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PROPERTY: Van Diemen’s Land prepares shortlist PAGE 34 high power, low weight

Machinery and products PAGEs 28-33

tasmanian tips Couple’s margin calls PAGE 22

october, 2012 Issue 30 //

Fresh Milk Exports Is the idea a flight of fantasy? PAGES 4-5

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

news  // 3

Govt lukewarm on Tasmanian expansion plan Queensland’s Kunde family believe previous changes to their farm system will help them cope with market realities. PG.20

Changes to Victorian farmer John Watson’s dairy have cut milking and improved herd health. PG.24

Western Australian farmer Adrian Bond is wrapt with his new McHale V660 round baler. PG.28

News������������������������������������������������������3-13 Agribusiness������������������������������ 14-15 Opinion���������������������������������������������� 16-17 breeding������������������������������������������18-19 Management������������������������������ 20-23 Animal Health���������������������������24-27 Machinery & Products��������������������������������������28-30 Tractors & dairy equipment������������������������������������� 31-33 property���������������������������������������������34

The Federal Government has given an ambitious plan to significantly boost Tasmanian milk production a lukewarm response. The collaborative project, Filling the Factories, aims to lift production by 40% - or 350 million litres - over the next three to five years. To achieve this growth, state and federal governments have been asked to contribute $1.1 million to fund a strategic growth strategy based on farming systems, including building herd numbers and labour, and increasing dairy conversions. The strategy will encompass image and public perception, government regulations, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Dairy Australia, DairyTas, Fonterra, Cadburys and Tasmanian Dairy Products have already made in-principle commitments of $400,000. Fonterra, Cadburys, TDP and Lion have all recently invested significantly in processing upgrades in Tasmania. The proposed strategy would help fill processing facilities by discovering ways to lift cows numbers, facilitate access to skilled dairy immigrants, provide business management and seek further investment, among others. However, Federal Member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom, has said while the strategy is important, and negotiations for funding are underway, the dairy industry must sustain itself. “It’s important that the industry invests in itself,” Sidebottom told

Tasmanian dairy farmer Michael Palmer now supplies Tasmanian Dairy Products, which opened its facility last month. TDP is behind the new strategy to boost Tasmanian dairy production.

ABC Radio. However, State member Greg Hall, an independent, has introduced a motion for debate supporting a call for funding to support the strategy. Hall has said the dairy industry in Tasmania is the shining light of the economy and must be supported. “The industry have put something like $400,000 odd in there they’ve committed themselves already, so they’ve shown they’re willing, and I think it’s up to both state and federal government, which between the two, in the whole scheme of things, is not a whole lot of money,” Hall said. The new Tasmanian Dairy Products (TDP) processing facility, of

which Murray Goulburn is a major stakeholder, began operation last month but has only reached just over half its capacity. TDP chief executive Tony Catania said its success would depend on the success of the Filling the Factories scheme launched in order to meet their supply demands. “It’s an extremely important initiative. We’re very keen to maximise the milk going into our factory here,” Catania said. DairyTas executive officer Mark Smith said Filling the Factories is about ramping up the rate of growth so Tasmania can capitalise on economic opportunities as soon as pos-

sible. “The processors need the milk now and the Tasmanian economy needs this stimulus now,” he said. “Increased investment in processing capacity means more options for farmers in a more competitive market place. “Farmers will have more choice in where they supply their milk. The overall viability of the processing sector is vital for the sustainable future of the industry. “Increased milk production to meet the Filling the Factories target in 3 to 5 years time will help ensure the sustainability of both farm and factory investments.”

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

4 //  news: fresh milk exports

Asian tastes could determine export success pam tipa

Plans to export fresh Australian

milk to Asia face a significant barrier – most Asians are not used to the taste of fresh milk. Dairy Australia senior international industry analyst, Norman Repacholi, said consumers haven’t grown up drinking fresh milk in much of South East Asia and North Asia. “They have grown up with a combination of, say, powdered milk and condensed milk in Indonesia or UHT milk in other parts of Asia,” Repacholi said. “Fresh milk is something new and they need to get used to it.” New Zealand Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Willy Leferink, said Fonterra had previously tried to send fresh milk to Singapore. “It didn’t work because Singapor-

“they would probaeans didn’t like the taste,” bly pick up the milk in he said. Queensland”. Despite this barrier, Repacholi said AustraRepacholi said there is lia does not necessarily further opportunity in have a greater advantage fresh milk and fresh dairy to New Zealand in fresh products (those under 60 products. Fonterra and days). other dairy companies Leferink said the New already ship products Zealand dairy industry Norman Repacholi around the world. would look at potential He said the milk-price wars between fresh-milk exports to Asia if there was Australian supermarkets are behind a “buck to be made”. “There’s always potential where recent publicity about Dairy Connect there’s a buck to be made,” Leferink NSW looking at shipping fresh milk to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. said. “It is part of the fight back in the “I have heard there are jumbo jets (in Australia) of fresh milk going to China supermarket wars… as part of Dairy and they pay a premium for that. But Connect’s message of building compemost Chinese are used to the taste of tition for the local milk: where there is competition there is also competition powdered milk.” Leferink said if Fonterra does for the price back at the farmgate.” Dairy Connect, a new industry body embark on fresh milk exports to Asia

WA explores further fresh milk options rick bayne

Western Australia businesses

are dipping their toes in the fresh milk export market. WA Farmers Dairy Section president Phil Depiazzi said the biggest issue confronting the state’s attempts to drive an export market was securing enough money and getting extra milk in the system. “If the price was right and we could access enough milk we would be keen to do it, but it has to be viable,” Mr Depiazzi said. “We need something to stimulate the industry and give farmers the confidence to grow.” He said the supermarket price war had had a major impact on farmer confidence. “We need a strong domestic market base and then we can look to drive exports.” Depiazzi said there was plenty of air space room for fresh milk and exports would be practical if financially viable. He said he knew of one Western Australian business, Bannister Downs Farm, which was exporting on a small scale to Asian markets. The company’s website says it has been exporting to Singapore and has three or four other markets open to it. The long-term future of the Western

Australian dairy industry could lie due north – in Asia, said Depiazzi. The Dardanup dairy farmer said the WA dairy industry can’t rely on the domestic market to sustain it so WAFarmers will investigate export opportunities to Asia. Wesfarmers funded the Fresh Opportunities report, released last year, which investigates these options and Depiazzi said he doesn’t want it to “sit on a shelf”. The report, prepared by Strategis Partners, said WA’s key competitive advantage is its proximity to Asia. Its future lies in targeting and hitting the premium markets in Asia where dairy consumption is growing strongly, the report said. WA could become an innovative exporter and overcome the small size of its domestic market – like New Zealand did 30 years ago – with an emphasis on ‘fresh’, it said. The guiding policy for enlarging the dairy industry in WA, is to increase onfarm production and increase WA’s share of the dairy market in Asia by re-positioning the WA dairy industry from its predominantly domestic focus and growing its exports of value-added, mainly fresh dairy products into Asia. This would need a coordinated program of investment in market devel-

opment and manufacturing, and a re-engineering of the supply chain. Depiazzi said WAFarmers would start by quantifying returns from Asia and further explore the logistics of shipping and air freight to Asia. A vision for the industry would give farmers confidence to invest in their farm, similar to what the Tasmanian industry is seeing, Depiazzi said. The report said the WA industry would need to expand production to 777 million litres with around 365 million litres available for export each year. The Department of Agriculture is currently investigating opportunities for export markets and WAFarmers would liaise with them, Depiazzi said. “New opportunities to instil confidence and provide long-term sustainability are crucial,” he said. “If we find other markets, processors wouldn’t feel obliged to supply supermarkets at any price. “The Chinese have bought Ravenhill dairies – there could be opportunities for a joint venture there. They could take all the milk out of the system.”

Phil Depiazzi: We need something to stimulate the industry and give farmers the confidence to grow.

Fresh Sungold milk in a modified label in China.

based in NSW, has made a trial one-day fresh milk shipment to Shanghai and plans more. Repacholi said there was potential in the fresh milk and dairy product category “pretty much wherever you look in Asia”. “’Fresh’ is broadly defined as products with a shelf life of not more than 60 days. “That can be extended shelf-life milk or some UHT, yoghurts... it’s a fairly broad approach. “With fresh milk specifically you can get some good premiums because it’s pitched at the high disposable-income consumers and they’re focused on freshness or flavour. “Or it can be pitched to expatriates.” Repacholi said China is a market on everyone’s radar, with a lot of invest-

ment from all sort of places around the world, not just Australia and New Zealand. But neither Australia nor New Zealand has any specific advantage over the other in fresh milk. “A lot of it just comes down to the local partners being in the right place giving consumers the opportunity to buy the more expensive milk product and also convincing them.” Getting fresh milk into Asia was not a “game changer” straight away, he said. The cold chain is still developing and UHT can be shipped by boat, strapped onto the back of a motorbike and kept in the pantry. “On average (in China) they are not buying a two or three litre bottle of milk like we would – they would be consuming it in smaller increments.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

news  // 5

Supermarket standoff fuels Asian market exploration rick bayne

Australian milk vendors are looking to export fresh milk to China and Asian markets to counteract low prices in local supermarkets. And they say the plan is practical, achievable and likely to result in better returns for dairy farmers. Dairy farmers, vendors and industry groups around the country are exploring ways to make exports happen on a large commercial scale. While there are still some obstacles, they say it will become a reality and a profitable one for farmers. Amalgamated Milk Vendors Association (AMVA) is working with Dairy Connect and NSW dairy farmers to investigate the best way to export bulk fresh milk to China and Asian markets. AMVA Business Development Manager Steve Waller said the Chinese opportunity emerged as a response to lower prices being paid for milk on the domestic market. “It’s one way of dealing with the supermarket price war; if farmers can’t make money selling in NSW let’s look at other places to send the milk,” he said. “Another solution would be if the federal government gave the ACCC appropriate power to assist small business to compete in the market. “The price being paid for milk in some supermarkets is not sustainable for the dairy industry to grow and reinvest for the future. They are using it as a throwaway product to get more customers into their stores, so we’re looking at other options. “The aim is to get a get a better price for farmers and give them some hope for the future.” Waller said the concept was in the early stages but held great promise. “Yes it is possible. It has been done on a small scale and we are exploring the best way to make it happen on a larger scale,” he said.

Exploring fresh milk to Asia involves significant logistical challenges.

“We can get it there in a plane. That is quite achievable as long as you make sure the milk doesn’t freeze. “The biggest issue is moving the milk from the processing plant to the tarmac and onto the planes and then the down time at the end of the trip. We are exploring the best way to get around that. We need to take ownership until it gets to supermarkets. It is not an easy exercise but if we get the politicians onside it is achievable.” Waller said the association was “not trying to step on the toes of manufacturers”. “The trough is big enough for everyone. If it comes off it will force the price up for farmers and help Australia’s reputation as one of the major food bowls for the world.”

Nick Viropoulos, general manager of Nick’s Food-Milk-More, has been working on sending fresh milk to China for the past three years and is confident it will happen and will succeed. Viropoulos has taken sample products to major Chinese markets which are enthusiastic about a deal. “We have met with high-end retail supermarkets. They want fresh milk, are happy with the price and are very open to taking dairy product out of Australia,” he said. “We have some obstacles and a few logicistical hiccups to sort through but it’s a great concept and it is going to happen.” Viropoulos said people wondered how fresh milk could be exported. “Well it’s relatively simple. You simply take a

milk truck and replace it with a jumbo jet,” he said. “We get 100,000 litres a week from Warrnambool Cheese and Butter in Victoria on a B-double which takes about 14 hours to get to Sydney. It is quicker for me to get it out of Avalon Airport and into Shanghai. “There are some sensitivities in getting it off the semi-trailer and loading at the airport and then unloading in China, but we are working with government officials and the dairy industry to resolve them,” he said. “We need to be able to clear quarantine in a timely manner...we are working on that.” Dry ice is used in the freight process to ensure proper temperature control when loading and unloading and pass-

ing through customs. Once in the air the plane cargo hold needs to be heated to keep the milk at a safe temperature. Negotiations have started with Qantas to transport the fresh milk. Viropoulos said export milk would go through the normal processing plant system. He said he would expect to pay premium prices for fresh milk bound for the export market which could direct milk away from local supermarkets and put pressure on their cut-price campaigns. “It would keep the industry strong. It would be fantastic for Australia and for Australian farmers and for China because they would get our high quality milk,” he said. “It might also make Coles and Woolworths stop this $1 a litre bullshit.”


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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

6 //  news

Fonterra axes factory “To maintain our market positions, compete effectively on world markets and continue to pay a strong milk price FONTERRA IS closing a factory and to our farmers, we must ensure our laying off employees in Australia, saying manufacturing sites are efficient and its 100-year-old plant at Cororooke, south- capable of handling the growth we western Victoria, is no longer viable. The anticipate,” he said. “We have reconfirmed plans to invest plant, employing 130 people, will shut next $20 million in site upgrades at Cobden and year. Fonterra Ingredients Australia manag- Dennington over the next three years, but ing director Simon Bromel said supporting we have also had to make the difficult decision to close Cororooke. staff was now its top priority. “The Cororooke “We wanted plant is over 100 to give our people After Cororooke’s years old and needs as much notice as closure all milk major upgrades possible, and we from the area will be to meet changing are working with environmental and all employees and delivered to Cobdena production stantheir families to and Dennington. dards. While our support them as we work through a staged closure process over first preference is always to upgrade and maintain our sites, the challenges we face the next year. “Where possible, Fonterra is keen to and the barriers to modernising this partichelp employees who wish to relocate to ular plant mean the most responsible thing other sites to identify suitable roles. How- to do is close it. “This has been a tough decision and ever, it is unlikely we will be able to relocate all employees and there may be redundan- not one we have reached lightly. We have explored all alternative options to keep cies.” The Cororooke plant makes soft the site open but they were not commercheeses and cream products. Fonterra says cially viable.” Part of the Cobden expansion includes there will be no affect on its farmers in the region. After Corocrooke’s closure all milk buying a former National Foods site next from the area will be delivered to Cobdena to Fonterra’s current factory. After Cororooke closes Fonterra will and Dennington. Bromel said despite closing one plant, have nine factories in Australia, handling the co-op aimed to keep growing milk about 1.7 billion litres this year. Over the supply in the region to support the planned past three years, Fonterra has spent at least $100 million in its factories in Victoria. $20 million upgrade at these sites.


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Flooded farmers, would seek compo The Commonwealth and the States risk a big compensation bill for farms, tourism and infrastructure if they pursue a 3200GL water recovery target under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, according to the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC). The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) released modelling earlier this month that focuses on the likely outcomes should 2800GL and 3200GL be returned to the river system, after key constraints in the system – namely limitations on the amount of water that can be released from various water sources, including river channels – have been relaxed. ADIC president Chris Griffin said the 3200GL scenario involved more frequently flooding thousands of hectares of farmland, as well as caravan parks, access roads, prime tourism attractions such as the Tocumwal beaches, and South Australia’s holiday ‘shacks’ on the Murray River. “The impacts are clearly identified in reports by the SA Government, and the Goulburn Broken and NSW Murray Catchment Management Authorities,” Griffin said. “The inescapable fact is that the Commonwealth and the States will face a hefty

Government will face a hefty bill to buy flood easements on affected properties. bill to buy flood easements on affected properties, and compensate caravan park owners and businesses in tourist towns like Tocumwal. “And that is even before they get the repair bill for fixing access roads and lowlying bridges after each flood has passed through.” ADIC Basin Response Taskforce Chair Daryl Hoey said there were smarter ways to achieve healthier rivers and wetlands than just stripping ever larger volumes of water out of irrigation communities. “We know there is widespread political support for a 2100GL cap on water buybacks and infrastructure savings, plus at least 650GL in offsets such as environmental works and improved river operations. “This formula will deliver similar or better environmental outcomes – including protecting the lower lakes, Coorong and Murray mouth – than just taking 2750GL or 3200GL of water away from irrigators.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

news: annual reports  // 7

Murray Goulburn restructure slashes profits rick bayne

Murray Goulburn has increased its revenue and milk intake but has seen its after-tax profit slashed by 60% due to a series of significant oneoff costs. The cooperative’s underlying net profit after tax for the year ended June 30, 2012 was $37.7 million, an increase of 1.1%, but the reported statutory net profit after tax was $14.5 million, a 60.17% fall from $36.3 million the previous year. Managing director Gary Helou said the drop in profit was due to a series of one-off expenses, including redundancies associated with a cost saving program. MG has achieved $50 million in savings, which will be delivered in the 201213 milk price, as part of an overall $100 million cost cutting program. The cooperative declared a full-year dividend of 12% on ordinary shares and a 1-for-10 bonus share issue. Its milk intake grew by 3.9% to 2.94 billion litres, with supply from northern Victoria and southern Riverina increasing by more than 13%. Total revenue increased by 3.5% to $2.4 billion, including $1.2 billion from export sales. Sales revenue was up 3.5% and export sales volume up 4%. Total product sales for MG’s retail and food service products reached $830 million, up 10%. Total ingredients sales revenue was $1.3 billion and MG grew its value-add powders category by 51%. The domestic market accounted for 51% of sales revenue, while 77% of exports went to Asia. Net sales revenue was at its highest level since the year ending June 2008. Production output for the year was 740,000 tonnes, 7.1% higher than the previous year. Helou described the result as a solid performance in a challenging year while a transformation program was imple-

mented against a backdrop of falling dairy commodity prices and a high Australian dollar. “We delivered a final weightedaverage farmgate milk price of $5.44kg/MS – third highest on record – while simultaneously implementing a number of strategic and structural changes across the business,” he said. Restructure of the senior executive team and recruitment of new team members was establishing a strong foundation to make good on the promise to become a first choice dairy foods company, he added. The 12% dividend delivered on ordinary shares represented $27.4 million in payments to MG businesses, $1.2 million higher than 2010-11. Based on average pro­ duc­tion and shareholding, the dividend adds the equivalent of $0.13kg/MS and takes MG’s total payments to supplier/shareholders to $5.57kg/MS for 2011/12. Helou said the 1-for-10 bonus share issue reflected the growing value of the cooperative and recognised the loyalty of dairy farmers who had supported Murray Goulburn through some difficult seasons. “Based on our platforms of operation excellence and innovation we are excited about the co-operative’s growth prospects,” he said. MG’s total assets increased from $1,530,134,000 to $1,632,228,000 offset

Fonterra revamps Australian arm sudesh kissun

Gary Helou, managing director Murray Goulburn.

FONTERRA IS looking at brand

consolidation to arrest a decline in its Australian business. The co-op’s ANZ business, which includes consumer products in Australia and New Zealand, was the worst performer during the financial year ending July 31. Normalised earnings dropped 20% to $204 million. While earnings in New Zealand were slightly up, Australia suffered as a result of a downturn in consumer spending and aggressive competition. Fonterra also spent more on trade and promotions to maintain its market share in Australia. Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the result was “not satisfactory”. “A plan has been approved by the board to improve our portfolio mix. It had to be aligned with increasing profitability and maximising cash flow.” However, Spierings said a $200m surplus was a good result given the challenging trading conditions in Australia. In 2010-11, the ANZ business earned $256m. He said the food service and ingredients businesses performed well. The ANZ business represents fast moving consumer goods in the two countries, exports to Pacific Islands, ingredients, milk collection and manufacturing in Australia and food service sales. In Australia, Fonterra’s cheese, yoghurts, flavoured milk and dairy desserts portfolio face strong competition from other major processors; Lion, which owns National Foods and Dairy Farmers, Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool Butter

by an increase in liabilities resulting in a slight fall in total equity. The financial report shows Helou was paid more than $1.48 million from October 2011, including 15.3% that was performance related. His predecessor, Stephen O’Rourke, who resigned on July 31, 2011, received $2.95 million the previous year and $253,000 in the 2012 financial year. Payments to executive officers totalled $4.3 million, a reduction from $5.1 million the previous year. Remuneration to non-executive directors dipped from $1,045,814 to $913,959.

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and Cheese. Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown said it was disappointing the ANZ business once again failed to deliver a healthy return. “Unfortunately ANZ has not delivered to target. We are aware that market conditions are particularly tough at present and understand plans are in place to ensure the business improves.” Brown said it was encouraging to see that Latin America and Asia/ Middle East business units delivered a good result at a local level. In Asia/Africa, Middle East (Asia/ AME) region, normalised earnings increasing 1% to $194m. Spierings said in constant currency terms, Asia/AME achieved an increase in normalised earnings of 8%. Sales volumes increased by 3% contributing to revenue growth of $62 million, with strong performance in Sri Lanka, Vietnam  Hong Kong, Philippines and Malaysia contributing to this result. Spierings said the “three As” Anmum, anlene and Anchor/Fernleaf, all achieved revenue growth, with Anlene now the established market leader in over 10 countries across Asia, and the Middle East. In Latin America, normalised earnings increased by 16% per cent on a constant currency basis. Spierings said sales volumes increased by 2%, driving a constant currency increase in revenue of 4% per cent, with growth achieved in milk powder and beverages. “Improved product mix, along with product innovation and higher volumes in higher margin products such as mature cheese contributed to the result,” he said.





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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

8 //  news

Dairy’s gain as vet follows calling rick bayne

A student placement at Timboon in south-west Victoria was enough to convince Dr Matt Izzo to give up his ambition to become a cat and dog vet. Instead he decided to concentrate on the dairy industry and has emerged as one of only four dairy cattle specialists in Australia and will be the first to be registered in the field in 20 years. For a Sydneysider who had never been to a dairy farm in his life, it was quite a change of direction. “I started my course at the University of Sydney thinking I would become a dog and cat vet,” Dr Izzo said. “But I was introduced to cows during the course and developed an interest in the field. I came to Timboon as a student nine years ago and found that I liked working with dairy farmers as well as with cows, so decided to concentrate on that field.” Dr Izzo has recently joined The Vet Group and will be working across the group’s clinics in Warrnambool, Allansford, Timboon and Simpson. He chose the south-west Victoria region due to its strong dairy industry. “I had been working on the south coast of New South Wales for a couple of years but the dairy industry in the area seems to be in decline, largely due to urban sprawl,” he said. “I think the western district of Victoria and north-west Tasmania are the two shining lights for dairy at the moment. There is good rainfall and not so much of a challenge from urban encroachment.” “I aim to do this for the rest of my working life and the dairy industry here is big enough to support me and for me to support it.” Dr Izzo this year became a fellow of the Australian New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists and will be registered as a dairy specialist through the Victorian Veterinary Practitioners Board. After working on the south coast of NSW after graduation, he returned to the university for a residency position where he focused on ruminant animal health.

Dr Matt Izzo is only the fourth dairy cattle specialist in Australia, and the first to be registered in the field in 20 years.

Associate Professor in Bovine vets, so that was a great opportunity,” huge but also very traditional in many ways. Health, John House, recommended he said. “The biggest farm I worked on had The university includes a cow hospiMatt undertake specialist training in tal where animals are brought for diag- 2500 cows but the average herd size is dairy cattle. actually smaller than Australian herds. “There hadn’t been anyone venture nosis and treatment. There are a lot of famdown that path for a long ily-owned 50 to 100 cow time and it appealed to my “I came to Timboon as a student farms,” Dr Izzo said. interests,” Dr Izzo said. “We worked with Dr Izzo spent 5 1/2 years nine years ago and found that I cows worth $1million training in dairy cattle med- liked working with dairy farmers because of their genetic icine in order to undertake as well as with cows, so decided to value. You have to think the fellowship examination. of their individual value He also completed a concentrate on that field.” in those cases. They Masters Degree on neonatal spend more on diagnoscalf diarrhoea and gained a “They all have individual stalls, it’s tics and treatment.” scholarship to spend two months trainHe also attended the World Dairy ing at the University of Wisconsin in the set up like any hospital and is also used Expo “which is like our local shows on USA where he worked on some of the for teaching,” Dr Izzo said. “We’re not big enough to have steroids”. most valuable dairy cows in the world, Mastitis, reproduction issues and something like that here and so most including the cloned cow Apple 2. “Wisconsin is known as the dairy of our work is on-farm, but I think the calf health were among the main issues capital of the world and the University dairy industry is well supported in this affecting dairy cows in Wisconsin while lameness is the biggest animal health of Wisconsin was built from farmer region.” The industry itself in Wisconsin is issue in south-west Victoria. funds to make sure they get the best

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Dr Izzo is impressed with the quality of herds he sees locally and the stockmanship of farmers. “We have had a relatively good season but lameness is the biggest animal health issue challenging the local industry,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to environmental management, making sure track surfaces are well maintained and cows don’t spend too much time on concrete. “Most herds I see are well managed to be profitable producing animals.” Dr Izzo is now the only dairy cattle specialist doing full-time clinical work. He is the first to achieve the accreditation since the early 1990s. He has no regrets about specialising in dairy. “It’s a very rewarding career path. One of the advantages is getting to know farmers and building a working relationship and friendship with them,” he said. “It is my hobby as well as my job.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

news  // 9

Strong start to NZ spring not good for Australia Pasture growth

is racing away in New Zealand, which doesn’t bode well for Australian prices. Across New Zealand, production is ahead on both per-day and per-season-to-date bases, but that is likely to even out through the year. A rise in world prices, which would filter down to Australian farmgate prices, is dependent not only on production falls in the northern hemisphere, but average production in New Zealand. Dairy markets have started to firm thanks to a drop in US production, caused in part by high feed prices as a result of drought in the northern hemisphere. Westpac has said demand for southern hemisphere milk will be further fuelled by a recovery in China’s economic growth rate next year. However, Dairy Australia manager, strategy and knowledge, Jo Bills, has said there is still a question mark around supply and the NZ spring will be critical here. “If production is as high or higher than last year, it will keep a lid on prices,” Bills said last month. “If it’s weaker there could be more improvement heading into 2013.” DairyNZ regional teams manager Craig McBeth said pasture growth on average nationwide was delayed this year but is now going well. Southland and Manawatu have had particularly good starts to spring, whereas areas such as Waikato and Northland have had significant wet weather with more challenges to pasture management. “The sense is that the

grass continues to grow pretty well,” McBeth said. “As always you will have days and weeks when it is racing and days and weeks when it will slow down.” In Waikato recent hard frosts slowed growth but warm rain that followed reversed that and the region is growing well. “As always it will depend on individual farmers and how they managed their first round since calving started when we had quite a bit of wet weather,” he said. “If they damaged their pasture then regrowth is going to be significantly compromised. “If they were able to protect their pasture, it should be growing more vigorously now.” Southland is having a good season, he said. “They have been a bit dry, but they had good rain just recently so farmers there will be turning their minds to how they maintain quality with pasture covers increasing across farms. “That’s a good problem to have. They seem to be monitoring their pasture levels and making good decisions about ensuring they are grazing their paddocks to the right level of residual cover so they maintain quality and ongoing growth while conserving surplus feed as it comes to hand.” Manawatu has had a pretty good spring, he said. “They had wet weather but that was on top of good late winter and early spring so farmers are coping ok.” McBeth said New Zealand had a great autumn last year but, if farmers cast their minds back, spring 2011 was actually pretty tough. “But on average it has probably been delayed this year compared to last year.”

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

10 //  news

History as Grey appointed to Holstein board New South Wales dairy farmer,

Jenny Grey from ‘The Pines Holsteins’ in Kiama, made history when she was appointed to Holstein Australia’s board at the annual general meeting last month. She is the first woman to serve on the Holstein Australia (HA) board in its 98-year history. Grey has been involved in the dairy industry for more than 25 years and with Holstein Australia at a local, state and federal level. Grey has extended her keen

interest in improving the production and conformation of the family’s herd to showing cattle, judging and officiating at shows throughout Australia and overseas. “I wish to see our Holstein continue to be the leading breed in the Australian dairy industry and to be competitive on the world market,” she said. “Holstein Australia has an important role in ensuring we have correct conformation to enable her to be a high producing,

trouble-free cow.” She replaced retiring board member, Michael Perkins, Calthorpe, Tasmania who had served on the board for 12 years. HA reported a loss of $83,245 last financial year compared with a profit of $38,075 during the 2010-11 financial year. The organisation’s largest costs were for full genomic tests and classification costs, due to a larger number of classifiers and the costs associated with classification such

as flights and accommodation. It also invested significantly in software such as mating program Mateplus and conformation evaluation program Traitplus. It had total assets of $3.65 million in 2011-12 compared with $3.7 million a year earlier. Income increased 7% while expenses also rose 7%. There were also costs associated with projects such as the centenary celebration book and show ethics committee.

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rately identify the parents of any animal in their herd, putting an end to ‘mistaken identity’. Holstein Australia launched a DNA testing service, called parentageplus, which identifies the parents of a dairy cow, calf or bull from a supplied hair sample. The tool was launched at the Holstein Australia annual meeting late last month. Holstein CEO, Dr Matt Shaffer, said research conducted by the Dairy Futures CRC had found mistaken identity rates of about 8% in herds with very good records; suggesting the rate would be even higher in most herds. “Identifying the parents of a new calf sounds fairly simple but don’t forget that dairy calves are removed from their dams within 24 hours and are then hand-reared,” Shaffer said. “Calving is one of the busiest times of the year. “In seasonal herds, where several calves may be born in a matter of hours, mis-mothering is common, creating confusion about the dam. Mistaken identity can also occur due to lost ID tags or inaccurate recording. Any error is then handed down with every new generation.” While parentage information is required to register dairy cattle, accurate parentage records are also important for all dairy farmers because it influences the basic decisions made at joining: which sire to put over which cow to improve genetic gain and avoid inbreeding. “The service will also be useful for dairy farmers who export heifers, as the agents require a known pedigree for each animal,” he said. Parentageplus removes the guesswork. Sheffer said it costs $18/head and could appeal to managers of large, seasonal calving herds who have not previously registered their cows due to the logistical challenges of supplying the required pedigree information. “All that’s required is a hair sample and a date of birth. There’s no need to go through mating records to find the sire,” he said. Shaffer said parentageplus is based on world-first technology developed collaboratively for the industry by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme, the Dairy Futures CRC and the Department of Primary Industries Victoria. Parentageplus creates a genetic map for each animal tested. This map is then cross-matched with all the dams and sires in Holstein Australia’s data base to identify the animal’s parents. “The service is based on the technology developed to produce genomic Australian Breeding Values. But this is the first time the technology has been adapted to draw on a smaller number of gene samples, or SNPs, to keep the costs down without compromising accuracy of the parentage information,” Shaffer said.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

news  // 11

Global food price rise could stifle rural growth pam tipa


are tipped to skyrocket to record highs, up by 15% by mid next year, with meat and dairy the main contributors, an international Rabobank report forecasts. But a downside of another global period of ‘agflation’ could be a slowing of the shift to animal proteins in developing countries, say the report’s authors Nick Higgins and Luke Chandler. “Agricultural commodity production has plunged as droughts in the US, South America and Russia have diminished crop prospects and tightened already low inventory levels.” The report says crop shortages this time will be

more related to stock feed, rather than in 2008 when core (human) food staples such as wheat and rice were affected. “Food security remains a highly sensitive issue in many regions, and we expect to see a return of government interventions, which could exacerbate food and commodity price volatility. “The rally in grain and oilseed prices will have a significant knock-on effect to animal protein industries and other processing supply chains, raising prices for meat consumers and challenging processor margins around the globe.” Food price inflation has been triggered by the worst drought the US has seen in nearly a century and exacerbated by droughts in South Amer-

ica and Russia, the report says. “The impact of higher grain and oilseed prices will be significant for the animal protein and dairy sectors as they are likely to be squeezed by higher feed costs.” The long production cycles of the animal protein and dairy industries will have lingering effects on global food prices as herds, especially cattle, take longer to rebuild, maintaining upward pressure on food prices. The full effect of this commodity price rally and the subsequent lower meat and milk output, will be a multiyear rebuilding of herds, which will sustain high price levels of these products. Meat and dairy prices, which comprise 52% of the FAO Food Price Index, are the primary drivers of

Rabobank’s forecast for food price increases. The price of pork is expected to rally 31% from spot prices by June 30, 2013. Cattle ready for slaughter are expected to increase 6%, initially creating a supply glut, with higher prices following as supplies drop.

Dairy prices are expected to respond more quickly as herd reductions translate into higher milk prices on a shorter scale, although rebuilding dairy herds also has a long cycle, prolonging any shortage created. Consumers in developing countries are expected

to switch consumption from animal protein back towards staple grains, an option not available in 2007-08 due to severe shortages of wheat and rice. “Higher prices will stall the long-term trend towards higher animal protein diets in develop-

ing economies. Rabobank expects the developing world – with its high demand elasticity, especially to meat – to ration import demand of grains, oilseeds and meat most heavily, causing consumption growth to slow and even recede for a period as prices rise.”

Meat and dairy prices are the primary drivers of Rabobank’s forecast for global food price increases.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

12 //  world news

Cowboy traders riding into sunset SUDESH KISSUN


in the China infant formula market are a shortterm phenomenon, says dairy analyst Tim Morris. He says Chinese authorities are getting their act together and working towards stringent rules similar to those in US and Europe where cowboy traders have no chance of success. His comments come as infant formula exports to

China face growing scrutiny. New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating whether proper procedures for such products are being followed. And the marketing tactics of some importers in China are causing concern for authorities and exporters here. Morris, director of Auckland firm Coriolis, believes these issues will play themselves out. China’s fascination for branded infant formula

from overseas, rather than Chinese fomula, has given rise to cowboy traders, he says. But their success will be limited by Chinese authorities tightening regulations. “You can’t ride into town with infant formula and ride off with a bucket of money,” he told Rural News. About 30 firms export New Zealand-made infant formula; Morris predicts two-thirds of these will be out of business within five years. Auckland supermarkets were caught last year selling baby milk formula to Chinese exporters thousands of cans at a time while rationing them to other shoppers. This bulk trade was unknown to export authorities at the time. An MPI spokesman told Rural News it has been investigating infant formula exports to China for some time but will not

comment further until the investigations are over. A premium has attached in China to New Zealand-made dairy products since the melamine tainted-milk scandal in 2008, when six children died and nearly 1000 were hospitalised after melamine was added to formula supposedly to increase protein content. Morris says New Zealand’s image survived the melamine scandal although it engulfed Fonterra’s Chinese operations. “The Chinese trust our infant formula and they travel to Hong Kong to buy global brands rather than Chinese brands.” This has led to an increase in some Chinese traders falsely labelling their products as ‘NZ made’. The Infant Nutrition Council, representing most Australian and New Zealand infant formula exporters, knows of wide-

spread concern among members. Chief executive Jan Carey says New Zealand milk and ‘Brand NZ’ are highly prized by Chinese consumers. “The New Zealand brand is trusted and considered best quality. Some Chinese marketers will use any marketing trick to promote their ‘Brand NZ’ whether genuine or not. This is a widespread problem. The Infant Nutrition Council, the New Zea-

The Sanlu tainted milk scandal in 2008 has put off Chinese consumers from local infant formula, opening new opportunities for New Zealand sourced baby powder.

land Government and the Chinese Government are aware of this.” Carey says it is helping in MPI’s investigation.

Though infant formula trade from New Zealand is properly regulated, “some middlemen are getting around the regulations”.

Doctors push major brands TIM MORRIS agrees the global infant formula trade is well regulated.

“You can’t make infant formula in your shed and export it to the US or the EU. It’s like making a car in your shed and taking on Toyota.” Morris says infant formula is a highly defensive market in which the top three producers hold 50% of the world market and the top six control two thirds of global sales. This extreme level of global consolidation is driven in part by the

leaders having huge sales teams urging doctors to push their brands. The global dairy infant formula trade reached US$34 billion in 2009, from US$21b in 2004. The fastest growing markets in the region are China and Indonesia. The world’s two largest dairy companies Nestle and Danone control 25% and 14% respectively. “We’re really good at milk powder; it’s the logical next step. New Zealand has a great future ahead in infant formula. “

NZ government investigates baby formula exports NEW ZEALAND infant

formula exports to China face growing scrutiny. The country’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating whether proper procedures for such products are being followed. And the marketing tactics of some importers in China are causing concern for authorities and exporters here. Auckland supermar-

kets were caught last year selling baby milk formula to Chinese exporters thousands of cans at a time while rationing them to other shoppers. This bulk trade was unknown to export authorities at the time. An MPI spokesman told Dairy News it has been investigating infant formula exports to China for some time but will not comment further until the investigations are over. A premium has attached in China to New

Zealand-made dairy products since the melamine tainted-milk scandal in 2008, when six children died and nearly 1000 were hospitalised after melamine was added to formula supposedly to increase protein content. A growing number of New Zealand companies export own-brand formula to China but the product is sourced from only a few processors here. GMP Pharmaceuticals, Auckland, recently opened a factory supply-

ing about 20 exporters. One GMP customer, Cowala, used a picture of Prime Minister John Key to advertise its product. The picture was taken at GMP’s factory opening. Another exporter, Abid, used a picture of the Prime Minister, mispelling his name as ‘Jhon Key’ next to a quote ‘I Love abid’. GMP New Zealand manager Minesh Patel says the company is not marketing or selling infant formula. “We have written

to all customers saying do not use any of our plant opening photos without our permission,” he told Dairy News. The Infant Nutrition Council, representing most Australian and New Zealand infant formula exporters, knows of widespread concern among members. Chief executive Jan Carey says New Zealand milk and ‘brand NZ’ are highly prized by Chinese consumers. “The New Zealand brand is trusted and con-

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

world news  // 13


Irish farmer David Minnock.

Auction prices impact Irish markets tony hopkinson

“WHEN FONTERRA sneezes a lot of

people [may not] catch a cold but it makes a lot of them shiver,” says David Minnock an Irish dairy farmer from Co Offaly, west of Dublin. He was referring to the fact that when Fonterra auction prices drop, his company is quick to alter its prices as well. He supplies the Lakeland Dairy Group based in Killeshandra, Co Cavan. The company has 2000 suppliers supplying an average of 33,0000L/supplier from an average herd of 55 cows. The furthest supplier is 160km from the main factory. Dairy News first interviewed Minnock in 1998 when he worked on a New Zealand dairy farm, then visited him in September 2000 when he worked on his family’s farm with parents Oliver and Geraldine. During a recent visit your reporter discovered he has bought 50ha from his family, added a new dairy, built a new home, married and started a family. And he is extending cow housing. “It does seem it’s all happening around here but we’ve had major setbacks [and face] challenges.” He was milking 75 cows, aiming long term to milk 100. But three seasons ago his herd was devastated by an outbreak of BVD and Leptospirosis. Worse was to follow. Twelve months ago his cows, and those of five other farmers in the district, were hit by TB. In the initial test he lost 30 maiden heifers and some cows. “When you are trying to rear as many replacements as possible it’s a setback. The department blamed badgers and did what they could to trap and poison them. While

we’re now clear it will take us a time to get back to where we were and get to my longterm aim of 100 cows.” He does not intend to buy stock, instead focusing on breeding his way up. His herd is Friesian and he runs pedigree bulls. To help supplement his income he and his brother Colin have a baling business in the local district and they do contract slurry spreading. He owns a digger for drain cleaning and site preparation work. The farm is centrally raced with 15 x 1.6ha paddocks. He harvests 16ha of baled silage each year and grows 6ha of kale for winter feed. This is grazed in situ. He uses urea in the spring and all slurry is returned to pasture. The recent summer – June and July – were the worst in living memory for prolonged spells of wet weather. There was an occasional sprinkling of snow. Stock are housed during winter and in bad weather to protect them and to reduce pasture damage. Stock are calved inside on slats with straw bedding with an adjacent area for feeding. Other than the concrete milking platform the cows, stock stand on wide slats built over slurry holding tanks. Small quantities of wash-down water from the milking area go to a holding tank. Housed stock are fed silage straw and dairy ration. “We have slurry capacity for up to six months and it only takes two days to completely empty all tanks with the use of an agitator and our slurry tank.” Milkers are teat sprayed all season and sealants are applied at drying off. Minnock monitors copper levels during the season.

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Your team of Dairy Specialists Bernard Atkins

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

14 //  agribusiness

NZ dollar, lower prices savage Fonterra payout sudesh kissun



record milk last season, Fonterra’s New Zealand farmers have had to settle for a lower payout. The high New Zealand dollar and lower dairy prices wiped almost $2 billion from the payout. Farmers got $6.40/kgMS last season – a milk price of $6.08/ kgMS and dividend payout of 32c/share. In the previous year, Fonterra paid out a record $8.25/ kgMS – comprising milk payout of $7.60/kgMS and 65c/share dividend. Fonterra has retained 10c/ share, less than the previous year, to minimise cash flow issues for shareholders.

Releasing the co-op’s annual results, Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said while a $6.08 payout was manageable he was concerned about farmers this season. With a revised forecast payout of $5.25/kgMS, many farmers were feeling the pain now. This season Fonterra expects milk production to be slightly lower than last season’s record 1.5 billion kgMS. “We’ve had a very good start to the season,” van der Heyden said. “Grass is growing well and cows are in great condition after calving. Our forecast is milk production will be slightly lower than last year.” However, much will depend on the weather.

Van der Heyden said it was also good to see global dairy prices rising but the high dollar remained a worry. Half of the payout drop last season was caused by the high dollar, the other half by lower dairy prices. Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown acknowledged the volatile market conditions in which Fonterra was forced to work over the past 12 months were largely responsible for the fall in payout. “The council considers that given the downturn in global markets the board has delivered a reasonable return for farmers. The overall decline in milk powder prices on the GlobalDairy Trade platform and the strength of the New Zealand

Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden and CEO Theo Spierings.

dollar have served to soften farmer returns and the drop in the farmgate milk price is consistent with this. These factors are largely out of Fonterra’s control.” Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Willy Leferink said despite the lower payout, Fonterra’s results, in a week of job losses, should remind everyone the exceptional opportunities New Zealand has with food. “Given trading conditions, these results are a good sendoff for Sir Henry van der Heyden and for Theo Spierings’ first anniversary as chief executive.”

2011-12 season in numbers ■■

Record New Zealand milk flows, up 11% to 1493 million kgMS in the current season.


11% increase in export volumes to 2.32 million tonnes.


Sales volumes increased 2% to 3.94 million tonnes.


Flat revenues of $19.8 billion.


Higher operating cashflows of $1.4 billion, up $206 million.


Balance sheet strengthened with economic gearing ratio improving from 41.8% to 39.1%.

Fonterra results mixed at best FINANCIAL REPORTS are like art: they’re subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So depending on which way you look at it, Fonterra’s annual results for 2012 have been mixed at best. There are strong signs of growth in the company with milk production and milk exports up, an increase in assets and the company’s capital position has strengthened with a slight reduction in debt gearing of 41.8% to 39.1%. Debt gearing, in a nutshell, reflects the percentage of debt a company has compared to its assets; more about that later. Whilst these things make the picture look decent for the accountants, the decrease in revenue and a significant reduction in the farmgate milk price to $6.08 from $7.60 in 2011 make the picture far from glamorous for the dairy farmer. To cut through the jargon I would like to focus on the changes in the following areas: total revenue, net profit, net assets and debt gearing; these are the foundations of any financial report and represent a good overall picture of Fonterra’s performance. Despite a large increase in milk production, total revenue of the group was down to $19,769 million from $19,871m in 2011 -- not a huge change and this would generally be considered a flat figure in accounting terms. But it makes tough reading for farmers who

francis wolfgram have done the hard work by increasing milk production only to see a reduction in overall revenue. However it must be noted that offshore commodity prices and the flying kiwi dollar played a large part in the reduction of revenue. An overall increase in expenses, cost of operations and a large tax credit meant the net profit figure came in weak at $624m, down from $771m in 2011. All these factors are pointing to an extremely tough business environment as opposed to any shortcoming on the part of the Fonterra group. This shows how the tough business environment is impacting every area of global business, even areas as strong as dairy production. Fonterra’s net assets -- what Fonterra owns (assets) less how much it owes (liabilities) -- have increased slightly to $6655m from $6541m in 2011. It was a reduction in liabilities as opposed to an increase in assets that helped the bottom increase, nevertheless it is an increase to the overall asset base of Fonterra so a more positive part of the report. The debt gearing ratio is a very important part of any financial report

as it is a general term outlining the owner’s equity (or capital) to borrowed funds. Gearing is a measure of financial leverage, demonstrating the degree to which an organisation’s activities are funded by owner’s funds versus creditors’ funds. A company with high gearing (high leverage) is more vulnerable to downturns in the business cycle

Fonterra should focus on reducing its debt.

because the company must continue to service its debt regardless of how bad sales are.  A greater proportion of equity (lower leverage) provides a cushion and is seen as a measure of financial strength. With this in mind Fonterra has managed to lower this figure to 39.1% from 41.8% in 2011. This figure is positive and is about average for New Zealand com-

panies. However considering the size of Fonterra’s asset base, it’s a touch on the high side. While some debt is necessary for growth the cooperative should be focusing on bringing this ratio down even further. • Francis Wolfgram, BA (Economic History) has 15 years’ experience in financial markets, primarily in London and Sydney.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

agribusiness  // 15

High grain prices knock dairy farmer confidence Export demand remains strong Dairy NewS aUSTraLia june, 2012

agribusiness // 17

In a National Dairy

Farmer Survey update, conducted in late August, 53% of Australian dairy farmers were positive about the dairy industry’s future. This represented a significant decline (13%) in farmer confidence from the initial survey in February 2012. The drop in confidence was primarily driven by farmers in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania, but was also across almost all regions, with milk price was cited as the primary reason. Farmers in southern export regions are facing an 8-10% drop in milk price, while northern domestic producers also face negative price signals in both reduced prices and also lower volume requirements from processors. Consequently, negativ-

cents/litre in March (AUD 41c/L) to 28

With season 2011/12 only a few

incremental change infarmer milk production (year-on-year) confidence over ity has increased across Euro cents/litre (AUD 36c/L) in April. weeks from ending, attention is now Profit margins are under pressure in the focused on 2012/13 the next six months. In all herd size segments but milk prices as farmUS, and in NZ Fonterra has announced ers consider strategies for the coming last month’s Dairy News the fall in the proportion the final payout for the 2011/12 season year. In some domestically-focused has been cut from NZ$6.75-$6.85/kg MS Australia column we covof respondentsregions, withrenegotiated larger contracts incorgLobaL impacT to NZ$6.45-$6.55/kg MS (AUD$4.96porating lower prices and reduced ‘tier JohN DropperT ered the US drought in herds feeling fairly to very $5.04). one’ access are undermining farmer Effectively, global dairy markets are global impact more detail, but the key positive (fromconfidence 84% to and supply stability. For rebalancing. Lower prices will both in private label contracts and promany farmers in export-oriented Shifts Norman Repacholi slow production growth and stimulate regions, a lower price outlook relative to cessor rationalisation have seen milk factor has been a recov64%) is most significant. demand, and as this occurs we will ultithe current season not only adds to the companies adjust their intake requireery in global commodity In the follow up survey mately see a price recovery. Key factors challenges of doing business, but seems ments and pricing to meet the changto watch on the global scene will be the ing demands of a highly pressuredDespite retail to contradict mediumhave term really the challenging prices that has now started hampered 340 farmers were con- the positivetions rate at which milk production overseas outlook of Asia-driven dairy demand marketplace. Lower contract prices and as a consequence of the production environment, this season’s progress in tacted and slightly more slows in response to lower prices, the a lack of alternative supply opportunigrowth. flows. 2012is milk production in the US those in south-east Asia and the Middle impact of the current financial worries withAustralia Dairytheir Australia’s indicative outlook ties present challenges in a market drought. Dairy mainGippsland. than half described for southern farm gate milk prices – limited manufacturing capacity. Despite is up around 4% on 2011 for the year to East maintain consistently higher eco- on consumer confidence, the path of powders andthat fat support China’s economic growth, and the value taining milk about herd season as “about where nomic growth rates April (leap production year adjusted), whilst earlyMilk these challenges, the underlying domes- its published in the recent DairyWhen 2012: Sit-asked increased dairy consumption. per-cap- data suggests EU-27 milk production Outlook report, is for an tic market is stable, with steady products have been the How- of the Australian dollar. forecast for the 2012/13 numbers 58% of responthey would likeuation it toand be”. Demand for exported dairy prodopening price range of $4.05-$4.40/kg ita dairy consumption and a growing finished the March 2012 quota year up ever, the surge in supply has outpaced first to move as buyers season 2% dents anticipate their herda degree Production conditions ucts remains a positive and will condemand growth in the market. 2.3% on growth the previousto year. New Zealand population providing of cer- of MS and a full year average price range This situation has seen the scales tinue to grow with the middle class in between $4.50 and $4.90/kg MS. The tainty beyond the current adjustments. production is widely expected to finish bring forward purchaswill remain around 9.65 billion litres. varied betweenreport states, but size for 2012/13 In the seasons following the 2008 this season up 10% on last year - a huge tip in favour of buyers in dairy mar- large emerging markets such as China, considers the wider market picprices retreat- with changes in diet and with increasing market influence 95% of NZing milktokets, crisis and subsequent com-there’s ture and summarises the many factorsasfinancial trywith andcommodity get ahead While some given upside the same they predicted the largest differences 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 urbanisation - and also in conjunction of future price increases. from improving commodin February, 28% expect a actually occurred within uation being that of re-balancing in the export-oriented regions have seen solid ing solid production growth, but a sig- prices are down some 30% from their with global population growth. Locally, domestic market is supported by a 2011basis peaks, of whilst powder prices have the supply gaprisks in Brazil prevents supply with nificant While US milk producOn the recovering ity -prices, downside smaller herdglobal size andgrowth 13%(see chart) Victoria. A totaldairy ofsupply 81%chain. of 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 growing population and stable pertion has experienced its global commodity prices, from input costs remain. a larger herd. Farmers with Murray Dairy region farmhave subsequently been reduced in capita consumption. Whilst the dairy producing drinking milk, many farmers ern Hemisphere amongst those expand- ing South America. market currently challenging place exportinghas regions. The averagefirst Despite wider economic unceroutput as theiramargins increased. face a re-balancing in theherds form ing dipis on the asame time Dairymost Australia lifted The year has commenced large anticipated ers are happy with the pro- market of renegotiation of supply contracts This season, favourable weather con- tainty, demand has remained resilient basic farm gate price for milk in France to be a seller, all signs indicate that ballast year for the first time its forecast farm gate price on a positive note, with 1.5% increase in herd size duction conditions this and reduced access to ‘tier one’ supply. ditions have further enhanced milk as importing countries like China and for example, dropped 12% from 32 Euro ance will ultimately return. to around $4.70-$5.00 per in more than 24 months, despite their reduced con- production up 3.5% for season, while just 24% of the biggest challenge to kg MS or (34-36 c/L). This fidence. The main reasons July. Gippsland farmers are recovering global markets is still down 8-10% on the High grain prices and for milking fewer cows enjoying favourable conin the short term is the previous season, but an the possibility of El Nino than was planned in Febditions. Access to water strength of the New Zeaearlier supply correction creating difficult searuary were lower in calf has been a big confidence austraLian DairY, ASEAN-Australia-New FTA (AANZFTA). rice and wine exporters rates to Zealand land season. There’s also suggests further upside sonal conditions were (26%) and lower booster in Murray dairy, “Protectionist sentiMalaysia are the biggest still potential for another potential. the factors most affecting milk prices (24%). but persistently wet condiment over agricultural winners in a free trade

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-

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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.

016-017.indd 17

company Freedom Foods Group Ltd is to build a new milk processing plant to cash in on growing demand in Asia. The plant, to be built in southeast Australia, will be the first Australian greenfields expansion in UHT in 10 years. Freedom’s wholly owned subsidiary Pactum Australia will run the plant. Some of its products will be sold in Australia. The company says given Asian consumers’ rising incomes and improving diets, demand there will grow for quality dairy products from low-cost production bases such as Australia, whose milk is well regarded. The new plant will allow Pactum to meet growing demand for UHT dairy milk, and add to capacity for valueadded beverages at its Sydney factory. Pactum is expanding its capabilities at the Sydney plant

European economic meltdown undermining global dairy demand. However without significant disruptions, average commodity prices should continue to climb into 2013. • Norman Repacholi is a senior international dairy analyst with Dairy Australia.

to provide portion pack (200-330ml) configuration for beverage products. The NSW location will provide access to the most sustainable and economic source of milk. Pactum has strong links to the Australian dairy industry and will expand its arrangements with dairy farmers for supply of milk. The new plant will increase scope for Australian milk supply – value-added, sustainable and export focused. Initially the plant will produce 250ml and 1L UHT packs from a process line capable of 100 milSEEandYOUR lion L. The processing packaging plant will emit less carbon, use less water, and be more energy-efficient than equivalent UHT facilities in Australia and SE Asia. Pactum expects site preparation to begin in October 2012 and start-up by mid-2013. Pactum makes UHT products for private label and proprietary customers.




6/06/12 1:41 PM

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

16 //  OPINION Ruminating


Foreign investment polarises debate

milking it... Milk exports Greens leader Christine Milne has come off the long run opposing foreign investment in the Australian dairy industry. “We want to make sure that vertical integration from the farm, to the processor, to the Chinese consumer does not constitute ‘out sourcing’ and distort markets for land and dairy products,” she said. Milne’s barrage was sparked by reports the China Investment Corporation is negotiating for a stake in the Van Diemen’s Land Company – the same Van Diemen’s Land Company that is more than 98% owned by New Zealand interests. So she’s against foreign ownership of a foreignowned company. Was she simply unaware of what she was talking about? Surely there couldn’t be more to it.

MG move grounded Murray Goulburn has reneged on an earlier decision to up stumps from its current headquarters in Brunswick, Melbourne, and move to a new complex in Essendon Fields, near the airport. The original announcement was made last July but it is now subletting the entire office space it agreed to lease. New managing director Gary Helou has already shown he wants to be in the thick of the action with his decision to place permanent staff in new offices throughout Asia. Melbourne-based staff will also be in the thick of the action with a rumoured move closer to the Melbourne CBD.

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

Coles pays NFF Now, we may be a teeny bit cynical here, but alarm bells rang when we saw Coles was named as the principal sponsor of the National Farmers Federation’s annual conference, to be held this month. NFF president Jock Laurie said: “There’s a huge amount of heat in the supermarket debate right now, and lots of anger from Australian farmers. But rather than hide from this, Coles has chosen to step up and face it by becoming the Congress’ principal sponsor.” Sorry Jock, we don’t agree. We see it as another step in the supermarket’s recent campaign to position itself as the farmer’s friend in the eyes of the shopping public in a bid to offset negative perceptions. Coles would rather improve its image by spending money on PR (and now sponsorship which will result in further press) than paying a fair price to suppliers year round.

Yes, Joe, you’re a Godsend Our friends in the red meat industry have again had to defend themselves against opponents of the live export trade, this time after 10,000 sheep were stranded in Pakistan. Queensland Nationals Senator Barnaby “Barnyard” Joyce went into bat for them, saying Federal Ag Minister Joe Ludwig needed to do more. “He seems to be terrified of doing anything,” Joyce said. Not so, said Ludwig. In fact: “The live export trade has a bright future because of the actions taken by this Gillard Government.” We imagine that’s the first time that particular line has been uttered by anybody.

Foreign investment in agriculture is a polarising topic – even within the farming sector itself. International governments or companies are either going to provide much needed equity to help Australian businesses expand, or lock up prime agricultural land for the sole use of producing exported goods. There are both reasoned arguments on the topic, usually by those seeking investment; and hysteria, normally from either side of Parliament House, wanting to curry favour with the public. Current headlines have been dominated by the Tasmanian Government’s recent talks with the Chinese Investment Corporation, a sovereign wealth fund. The Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings, recently led a trade mission in Asia promoting her State, and in that time sought investment in Tasmania agriculture, especially dairy projects. It is believed the CIC wants to invest in the Van Diemen’s Land Company, based in the State’s north west, which is in the final stages of raising up to $180 million equity to double milk production. The development has the support of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association because it knows it will help expand the state’s dairy industry. We assume similar investment in any other state, particularly NSW, Queensland or WA who are crying out for more competition, would be similarly welcomed. Foreign investment has helped build Australian agriculture for 200 years. It will continue to do so. Murray Goulburn managing director Gary Helou was recently applauded for his vision of growing Australian milk production from nine billion litres a year to 15 billion litres a year. This would benefit the Australian economy and Australian farmers. But it won’t be achieved without investment. If we limit foreign investment, will the capital come from within our borders? If not, do we close up shop? Foreign investment also requires local experience to gain the best return. That means local farmers and share farmers. Every export business in the world is trying to access the one billion citizens of China. Every time the potential is mentioned, Australian processors and farmers see the export dollars. Investment helps trade. Significantly, telling countries their money is not welcome here does not help open trade agreements. It also helps farmers struggling to sell their properties once they want to retire. Not only is the farmer rewarded, that land is kept in production – crucial if the dairy industry is to expand. We can have foreign investment and a strong dairy industry that benefits all Australian dairy farmers. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

opinion  // 17

Bring on the level playing field

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The NFF has estimated that for every 1% appreciation in the AUD, the farm sector loses $210 million from Australian farm incomes. There is also a risk that the Australian economy could face further drag from the dollar simply because of our own excellent economic track record. “The AUD no longer trades completely in proportion to the profitability of the resource sector. Nowadays it is also driven by the desires of investors to obtain both safety and yield in a global market that is starved for both,” according to Suncorp. So basically, despite some sectors of the Australian economy being in a low gear, we continue to appear very favourable on a global scale, which is inflating the AUD and making it harder to budge from its perch. It is an issue that those at the Reserve Bank would be acutely aware of and must weigh into their considerations regarding interest rates in coming months. The recent decision to cut the cash rate, which came as a shock to many commentators could help alleviate the dollar and have significant benefit to the farm sector, as well as other parts of the Australian economy. Indeed, it was one of the few levers realistically at our disposal to mitigate the impacts of the high AUD. And with continued economic uncertainty forecast for the immediate future, the argument for further cuts seems more and more convincing. • Joanne Grainger is the president of the Queensland Farmers Federation.

e with Dos y as

Ask i


Joanne grainger


will continue to fall, even when input costs are rising exponentially. They face ever-increasing bureaucracy and regulation by governments. They have to cope with finger-wagging instant experts the demands of ever-more restrictive standards which are not required of imported competitor products. Worse still, every day they face dismissive and derogatory attitudes like those expressed by the writer of that letter to the editor. Instead of appreciating the work that our farmers do to deliver outstanding food and fibre products, Australians generally take their food for granted. They’ve never been hungry. They expect to go into a shop any day of the week and be able to purchase any type of food, whether or not it is in season. They expect that produce to be perfect in every way. They never question that it will be safe to put into their mouths. And, to top it off, they expect that – unlike any other product – their food will continue to decrease in price. And for years our farmers have delivered all that in spades. But their capacity to continue to do this is fast running out. Unless we wake up to ourselves, these pressures will drive them out of business. Bring on a level playing field – before it is too late. • Jan Davis is the CEO of the Tasmania Farmers and Graziers Association.

lar farmers are continuing to watch the Australian to US exchange rate with frustration, as our high dollar seems to continue to defy most other domestic economic indicators. In recent years, the dollar has been shackled to the fortunes of the mining boom and has risen in line with the likes of iron ore and coal prices. However, even with what appears to be a softening of the mining boom, the dollar is refusing to budge from its perch above parity. The impact of this is now causing significant concern, especially as there has been some deterioration in the demand for commodities globally, both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ commodities, with the exception of some positive influence from the United States drought. According to Suncorp in a recent update on the Australian dollar, while several economic indicators are signalling that the dollar should be easing, a structural change could be at play. The dollar in the past has tracked a similar path to the 10 year bondyield, but currently the ratio of difference between the two is its greatest in more than 10 years. The bond yield has dropped to the lowest level since about 2002, while the AUD has not followed. The terms of trade (TOT) have also been dampened with decreasing iron ore and coal prices in recent months. Subsequently, some commentators are starting to call the dollar over-valued and we in the farm sector hope that they are right. The benefits of the dollar in terms of lessening the cost of expenses such as fuel and machinery are outweighed by the downsides of less value for our exports.




ad used to say ‘not happy, Jan’. I spend a lot of my working week being not happy about things on behalf of farmers – prices, input costs, imports, red tape, green tape just to name a few. It’s an occupational hazard. For balance, on the weekends I try to be calm and serene. Truly. But it doesn’t always work. Reading a letter to the editor in the Weekend Australian magazine recently made me choke on my Weetbix. The correspondent alleged that Australia’s primary producers wallow percentage of national GDP. “in the luxury of taxpayer-funded pro- If you include funding for research and tectionism” that allows them to “weep development (to which farmers must over the dashboard of the Range Rover” contribute their own matching dolas they contemplate the pricing policies lars) and natural disaster assistance, of Coles and Woolworths, the good guys Australia provides the equivalent of a in the food chain who try to keep prices mere 0.16% of GDP as support to agriculture. This is the lowest percentage down for consumers. I was dismayed to think that some of any developed nation. The study then looked people might really think at another measure: the farmers are like that – percentage of a farmwhen nothing could be er’s income attributable further from the truth. to government support That stereotype was more and assistance. This appropriate for our Eurotime, Australian farmpean cousins in the early ers ranked second lowest days of the Common in the OECD, just behind Market, or US farmers opinion jan davis our Kiwi mates. The figure supported by the iniquihere is just 3%; while the tous Farm Bills. In both cases, farmers have been subsidised to average support in for farmers across overproduce - or paid not to produce the OECD countries is a massive18.8%. Keogh comments: at all. “No doubt there will be grateful Fortunately, before I had stuck the stamp on the envelope on the scath- outpourings of gratitude and support ing reply I’d dashed off, I came across from the Australian community and an article by the Australian Farm Insti- media for what is effectively for taxtute’s Mick Keogh. This review of the payers the cheapest agriculture sector level of protectionism, or government in the world, providing safe and nutrisupport, for farmers in OECD countries tious food and earning 15% of Australia’s gave me the facts to back up my heated export income in the almost complete absence of any government or taxpayer response. The study confirms that government support measures.” In your dreams. support measures for Australian farmFarmers have to deal with the unreaers are the lowest for any developed nation on earth, when expressed as a sonable expectation that food prices

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

18 //  breeding

Herd recording puts Macqueens in top 2% While computerised records have many

benefits for Alan and Gwen Macqueen’s dairy farm business, one of the most obvious has been the herd’s impressive genetic

gains, particularly over the past eight years. The Macqueens have been in the top 2% of herds since 2005. Since then they have steadily moved up the ranks from

#70 in 2005 to #16 in 2012. The Macqueens say the value they get from their detailed herd records far outweighs the effort in collecting and entering the data. They refer to their

records, and the reports generated from their herd management software for making day-to-day decisions and for longer term planning. Alan has maintained a

stock register since 1970 when they established the herd and Gwen took over the responsibility in 1998 when the system was computerised. She considers herself the guardian of

The “semi-retired” Gwen and Alan Macqueen refer to their herd records daily.



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the records and is meticulous about making sure the information recorded is both accurate and complete. Although Gwen enters most of the information on the computer, and generates the reports, everyone working on the farm has a role in collecting the data and using the reports. The Macqueen dairy farm is located on the northern edge of Wilsons Promontory National Park. They milk 230 autumn-calving cows and rear replacement stock on a combined dryland area of 141ha, with a production target of about 600kg milk solids per cow each lactation. The feeding system is pasture-based with milkers fed about 2.2 tonnes of pellets per cow per year. Now in their 70s, the Macqueens describe themselves as ‘semiretired’. Over the past 12 years they have employed several young, enthusiastic and skilful managers. Their current manager Rodney Gundrill takes charge of all milk production, the herd and pasture management and the daily operating tasks. He is assisted by Danny Stevenson and Billy Davy. Staff record information as they go about their daily activities. Pocket books are used away from the dairy and a white board is used in the dairy for milking alerts such as cows being treated for mastitis. Later, all information is handwritten into one of six exercise books for: mastitis, other health treatments, paddock treatments, mating records, heat observations and AI/ calving. “The direct use of an electronic data capture device for calving, AI

and herd health information would probably save some time but having hard copies gives us the opportunity to check data for accuracy before and after it goes on the computer,” Gwen said. About once a week, or more often at calving and joining times, Gwen enters the data into the computer. The on-farm software used by the Macqueens enables herd recording data to be transferred automatically. This means most of the herd information is stored in the one place, on their computer. “Because we record all our joining details I can print out a report the day before preg testing is due to be done. This assists with accurate preg testing results. And at calving time we generate another report that enables us to accurately identify each calf’s sire.” The Macqueens’ detailed records are also used for mating and culling decisions. For breeding decisions, the Macqueens work closely with Paul Cocksedge, who was their farm manager from 20002005. “While he worked for us, Paul made major improvements to the genetic advancement of our herd. When he moved to another job, he continued to help with sire selecting on a consultancy basis,” Gwen said. Bulls are selected mostly for their Australian Profit Ranking (APR) but consideration is also given to udder conformation, particularly udder depth and centre ligament. “These are the essential traits for high producing and long lasting cows,” she said.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

breeding  // 19

Farmers can lift in-calf rate in six-week period retained in the herd and genetic gain is maximised. While genetics drive profitability, a carryover cow is an unjustifiable cost. “By six months a carryover cow is almost 200 days in milk. Her reproductive potential doesn’t get any better the longer she’s left. In fact, the quality of her eggs deteriorates the longer she’s left,” Perotti said. “More peaks, more calves, no carryovers – that should be our aim. I tell my clients to get serious about reproduction – it drives your profit.”

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“The Chinese and Russians won’t develop their own genomic databases; they’ll simply adopt the North American database. After all, it’s a global industry; the bovine genome is a global entity which we can all use and contribute to.”

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In Eastern Europe, countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan have a growing middle-class average milk per cow per day demanding quality dairy prodand growth in livestock invenuct. They are becoming wealthtory, says Charlie Perotti, global ier through sales of oil and gas director of corporate programs to Western Europe. Russia too for Alta Genetics. has the desire to increase dairy Advanced synchronisation output and India is now lookprograms now offer dairy farming to move away its traditional, ers the opportunity to create the low production system to high maximum number of pregnantech, high productivity dairying cies in a six week joining period. systems. Farmers adopting these pro“We are very involved in grams could expect a calf rate of China where they are buildat least 70%, according to Charing a quality dairy industry,” lie Perotti, global director of corhe said. “They are porate programs for hungry for knowlAlta Genetics. “Data has told us if bulls don’t edge but we have Perotti, who has perform by 16 months they to remember they been a regular visiare really first gentor to Australia for aren’t going to improve.” eration dairymen. the past four years, Selecting, rearing and prog- Many of them have come off travels the world advising on dairy profitability, genetic devel- eny testing bulls is a major 10 cow, hand-milking farms so opment, personnel development business activity for genetics they know little about managand management, sales and mar- companies and bull fertility and ing a 5000 cow enterprise. But keting, and large progressive management has been a spe- they do want to learn.” The fast moving global induscial challenge as competition dairy project development. “With advance synchronisa- increases and margins become try that these emerging countries are entering will see them tion programs, there’s no heat tighter. Recently, Alta Genetics rapidly adopting the technologdetection, no palpating cows and no need for induction,” Perotti changed its approach to bull ical improvements developed in management to meet these new the West and adopted over sevsaid. “With three opportunities challenges. Using data gathered eral generations. These newto get them in calf you should from a number of core partner comers will adopt genomics, herds, the company concluded synchronisation, sexed semen expect a 70%+ in calf rate. “The first time you run a that bulls that didn’t produce and other advances and rapidly synch program it seems like quality semen by 16 months of reap the rewards of genetic gain and high productivity. hard work but when you’ve done age were not going to improve. “Genomics is a ‘game “In the past we kept a bull on, it once you find you’re running the dairy operation differently – based on his parentage and our changer’,” said Perotti. “The US more efficiently and more prof- expectations of him, in the belief and Canada started building the he would eventually provide bovine genomic database in 2003 itably. “If you’re running your dairy good quality semen,” Perotti and by 2007 there was an unoffias a business you have to have said. “But what the partner herd cial genomic evaluation on bulls an aggressive reproduction pro- data told us quite clearly was that which added about 10% to their gram with a minimum number this was not so. If they didn’t per- general reliability. “Today, just five years later, of carryover cows. Then you form by 16 months they weren’t the general reliability of a young can cull on profitability and going to improve.” In his role, Perotti has access bull using genomics alone is select which animals to sell and which to keep on their true per- to both emerging and estab- 76-82%. The speed of genomic lished dairy industries and has progress has tripled. Today formance.” Culling on profitability witnessed the revolution that is 50% of joinings in the US are to rather than because a cow is taking place in dairying across genomic-only bulls. They don’t want to be left behind. empty ensures the best cows are the globe. Maximising reproduction drives profit through

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

20 //  management

Chris Kunde on the family property at Cambooya in Queensland’s Darling Downs.

Another test for Downs family gordon collie

When the Queensland

dairy industry deregulated, the Kunde family on the Darling Downs took the opportunity to invest in a new farming system to better cope with market realities. An efficient silage and grain feeding model has produced flat-line milk production which has served them well for the past decade. A mixture of homegrown and bought ingredients are blended daily and fed out in troughs on a concrete feed pad.

Now Chris Kunde is confident they have the resilience to withstand tough new challenges with the twin pressures of falling income and constraints on production. While a return to better seasons is welcome, growth options are severely compromised and the short term focus is on being among the survivors in the industry. Chris studied business management while attending Dalby Agricul-

tural College, a skill that has been put to good use since returning home in the mid 1990s after working away for a few years. He has now taken over the family property Sunnymount at Cambooya from his parents John and Rita who spent their lives in dairying. His grandparents began farming in the 1920s and were among the first to introduce machine milking on the Downs. Chris said he was com-


Kunde family Where:

Darling Downs What:

Feeding system

mitted to dairying and getting through the difficult cycle ahead. When they built a new 25-a-side herringbone dairy six years ago it was planned as a long term investment. After years of enduring drought, the effects of the big flood in early 2011 and ongoing wet weather are still being felt with cow numbers back from their peak above 200 and a legacy of herd health issues. “Our system is really set up for dryer weather. Black soils are not good

in the wet.” With a 9% cut in tier one quota to processor Lion and the price of tier two milk at just 15 cents a litre, milk production will be cut from about 1.5 million litres last year to 1.2 million, from 170 milkers. With quality bonuses, the milk average price received is expected to be just over 50 cents a litre. “It’s a difficult challenge to cope with these prices and no growth opportunity. We’d certainly like to be able to milk more cows again in the future. The property can handle up to 250 milkers,” Chris said. It was ironic that at a time when farmers were being pressed to scale back production, cows and particularly heifers were in short supply. Years of drought had taken their toll and a lot of cows had been culled from herds. A lot of heifers were

being exported. With no access to irrigation, the family took the opportunity to switch to a more secure production system in 2002, based on silage and grain feeding with opportunity grazing. Average annual rainfall of around 700 mm made reliance on dryland grazing just too unreliable. A crop of winter oats and lablab in summer provides grazing of about 3kg of dry matter a day with a mixed ration supplying the bulk of feed requirements. They grow as much silage as they can, cutting crops of forage sorghum in summer and barley in winter from the 140ha home property and about 150ha in two leased blocks. Corn silage is also brought in as well as grain and additives to blend feed daily on the property. “We used to feed wheat for a couple of years, but

John and Chris Kunde on the family property, Sunnymount, at Cambooya.

have gone back to barley. We also used to bail feed grain, but it is now all incorporated in the mixing wagon,” Chris said. They typically have a couple of different types of silage being used at any time for a balanced ration with added grain, cotton seed and canola meal and minerals. The ration is fed out morning and evening in troughs on a concrete feed pad. A split herd with separate feed mixes had been operated in the past, but Chris said the labour savings with a single herd outweighed the benefit of higher milk production under the current supply regime. The herd is producing a rolling average production of about 25 litres a day with year round calving and it would be achievable to lift this to 27 litres. Between 50 and 60 replacement heifers are raised each year and introduced to the feed ration for about a month before calving for a seamless transition into the milking herd. “We prepare annual budgets and focus on getting our feeding program as efficient as possible,” Chris said. Forecasts of a dry summer ahead and escalating grain prices look set to add another dimension to the family’s challenge.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

management  // 21

Compost slashes fertiliser bills, improves soil health Rick Bayne

Dairy farmers can save money and improve their soil biology by making their own compost, they were told at a workshop at Tesbury, near Camperdown, in western Victoria last month. Graham Clay is about to start on his fourth season of composting and making his own compost tea. He introduced the system in an attempt to save on his fertiliser bill

and is now confident he made the right decision. “It varies from year to year depending on how much you put on,” Clay said. “We were paying over $150,000 on fertiliser, which was one of the main reasons why we wanted to try something else. “We needed to make savings because other costs are catching up on the farm.” Last year the farm’s fertiliser bill was cut back to $50,000 however this year the farm increased its inputs to about $90,000 in

“The main benefit is that composting helps with best practice waste management and helps roots to go down deeper to source more nutrients.” – Tony Evans addition to the compost in an effort to improve production; however Clay said he was likely to return to lesser amounts. “More is not necessarily better,” he said.

Apart from the cost savings, Clay has also noticed improvements in his soil and cow health. “It’s a lot kinder on the environment,” he said. “The ground is a lot

softer and there is more activity in the soil. When we first did a visual soil assessment we found 25 worms on a shovel – on the most recent there were 61.” The farm’s 400 cows are also healthier. “Our cow health has improved remarkably because they are eating more nutritious feed,” Clay said. “All the tests are heading the right way.”

Tony Evans from Camperdown Compost, who helped Clay establish his compost system, spoke about the pros and cons of using compost. “The main benefit is that composting helps with best practice waste management and helps roots to go down deeper to source more nutrients,” Evans said. Evans said compost was more costly to spread because it was more bulky

than fertiliser but still resulted in substantial onfarm savings. The workshop was held as part of the Heytesbury District Landcare Network’s Caring for our Country Improving Soil Condition and Biodiversity project with funding from DAFF and Bega Cheese. The project is also being supported by DemoDAIRY who are assisting to run the project workshops.

The infrared camera has the potential to be an affordable and effective tool for detecting heat in dairy cows.

Timing and silage

Infrared cameras could detect heat Infrared (IR) cameras could hold the key to improv-

ing heat (or oestrus) detection on dairy farms, according to initial results from a FutureDairy pilot trial. FutureDairy project leader, Kendra Kerrisk said although the research was in its early days, the technology was commonly available. “Infrared cameras detect differences in temperature. For example, during the swine flu outbreak, they were used at airports to identify people with raised temperatures, as an indicator of potential illness,” she said As the technology has been used for heat detection in pigs, FutureDairy postgraduate student Saranika Talukder, set up the pilot trial to see if it could be applied to dairy cows. She used IR cameras to detect changes in vulvar skin temperature, which can be related to stages of oestrus. As this was a small pilot trial, the FutureDairy team will undertake further research needed to measure the sensitivity and accuracy of the application of the infrared camera. However the results are encouraging. “Heat detection is always a challenge. It is time-consuming and the logistics can be tricky, especially with large herds or automatic milking systems. Many herd managers would welcome an affordable and less subjective tool to assist in heat detection; and the IR camera has the potential to be just that,” said Kerrisk. “Ultimately we’d like a way to automate the process; perhaps the cameras could be mounted at the dairy or somewhere close to the cows; to automatically measure vulval temperatures at least twice a day.”

Farmers can benefit from research into whole-crop cereal silage through the Dairy Australia-backed 3030 project. Whole-crop cereal silage can be cut at the flag leaf/boot or vegetative stage or soft dough or grain formation stage of growth. However, making silage in each of the recommended growth stage has its own pros and cons.

Flag leaf/boot stage At this growth stage the crop will be at its highest nutritive value, but much lower yield than if cut at the soft dough stage. The standing crop at the flag leaf/boot stage will have dry matter (DM) of about 12% to 22% DM. It will require wilting to about 33% to 40% DM before harvesting as bulk chopped silage, or about 38% to 50% DM as baled silage. If harvested under the above lower limits, a poorer fermentation will occur resulting in losses of DM and nutritive value, and silage of low palatability. Cutting at flag leaf/boot stage will mean harvesting early in the season for autumn or winter sown cereals when climatic conditions may not be very conducive to a fast wilt. Using a mower-conditioner with the swath boards set out wide will help increase the wilting rate. A tyned conditioner adjusted to produce an aggressive conditioning and adjusted to produce a “fluffy” wide windrow is ideal. A roller conditioner set to squash and

crimp the stems, also leaving a wide windrow, will increase the speed of wilting.

Late milk/soft dough stage When cut at the soft dough stage, whole-crop silage will be lower in nutritive value but yield will be some 100% to 150% higher than at the vegetative stage. The standing crop will have dried to near its ideal DM content, ie, 38% DM, but can be harvested in the 35% – to 42% DM range as bulk silage or baled at 38% to 45% DM. The length of time in each phase will vary depending on moisture availability, sunlight hours and temperature. Very broadly speaking, barley is the quickest species to pass through its grain forming stages. It can undergo the soft dough stage in three to five days and dry at approximately 2% DM/day. The other cereals may do so over seven to 10 days and dry at only about 1% DM/day. Forage cereals should, ideally, be harvested using a precision chop harvester to produce a very short chop material which can be compacted to exclude air. If the crop is drier than recommended, mowing then raking and harvesting can result in substantial grain loss, reducing its nutritive value. If whole-crop is baled, a chopper baler is preferable to aid compaction. Using netwrap instead of string is preferable to minimise damage to the plastic wrap and to leave an even surface between the bale and plastic film.

This is one of the many examples of the dairy service levy at work. For more information on this and other levy investments visit

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

22 //  management

Tas farmers maintain margins in tight times Tasmanian dairy

farmers have revealed how they manage challenging conditions as part of Dairy Australia’s Tactics for Tight Times campaign. The campaign has been rolled out throughout the country to help farmers manage lower milk prices and rising input costs. Host farms at Forest, Caveside and Ringarooma were featured as part of the campaign to illustrate cost effective farming methods and management techniques in a tight season. At Forest, in Tasmania’s north-west, sharefarmers Mark Twose and Debbie Townsend milk between 200-220 cows on a 50ha farm converted from a dairy stock block five years ago. In 2011/12 they produced 120,000kg of milk solids (MS) at 2400 MS/ ha. This season the pair aims to produce 125,600kg of MS and to maintain

their efficient operation despite the lower milk price. With help of independent consultant Penny Williams, Mark and Debbie shared with visiting farmers some of the keys to their operation including: ■■ A focus on pasture production and management including a weekly pasture assessment walk ■■ Good communication with farm owners including a weekly meeting to discuss farm management and factors affecting the business ■■ Young stock are reared off farm and calves are reared on an automatic calf feeder ■■ Knowing their income from projected milk sales and forecast expenses and then analysing and adjusting the business accordingly ■■ Talking to farmers to get ideas about what

Barry and Deb Chandler of Caveside,Tasmania.

others are doing in these tight times. At Caveside, Barry and Deb Chandler focus on similar objectives. Milking 600 cows through two dairies on a 280ha milking platform they achieved their highest production to-date of 250,000kg/MS last season. The platform is made up of two farms, an 80ha home farm and a 200ha lease farm. Operating this way has taken some learning and time to be profitable but it has helped the Chandlers achieve their overall goals of debt reduction. The key to achieving their target of 254,000kg MS this season will be attention to detail including: ■■ Being flexible and adapting to situations as they arise ■■ Paying attention to the grass and growing and harvesting as much as profitable. ■■ Maximising the number of live heifer calves as possible ■■ Attention to calving and having as many quality cows in the herd as possible to provide options with future replacements and export sales ■■ Ensuring 80% of the diet of the herd is made up of pasture ■■ Maintaining cow condition and increasing nutrition prior to the

mating period Cost control and reacting early to changing conditions and cashflow will minimise potential downside impacts on the business. Dairy Australia’s Tactics for Tight Times campaign features monitor farms throughout Australia providing a forum for dairy farmers to discus tactical decisions at a local level with host farmers describing the monitoring systems in place to ensure their businesses remain ■■

Farmers discuss how to cope with tough times at the farm of Mark Twose and Debbie Townsend.

profitable. Farmers will be able to follow issues throughout the season through updates and regular farm

visits to see the financial and physical impacts of decisions made on-farm. To see the full profile from these and additional

field days and information about upcoming Tactics for Tight Times events go to

Farmers told ‘don’t panic’ Rick Bayne

Although many dairy farm-

ers in Western Victoria are going through tough times, the long-term outlook isn’t so bleak. Tactics for Tight Times workshops hosted by WestVic Dairy in early October at Colac, Timboon, Macarthur and Warrnambool were told that the medium to long-term prospects are fairly positive. CBA Dairy Business Manager for south west Victoria, Rhonda Henry said dairy was rated as a medium risk industry. “Don’t panic,” she told nearly 50 dairy farmers and service providers at the Warrnambool workshop. “There is going to be a need for more food for the world and Australian dairy is well positioned to

capitalise on that.” Henry said dairy farmers should look at all aspects of their business to focus on profits, including income protection, interest rates, equipment, herd size and cost of production. They should also aim to increase use of home grown fodder. “Every farm is different. You don’t have to compare or try to keep up with your neighbour,” she said. “Preparing early cash flow, ensuring you compare budget to actual regularly to identify any issues, and maintaining good communication with your bank is important. “It is better to talk early rather than wait until your top drawer is full of bills.” The workshop also heard from rural financial counsellor Brian Gardiner who said the cumulative effect of prolonged drought, floods

and the global financial crisis had left many farms with reduced assets and higher levels of debt. “Many farmers are trying to service higher levels of debt to rebuild their business but are doing it from a lower income base,” he said. Gardiner said farm values had dropped by around 20%, milk prices were relatively low and grain prices relatively high. “I don’t see grain prices changing in the near future,” he said. While admitting it is “not a particularly cheerful scenario”, Gardiner said help is available and he encouraged struggling farmers to talk to rural financial counsellors. Dairy Australia has developed the Tactics for Tight Times campaign as a levy-funded initiative to support dairy farmers through the milk price downturn.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

management  // 23

Unlocking soil’s potential North West Tasma-

nian farmers Geoff and Colleen Atkinson decided to think outside the square to improve the fertility and production of their Cuprona dairy farm. The Atkinsons milk 85 mainly Friesian cows on 40ha at Cuprona, between Burnie and Penguin on the North West Coast. The couple moved there seven years ago after selling their cropping and livestock property at Stowport, where they grew poppies and potatoes and ran sheep and cattle. Their property comprises 10 titles so the

Geoff Atkinson

Atkinsons bought it as a nest egg but it wasn’t long before they decided to take advantage of the dairy cows that were sold with the property. “The cows were on there, and milk prices were good at that time, so we increased the herd and began improving the farm,” Geoff said. “Of course after investing that money, naturally enough the milk price dropped and fertiliser costs rose.” Geoff wasn’t getting the response from his pastures he wanted through traditional fertilisers and was having trouble with fertility, with up to 25% of his herd failing to get in calf each year. He got wind of trials of a biological fertiliser called Great Land being conducted on farms across the north west by IMP. Essentially, the fertiliser, Pasture TE, draws out nutrients locked-up in soils through overuse of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilisers. Great Land is now being used on about 60 dairy farms from Scottsdale to Smithton in Tasmania and a number of


Geoff and Colleen Atkinson Where:

Cuprona What:

Soil health

dairy farms and general cropping on mainland Australia. The Atkinsons volunteered to test the product, under the eye of independent scientist Reuben Wells, and now apply it across the entire property. “The farm needed a lot of TLC when we bought it,” Geoff said. “We have good chocolate soil but we were pouring urea on, like most dairy farmers do, and it was having minimal effect. “Our pH levels were good, so there were a lot of nutrients and trace elements locked up in the soil over the years by fertiliser. Phosphorous fertiliser can be locked up in some soils, or converted into forms that plants can’t access. “We had enough phos- v phorous in the soil to last 20 years, and a lot of iron in the soil. The fertiliser had locked the trace elements up.” The Pasture TE liquid fertiliser contains specially selected bacteria and trace elements, which ‘fix’ nitrogen from the air, ‘unlock’ or ‘release’ phosphorus and potassium from soil, and increase the availability of other nutrients. Geoff said the application of the liquid fertiliser had a quick effect, restoring bacteria to his soil and improving its fertility. His worm count is up, his plant roots run deeper into his soil and his irrigation time has been reduced. He now applies the fertiliser three times a year, at rates of 40 litres/ha. “My vet bills have been

reduced 75% and I don’t have lameness any more now I’ve stopped using urea. “Paddocks are growing again in winter, when they haven’t before. “I haven’t used any chemicals for the last two years and my fertiliser bill has been cut in half in that time.”

Bulk milk cell count figures have been reduced and milk production is up, which is timely with current milk prices. The herd’s rotation has also dropped from about 28 days to 14-17 days, with the cows eating the pasture right down and more evenly.

Geoff and Colleen Atkinson’s farm in north west Tasmania.

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

24 //  animal health

Cluster switch helps health Chris Dingle

When John and Haylee Watson from Cobram East in northern Victoria found it was taking up to three hours for the morning milking, they decided they needed to do something about replacing their clusters. Last year they milked 550 Holsteins on their 44 unit rotary in a partnership with keen young dairy farmers, Stewart and Beck Robertson. Stewart says some time ago they had their own 90 cows and were looking for an opportunity to milk them as part of a larger operation. When they teamed up with the Watsons, he says, “it was the right place at the right time”. The Robertsons have


John and Haylee Watson; Stewart and Beck Robertson Where:

Cobram East What:

Herd health

big cows, based on US genetics, giving 50 to 60 litres per day in peak times. The Watson’s shed had 24-year-old Westfalia clusters which had obviously been performing well over the years but now they found that the bigger cows weren’t milking out and were milking

‘lopsided’. With 500 cows on the go, it was taking three hours at the morning milking and 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon. “The cows were taking so long to milk out that we were often sending some around for the third time,” said John. So they had a good look around at the available current cluster designs. In February this year Adrian Hayward at Advanced Dairy Systems in Cobram suggested they give the new WestfaliaSurge IQ clusters a trial. Hayward had a lot of confidence in these new units; “Try them out, if they’re no good, we’ll take them back out.” The WestfaliaSurge IQ Cluster from GEA Farm Technologies is designed to move milk from each

The Watsons and Robertsons milked 550 Holsteins on a 44 unit rotary dairy in a partnership last year.

Stewart Robertson and John Watson with their new dusters at the dairy.

quarter with a minimum of turbulence for faster milk out. In addition it has four separate guide chambers to prevent teat-toteat cross contamination. It has certainly worked out that way for the Watsons and the Robertsons. “We are milking 280 cows an hour, without pushing it,” said Stewart. “I can put the cups on three cows in the time that it took to do two.” He explained they had been culling cows because they weren’t milking out properly; “We had a huge incidence of three-teaters. Since we put in the IQs we’ve not had one.” John ordered the new IQ Clusters with silicon liners and believed they made a huge difference – in just the three months they have been in use –

with the health of the teats. The increased speed of milking out contributed to that, he said. The flexible area of the short milk tube on the IQ liner has been almost doubled to improve the ability of the cluster to hang properly under virtually any udder size or shape. That better alignment helps to optimise milk flow and reduce liner slips and squawks. John was pleased to be told the silicone liners have a recommendation of 5000 cow milkings before changing: “We were changing liners three times a year,” he said. “Now we should get 12 months use out of these.” Last year John and Haylee moved 210 of their cows about 4km away when they started up a new dairy

on another property. So they are now milking 260 Holsteins out of a total herd of 330, and putting 6000 litres per day into the vat. John adds, “Some days we’ve finished milking in 50 minutes.” The IQ Cluster has a new vacuum control design to keep contaminants out of the milk line. A small stainless steel ball located in each guide chamber of the bowl blocks the flow of air when the cups are not attached to the teats, so unwanted material is not sucked into the milk line. Plus if the cups are kicked off during milking the vacuum automatically shuts off to prevent contaminants entering the milk supply. The IQ Clusters are lighter and easier to use. “There is a huge

difference,” said Beck. “They must be onethird the weight of the old clusters. It makes no difference whether you’re at cups-on or cupsoff, it is so much easier, particularly with the vacuum shut off lever right underneath the bowl. “You don’t have to hang on to the bottom of the bowl like we did before.” Both Stewart and Beck said the easier milking meant they had more time to look at the cows. With a lot of the worry taken out of the milking, John Watson is looking forward to the future; “When we build back up to 350 cows on this farm, we’ll do 200 to 230,000 kgs of milk solids, and we’ll milk in 1 1/2 hours with better health.”

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

animal health  // 25

Dehorning anaesthetic boosts calf growth rates It has often been said

in recent times that one of the biggest issues facing the dairy industry is the integration of animal welfare protocols into routine animal health practices on farms. rob bonanno Public opinion has strongly turned in favour or even a cash flow benof increased welfare eficial way. Genomic standards for all our food research offers opportuproduced from animals. nities to breed the horns In the UK and Europe off dairy cattle once and and increasingly North for all, but until genetiAmerica, higher levels cally superior cattle carof animal welfare are rying the polled gene are being used by retailers commonplace, dehorning to distinguish their at a young age will remain products from those of a routine animal managecompetitors, and here in ment practice on all dairy Australia we are already seeing changes to egg and farms. Recently published papers from Canada chicken production and and North America have pig production driven clearly demonstrated the by concerns for animal animal welfare benefits of welfare. using a long acting antiIn some cases, signifiinflammatory drug, Metacant premiums are paid cam, when dehorning. for higher welfare stanIn the dards, but many would Calves treated first study out of question with pain Ontario whether the relief gained (Canada) premium is 0.7kg more by Heinrich enough to body weight/ et al, Metajustify the cam was costs. day after used with When I dehorning. local anaestalk to farmthetic and showed there ers about welfare issues, was a marked reduction I find, without excepin the measurable indition, dairy farmers are cators of pain for up to concerned about the welfare of the animals in their 44 hours post dehorning. They rested for longer, care. But many are also seriously concerned about had lower heart rates and stress hormone levels and the cost pressures of the showed less behavioural unrealistic and unsuschanges associated with tainable pricing from the pain. supermarkets and chalIn the study from the lenges from world milk University of Iowa by prices etc. The challenge Coetzee et al which used facing dairy producers the Metacam without is to constantly strive to any local anaesthetic, the improve their welfare researchers showed that standards, which is what whilst the signs of acute the public tells them they distress associated with want, under price signals the dehorning were not that say they are not premitigated, there were long pared to pay for it. term behavioural, physiFaced with this equaological and performance tion, the dairy veterinareffects. The old saying “no ian is the best resource pain-no gain” definitely when considering ways does not apply when we you can make changes to your animal management talk about the welfare of protocols to improve both calves, in fact the opposite welfare outcomes and the is true.....”no pain- MORE gain!!” Calves in the trial bottom line. who were treated with For example, dehornthe pain relieving mediing of calves is an area where we can make signif- cation gained a significantly higher amount of icant strides in pain manbody weight in the 10 days agement in a cost neutral

following dehorning of nearly 0.7kg/day. Anti-inflammatories have been shown in numerous other studies to reduce side-effects of mastitis (including SCC), reduce culling rates following mastitis and improve daily weight gain following castration,

lameness and respiratory disease. By adopting the use of anti-inflammatory drugs as part of the treatment protocols whenever we perform a routine management procedure that may cause pain we have the so called “triple bottom line” effect...

better welfare outcomes, better animal performance and better financial returns. Australian dairy farmers and their veterinarians can get on the front foot with regards to animal welfare and alleviate many of the concerns of consumers regarding routine man-

agement practices and animal diseases knowing that despite the low milk prices it can be done in an economically sustainable way. Talk with your dairy vet about making a non steroidal antiinflammatory drug part of your routine treatment

protocol whenever you treat a cow for lameness, mastitis or respiratory disease. • Rob Bonanno is the past president of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians Association and a director of the Shepparton Veterinary Clinic.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

26 //  animal health

Online advice for sick cows A new online resource is available to help farmers manage sick animals. Dairy Australia’s animal health Fast Facts will help farm staff decide if an animal needs help from a vet. The new dairy resource is the first in Australia. It has been developed over 12 months by a team of farmers, veterinary and animal health consultants. Dairy Australia’s animal health manager, Kathryn Davis, said Fast Facts is an online, one-stop shop for information on more than 45 animal health issues. “It is designed to help farmers recognise when an animal needs quick vet intervention,” she said. “Unlike technical text books, it’s written in everyday language in a very easy-to-read format. “There’s nothing to beat a farmer’s powers of observation when it comes

to the health of the herd. They see something wrong with an animal and think ‘that doesn’t look right’. Now they can go online for free help in finding a list of possible causes. “Fast Facts doesn’t replace the work of the local vet or government animal health services. In fact, it helps the farmer focus on the symptoms and know when to seek help or report a serious problem. The process could see animals treated sooner and possibly mean better survival rates.” Conditions range from feed-based ailments to contagious diseases, abortion and fertility problems to simply knowing when to look for abcesses or foreign bodies. “It presents the information from a farmer’s perspective; how you’d see it out in the paddock,” Dr Davis said. “Fast Facts provides simple information about

the more important diseases and gives basic advice on how to prevent or manage the less-serious conditions.” While there were some

smaller, state-based information sites, she said the new Dairy Australia site was the first offering a tool that all Australian dairy farmers can use “because

Dr Kathryn Davis: “There’s nothing to beat a farmer’s powers of observation.”

IN UDDER WORDS... Vaccinate calves against Leptospirosis Spring is the time to vaccinate calves that will be retained on the property. It is vital that all animals are vaccinated against Leptospirosis to prevent excretion of infective Leptospires in their urine. Dairy farms provide a high risk environment for transmission of Leptospirosis from cows to humans due to the frequent exposure to urine and urine splashing in and around the dairy. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans and people working closely with infected animals, such as dairy farmers, their families, employees and veterinarians are most at risk. Human infection occurs when urine containing Leptospires from an infected animal splashes into the eyes, nose or the mouth, or into small cuts on the hands. Handling aborted calves or birth fluids without gloves, and paying poor attention to personal hygiene can increase the risk of becoming infected. Human Health and Occupational Health and Safety are major reasons for vaccinating your dairy herd against Leptospirosis – management of the disease in cattle helps to prevent human infection. People with Leptospirosis often have ‘Flu-like’ symptoms – fever, muscular pain, and headache can occur in the early stages. Vomiting and abdominal pain can make the sufferer feel tired and ‘washed-out’ for up to 18 months and in some cases meningitis,

dairy cattle diseases don’t recognise state boundaries”. Use the tool now at http://www.dairyaustralia.

liver failure, and kidney failure can occur. Coopers® Cattlevax® 7 in 1 is a combined Clostridial and Leptospirosis vaccine that helps to prevent major Clostridial diseases – blackleg, pulpy kidney, tetanus, black disease and malignant oedema – as well as protecting against the two important Leptospirosis strains, Leptospirosis hardjo and pomona. Urinary shedding of Leptospires only occurs if an animal has, or has had Leptospirosis. Animals already infected with Leptospirosis at the time of vaccination may still shed Leptospires in the urine for some months after vaccination, irrespective of which Leptospirosis vaccine is used. Prevention of leptospirosis in cattle with Cattlevax 7 in 1 means urinary shedding doesn’t occur and limits the spread of the disease. Vaccination of cows in late gestation helps to prevent leptospirosis in young calves, who then gain protection after their initial vaccination course. Talk to your local Coopers representative about your herd vaccination program on 1800 885 576 ® Registered Trademark

case studies ■■

CASE ONE: A yearling has a red, runny nose and cloudy eyes. She’s been grazing a paddock alongside a neighbour’s first-cross ewes. Visit Fast Facts to find out more about the likely causes and realise that the symptoms point to a possible case of malignant catarrhal fever. This alerts you to have the animal checked to rule out the possibility of foot and mouth disease or other serious exotic diseases, so you isolate the animal and call your vet without delay.


CASE TWO: A calf has red urine and a poor appetite. A quick check of Fast Facts points to possible causes as poisoning by kale or rape, ticks (in northern areas), phosphorus deficiency or leptospirosis. You phone the vet and – as an added precaution – check that all farm staff are up-to-date with their lepto shots.


CASE THREE: It’s early lactation and you’re seeing several animals that are off their feed and producing bad-smelling diarrhoea. You read up on Fast Facts about the symptoms of acidosis and confirm the diagnosis by tapping their left flanks to hear the tell-tale splashing sound. The symptoms are mild and are not getting any worse, so you stomach-tube some magnesium into the affected animals, feed them good-quality hay and keep them off water until tomorrow.

Bobby calf transport standards changing porters and meat processix hours of pick up sors to be responsible for Australian Dairy Farmhas developed a detailed the welfare of the animals ers president, Chris Grifinformation pack to help under their care. fin, welcomed the new Australian dairy farmTo ensure farmers have standards and said they ers prepare for upcomwould bring national coning changes to the national the latest information to standards for transporting comply with the new stan- sistency to the way bobby dards relating to bobby calves are transported and bobby calves. ensure positive animal New national standards calves, Dairy Australia for transporting livestock, will mail farmers an infor- welfare outcomes. mation tool kit includ“As dairy farmers, including standards and ing a comprehensive animal welfare is of paraguidelines specifically for mount importance in the bobby calves, are expected pocket guide, fact sheet way we operto be introduced ate and the new across Australia standards will this year. New national standards consisIt will be a for transporting livestock, provide tency for our requirement under including standards and practices across the new Austraguidelines specifically for Australia for the lian Animal Welfare Standards bobby calves, are expected first time.” Griffin said and Guidelines to be introduced across farmers and all - Land TransAustralia this year. those involved port for livestock in the bobby calf owners, operasupply chain tors and receivand poster supported by need to be aware of their ers to comply with the detailed information on obligations under the new new laws which specify the Dairy Australia website standards and follow best requirements for ‘fit to practice guidelines for the load’, vehicles and faciliUnder the new stanmanagement of calves. ties, time off water, jourdards, farmers must For full information ney time and more. ensure bobby calves trans- on the Australian Animal The new standards ported for sale or slaughWelfare Standards and require all those involved ter are: Guidelines for Livestock in the transportation ■■ At least five days’ old (including cattle) go to of livestock including ■■ Are fit and healthy www.livestockwelfarestanfarmers, buyers, agents, ■■ Adequately fed within saleyard operators, transDairy Australia

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

animal health  // 27

Gippsland vet examines downer cow treatment A Gippsland vet is

conducting a world’s first study into the treatment of downer cows. Dr Phil Poulton from the Tarwin Veterinary Group in South Gippsland is completing a master’s degree in the nursing of downer dairy cows. The comprehensive study, which is funded by Dairy Australia, will look at around 250 recumbent cows and how they respond to differing types of treatment. Dr Poulton, who is in his second and final year of the parttime research project, said results so far were tending to confirm the prevailing treatment practices. But he said it was important the industry had this

research to ensure animals were receiving the most appropriate care. Dr Poulton will look at around 150 downer cows this year, of which 120 will be assessed for the project. He will study the various ailments afflicting them and then review which treatments are the most effective. He will also look at how best to assess which cows won’t make a recovery. “It’s important from the animal welfare aspect that we don’t prolong suffering for animals that can’t recover,” he said. Differences in treatment for each breed of dairy cow are also being looked at, with heavier animals having different

needs to lighter animals. “If you have a 650kg Holstein, it might need different nursing to a young Jersey cow that’s just had her first calf,” he said. Dr Poulton said farmers should heed Dairy Australia’s recommendations when nursing downer cows. The key rules from Dairy Australia include: ■■ Provide clean, dry and soft bedding that offers a non-slip surface when the cow tries to stand ■■ Provide a continuous supply of clean water and good feed ■■ Move the cow from side to side every three hours to ensure her weight is not always to one side, flexing and extending the hind

limbs each time the cow is moved ■■ Regularly hand strip milk from the udder ■■ Regularly encourage the cow to rise ■■ Never leave cows hanging in lifting devices ■■ Regularly reassess her progress and diagnosis Dr Poulton said it was vital downer cows received swift and appropriate treatment once they were on the ground. Complications arising from extended prone periods include nerve damage, muscle damage, bed sores, mastitis, pneumonia and hip dislocations. For information on nursing downer cows go to and search “downer”.

Dr Phil Poulton with one of his patients at a Fish Creek farm.

Dectomax kills the worms that count in dairy areas ®

From thousands of tests conducted across Australia, we know that Ostertagia spp., Haemonchus placei and Cooperia spp. make up to 90%1 of the worm


egg count in the dairy areas of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Dectomax provides long-acting performance against the worms that count.


For more information call 1800 814 883 or visit

INTERNAL PARASITE Cooperia spp.* (Small intestinal worm)

Ostertagia ostertagi (Small brown stomach worm)

Trichostrongylus axei (Stomach hair worm)

Haemonchus placei (Barber’s pole worm)

Oesophagostomum radiatum (Nodule worm)


(days of activity)

35 days 35 days 35 days


35 days 21 days

*Provides up to 21 days of persistent activity against Cooperia oncophora as per label claim.

PAL0651_DN_200x265_Outline_Dairy_v02.indd 1


Reference: 1. Based on worm egg counts and larval differentiation conducted 2001–2011. Pfizer data on file. Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd, 38–42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, NSW 2114. ABN 50 008 422 348. ® Registered Trademark of Pfizer Australia. 04/12 PAL0651/DN

4/06/12 3:24 PM

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

28 //  machinery & products

Heaven is a new baler for Timboon couple

Total solutions for dairying

The purchase of a

GEA Farm Technologies

GEA Farm Technology’s MIone Multibox automated milking system enables you to create a true milking centre, with all features and equipment concentrated in one spot. A modular system that is economical and animal-friendly, and expands along with your herd.

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new McHale V660 round baler just before the start of last season has proved to be a brilliant move for Timboon farmers, Adrian and Vickie Bond. Previously they had operated two balers, in conjunction with Adrian’s father, Colin, but they reckon they kept them going a season too long. “They gave us so many headaches, chasing parts and with breakdowns,” says Vickie Bond, “this year was heaven!” Adrian was born and bred into dairying with his parents, Colin and Vicki, who are still farming not far away on Cooriemungle Rd. Adrian’s wife, Vickie, was also off a dairy farm and the pair had been sharefarming at Scotts Creek and came here to ‘Coorie Ridge Farm’ in 1996, virtually straight from their wedding, almost as the honeymoon. They started with 40ha, plus a 48ha leased block. The farm has extended to 174ha, all adjoining. There are two run-off blocks, one at Scotts Creek, the other at Cobden. They milk 350 Holsteins on a 24 swingover shed with automatic cluster removers and stall gates. Adrian and Vickie had seen the McHale baler at Sungold Field Days and again when they were on a trip to New Zealand. “In New Zealand, we saw the McHale working

working clothes chris dingle when we stopped by the side of the road and it just about made up our minds to get the McHale. The McHale runs four knives and we wanted to get into chopped silage to better feed the cows.” “Plus the dealer had a lot to do with it – we have a lot of time for Rhys Evans in Colac and we are confident about their service and knowledge. The service we’ve had from Rhys Evans over the years was certainly a factor.” They operate the baler with a 155 hp Case Puma which was delivered by Rhys Evans at the same time in a tractor/ baler package. “It’s generally undulating country around here, so you need all of the 155 horsepower, especially if the knives aren’t as sharp as they could be.” The McHale machine can handle a maximum bale size of 5’6”; “We usually do 4’6” in silage because of the heavier bales,” explained Adrian, “and 5’ in hay bales because they fit neatly on the truck.” Adrian said that they

Adrian Bond with his McHale V660 round baler.


Adrian and Vickie Bond Where:

Timboon What:

McHale V660 round baler

made 1000 bales last year before he hit the knives with the sharpener, from then on they are sharpened at every 500 rolls. “It’s a pretty easy job; we use a soft wheel on the angle grinder.” Vickie helps on that job and it only takes 10 minutes to get them out, “pop out and pop in, half an hour altogether”.

Adrian said the baler is easy to clean, and a real bonus is the drop floor to relieve chokes. “You drop the door, it puts the crop through and away you go. It only choked three times last season. “It’s been a treat to operate and the monitor is easy to use. You can drive with it all day and have no problems. I’ve taken it to places I haven’t been able to get into with other balers and it handles damp conditions very well.” Quite a few neighbours have been in to see the baler at work and a couple of weeks after our visit in mid-September, the team from Rhys Evans were planning to borrow tractor and baler for a local demonstration. This year the Bonds will cut 64ha of either hay or silage, mainly ryegrass

Adrian Bond operates the McHale baler with a 155hp Case Puma.

Durable, dimensionally stable and cow-friendly Studflex rubber matting offers ultimate grip and comfort, sound absorption, with excellent softness. so cows become calmer and quieter when standing. Suitable for all areas of the milking shed.

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and clover. “We usually only do about 4o acres (16ha) of hay for the dry cows, everything else is silage. It’s ‘Western District dry cow hay’ here, it’s too wet to get good hay.” The hay is all net wrapped, there is no twine box on the baler. Adrian’s father, Colin, brings over his Elho twin satellite silage film wrapper to wrap the bales. This year is a contrast in seasons to last year which dried up pretty quickly, so there was not much hay made. They usually start silage in the first week of October, but Adrian said it is so wet now it will probably be middle to late October. For mowing, they have two Taarup 2432 eightdisc mower conditioners and they use a Taarup 8055 four-rotor tedder. The Bonds have two young boys, Max, 11, and Lex is 8. Adrian and Vickie alternate with the milking and have one full-time worker and one part-time. “For years we were full on, now we have every second weekend off”, comments Vickie. “Expansion depends on what’s around the corner,’ adds Adrian. “You don’t say no to anything. You take advantage of the opportunities, but if we expand further, we’ll need to look at another dairy.” • Working Clothes will focus on the performance of a new machine each month. Send suggestions to Chris Dingle on 0417 735 001 or email chris@springbankfarm.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

machinery & products  // 29

Claas baler wins Elmore award The Claas Quadrant 3300 square baler, which makes bales cut and compacts to 1200mm by 900mm, won the Imported Machine Award at the Elmore Field Days earlier this month. The machine was exhibited by Claas Harvest Centre Echuca. The machine is produced at the Claas headquarters in Germany but has been modified to suit Australian conditions. The main features are its extremely high bale density, perfect bale shape and maximum throughput. The company said the format of Quadrant 3300 is ideally suited to professional straw collection and is also a popular dimension for bale transport in many countries. The number of bales

per hectare is very low, a newly developed preallowing fields to be chamber system, which cleared more quickly. is controlled either autoThe harvested matematically or by the driver. rial is gathered by a 2.35m This means you can always wide pick-up, which is achieve optimal results for secured with a the particular Ideally cam-type cutswath width. suited to out clutch. The packer The powtines are conprofessional erful rotor is trolled by a cam straw equipped with disc, to achieve collection. optimum movedual tines, in order to convey the harment of the packer tines vested material smoothly in the short cycle and even and rapidly into the prefilling of the pre-chamber. chamber. The new pick-up The long cycles are conhas particularly improved trolled by means of a cylinperformance in gathering der and a feed rake control broken straw. shaft. The transfer of harvested material has also been further optimised, as the rotor turns even faster. This results in improved performance, better forage quality, and less dust in the crop. The 3300 possesses

Using the Claas Communicator device, it is possible to control prechamber filling hydraulically from the tractor cab, with three different levels. This convenient cab-based control option saves time and increases the efficiency of the machine. The 3300 also features the Turbo Fan system, which protects the knotter from dirt by means of a 140km/h permanent airflow. The high performance of the square baler is also achieved thanks to its rapid 46 piston strokes per

minute and a bale chamber pressure of 200 bar. Finally, six pivoting

Claas high performance knotters with eccentric drives supply twine to the

needle at high speed and make sure that the bale is tied securely.

Lely Astronaut 20YRS celebration package

New Kuhn mowers ready for lift-off KUHN’S LATEST centrally articulated mounted mower to use the maker’s patented ‘lift control’ facility is on offer for this season. The GMD 2810 disc mower (2.67m working width) uses Kuhn’s new-generation Optidisc cutter bar, designed to improve quality of cutting, increase protection and durability, and reduce maintenance, the distributor says. “Central articulation gives this straight mower the advantages of improved ground following and even load distribution, ensuring accurate cutting even at high speeds. “Lift control is an integrated hydraulic linkage enabling the cutter bar to be lifted out of work on headlands (to a clearance of 400mm) without raising the 3-point linkage. Ground clearance is also constant over the whole width of the machine.” Non-stop break-back control is also included on the GMD 2810, Kuhn says, minimising the risk or inconvenience of damage in the event of hitting an obstacle. The maker’s new Fast-Fit blades system are fitted as standard. Visit

ONLY LIMITED AVAILABLE! The 20YRS celebration package comes with the Rumination and Reproduction module and more special features to support you in managing your herd. Interested in this unique offer? Please contact your Lely Center.

EVOLVE. Talk to your Lely Dealer regarding tailor-made Lely Finance to suit your cash flow – Conditions apply. Astronaut 20 years advert_A4_25-02-12.indd 1

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innovators in agriculture Lely Australia Pty. Ltd., 48 Mackay St, Rochester, VIC 3561 Ph: (03) 5484 4000 5/31/2012 1:34:25 PM

17/07/12 2:07 PM

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

30 //  machinery & products

Milk pump gentle on solids Claimed by some

people as being among the top farmers in New Zealand, Kevin and Linda Davidson run a large enterprise in the Hawke’s Bay of New Zealand. They have been on the farm 12 years. The farm, t/a Plantation Road Dairies, is a large enterprise of 454 eff/ha for the milking platform and 230 eff/ha of support land, all flat. With large pivot irrigators, 94% of the dairy farm is irrigated and 50% of the support land with water from a river on the farm boundary. At the peak of the season 1800 Friesian cows

are milked daily through the 60 bale rotary and through the winter there are always at least 1000 cows being milked daily. The rotary has a fully computerised milking plant with automatic cup removers. Milking stock is run in three herds and the last paddock is 2.4 km from the dairy shed. There is 13 full time staff including two mechanic/handymen who also look after fertiliser applications and ground cultivation. Best production from the farm has been nearly one million kg/MS. “With my electrician

background our irrigation pumps are all at low pressure, no more than 60 psi so there is less wear and tear on the pumps and the electricity bill is reduced.” He made other alterations so the water droplets are larger and spray is reduced so irrigation can be done during windy weather. The cows receive supplementary feeding on feed pads adjacent to the dairy all year round. He grows 80ha of maize and 72ha of Allcrop for silage as well as a small amount of grass silage. Added to this is waste from vegetable and fruit

processing plants, and by-products from grain plants. All these are sourced locally. Other minerals and PKE are added when needed. Six years ago Davidson changed to a totally biological fertiliser program, after doing trials on his farm with fertilisers and supplementary feeding. All fertiliser is applied in a slurry form either by helicopter or delivered to the farm and applied by his own tankers complete with scales and agitators. All mixtures are formulated and supplied by Out Grow from their plant in



New Zealand farmer Kevin Davidson installed a Corkill Dairy Systems lobe milk pump and immediately had an improvement in milk solids.


Winter is over and it’s time to paint the town red with finance from 3.95%* on 60-100 PTO horsepower tractors in Case IH’s Maxxum®, JX, JXU, JX Straddle and Quantum C ranges. Offer only applies to tractors delivered before December 31st 2012. Don’t miss out; talk to your Case IH dealer today!

*Terms and conditions apply. 3.95% p.a. for 36 months with 40% deposit and equal monthly repayments on selected models, 60-100 PTO HP, while stocks last. Finance provided by CNH Capital Australia Pty Ltd, only to approved business applicants. See participating dealers for more information.

Dannevirke. Mixes can include guano, sulphate of ammonia, calcium nitrate, fine lime, seaweed extract, sugar in the form of molasses, humates and trace minerals to suit. The result is production increases from the more palatable pastures and better utilisation of that pasture. There is more nutrient density in the pasture and Bricks test show that sugar levels have increased by 500% above the conventional system. Davidson in the early spring of the 2011/2012 season installed a Corkill Dairy Systems Lobe milk pump and immediately had an improvement in his Milk Solids test. The result was in early December 2011 he received a call from Fonterra to explain that he had had a 7% increase in his Milk Solids test compared with the farm’s test at the same time in the previous season. The company reported to him that their tests were slightly down due to the increase in volume but Davidson’s were improving. “I put it down to the installation of the Corkill lobe pump which reduces damage to the milk by not breaking down the protein and butterfat globules,” Davidson said. Lobe or positive displacement pumps are used in a variety of industries including in the food industry where they can handle solids such as olives, without damaging

the products. They create on the inlet side expanding volume for the milk to enter and be trapped by the lobes as they rotate. The milk travels around the inside of the casing but not between the lobes and to the outlet port under pressure. There is no chance for the product to be damaged. Corkill can now supply and fit four different sized capacity lobe pumps suitable for the dairy industry to replace diaphragm or centrifugal pumps or installed directly into new installations. In 1991 Steve Corkill produced the Milk Flow, a device that could vary the speed of a milk pump depending on milk flow, levelling the flow of milk through the cooler and reducing potential damage to the milk. The Milk Flow is fitted to the lobe pumps to further enhance the treatment of the milk. The lobe pumps are also fitted with a patented device that maintains a safe pressure and stops the risk of damage to milk coolers. “I believe that when farmers replace a centrifugal pump with a lobe pump they should get at least a 6% increase in MS test due to reduced damage to the milk,” Corkill sales manager Vern Coxhead said. Corkill Dairy Systems products are being used in Australia, serviced from New Zealand. www.corkillsystems.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

Tractors and Dairy Equipment  // 31

Weed wiper halves chemical usage GARETH GILLATt

A 6M linkage weed wiper will allow a New Zealand contracting firm to slash chemical costs and take on work it has never done before, says the owner. Uni Agricultural Spraying Ltd owner-operator Mark Harris recently

added the FU600 Rotowiper 6 metre linkage weed wiper to his Te Anau fleet after seeing it at the National Fieldays. Already he is impressed by the cost savings he’s achieving. “When you’re spraying thistles with conventional boom sprayers the chemical cost is $100/ ha compared to $20/ha

with the Rotowiper. I can work an eight-hour day and use only half a 120L tank.” The machine’s ability to target weeds that grow 33% higher than the pasture canopy is the main factor behind chemical savings, Harris says. And this brings further advantages. “You can spray for

weeds such as thistles with the chemicals they are most susceptible to, without damaging other pasture.” The Rotowiper is great for thistles, rushes, ragwort, wild turnip and fat hen, amongst other weeds, says Harris, who has jobs booked up for the machine all through spring and

summer. He plans to work pastures and brassica crops. “I’ve got quite a lot of work lined up for it.” While Harris has known of weed wipers for some time, the FU600 was the first model he bought, especially because it doesn’t leave lines of spray as other weed wipers do. “Because the Roto-

New Zealand contractor Mike Harris is impressed at the amount of chemical he saves when using the Rotowiper compared with spraying thistles.

wiper dispenser rotates, the carpet gets wet enough to be effective without dripping spray and leaving lines of dead pasture. Previously I saw [such machines] as not being worth pursuing.” Though Harris uses a

90hp tractor to operate the machine, he believes it would be just as effective on a 60-70hp tractor. “You’re only towing around 120L; it’s not like a boom sprayer which can carry as much as a ton.”

Polaris quad sets industry standards or 850cc, the Sportsman XP has been engineered for extreme off-road performance. “We took the engineering knowhow of an entire category and turned it upside down,” says Polaris. “Well, technically, sideways, by rotating the engine 90 degrees. This gives the rider superior ergonomics with 33% wider floorboards and a narrower space at the knees and ankles. Besides delivering a sporty, nimble feel,

the positioning reduces leg fatigue and increases rider comfort.” Polaris says it offers the best electronic power steering (EPS) on the market. It has 30% more power assist than the leading competitor, plus variable assist for easier steering effort at lower speeds and more responsiveness at higher speeds, it adds. “EPS delivers a safer and more enjoyable ride, as it minimises the dis-

traction of bumps, letting you focus more on the terrain. Plus our 2011 styling means you get a 16% larger fuel tank capacity on XP EPS models. EPS is optional on XP550.” Sportsman XP has the biggest rack capacity at 55kg in the front Polaris Sportsman XP. and 110kg in the rear. And there’s enough power to haul pulling and towing capacity. trailers and sprayers with a 680.4 kg


INDUSTRY BENCHMARKS set repeatedly by Polaris quads in ride quality show these machines to be “getting better and better,” says maker Polaris Industries. Since the launch of the Sportsman nameplate in 1996, each new model has raised the bar, such as with the new Sportsman XP, the company says. With a 4-stroke, electronic fuel injected engine, and choice of a 550cc

New Tatoma Importer. Specialising in their Trailed and Self propelled mixers. They range in size from 10m3 to 45m3 and come with single axel to triple axel with steering for the large machines I Price form $35000 to $140000 for the 45m3 unit

Single auger vertical mixer with discharge ADVANTAGES:

Independent Chassis Compact design Easy handling Rapid mixing Easy maintenance

Double auger vertical mixer with side discharge door ADVANTAGES:

Independent frame Greater capacity for lower heights Simple operation Low power consumption Quick mix Simple maintenance

Triple auger vertical mixer ADVANTAGES:

Independent High capacity for lower heights Easy to operate Low power consumption Quick mix Simple maintenance

7 Dryden Court WOODEND Victoria 3442

03 5427 4955

Fax: 03 5427 4977

Auger self propelled. The double self-propelled vertical mixer adds the advantages of a trailed vertical mixer as it is completely autonomous, doing away with the need for a tractor for moving or loading. The position of the motor on the rear gives the machine better weight distribution and allows greater access to it, facilitating maintenance. This configuration is ideal for intensive use, as it increases the soundproofing of the cabin and ensures a more comfortable ride.

Dealer enquiries welcomed

Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

32 //  Tractors and Dairy Equipment

Vicon mowers make the cut gareth gillatt

A LIGHTER butterfly mower from

Vicon lets hay contractors cut a wider swathe with a lighter tractor, says distributor Power Farming Australia. The 8.56m Vicon Extra 390 butterfly mower is one of few butterfly mowers sold here equipped with mechanical suspension and no conditioner. This allows it to be powered by lower-

powered tractors. “An 8-9m butterfly mower conditioner would need a 200hp tractor to operate while a butterfly mower only requires a 130hp tractor,” PFG Australia said. The rear butterfly mower weighs 1600kg compared to 1800-2000kg for triple mower/conditioner models. Thus many contractors could select several tractors from their fleet to cut hay rather than relying on one.

“A lot of contractors I have talked to have just one 200hp tractor but several 130hp tractors. With this mower they will probably be able to cut hay with five machines. They also won’t need the capital outlay required to run a bigger tractor, including the extra fuel costs.” The mower has centre suspended mowing units to better follow the contours of the paddock with the suspension arms having two mounting options to allow for a wider overlap

when working on hilly conditions. This is also the only 8-9m butterfly mower on the market with Vicon’s three blade system. “You’ve also got a Vicon

cutter bar that comes with a 2 year warranty.” Tel. PFG Australia on (03) 936 88 888

MF7600 series: High power, low weight, versatile tractor series embodies high power, low weight and versatility, the com-

tor comfort and control. The design is lowweight and versatile, suiting tasks ranging from cultivation and crop

pany reports. Its technology – award-winning and proven – includes the latest fuel-efficient engines, plus extra opera-


e weed


e ge n




er -

s in




To find out more contact...

Vic., SA & Tasmania NSW, Queensland Western Australia

– Eastern Spreaders – Leigh Stoddard & Co Ltd – Bunbury Machinery

: Tel 03 5450 3077 : Tel 02 6375 1342 : Tel 08 9792 3923



establishment to top work and haulage. The MF7600 series can be specified with either the Dyna-6 Eco semi-powershift transmission or the Dyna-VT continuously variable transmission. All models are powered by the company’s newest AGCO Sisu Power e3 engines with secondgeneration selective catalytic reduction (185-235hp) as well as power management which, on Dyna-6 models, boosts engine power by up to 25hp for field and road work – for higher output as conditions dictate, taking account of PTO operation, travel speed and load. Massey Ferguson pioneered the use of SCR systems in agriculture, AGCO says, a technology “already

mum economy and effiproven to significantly ciency. Meanwhile the reduce fuel consumption.” As seen on MF8600 ‘dynamic tractor management’ automatically series tractors, the Generation 2 SCR system uses adjusts the engine speed according to an advanced load. diesel oxida- AutoDrive The Dyna-6 tion catalyis standard, Eco transser (DOC), automating mission is which more gear clutch-less includes via a leftthe AdBlue changes to hand ‘power dosing injecincrease control’ or tor nozzle. work rates right-hand Buyers and cut fuel ‘command can choose between consumption. control’ levers in the armAgco’s rest. It has 24 Dyna-6 Eco speeds with six Dynashift semipowershift or the (powershift) steps in four Dyna-VT continuously gears. The Eco feature variable transmissions – allows top speed at lower the latter making for precise control of the forward revs, reducing engine noise and fuel consumpspeed at lowest-possible tion. engine revs, so that the A further refinement – tractor always runs at opti-

AutoDrive – is standard, automating more gear changes to increase work rates and cut fuel consumption. A completely redesigned cab for the MF7600 gives the operator better visibility and interior space and higher levels of comfort. Users can choose from three specification levels and new control options. Controls in the armrest and on the joystick are further refined. New cab suspension choices are between mechanical (coil springs and dampers) and the maker’s hydraulic ‘OptiRide Plus’ which enables the operator to adjust the ride comfort level. Visit

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA october, 2012

Tractors and Dairy Equipment  // 33

Astronaut system’s out of this world andrew swallow


lenge in running a grazed robotic system such as Carr Group’s Stradbroke Farm, New Zealand, is feed management, says the farm’s manager, Jeff Hocking. “You’ve got freerange cows and you need to encourage cow-flow through the farm and so that not all the cows are in the yard at the same time,” he said. In early spring he runs a three-break-per-day system, but will step that up to four breaks from the end of this month. The farm is split into 42 paddocks, divided into quarters by straight laneways leading to the central shed and the four Astronaut robotic milkers. “Every six hours the gates will change so the cows go off in a different direction.” Typically only a handful of stragglers need to be chased up to move through the shed and onto the next break. A platemeter is used daily to allocate pasture by weight, and a C-Dax meter comes in once a fortnight to give an overview of covers. Besides not having the chore of milking, the great thing about the Astronaut is being able to manage cows individually, says Hocking. “There’s all the information on the computer telling you exactly what the cow is, or isn’t doing. We feed according to yield with high protein pellets so we know cows are not getting over-fed and we can target our high producers.” The top cow as of the end of August was already doing 48L/day three weeks after calving. “She’ll do over 60 litres at peak.” On a rough 8% conversion to milksolids, that’s 5kgMS/day, he notes. Top producers in the herd last season did 850900kgMS. “A third are still Jerseycross but we’re whittling them out. They just don’t produce quite so much milk. We know for a fact the Holstein Freisians produce a lot more and we’re feeding our cows so they reach their full potential here.” Activity meters on

cows monitor, among other things, cudding frequency. If it’s too rapid, it’s an early warning of acidosis; too slow and there could be too much fibre in the diet. The meters also signal heats, and cows can be drafted ready for AI accordingly, however Hocking says they’ll also be using Heat Seekers (similar to Kamars) this season. “It’s a matter of good observation. If the computer thinks they’re on heat, they can be autodrafted out, then it’s down to us to see if she is on heat or not.” Milk from every quarter of every cow every milking is monitored for conductivity, giving an early warning of mastitis, or subclinical infections. Late last month somatic cell count was running at about 170,000. “I’d like that down to 140,000150,000 but we’ve got a lot of older cows in the herd.” The first thing Hocking looks at when he goes into the shed in the morning – about 7am at this time of year and 7.30am later in the season – is the herd overview display. He checks if any cows have missed milkings, which can occasionally happen if a cow “tailgates” one that has already been milked through a drafting gate out of the shed. Udder health is next on his list, then a check to see if there are any “failed” milkings – cows the Astronaut hasn’t been able to milk for whatever reason. “They’re separated out anyway.” Such information is presented on a dashboard display which also includes milk separated from the vat, for example due to penicillin or colostrum; milkings/cow/day; concentrate used/L milk produced; milk/cow; time milking/cow; feed allocated but not used. “For example, if a cow’s meant to have 8kg over three milkings but has only come in for two.” Clicks on each display allow the user to drill down into the information behind the herd data. Lely New Zealand’s managing director, Peter Vis stresses the equipment, and all the information it provides, doesn’t necessarily make for a successful operation. “It depends on you as the

Once a manager is up to speed on running a farm with robot milkers, without the twice daily chore of milking, work-time is quite different, he points out (see panel).

farmer to make it tick.” And impressive as the technology is, he believes “it is the least interesting part. We’ve proven here it works. We’ve proven for 20 years it works.”

Stradbroke Farm manager, Jeff Hocking.

Robot work times Cow & heifer management Feeding Admin, PC & data management Robot care & cleaning Miscellaneous, inc other maintenance & cleaning

45% 15% 20% 5% 15%




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Dairy News AUSTRALIA october, 2012

34 //  property

Shareholders to vote on foreign investment sudesh kissun

Australia’s largest dairy farm,

the Van Diemen’s Land Company, will decide

soon on its choice of investment fund. The potential choice of the sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, investing in the VDLC is dividing the

Federal Coalition. The Labor Government has said it welcomes foreign investment while members of the Nationals and the Liberal party are holding a “no foreign

investment” line. VDLC operates 23 farms in northwest Tasmania, producing at least 5.7million kgMS annually. Tasman Farms, a fully-owned subsidiary of

the New Plymouth District Council, holds 98% stake in VDLC. Australian media reports say the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation


is close to investing A$180 million into VDLC, in return for a stake. VDLC chief executive Michael Guerin has refused to comment on the Chinese bid. But he said a shortlist has been drawn up for the shareholders to make the final decision. Guerin says it began raising capital 12 months ago to expand dairy operations. The company received responses from investments funds in Australia, New Zealand and overseas, a typical response to an equity raising scheme, he says. “Australia and New Zealand represent relatively modest part of the global capital pool so our best chance to raise equity to create more jobs is to go further than Australia and New Zealand.” Potential investors have presented various proposals, including acquiring a stake in the company. “We will have to choose

what makes the best sense for shareholders,” Guerin says. The Australian Federal Government says it will consider the national interest before approving any Chinese investment in VDLC. Treasurer Wayne Swan says foreign investment – whether from the US, the UK, or Europe or China – is welcome because it supports Australian jobs. “If there were any proposal about investment in dairy or anywhere else, what the Government does is apply our national interest test,” he says. Tasmanian Liberal senator David Bushby, chairman of the freemarket Society of Modest Members group of Coalition MPs, says obviously such investment would have to meet the national-interest criteria under the Foreign Investment Review Board, but subject to that, it would be ‘’good for Tasmania and Australia’’.

Dairy brings results

NEXT ISSUE: NOVEMBER 2012 EFFLUENT & WATER MANAGEMENT In the face of tighter environmental controls and rising fertiliser costs, it pays dividends to manage effluent and water flows more tightly. The next issue of Dairy News Australia will cover best practice in this area and will profile new developments and equipment designed to turn a problem into potential profit.

THE Van Diemen’s Land Company started in 1824 as a wool exporter and moved into beef 60 years later. In 1992, it turned to dairying which chief executive Michel Guerin says has turned out to be “one of its best agricultural activities.” Guerin said demand for dairy will continue to outstrip supply and grass-based systems will remain the cheapest in the world. Northwestern Tasmania has the ability to grow pasture as well as anywhere in Australia. He says VDLC has enough land to add more dairy farms. It currently runs 25,000 cows. Depending on the amount of equity raised, VDLC hopes to double milk production. The company supplies milk to Fonterra which has two plants in the territory.

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Dairy News Australia October 2012  
Dairy News Australia October 2012  

Dairy News Australia October 2012