliminated by 2026. The National Farmers’ Federation says the trade deal will improve international market access for Australian agricultural goods. “After seven years of negotiation, the NFF is under no illusion of how challenging it has been to complete this FTA with Malaysia,” NFF vice president Duncan Fraser says. The FTA will fill a number of gaps within the

goods is rife and growing across the globe, so in this context it is pleasing Australia has managed to forge an agreement with Malaysia that has dealt with some sensitive agricultural issues not effectively covered by AANZFTA,” says Fraser. “While under the AANZFTA agreement most of Australian agriculture’s key interests had tariffs bound at zero, dairy and rice are two sectors where incremental market access improvements have been negotiated under the Malaysian FTA. “This trade deal was also particularly important for sectors such as dairy that have been facing a competitive disadvantage in Malaysia compared with New Zealand which already has a completed FTA with Malaysia in place.” The FTA also signals some administrative benefits for Australian agricultural export-

Sealing the deal: Malaysian trade minister Mustapha Mohamed with Australian counterpart Craig Emerson after signing the deal.

ers through streamlining of rules-of-origin declaration processes and improved marketing arrangements for certain commodities. The Malaysian market is worth about A$1 billion in Australia agricultural exports – including being its fourth-largest sugar export market and fifth-largest wheat export market. With an annual economic growth at about 5%, Malaysia forms an important part of the ‘Asian Century’ story and the opportunity this presents for Australian agricultural producers, says Fraser.

Despite the completion of this agreement, much remains to be done for Australia’s farmers to tap into the full potential of the Asian region and beyond. He says the NFF will now throw its attention towards ensuring agriculture remains front and centre in completed FTAs with South Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia as immediate priorities. “These are all markets with enormous growth opportunities and where significant barriers to trade in agriculture still exist, not only through tariffs that restrict trade

but also through technical or so called ‘behind the border’ restrictions.” The FTA was signed on May 22 in Kuala Lumpur by Australia’s Trade and Competiveness Minister Craig Emerson and his Malaysian counterpart Mustapa Mohamed. Emerson says Australia will be as well-positioned in the Malaysian market as Malaysia’s closest trading partners in ASEAN, and in some cases better. The FTA will guarantee tariff-free entry for 97.6% of current goods exports from Australia once it enters into force. This will rise to 99% by 2017.

added beverages at its Sydney factory. Pactum is expanding its capabilities at the Sydney plant

Damage to pasture stands from wet conditions in New Zealand is reportedly limiting actual growth.

milk production growth from around 7% for the first quarter of 2016, to an expected 0.6% for the full year, and the Commission is currently forecasting a very modest 0.2% growth for 2017. Global dairy demand presents a mixed, but overall positive picture. The volume of dairy products traded over the past twelve months to the end of October 2016 rose by just over 7%, with a recovery in demand from Greater China accounting for around a third of that growth. The value of global exports was down by 14% though, with falls across all major markets except Greater China, reflecting the lower global prices for key dairy commodities for much of the year. Ongoing economic and geopolitical uncertainty remains a significant risk, as does resurgent supply growth in Europe and New Zealand.

With the southern hemisphere production season winding down, and the northern hemisphere heading for spring, EU and US price indicators are taking centre stage, with some falls noted in recent weeks. Whether this translates to a problematic trend will largely depend on how the production season continues to shape up in those regions. For now, tight Oceania supplies and reasonable levels of demand are keeping the market supported closer to home. These are just the headline factors for a year that looks far more promising than 2016, albeit with a greater array of risks attached. For an in-depth look, Dairy Australia’s next Situation and Outlook report will be released on February 22. • John Droppert is Senior Industry Analyst with Dairy Australia.

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Farm conversion clears GORDON COLLIE


second farm for dairying, breeding up the expansion milking herd and commissioning a new grain ration mill made for a big 2016 for Queensland producers Jason and Lisa Rozynski. “Looking back, we’ve achieved a lot in the space of 12 months,” said Jason. “It’s been a big investment to scale up our enterprise and with things now coming together we will soon have 500 milkers producing over three million litres between the two farms. “We were hopeful for an industry bounce when we started on our

Jason Rozynski in his new feed mill.


Jason and Lisa Rozynski WHERE:

Imbil WHAT:

Farm conversion New dairy at Imbil.

expansion course, but unfortunately prices have plateaued and we are still waiting,” Jason said. Jason left school in 1995 and started work on the farm, then on to partnership with Jason’s father from 2008 and took over the family holding


in 2012 at Imbil in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, which was initially cleared for dairying by his grandparents Harry and Jess who purchased the property in 1946. The property on Yabba Creek, a tributary of the Mary River, will soon be milking 300 cows, with Jason’s father Gary still actively involved in the enterprise. The opportunity arose to purchase the second property about 10 km away within the footprint of the ill-fated Queensland Government’s Traveston Dam project. “It had been run as a beef enterprise for many years, so we had to pretty much start from scratch with fencing, stock watering and irrigation systems and pasture renovation.” A new herringbone dairy and yard facilities with automatic cup removers to facilitate one-person milking were completed to start in June.

“We bred 200 heifers in batch calvings over the space of three months for the new dairy with another 57 calved in August-September and another 67 calved at Christmas.” Their dairy herd has a strong infusion of Brown Swiss which have been impressive performers since the first bull was introduced about 15 years ago. “We’ve been breeding Brown Swiss fairly extensively for a good while now using bulls, artificial insemination and embryo transfers from top Australian, European and US bloodlines,” Jason said. “We’ve reared every heifer born in the last 10 years, initially to upgrade and expand our own herds.” The Beez Neez Brown Swiss stud was established about five years ago and they now enjoy strong local demand for both heifers and bulls. “It’s been a great

experience, but we still have a long way to go. “The Brown Swiss have great heat tolerance, strong feet and legs to cope well in the wet and are very good calvers. “They are cost effective milk producers with good components. Our averages are around 3.7% protein and 4.7% fat,” Jason said. He has been very pleased with the results of a change in enterprise feeding focus from partial mixed ration to pasture with a bail-fed grain-based ration in both dairies. A high-capacity automated mill can turn out multiple formulations of precision batchedweighed feed. With the installation of grain silos they now enjoy the consistency of forward ordering wheat and barley for bulk deliveries. Grain ration mix is bale-fed at the rate of 8 kilos a day split between morning and evening milking. Manager of the new dairy Glen Brown with Jason Rozynski.

NEXT ISSUE: MARCH PASTURE SEEDS Dairy News Australia will focus on new pasture varieties in our March issue to capitalise on rising farmer interest. This special report will update farmers on new varieties of pasture seeds, recent trial results, and sowing and fertiliser hints. It will also include case studies featuring farmers who have had success with newer varieties. BOOKING DEADLINE: March 1 MATERIAL DEADLINE: March 7 PUBLISHED: March 14 CONTACT: BRETT MATTHEWS T: 0417.440.009 E:



way for expansion Canola meal can be blended in varying quantities to balance protein according to seasonal conditions. “We can dial down to minute quantities during winter and crank it up to compensate for the lower feed value of summer kikuyu grazing,” he said. The new milling and mixing system commissioned in May can produce a batch of 1500 kilos of precision blend feed in around 45 minutes. “It’s been really good – the best thing I’ve done,” Jason said. “You can blend to exact requirements and we make different rations for heifers, springers and calves.” A feed additive Betain sourced from Trouw Nutritional International has proved very successful in helping combat milk fluctuations triggered by hot weather. “We use it during the summers when a stretch of hot weather can badly affect production. Daily production can suffer by hundreds of litres during a heat event. It can really knock cows about, especially towards the end of their lactation.” “It’s an expensive additive, but well worth strategic use to keep production on a more even keel,” Jason said. Their pasture feeding is based on kikuyu summer grazing with annual ryegrass with a mix of chicory and plantain. Some lucerne provides end of winter – early spring feeding, but feeding needs to be carefully managed to avoid bloat issues. The rye mix planted around March provides quality grazing through to the end of October. Cultivation with a disc and

power harrow has proved most successful in getting fast crop establishment for early grazing. This year Jason tried an application of chicken manure applied at a rate of about 15 cubic metres a hectare and worked in before planting. “It replaced our normal pre-plant fertiliser and seems to have made a real difference. We’ve been very pleased with the result,” he said. The family has successfully used two centre pivot irrigators on the home farm for several years. Each covers about 25 hectares. “They provide fast, precision watering on undulating country. We use a lot less irrigation in winter, just enough to water the fertiliser in with applications stepped up during the hot summer months.’’ A pivot irrigator was customised for their second property, covering about 60 hectares in a half circle. The variable speed irrigator has nine spans with the last three hinged to wrap around an electricity pylon. An end gun fills in variations around the boundary. “We made up wire pushers so the wheels can traverse over electric fences. It’s been a brilliant set up for really efficient watering of our farming flats,” Jason said. The family farm consigns its milk to Parmalat in Brisbane, but their new dairy supplies expanding hinterland processor Maleny Milk. “We are still hoping for an improvement in milk prices, but at least with this arrangement we have spread our options with a local business supplying quality branded milk,” Jason said.

Hinge jointed centre pivot.

Jason and Lisa Rozynski with children Angus, 5 and Paton, 7.

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Filling feed gap with summer crops WATER PRICE was a major factor

behind Riverina dairy farmers Mark and Philippa Flemming’s decision to grow millet, maize and sorghum as a summer feed crop on their Tocumwal farm. The Flemmings told a group of farmers at the Murray Dairy Successful Summer Cropping field day last month that the wet winter and subsequent pugged paddocks also influenced their decision. “Paddocks were that pugged we had to do something with them,” Mark told the crowd. In November, the Flemming family sprayed out 55ha before cultivating the paddocks with a multi-disc twice. They sowed 40ha of millet, 32ha of maize and 15ha of sorghum. “It’s been ten years since we’ve grown this amount of millet,” Phillipa said. They began strip-grazing the millet about 10 days before Christmas on a 10 to 12-day rotation, mainly at night, to supplement feed from a mixer wagon. The maize and sorghum were both planted for silage to conserve fodder, with the first of the sorghum having just been cut. The millet was planted close to the dairy and cows are put in after milking. Cows get fed with a mixer wagon after milking at night, then are put in the millet. It is watered frequently as they had 100ML in a nearby dam after wet winter. It also receives recycled water from the dairy. This enables the Flemmings to water it every four days. It had also received two applications of urea. “If you keep it short, and put plenty of urea on it, you can get good protein levels,” Mark said. Cows are split into two herds with


Mark and Philippa Flemming WHERE:

Tocumwal WHAT:

Summer crop

350 in the main herd, and a stale herd of autumn calvers (about 65 head). The second herd is occasionally put in behind the main herd to help clean up the paddock. Mark said they will receive about 100 days from the millet. “Over summer, it enabled us to cut down our feed inputs a fair bit. In normal years we feed vetch and high protein hays over summer, as well as silage. “There’s going to be a period where we go to full TMR - when the millet runs out and rye grass and shaftal aren’t ready to graze.” The sorghum and maize will help in this transition. They will add pasture silage, then sorghum silage when it’s ready, in the mixer wagon. Cows also receive canola meal in the dairy, and wheat. Philippa said production rose when cows were first fed millet. “It did go up as soon as we fed it, we were surprised,” she said. Sorghum and maize were planted to conserve for fodder. Mark said millet was chosen for grazing as it’s easier to manage. The millet is eaten down to the

Philippa and Mark Fleming grew millet, maize and sorghum crops on their Tocumwal farm this summer.

height of a tennis ball and it is watered as soon as the herd is removed from the paddock. “If it’s not moisture stressed, it gets away pretty quickly,” Mark said. At the time of the field day in late January, they have had four grazings from it and expect to get a couple more. A decision on the potential sixth grazing depends on timing.

Paddocks for annual pastures are normally watered start of March – so the decision has to be made whether they have the sixth grazing of millet, or prepare pastures. “We will probably spray it out then power harrow it, then use the disc seeder,” Mark said. When asked whether they would plant it again this summer, Mark said

the main factor would be price of water. The previous summer, they fed vetch hay and silage out of the mixer wagon. Water was around $85-$90 ML when they planted the millet and was the major catalyst for planting. Even if the paddock wasn’t pugged, they still would have planted millet but direct drilled it.

Get out the shovel before making decisions DAIRY FARMERS

should “get out the shovel” if a crop is failing and see what’s happening beneath the surface before making decisions. This was the advice from soil scientist Christian Bannan, of South East Soil and Water in Bendigo, who dug soil pits on two farms as part of Murray Dairy’s Successful Summer Cropping Field Day last month. Christian made the comment when inspecting a maize crop on Malcolm Holm’s property at

Finley. It was struggling compared to a crop planted on a different section of the farm. The Holm family had experienced a very wet winter and although the top soil of the failing crop was dry, a soil pit showed the profile was very wet underneath. In this case, the top soil was about 10cm deep with heavy clay close to the surface. Roots had struggled to penetrate this. Field day participants were told to investigate how much top soil they

have because “that’s your horse power” and that they had to assess that before deciding management options. “Don’t let a dry crust influence your decision. You get 80% of your horse power from top soil at least. “That’s where you get organic matter and nutrient cycling,” Christian said. “Understanding variability of top soil depth is critical as most yields vary according to depth of top soil and effective root zone

depth.” Christian said increasing organic matter provides a buffer from overwatering, but this is easier said than done. “Don’t apply manure to increase soil organic matter as one hit is not enough. It has to be done regularly for years. “You apply manure for nutrients, not organic matter benefit. “Green manure is a good option but it combusts too quickly. Composting straw and manure together is a good option.”



Record-breaking calf could generate $5m in future sales RICK BAYNE

THE OWNER of an Australian record breaking Holstein heifer calf thinks his best is yet to come. Declan Patten, owner of the calf that sold for $251,000 at International Dairy Week, more than doubling the previous Australian dairy record, is not resting on his laurels. “At Dairy Week we had a lot of comments,” Mr Patten said. “One guy said

and no-one ever wants to sell a heifer that high,” he said. “We sold her because we wanted to promote genetics. Since I lived in the US for three years and had access to some of the world’s best genetics, I want to improve and change people’s perception of genetics in Australia. “If you invest in the right genetics there’s certainly money to be made. We’ve done a great

“One guy said `congratulations it will probably never happen again’. I thought about it and said `you just watch me’.” `congratulations it will probably never happen again’. I thought about it and said `you just watch me’. “I’m the type of person who is always trying to move forward. We have some new ideas there’s some things in the works.” The calf, Jedi Gigi, owned by Mr Patten and Callum Moscript from Lightning Ridge Genetics in Gippsland Victoria, sold for $251,000 to Texas AI firm Sexing Technologies. Mr Patten said she was the highest scoring genomic female to sell anywhere in the world, but he was still pleasantly surprised by the sale. He had previously sold a heifer in the US for US$300,000. “She wasn’t as good as this one so we knew there was a lot of potential there but an animal of this calibre had never been sold in Australia before,” he said. “There were some unknowns and being in the Australian market we weren’t sure how much international interest we were going to get.” The sale beat the previous record of $112,000 set through Mr Patten’s Global Impact sales. Mr Patten also encountered questions about why he’d sell a heifer of this quality, but he has no regrets. “No-one has ever sold a heifer ranked that high

job of bringing genetics forward in Australia, which is something I’m really proud of and want to showcase to genetic breeders all around the world.” Mr Patten said Jedi Gigi could potentially generate $5 million for the new owners who should get a quick return on their investment. “The great thing with the buyer is that they are a semen company so they have access to male genetics that most wouldn’t have access to. They have a strong competitive advantage because of that,” he said. They aim is ship the heifer to North America to produce males from her to sell to farmers around the world. “If they can find really successful bulls they could be million dollar bulls,” Mr Patten said. “It could be a threeyear or an eight-year process but I think they will return their investment pretty quickly, but to what scale is yet to be determined.” While not wanting to reveal the secrets to his success, Mr Patten said he had been fortunate to work for US company Cutting Edge Genetics, which has invested heavily in genomics. The mother of Jedi Gig was purchased by the company for $175,000. “The company is one

of the major players in the industry and that has really helped me to have access to genetics most people wouldn’t have access to,” he said.

Mr Patten said the sale would change people’s perspective of genetics and boost the reputation of Australia’s dairy industry.

Declan Patten holds the record-breaking calf at International Dairy Week.

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Electrolytes: What’s in the tub? ORAL REHYDRATION

solutions, commonly known as electrolytes, are considered the mainstay of treatment for calf diarrhoea or any dehydration due to disease. There is a vast array of products on the market, each with their own ‘special recipe’ which comes at a varying degree of cost. This article aims to de-mystify electrolyte treatment and discusses the essential (and not-soessential) ingredients.

What do electrolytes do? The aim of electrolyte treatment is to rehydrate the calf, restore the pH of the blood and provide some energy. Calves with diarrhoea will be dehydrated due to ongoing fluid losses. Diarrhoea also results in the loss of alkaline salts causing an imbalance in blood pH, which becomes more acidic. This acidity (called “metabolic acidosis”) can be exacerbated further by accumulation of other

acids due to impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients. In healthy animals, blood pH is tightly regulated and even a small change can result in depression, collapse and death. It should be noted that the energy provided by electrolyte treatments is insufficient to maintain a calf for any period of time. Resumption of milk feeding is essential to provide the energy required for gut

regeneration, recovery and growth.

electrolyte gels and pastes will not actively provide water and rely on voluntary ingestion which can be compromised in calves with moderate to severe diarrhoea.

THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS Water Calves with early onset mild diarrhoea will increase their water intake, helping replace lost fluid. Clean, fresh water should be available to all calves from birth and it is often surprising how much water a newborn calf will consume if it is readily accessible. Electrolyte treatment

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of the blood once the dehydration and acidosis have been corrected. They are also essential for skeletal and cardiac muscle function.

THE NON-ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS Many commercially available electrolyte products will have additional ingredients which gives them a point of difference from each other. These ingredients include gelling agents, probiotics, prebiotics and flavourings. There is scarce published research that these ingredients have beneficial or detrimental effects. Electrolyte treatments containing gelling An alkalinising agent agents such as guar gum The majority of and pectin will reduce electrolyte treatments diarrhoea very quickly contain bicarbonate and they may enhance (in the form of sodium nutrient absorption by bicarbonate) which slowing down the rate directly alkalinises and at which the restores blood electrolyte pH. treatment passes However, The aim of through the gut. bicarbonate However, (and citrate) electrolyte they may also inhibits the treatment reduce the formation of is to ability of the the casein rehydrate body to flush curd or ‘milk the calf. out toxins. clot’ in the More research abomasum. is required to Therefore determine their true electrolyte products containing bicarbonate or benefit. Likewise, there is citrate should be fed 3-4 hours either side of a milk little peer-reviewed evidence to evaluate the feed. role that probiotics have Other alkalinising agents include acetate and in electrolyte treatment propionate which also act products. More often, additional as an energy source. ingredients tend to add to Acetate is the most the cost of a product. easily metabolised and The choice of any does not interfere with electrolyte product should milk digestion. be based on its ability to rehydrate, restore Glucose blood pH and provide Glucose (or dextrose) energy. acts as an energy source Home-made but also helps in the preparations are possible absorption of sodium, but should be used with which in-turn promotes caution as incorrect water absorption and quantities of the essential rehydration. ingredients can have As with sodium, the dire consequences which level of glucose in the include increased and blood is finely controlled prolonged diarrhoea, and an oral electrolyte treatment which contains bloat, gut inflammation and death. too much glucose or is It is advisable to incorrectly mixed can discuss any home-made exacerbate diarrhoea. electrolyte with your veterinarian before use. Potassium and chloride • Dr Gemma Chuck is a Both potassium and veterinary advisor at Apiam chloride are required to Animal Health. help maintain the pH Sodium Sodium facilitates the passive absorption of water from the small intestine, promoting rehydration. Commercially available electrolytes often contain sodium chloride for this purpose. However, sodium is tightly regulated within the body and problems can arise if too much or too little are present in the blood.



Managing the risk of mastitis ROD DYSON


both manage family farms milking about 450 cows in a rotary dairy without automatic cup removers. In the couple of months leading up to and just after Christmas, both farms had seen a rise in Bulk Milk Cell Count (BMCC) and both had experienced an increased number of clinical cases of mastitis. Interestingly, both Russell and Stuart had a suspicion that something about their milking process was influencing their risk of mastitis. Although they each had some specific suspicions, they weren’t quite sure if those suspicions were correct, or what else might be wrong, and coincidentally (because they don’t know each other), they both decided to get a complete assessment of their milking process. What was interesting was that some key findings at each farm were very similar, in fact almost identical in terms of teat condition. Both farms had a high level of “rough” teat ends, and also a high number of teats with “open” orifices after cup removal. Each had a significant number of teats that were firm and had “ringing” at the base of the teat (where the teat meets the udder) immediately after cups had been removed. The firm teats with a ring at the base formed by the mouthpiece of the liner caused a similar problem for both farms – cups did not drop quickly after the vacuum was broken at cups off, and at both farms, cups were being “encouraged” to come off! At Stuart’s farm, that encouragement was in the form of a little extra pull on the cluster, whilst at Russell’s farm, the button on the claw was being pulled as the cluster was being removed from the cow. In both cases, a distinct “pop” or “whoosh” noise was heard from about half of the clusters as air rushed into

the cluster whilst it was being removed. This rush of air into the cluster can cause “impacts”, which create a high risk for cross-contamination of quarters and liners. Each also had a level of over-milking occurring with many cows having ceased milk flow by about two thirds of a platform rotation, whilst the cups off operator remained anchored close to the bridge. Further testing and assessment showed that the changes to teats (firmness, ringing at the teat base, open orifices, rough teat ends) had subtly different causes at each farm, but with liners having a key role in both. At Russell’s farm, liner changes had always been every 6 months, but an increase in herd size without changing the liner change interval, meant that the current liners were now considerably overdue. Milking time testing also showed that the claw vacuum was just a little too high. Combine these mechanical factors with a significant number of cows not letting milk down prior to cups on, resulting in cup crawl immediately after cups had gone on, and you have a recipe for the changes that were seen. Add over-milking into that mix, which just makes all these factors worse, and it is easy to understand how the risk of mastitis had increased for Russell. However, the situation for Stuart was a bit different. His liners were only a month old, and there were few other factors implicated in the changes seen – clearly, a change to a different liner that better suits his cows’ teats will be necessary! However, liners are only part of the story for Russell and Stuart, as both will need to work with their milking staff to make changes to the milking routine, and managing the milking process is only one part of managing mastitis on their farms. The similarities and differences in these two

farms reinforce some important principles. It is rare for milk quality and mastitis issues to be caused by just one thing – there are usually multiple factors combining to have an effect. If you see, hear or do

the same thing commonly at each milking it quickly becomes “normal” to your mind – often an outside set of eyes is needed to expose the problem. Changes to teats are usually not noticed during milking – it requires specific

assessment, preferably by an experienced adviser, to define changes and problems. Both Russell and Stuart had described teat condition as “excellent” before any assessment was done! The milking process requires cows, people

and machines to work together. Not only can the way they interact create or exacerbate problems, they will actually need to interact well to both solve and prevent problems. Countdown has trained a wide range of

advisers to help assess these factors on farm – don’t hesitate to access that support to help better define your situation. • Rod Dyson is a veterinary surgeon and mastitis advisor at www.dairyfocus.

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Late sowing rewarded with strong yields of silage WHEN YOU farm at

Woorarra East in the hills behind Toora with a 1200mm annual rainfall, the 625mm annual rainfall of Yarram over the last ten years is comparatively dry. For the Throckmorton family they affectionately refer to their recently purchased 150ha outblock south of Yarram as the Gobi Desert. Neil Throckmorton said he applied 2&1 fertiliser before they purchased the property but it “just went brown”. “It was nothing to do with the fertiliser, it was just a very dry season,” he said. Purchased in September 2015, Mr Throckmor-

Silage bales at Yarram.

ton said the property was “totally unimproved, tussocks, stunted growth and low fertility”. “Our focus was to improve the property so we could grow a lot of feed to supplement the dairy farms.” Preparing the property to renovate in April, the Yarram property underwent significant drainage to prevent water from

pooling, and tussocks regrowing again. They also planned a significant short term pasture program to maximise pasture yields. “Working alongside Peter Notman and his team we decided to plant Bullet Annual Ryegrass mixed with Shaftal clover to give us flexibility for both grazing & silage.” Planting of the Bullet

& Shaftal at 40kg/ha began in April and the last paddocks were sown in the first week of June. “We normally wouldn’t sow so late, but I’ve learnt a real lesson with the Bullet & Shaftal. As long as you can get on the ground and it’s not waterlogged I wouldn’t be afraid to sow so late. “The late sowing was a real bonus, and although we got no winter grazing, the minute the pasture got heat on it the grass just took off.” A wet winter in Yarram delayed the first silage cut, with some of the earlier sown paddocks grazed with young stock. “We expected to cut in late August, however our

first cut was in October and the second in November.” Silage yields on the later sown was a great surprise to Neil. “The yields of the later sown paddocks were our heaviest cut than the earlier planted paddocks.” The outcome was a real success with over 4700 bales at 800kg baled at approximately 380kgDM per bale. Visiting the property with South African agronomist Rocky Reynolds in November, Peter Notman said the performance of the pasture was top notch and results spoke for itself. “The leafiness of the Bullet was first class,”

Peter Notman & South African agronomist Rocky Reynolds inspecting the Bullet Annual Ryegrass & Shaftal Clover mix on Neil Throckmorton’s Woorarra East property in Gippsland.

he said. Neil said he would “probably stick with the Bullet and not add the Shaftal next time. “If we had a drier year we could have harvested

five to six weeks earlier with the last cut being in October and not November, but I still believe we could have achieve similar yields.” • Source: Notman Seeds

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Focussing on the ‘white stuff’ RICHARD ECKARD

NITROGEN IN our pasture system

is essential for growth, you can’t have protein without nitrogen – it is the building block of protein. Typically during the year, you could get a lot of nitrogen coming out of the soil - up to 200 kilos - you could get 40 or 50 kilos coming out of legumes and you could get up to 200 kilograms coming through the cow. When you start thinking about it, it’s a lot of nitrogen floating around. Unfortunately, nitrogen is very susceptible to loss as well. About 60% of the nitrogen in your dairy system never completes the cycle to grow more grass again. So we start asking the question – where is all this nitrogen going? If you think about the plants out there, it has about 3.5% nitrogen in the grass. If you are growing 12 tonnes of grass per hectare per year, that means that pasture is using somewhere between 450 and 600 kilograms of nitrogen per year. No one would admit to putting

Richard Eckard discussing nitrogen use at a GippsDairy Focus Farm open day in Gippsland last year.

on 600 kilos of nitrogen – the thing is, you are getting 200 kilos from your soil and you might be getting 200 kilos from the cows recycling, so fertiliser nitrogen is just there to top up where that natural source of nitrogen might not be giving you enough supply. What we find is the soil can give you a lot of nitrogen when it is warmer and wetter. When you are in the spring

peak, you really have to ask the question: do you need more nitrogen when you are getting plenty of benefit out of the soil already? So you have to ask, do you need and can you utilise that extra pasture? The summer period is another story altogether – it really depends on moisture. If you do have moisture or irrigation, then you can think about

using nitrogen. Certainly if you have invested a lot of capital in irrigation, then you want a return on that capital – one way to get that return is to put on nitrogen to get the full benefit of that irrigation. Going into autumn when temperatures start dropping, you are not getting a lot of soil nitrogen, you are not getting a lot of legume nitrogen coming through, and that’s when you can be thinking about using nitrogen if you want to carry more grass into the cool season by boosting the pasture while it can still grow and helping carry a healthier plant into winter. So there’s three basic philosophies to nitrogen. One is that you don’t use nitrogen at all, and rely on legumes and boughtin feed. The other extreme is to say we are hooked on the white stuff and we are going to follow the cows around and put on nitrogen. But somewhere in the middle is that balance point, being tactical rather than being hooked on nitrogen. Think more about where you are not getting other sources of nitrogen

and supplement those pastures at those times. Mainly coming out of the spring and going into the winter – and if you have irrigation, plugging that gap in the middle. You can only get a good response to nitrogen when the grass is actively growing, which means it has adequate soil moisture and temperature to grow. A lack of soil moisture would be the first limitation and temperature would also be a limitation. When we talk about nitrogen we talk about the four Rs - right rate, right source, right timing and right place. University of Melbourne nitrogen expert, Richard Eckard, spoke at Paul and Lisa Mumford’s Won Wron farm late last year, as part of one of GippsDairy’s Focus Farm open days. Other open days were held at Jindivick and Fish Creek and were very well attended. This article is an edited transcript of his talk. • This article was first published in GippsDairy’s How Now Gippy Cow newsletter and has been reprinted with permission. For notes from all the Focus Farm open days, contact GippsDairy, (03) 5624 3900 or


(03) 5659 2314



A new tractor under the Christmas tree IT’S FEBRUARY, and Christmas is well behind us. It’s great to leave 2016 (mostly) behind, but allow me to take you back a little over a month. Dip the toe in, if you will. As I’m sure you recall, I am a big fan of the season of giving. Apart from all the joy and goodwill, there is the vague pretext for giving oneself a little something too. A round baler here, a tractor there – wait, did I hear ‘tractor’? Yes indeed. Whilst some may argue that a single 100 horsepower tractor is probably sufficient for a modest hobby farm, those people


JOHN DROPPERT usually have no interest in tractors. I do, and when I see a cheap one, I sit up and take notice. So when an old Ford 7700 popped up at a very reasonable price, I took the opportunity to pop over for a looksee. A beauty, she is not. The cab is riddled

with rust and broken or cracked glass, there are several litres of empty aluminium can capacity scattered about, and more arachnids than an episode of Spider House. Mechanically however, the machine looks sound – brakes work, gears shift, no steam train impressions from the exhaust, absence of water in oil, and so on. I’ve never had any direct exposure to the old Ford tractors, so I also did my research. As it happens, having moved on from the ‘Jerk O Matic’ gearbox snafu back in the 60s (a tractor that can shift itself into

gear while you’re not in the seat is understandably concerning), they are quite well regarded. The 7700 is part of a generation of tractors built at Basildon in the UK, which includes ‘utility’ and ‘row crop’ versions – the latter incorporating a flat operator platform, thus being much taller. Ridiculously taller. So tall it’s hard not to chuckle whenever one stands looking at it. The Dual Power transmission has a high/low range ahead of eight gears and an additional, clutchless high/low shift with a foot pedal.

They are considered to be tough, reliable tractors, though not great for loader work due to the chassis structure and scarcity of reverse speeds. The engines are relatively small, with turbos where necessary (including on the 7700) to boost power and fill out the range. Combined with a short chassis and tight turning circle this makes them more suited to utility jobs, rather than prolonged

heavy tillage and drawbar work. More European than American, if you will. Easily accessible (being 2wd helps), and low on electronics, they’re very simple to maintain (even if they need to be split) and parts appear to be readily available. The only, teeny weeny problem appears to be the great propensity for the engines to induce cavitation of the cooling fluid, leading to corrosion of the block. Hmm.

Nonetheless, I’ve taken the plunge. Cheap horsepower, and a fixer-upper. A great Christmas gift and a project for 2017. Just have to dodge any New Year resolutions about rationalising machinery ownership. • John Droppert has no mechanical qualifications whatsoever, but has been passionate about tractors since before he could talk and has operated many different makes and models in a variety of roles for both profit and fun.

L A I C SPE T R O REP Frank Perotta with the John Shearer 3.0m pasture drill.

Pasture renovation made simple AIMED AT farmers wishing to under-

NEXT ISSUE: MARCH FARM WORLD SHOW PREVIEW In the March issue of Dairy News we’ll be previewing Farm World. One of the largest field day events in Australia, Farm World attracts visitors from throughout Victoria, southeast of South Australia and Tasmania. It has grown to be Victoria’s largest regional agricultural event, attracting more than 700 exhibitors and 50,000 people through to Lardner Park Events in Drouin between March 31-April 2. Farm World allows exhibitors to launch new products, generate sales and leads, highlight industry changes and provide an opportunity to develop and maintain contacts. Make sure farmers know where to find you at Farm World by advertising in our preview. BOOKING DEADLINE: March 1 AD MATERIAL DEADLINE: March 7 PUBLISHED: March 14

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take pasture renovation or small-scale cropping, the John Shearer 3.0m pasture drill seems to offer a no-nonsense proposition, which among many advantages is said to only require a tractor from 70hp, so saving money on fuel. Starting with a robust chassis built from 6mm thick, 75x75 mm RHS steel, the unit carries hoppers with a capacity of 525 litres of seed at the front and 640 litres of super to the rear. An infinitely variable gearbox drives a fluted and peg tooth delivery system which allows seed rates from 1 to 240kgs/ ha, and fertiliser rates up to 320kg/ha. Down below a true parallelogram coulter system ensures excellent contour following, but more importantly,

accurate seed depth control, with 15 adjustments, each offering 6mm increments and aided by rearward press wheels. A choice of 19 or 23 row set up allows the option of 6 inch or 5 inch spacing to suit local conditions. Double disc openers, with 250mm travel, allow entry into tough ground, and are built with a long service life in mind, using double race bearings and triple lipped dust seals. All discs and packers are fitted with scrapers to help extend day in less than ideal conditions. A wide loading platform and handrail set-up allows safe and easy access to the hoppers, while ease of operation is further aided by an in-cab hectare meter and electronic scales for easy and accurate calibration.



Massey Ferguson’s newlydesigned duo mowers.

Grass gear for miles THE RECENT EIMA 2016 exhibition in Bologna, Italy showed a full line-up of forage tools from Massey Ferguson, whose mowers, tedders and rakes are used by contractors and farmers across New Zealand in a huge range of crops and conditions. Designed and made at the AGCO Feucht factory near Munich, Germany, the DM series of disc mowers includes mounted units from 2.06-4m; 3m and 4m semi-mounted mower conditioners; trailed centre pivot Mo-Co’s; and the high output 8.3m and 9.3m mowers in

triple-butterfly set-ups. On the tedder front, the TD series offers machines from 5.2m to 12.7m working widths; the range includes four mounted machines with four, six or eight rotors, and a brace of trailed units with eight or ten rotors. The RK series of rakes includes four single-rotor machines from 3.6m to 4.5m, four twin-rotor semi-mounted rigs up to 10m, and a flagship trailed four rotor leviathan which clears up to 12.5m in a single pass.



A self-propelled feeding machine in collaboaration with Storti.

Keenan goes back to drawing board MARK DANIEL

IRISH MIXER wagon builder Keenan, rescued from receivership by global nutrition company Alltech, appears to have been rethinking things. Industry talk is confirmed: a self-propelled machine will enter the range, a result of collaboration with Italian diet feeder manufacturer Storti. Located near Verona, Storti has made diet feeders since 1956, specialising in auger style machines in horizontal and vertical layouts, and probably offering the industry’s biggest range of self-propelled machines. For years it has insisted that this type of machine, which mixes the ingredients by tumbling and compression, creates a homogenous mix that averts the problem of cows being selective, i.e. shaking out the tastier morsels. In contrast, the Keenan machines have a large tub with a cement mixer style paddle which tumbles the load, its minimal compression resulting in a ‘light fluffy’ mix more suited to ruminants. For years that initial concept has been developed, in the early stages to accept high dry-matter ingredients in round bale format like hay and straw, and lately using electronics to relay information on recommended rations and feeding data. Now it seems the product range will include both types of machine, though Keenan suggests its chief lessons from the collaboration will be faster mixing, larger capacities and, of course, access to self-propelled machines.


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Biga looks to be better MARK DANIEL


mixer wagon is said to have been the subject of extensive testing in Australia to ensure the right match for the country’s feeding conditions. Standard offering is 20 or 24 cubic metres capacity, although machine from 16 to 36 cu.m are available under an indent programme. First impressions are of a machine that is heavily constructed, which is a pre-requisite for dayin, day-out operation in large herd situations. A deeply sectioned, full

ladder chassis allows the fitment of a full size rocking beam axle assembly which should ensure smooth travelling around the yards or feed-pad. The layout also allows the fitment of six load cells, rather than the more 3 or 4 cell layout, which leads more accuracy in the weighing process. A heavy-duty planetary reduction gearbox offer two speeds, for light loads or fast clear out, and is protected by shear-bolt for overload situations. Peace of mind is ensured with a 5 year warranty, while daily maintenance is taken care of with a centralised greasing bank.

Housed within a main tub, which features a 20mm thick floor and 8mm thick walls, the twin rotor layout has been subject to local development, involving re-profiling of the auger leading edges, to ensure that typically lighter Australian fodders fall to the bottom of the tub for incorporation, rather than “boiling out” over the top. An interesting feature sees the tub walls being built vertically, which ensures the load is kept within the wheel track of the machine, thereby ensuring stability, particularly during turning. With future maintenance in mind a

key design feature of the augers sees the assemblies powered by an integral central drive boss, which allows them to be lifted out for servicing. This means that cutting edges can be dressed or replaced at ground level, rather than requiring anyone to enter the body of the machine. Discharge is through a wide, guillotine action to the front of the tub, with mixed material dropped onto a wide, reversible conveyor, which can be optioned with an 1150mm long elevator for delivering material over feed barriers or into troughs. Ease of use sees four

Lely regional manager Brendan Prentice with the Tulip Biga mixer wagon.

push-in chokes, situated at each corner of the machine, which to slow the rotational speed of

a clear front panel gives visibility of the load during mixing.

the material to create a homogenous blend, and a hi visibility lighting system for safety, while

Switch quickly between jobs and functions KUBOTA’S OBJECTIVE for its

newly released M7-1 Series was to create a highly versatile piece of advanced machinery, allowing operators to switch easily between jobs and functions. A smart front-end loader provides best-in-class lifting performance and features a self-levelling linkage that ensures a clear view over the loader boom, according to Kubota Australia’s Malcolm Owens. “Operators can quickly attach and detach all hydraulic hoses simultaneously using Kubota’s quick coupler, making installing or uninstalling the loader a snap,” Malcolm said. “A single switch on the joystick grip controls numerous other hydraulic


implements and functions.” This versatility continues with fourspeed live-independent power take-off (PTO) from 102 to 142 horsepower, meaning operators can use a huge range of rear-mounted gear on almost any job, while optional front PTO allows two powered implements to run at the same time. PTO can be engaged and disengaged without stopping the tractor, using a single control switch with automatic modulation for smooth engagement. “With the M7-1 Series, we’re bringing more than 40 years of engineering prowess to the field with a built-fromthe-ground-up machine, designed with intuitive technology that makes precision farming possible,” Malcolm said.

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The new Kubota M7-1 Series enables farmers to quickly attach and detach all hydraulic hoses simultaneously.

auto guidance and a simple but comprehensive touch-screen performance monitor. “Operators can streamline tasks right from the new armrest control centre with fingertip ease.” A Headland Management System allows the operator to create operating sequences for turning at the headland and then playing them back, making turns as easy as pushing one button. Malcolm said the sequence will play precisely by distance or time, over and over, substantially reducing the amount of concentration required by the operator. “The result is more precision, less fatigue and improved productivity.”

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Dairy News Australia February 2017  
Dairy News Australia February 2017  

Dairy News Australia February 2017