Page 1

FONTERRA FOR SALE: Bonlac suppliers snap up Fonterra shares PAGE 7 BALES AND WRAPS Lely whips up a storm PAGE 31


Running on schedule PAGE 20

november, 2012 Issue 31 //

growing pains Will expansion plan work on national scale? PAGES 4-5

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

news  // 3

Farmgate price rise

WA farmers Sue and Mat Daubney predict an upsurge in fresh milk exports. PG.14

Steve Lynch calls himself a one-stop manure shop after purchasing a Houle effluent spreader. PG.23

Timboon vet Peter Younis has been named the Bovine Practioner of the Year. PG.28

AN INCREASE in tier 2 milk prices has been announced by Australian processor Lion for its New South Wales and South East Queensland direct and former Dairy Farmers suppliers. Lion will pay the equivalent of tier 1 base prices for all milk supplied from February to the end of June 2013. Tier 2 milk refers to production above quota. Tier 2 milk is currently 15 cents per litre, and by next year it will be the same as Tier 1 milk, which is 47.5 cents a litre for northern NSW and southeast Queensland. Tasmanian suppliers will get an increase for Tier 2 milk to match Tier 1 from January to June 2013. Victoria and South Australia were unaffected by T2 prices. Lion agriculture procurement director Murray Jeffrey says the price of tier 2 milk is reviewed every quarter, and circumstances are changing. “Farmers have scaled back production, reducing the amount of milk available, and our forecasts suggest that once the spring peak has

passed our volumes will be closely aligned with demand,” Jeffrey said. “This will allow us to pay for all the milk we receive at the tier 1 base price in each region. We’re letting farmers know now so they are in a better posi- Gary Helou tion to plan ahead.” The northern states, or market milk states, supply milk primarily for domestic consumption. There are limited options for excess milk due to the price of milk compared to that in predominantly export focused states. “While the challenges facing the northern industry have not passed, this price increase will provide much needed support for our farmers,” Jeffrey said. Fonterra has also announced a step-up of 8c/kg butter fat and 20c/ kg protein for its suppliers in Victoria and Tasmania. The milk price increase will be backdated to July 1 and paid to suppli-

ers on November 15. The company also revised its fullyear price outlook to between $4.80 and $5.00 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS). Milk prices of individual supplier will vary across the company’s five supply regions, depending on the individual farm’s milk profile, pricing options, regional production factors, milk quality, and farm management systems. Heather Stacy, general manager of milk supply, said average prices for dairy commodities on the international market have been improving in recent weeks. “The Australian dollar still remains high, having traded consistently above US$1 since the start of the season, and this is an area we are monitoring closely. “Despite currency levels, demand from our customers remains firm and we are using our growing milk

volumes to focus on high-value product categories in both our domestic and international markets,” Stacy said. Murray Goulburn announced its second step-up of the season and increased the full-year forecast milk price last month. In a statement to shareholders, managing director Gary Helou advised of a price increase of 20c/kg protein and 8c/kg of butterfat. This step-up takes MG’s weighted-average available price to $4.77/kg milk solids. “Increased milk supply into MG plants and lower operating costs across the MG business have contributed strongly to this step-up,” Helou said. “While market conditions remain volatile, particularly the level of the Australian dollar, there has been some rebalancing of supply and demand for dairy products globally with the drought in the USA a notable factor. “This has seen an increase in the price of some key dairy ingredients in recent months.” Helou said the company had recently reviewed its full-year forecast for 2012-13 taking into account the key factors affecting the dairy market and MG’s performance. “Consequently MG has increased the full-year forecast milk price from a previously stated range of $4.70 to $4.90 per kilograms of milk solids to $4.80 to $5.00,” he said.

News������������������������������������������������������3-13 agribusiness������������������������������ 14-15 opinion���������������������������������������������� 16-17 breeding Management������18-19 management������������������������������ 20-22 Animal Health��������������������������23-30 Machinery & Products��������������������������������������� 31-33 property���������������������������������������������34

Rob and Lynn McCartney of Tatura sold 20 Holsteins at the Spring Spectacular sale in Shepparton earlier this month. The McCartneys are holding the final stage of their Midway Park Ayrshire dispersal sale on-property at Tatura on November 29. They will sell 100 head including several International Dairy Week and Royal Melbourne winners.





Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012


Alpine Valleys advocate true to his word being involved,” Jones said. “I enjoy the animal side, measuring the busiMurray Goulburn ness, and making sure it’s running successfully.” director Ken Jones has A decision to purchase always been an advocate an out block 14km from of dairying in the Alpine Valley region in North East his property started a chain of events that led to Victoria. It’s not hard to his daughter, Rachel, her see why. husband, Peter Romans, Ken and his wife, and their family pack up Lynne, have farmed at their lives in Melbourne Kergunyah, 35km south and begin dairying too. of Wodonga, since he When inspecting resigned as a Melbournethe block, Peter and based Murray Goulburn Rachel noticed part of employee in 1998. He the land included a large returned to Kergunyah, homestead. With Peter’s where he was born and owned some property, and mechanic business taking up all of his time, they began his dream of dairy told Ken if he purchased farming (at an age later than most) in partnership the block and homestead they would move and with friends. Australia Ad copy.pdf 1 7/11/2012with 4:28:41 PM get involved the “I loveDairy the News life and



Ken and Lynne Jones, Peter and Rachel Romans Where:

Kergunyah What:

Alpine Valleys expansion

business. True to their word, they moved back in January 2002 and began farming six months later. Now, the partnership of Ken, Lynne, Peter and Rachel own 256ha of land, supported by bank

Peter and Rachel Romans with Rachel’s father, Ken Jones.

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Effect of air penetrating the silage from the top – heat is generated and feed value is lost

finance, and lease a further 160ha. Ken and Lynne’s original block at Gundowring is also used to rear young stock. “An opportunity came up, we took it, and we have no regrets,” Rachel said. Peter had never lived in the country and had never milked before he moved from Melbourne. “When we started, we got thrown in the deep end,” Rachel said. “Dad was still involved in his other farm initially so Peter, mum and I had to step up very quickly.” They got involved with programs like Pasture for Profit, which Rachel said had a tremendous influence, and steadily fine-tuned both their business acumen and pasture knowledge to grow their operation. A local discussion group they are still involved with was also crucial to their growth. “Those involved in the discussion groups have grown significantly,” Rachel said. They started with 120 cows in their first year and have 330 now. After autumn calving, they estimate they will have more than 400 head. They are currently producing 2.7m litres of milk annually. Research is underway into building a new rotary dairy and if it is completed in the next 12 months, as expected, they will further push numbers to 500 head. A new dairy would

be one of several built or currently being built in the district. “The main aim is to spend as little time in the dairy as possible,” she said. The new dairy and 160ha of additional leased land, which they took possession of on October 1, means they are in a significant growth phase. The leased land requires more capital works, including laneways, troughs and tanks, to link the farms properly. Pastures are good but internal fencing is also required. “We thought we’d finished growing, then the opportunity to lease the neighbour’s block comes up, and you think again,” Rachel said. Change has not been limited to the dairy side of the business. A succession plan is also being steadily implemented, with Peter taking greater management responsibility. Ken had managed the herd side until now and Rachel and Peter will take control of that. Peter has had the responsibility of joining for the last seven years. Rachel and Peter have also continued purchasing more of the land and infrastructure and took ownership of the cows from Ken and Lynne in October. Ken can see the untapped potential of the dairy industry in the Alpine Valley region and knows more farmers must

enter the region to see it realised. This is why he has contributed significantly to the Alpine Valleys Project. “A lot of (my involvement) is to do with the communities in the valleys. Communities are struggling or have seen a reduction in their facilities because people move away. “Dairy employs more people on the land than anyone else. Expansion of the industry will help the security of districts and communities. “We are as profitable as any dairy farming country in Australia, if not more. We have rich soil and a lack of infrastructure is changing with new dairies.” Growth in dairies already established in the region, and a good season, means the milk flow this financial year in the Alpine Valleys will climb within 5% of the production record set in 2001/02. Rachel said the region is almost entirely run by family farmers. “Most of us can get relief milkers successfully and most people are comfortable with access to labour units,” she said. Rachel and Peter’s immediate goals are to build the new dairy and manage the expansion of land and cows. “We enjoy this and we want to keep it going. The move here has been a good investment for all of us.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

news: alpine valleys project  // 5

New plan to double production production per supplier. The project has acquired funding from the Victorian DPI, Murray GoulA new expansion plan for the North burn and Dairy Australia to employ an East Victoria Alpine Valleys district extension officer for three years. The aims to increase both the amount of area has been without a DPI extension dairy farmers and almost double milk officer for 18 months. The method of extension will focus production in 10-15 years. The plan contains an extension ele- on interacting with the dairy commument which the Department of Pri- nity one-on-one, as the previous extenmary Industries and Dairy Australia sion officer did. This had great success. Crosthwaite said the lecturing style are watching. of extension, The Alpine where farmers Valleys Proj- A successful outcome are expected to ect aims to help could see annual attend worknew farmers production rise from shops and field enter the area days, reaches by working with 220m to 400m litres. some farmers dairy farmers that want to leave the industry. On a but not the majority. “We need to look at different ways of broader scale, it involves selling the importance of the dairy industry to the doing things. There are 200 farms in the wider community, including councils district, enough farms now where you and finance lenders, to foster an encour- can work one on one. You don’t have to do the mass thing,” he said. aging environment for growth. “We saw an opportunity to get more A successful outcome could see annual production rise from the cur- embedded in terms of extension. The rent level of 220 million to 400 million last extension officer had a one on one litres, according to local farmer Stuart relationship with farmers. We saw the value in that style of relationship.” Crosthwaite. Crosthwaite said Dairy Australia and Across the Alpine Valleys, milk production has fallen 15% in the 10 the DPI are both interested in seeing years to 2010-11, with a 35% drop in how the new form of extension works. “We will help people transition out supplier numbers, but a 30% rise in

stephen cooke

A recent Farm Monitor project shows the return on assets in the North East outstrips all other regions in Victoria.

Dairy farmer Stuart Crosthwaite on his Kergunyah South dairy farm. He is involved in a project that wants to double production in the North East Victoria’s Alpine Valleys district.

and transition in. We think the opportunities are there. We need to find out how we can create more pathways for people to open a dairy business. “People are desperate to get into dairy but they don’t know how. One local accountant told me he had three beef farmers who wanted to convert to dairy on his books, and three dairy blokes who wanted to get out. He wanted to talk about leasing.” Leasing will be an important part of the plan. Pauline Brightling from Dairy Australia’s People in Dairies program, is reviewing the resources on leasing. Leasing rather than sharefarming seems to be the preferred option by more farmers. Brightling is also reviewing the resources on succession planning. The extension plan is part of the Alpine Valleys Dairy Pathways Project. Stakeholders include DPI, MG, DA, North East Murray Dairy, Murray Dairy and the Local Governments Association. The genesis of the project started

when Murray Goulburn was approached a few years ago by members of the Mitta Valley community. They were losing dairy farmers from the region and were starting to see the impact on child care, schools and services. A working group consisting of Crosthwaite, local farmer and Murray Goulburn Director Ken Jones, Pauline Brightling, local consultant Patten Bridge and Michael Martin from Melbourne Uni began preparing a plan. “We will continue to work with the local communities as we need them to understand the real value of what dairy does.” Dairying in the Alpine Valleys currently contributes $88 million to the region from 38,000 milking cows and about 210 farms. This would require 220,000 beef cattle to contribute the same amount. Consultant Patten Bridge, who is on the steering committee of the Alpine Valleys Project, says dairying provides one of the best economic development opportunities for the Alpine

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Valley Shires. Bridge said one in 10 jobs in the local shires is linked to the dairy industry with the total value of dairying across the four regional shires conservatively estimated at $380 million last season, he said. The North East is a profitable area to dairy. Figures from a recent Farm Monitor Project showed a return on assets (ROA) of 3 ½ % in Western Victoria, 5% in Gippsland, 6.7% in northern Victoria and 9% in the North East. John Mulvany of OnFarm Consulting has said dairy farmers are more likely to be profitable in the North East than beef farmers. Mulvany told a recent forum that dairy farmers in the top 40% in the industry for profit will do OK, while you would need to be in the top 5% for profit in the beef industry to make a similar lifestyle. Mulvany also said although the farmgate milk price could be plus or minus 30% in “extreme” circumstances, with beef production it could vary this much between sales.

Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

6 //  news

$1.77 billion water plan won’t help irrigators THE Gillard govern-

ment has pledged $1.77 billion for water infrastructure in its bid to release an extra 450 billion litres into the Murray Darling Basin, taking the total water recovered to 3200 gigalitres. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and

Water Minister, Tony Burke, were joined by the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, when announcing the plan last month. Premier Weatherill had previously pledged to take the Government to the High Court unless more water than the planned

2750 billion litres was returned the environment. The money, which will be spent from 2014, will go towards improving farm infrastructure so that irrigation water can be used more efficiently. Most of the $1.77 billion will be directed toward improving water efficiency

on farms but $200m has been set aside to remove constraints in the system that restrict river flows to the environment. The bill to be introduced to parliament allows for the 2750GL sustainable diversion limit (the amount of water to be returned to the environ-

ment) to be adjusted up and down to meet environmental targets for the basin. Most of the 2750GL is expected to be recovered from water buybacks from irrigators. The Australian Dairy Industry Council said the Federal Government is playing regional commu-


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nities for fools if it thinks $1.77 billion over 10 years will buy acceptance of what remains a deeply flawed Basin Plan. ADIC chairman Chris Griffin said the announcement doubled as a distraction from the Government’s inability to return 2750GL water to the environment without damaging irrigation communities – both financially and physically. “The Prime Minister knows 3200GL can’t be delivered without flooding farms, towns, roads, caravan parks and tourist attractions like the Tocumwal beaches. “Raising a couple of low-lying bridges to let more water flow under safely just makes it easier to run the river at the same level that flooded hundreds of homes in Morgan in February 2011. “So where’s the money to buy the flood easements, build levee banks, and repair roads and eroded river banks after each flood? Without that, today’s announcement is just an expensive way of getting one State over the line for no actual environmental gain.” ADIC Basin Response Taskforce chairman Daryl

Hoey said all funding should be directed to limiting the amount of water bought back from irrigators to meet the Basin Plan target of 2750GL that will be returned to the environment. Hoey said environmental outcomes similar to or better than 2750GL could be achieved with up to 2100GL in entitlements (including 600GL in infrastructure savings and a maximum of 1500GL in buybacks) and at least 650GL in environmental offsets (including projects like the Living Murray project). “The fact is that while recovering water through on-farm works is preferable to outright buybacks, it still means another 450GL of irrigator entitlements transferred to the environment. “That means less water in the collective pool for irrigation, and higher water prices. All current and new funding should be directed to first closing the gap to 2750GL, including achieving the 650GL in environmental offsets.” The Government has promised to release a finalised version of the Murray Darling Basin plan before the end of the year.

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Recent modelling by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority found an extra 450 billion litres would bring considerable environmental benefits. However, the National Irrigators Council (NIC) has described the latest modelling as “a political con job that has no basis in reality and will be used as a pawn in a political game to appease the South Australian Government”. NIC chief executive, Tom Chesson, said the modelling is a political fix for a political problem and will not deliver a balanced basin plan. “The assumptions used are similar to improving the ontime running of trains by simply changing the definition of a train being ‘on time’ from leaving three minutes to 15 minutes either side of its’ scheduled departure,” Chesson said. Chesson said he wasn’t surprised the MDBA hadn’t issued a media release in relation to the modelling and had simply stuck the report up on its website. “MDBA is quite clearly embarrassed to have undertaken modelling using assumptions which it says it doesn’t even know if they exist in the real world. “The MDBA states in the report: ‘Undertaking detailed assessments and analysis to identify whether any of the constraints tested in this study could actually be relaxed was not within the scope of this report’.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

news  // 7

Fonterra extends deal with Australian suppliers sudesh kissun

FONTERRA has extended a deal with milk suppliers in Australia. The seven-year deal with Bonlac Supply Company (BSC) ensures security of supply for the New Zealand co-op, and a guarantee for Australian farmers it will take all milk produced. BSC’s 1300 members supply 75% of Fonterra’s milk in Australia, the balance coming from farmers directly contracted to Fonterra. Under the new deal, BSC members will merge with the other suppliers to form a new supplier organisation.

Fonterra’s 10 Australian manufacturing sites process 1.7 billion litres of milk annually. BSC chairman Tony Marwood says 400 farmers voted overwhelmingly in support of the new deal. The new supply model will be implemented on January 1, replacing the agreement BSC reached with Fonterra when it took over Bonlac Foods in 2005. Marwood says a more robust BSC board will be set up to represent suppliers’ interests. “We are incredibly pleased shareholders can see the significant benefits and opportunities which the new model provides,” Marwood said.

BSC chairman Tony Marwood.

“BSC suppliers will now have greater security [in continuing] to receive a competitive farmgate milk price, and the assurance that Fonterra will support our growth, collecting our milk regardless of volumes. “Over many years, BSC and Fonterra have built a strong relationship that has delivered genuine results for Australian dairy farmers.” Fonterra’s offer of $25m of units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund has further strengthened the partnership.

The offer provides a unique opportunity for shareholders to participate in the cooperative’s performance and share in the economic returns from BSC’s Australian ingredients and consumer branded business, and its entire global business, Marwood said. “No other supplier organisation can provide this exposure to the dynamics of the global dairy industry as our partnership with Fonterra can.” Marwood said farmers were excited about having economic exposure to

“global Fonterra they have not had before”. Marwood plans to buy units. But it’s up to other farmers to make their own decisions, he adds. BSC recently held 20 supply meetings which were addressed by Fonterra staff. “We have talked this through with farmers. I’m confident some will buy units but we have made it clear they should obtain their own financial advice.”

Farmers eager to invest in co-op AUSTRALIAN dairy

farmers supplying Fonterra are eager to invest in the co-op for the first time. The 1300 members of Bonlac Supply Company, consisting 75% of Fonterra’s Australian milk supply base, can invest in units under TAF (trading among farmers). The co-op has allocated $25 million worth of units in the $500m Fonterra Shareholders Fund to its Australian suppliers. Bonlac chairman Tony Marwood said farmers were excited about having economic exposure to

“global Fonterra they have not had before”. “Farmers are always keen to invest in their milk supply company and the products they make, TAF gives us an opportunity to do that,” he said. Marwood plans to buy units. But it was up to other farmers to make their own decisions, he added. BSC recently held 20 supply meetings which were addressed by Fonterra staff. On a recent visit to Australia, Fonterra directors met BSC board members to discuss TAF among other things.

Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said one of the questions always raised by Australian suppliers was how they could become part of the co-op. “It’s not possible for them to own shares but TAF offers them to buy units and brings suppliers closer to Fonterra,” he said. “They want to feel part of the co-op. They can invest in units but ownership and control is out of the question.” Fonterra is owned by about 10,500 NZ farmers, each must have one share

for every kg/milk solids they supply to the co-op. Under TAF, they can sell up to 25% of shares to the Fonterra Shareholders Fund set up under TAF. The Fund will then sell units or dividend earning portion of these shares to outside investors. The investors will only get the dividend or value added payout (‘economic rights”) of these shares,

n ralia Aust d and ne desig ctured. fa manu the

ng Introduci

the milk payout will still go to the farmer. The shares will fluctuate depending on Fonterra’s performance. The minimum fund size is $500m worth of units of which $25m is set aside for Australian suppliers. The bookbuild process is currently underway and the share price range is $4.60 to $5.50. The final

price will be announced at close of the bookbuild on November 21. Van der Heyden said it was too early to say how many farmers would sell economic rights of their shares. “TAF packs have just arrived on farms and farmers will have a good look at it before making a decision.” He said not all share-

holders would need the flexibility offered by FSF right now. If economic rights offered by shareholders are less than the minimum fund size of $500m, Fonterra will issue shares to make up the shortfall. Fonterra does not intend to permanently retain the resulting equity, said van der Heyden. – Sudesh Kissun


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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

8 //  news

Griffin stands down as ADF president Australian Dairy

Farmers president Chris Griffin will step down from the position this month to spend more time on his farm and with his family. Griffin informed industry colleagues earlier this month, saying the role demands an enormous commitment of time and effort. “In my view that level of commitment is a nonnegotiable aspect of the presidency which, for me personally, is something I am no longer able to maintain given its impact on my farming and family priorities,” Griffin said in an email to colleagues. Griffin will remain on the board to support the

new president. He described his year as president as “very intense”. “After much negotiation we have bedded down the ADF restructure; we have lobbied hard to push the industry’s position on the abuse of market power by the supermarkets; we have continued to tackle the plethora of issues, like animal health and welfare, which seem to constantly evolve to threaten the industry at some level; and, we have taken action to ensure the future of our industry by increasing the dairy services levy.” He said he was particularly proud of the successful levy vote, which increased funding to Dairy

Australia by 10%. “This is a magnificent industry and one with a very bright future. And, we as an industry have voted to increase our levy contributions to help ensure that this future becomes a reality, not so much for ourselves but for coming generations of dairy farmers. “For me, this ability to ‘look beyond ourselves’ is a hallmark of dairy and is part of what makes this industry so special.” Although president since August, 2011, Griffin held the role of United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president before that and was joint ADF vice-president with NSW farmer Adrian Drury.

Drury and Griffin stood in for former ADF president Wes Judd, who took a leave of absence in January, 2011, to deal with the destruction of his farm by the Queensland floods. He also held the role of chairman of the Australian Dairy Industry Council – which represents the manufacturing side as well as farmers. This role includes regular industry meetings in Melbourne, including current discussions on the dairy service levy poll. His role as president would take at least takes three days of his time each week, which he would spend in Melbourne or in Canberra. His mobile phone was always on. Leaders who spend so

much time away from home and their business need strong support. When elected president, Griffin said his wife, Jan, has been invaluable. They have built up their Moe farm from 80 cows in 1980 and are now seasonally milking 340 on their 112ha home block. They lease an additional 70ha to run young stock and cut silage. Their son Stuart, a vet, came home to work on the farm in 2009 when Griffin took on the UDV president’s role.

Chris Griffin

the New Zealand Geographic Landscape Photographer of the Year... an aussie This, and eleven other beautiful photographs from this year’s New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition, will feature in our free 2013 calendar, which comes with the Jan/Feb 2013 issue.

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29 good Friday




inia Mazdak Radja ife WinneR: wildl Category

whales Every winter, humpback feeding leave their summer waters and grounds in polar of miles migrate thousands for mating and to the tropics of calving. The population the Oceania humpbacks in to recover from region has yet that continued illegal whaling moratorium, 1986 the despite species is listed and while the Concern”, the now as “Least population is status of this change, unknown. Climate collisions ship and pollution humpbacks continue to keep under in the South Pacific matters. calf pressure. Every mother in Niue This humpback its its calf during stays close to lifting it to the first days of life, surface to breathe.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

news  // 9

Vic dairy farmers want Dairy Australia review

A2 to launch infant formula in China A2 CORPORATION (A2C) has appointed Chinese distribution partners for the launch next year of its a2 brand milk powders and infant formula in China. Sales of the a2 infant formula to China could reach $50 million in four years, the company believes. Production of infant formula by New Zealand company Synlait Milk, is likely to begin in December and first sales into China by June next year. A2C, based in Australia, had a supply agreement with Synlait Milk to source a2 milk from accredited New Zealand dairy farms and make a2 brand milk powders and infant formula. A2C has now appointed China State Farm Holding Shanghai Company (CSF) as the exclusive distributor of a2 brand infant formula in China. CSF is a subsidiary of China National Agriculture Development Group Corporation, the only Chinese state-owned enterprise in agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries. Its business is large in the major agricultural regions of China, including trading and distributing agricultural inputs and consumer products. It has strong local relationships and financial capacity to set up infrastructure, distribution and marketing to support the A2C infant formula business, says A2C. The distribution agreement is for three consecutive three-year terms with renewal conditional on performance. A2C managing director Geoffrey Babidge will head a joint marketing committee comprising representatives from A2C and CSF. Initial distribution will be in five cities totalling 50 million population, then it will expand across China, Hong Kong and Macau. A2C will sell the a2 brand infant formula to CSF. It will be packaged in shelf-ready form to ensure and maintain quality. Babidge says the China distributor appointment is a significant development. “Having now secured supply and distribution… with highly credible and experienced market participants, A2C is now well positioned to enter the Chinese market.”

funding drying up and government and private funding harder to secure, it is timely that a review take place.

“Earlier this year dairy farmers voted to increase their levy payments by 10%. This is on top of the $31 million we paid

last year. “The review needs to consider the composition of the DA Board, including representation by

dairy farmers, whether the chairman should be a dairy farmer, director’s terms of office, the process for filling vacancies, the use of

proxy votes and the use of new voting technologies.” Dairy Australia will hold its AGM on November 30 at Flemington Racecourse.

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Financial Crisis - change THE United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) has been constant. has called on Dairy Austra- “Ten years ago we didn’t have three Regional Devellia to review its constituopment Programs (RDPs) tion, to see if it can better across Victoria to provide service the industry. dairy farmers with local UDV President Kerry research, extension and Callow has said after 10 education. years in operation, it is “And the industry time the peak body underwasn’t fundwent a thorough review. “With external ing its own “A lot funding drying education as it has changed up it is timely needs now does in both the a review took with the dairy and National agri-polit- place.” ical land– UDV President Centre for Dairy Educascape since Kerry Callow tion Australia then. We (NCDEA).  have seen changes to our “DA has served the indusfarmer-owned and contry well and is essential to trolled co-operatives,” ensuring research, develCallow said. opment and investment in “From the industry’s deregulation to the impact building a strong future for Australian dairy farmers of the prolonged drought continues. and then dealing with “But with external the impact of the Global

Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

10 //  news

WCBF blames high dollar, soft trading for downgrade Warrnambool Cheese and Butter

has announced a surprise profit downgrade. The company says its net profit for the first-half of the financial year would likely be about $20 million lower than the previous corresponding period’s profit of $30.7m. It is blaming the high Aussie dollar and soft trading conditions for the

downgrade. At the company’s annual meeting last month, WCB chief executive David Lord said while trading conditions were soft, the short-term outlook was sound and tipped a recovery from ‘‘early2013’’. But in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on November 5, the company says lower

sale prices and a rising Australian dollar would hurt operating margins. Competition among milk processors was sending the cost of raw milk supplies higher, further eroding profits, it says. “The milk cost-to-revenue ratio for the first half is expected to be 67% compared to 63% for the same period last year. “This will have an

impact on operating margins for the half of approximately $10m.” The company says its business fundamentals remain strong with revenue and earnings diversifying. Its joint ventures are also performing well and a strong balance sheet and low debt positions it well for growth. WCB says it will provide a further trading

update at the company’s half-year results in February. The news comes after Fonterra’s ANZ business, including its Australian operations, faced a difficult 2011-12 with a 20% decline in normalised earnings to $204 million. After adjusting for the sales of the Western Australian dairy business last year, volumes were down 4% or 44,000MT.

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Fonterra says the lower earnings were impacted by lower prices to support market shares across all categories. “Normalised earnings were up slightly in New Zealand; however, the trading environment in Australia remains chal-

lenging with a continued downturn in consumer spending and aggressive competition.” The co-op says its ANZ business is implementing a plan to increase profitability and maximise cash flow in these tough market conditions.

Jackson seeks DA re-election Current Dairy Australia director and Gippsland dairy farmer Kelvin Jackson will stand for re-election at the Dairy Australia annual general meeting on Friday, November 30. John McKillop will also stand for election with current director John Doyle’s decision not to seek re-election. Farmers should have received their voting material for the Dairy Australia annual general meeting, which will be held on Friday, November 30. Dairy Australia chair Max Roberts has encouraged dairy farmers to cast their vote either by post or in person at the AGM, to be held at the Flemington Racecourse. Jackson has been dairy farming in Gippsland for most of his life and has been running his own agricultural contracting business for nearly 30 years. He was formerly a director and deputy chairman of Bonlac Foods and deputy chairman for Bonlac Supply Company. Jackson is currently a director of Toora and District AB Co-operative and has been on the Dairy Australia Board since 2006. McKillop holds a number of qualifications including a Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and a Graduate Certificate of Agribusiness. He is currently chairman of the Corporate Agriculture Group and the National Farmers Federation Economics Committee. He was most recently the managing director of Clyde Agriculture and has also held leading positions with Elders, GrainCo Australia and Stanbroke Pastoral Company in Brisbane. Roberts said the AGM would provide an opportunity for Dairy Australia members to see how their levy has been spent over the past 12 months. “AGM presentations will include a review of the past year and a preview of initiatives planned for this financial year. The AGM will also provide members with an opportunity to meet other members and to ask questions,” he said.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

news  // 11 obituary niel black

Victorian dairy pioneer leaves long-standing legacy Rick Bayne

The dairying com-

munity in south-west Victoria is mourning the loss of Niel Black; one of the industry’s long serving supporters and passionate advocates. Black, 77, died on November 4 while checking stock on his Mount Noorat property. Black played a leading role in the launch of artificial insemination in Western Victoria and the establishment of DemoDAIRY and was an active participant in the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria for more than 50 years, along with other local committees. His industry connections started in 1960 when he was one of the founding directors of the Noorat A.B. Co-op. He later served on the boards of the co-ops Victorian Artificial Breeders (later Genetics Australia) for 12 years, Bonlac Foods and Demo DAIRY for 13 years. He also served as Noorat Show committee president and was made a life member. Earlier this year Black was inducted onto the Western Victorian Dairy Industry Honour Board. Until his death Black played active role on his property Mount Noorat where 1300 cows are milked on four share farms. The farm is a portion of the original Glenormiston run established by his great

grandfather, Niel Black in 1840. Niel Black (1804-1880) was a pioneer pastoralist and politician who settled Glenormiston in 1840 and was elected in 1859 as a Member for Western Province in the Victorian Legislative Council, a position he held till his death. The Glenormiston run progressed from grazing into dairying and has been mostly used for dairy since the 1890s. Black managed the farm from 1965 after he completed an agricultural science course at Melbourne University and took part in study tours of farms in the United States and England. He was an outspoken supporter of cooperatives and described himself as a “proud and loyal” supplier of Murray Goulburn. “Only the co-op model can retain the added value derived from processing and marketing for the benefit of suppliers. Investor owned companies are focused on returning dividends to their owners which means paying as little as possible for milk. Co-ops exist to benefit suppliers,” he said during an interview after his induction on the honour board. “Our livelihood as dairy farmers has been eroded and could be crippled in the long term as investor and foreign owned processors gain a larger share of our dairy manufacturing. “Co-ops are established and built up with the

long-term aim of serving generations and to operate in the long-term interests of suppliers. Dairy farmers should be asking where the profits go when an international company comes in.” Black enjoyed making a contribution to the industry “to deliver better outputs to dairy farmers”. “From the early days I have found it satisfying to be involved in farming organisations,” he said. This included his role in founding the region’s first artificial breeding cooperative. “That was revolutionary technology that assisted farmers with a problem that needed attention,” he said. He was an instigator of DemoDAIRY at Terang. “There was a group of local farmers who believed we needed a permanent site for research and demonstration.” After his induction on the honour board, Black also said the dairy industry needed to present a more positive image to attract younger people. “We’re getting older and we’re not getting enough young people in. “Instead of grizzling we need to talk about the positive of being your own boss, working with animals, working outside and being in touch with nature,” he said. “We need to accent the positives.” WestVic Dairy chairman John Dalton said Black had incredible passion and enthusiasm for the industry and he

Niel Black was a fierce advocate of co-operatives and enjoyed making a contribution to the industry.

was highly respected in the region. “Niel usually held strong views on a range of industry matters and let them be known whenever he had the opportunity,” he said. “His current passion was about the importance of cooperatives.” Dalton said Black’s

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son said. He praised Black’s passion for the industry. “Niel was always very passionate about the dairy industry, particularly about the cooperative structure. We will need someone to step up and take on that role. “He did a lot for the industry and for us at DemoDAIRY.”

DemoDAIRY and played an important role in setting up the farm. He was a board member for 13 years until 2004 but a lot wouldn’t realise that he also played a hands-on role in getting it started. I would often drive past and see Niel’s ute there while he was working to establish the farm,” Dick-

inclusion on the dairy industry honour board recognised his contribution to the industry over a long period of time. DemoDAIRY chairman Bryan Dickson said Black made his mark on DemoDAIRY and the industry in general. “Niel was one of the founding directors of





















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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

12 //  world A bulldozer clears logs and branches.

Out with stumps, in with milking platforms Landcorp has begun the long job of converting more former forestry land in New Zealand’s central North Island into productive dairy units. Peter Burke went to see what’s involved in the conversion. HEAD NORTH from

Taupo and soon you’re in country that was once productive forest but is now productive dairy country close to the Waikato River on Broadlands Road. Also there are private farmers Tahara Moana Trust, a finalist in this year’s Ahu-

whenua Trophy for Maori excellence. From a distance you can see where the trees are being felled on the hills, but it’s on the flatter rolling country that the action takes place. Landcorp’s farm business manager at the Wairakei site, Alan Bullick,




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drove me around the various locations where the conversion is underway. The trees are down and what is left is the stumps. It’s the time when steel tracked vehicles are called to action. Huge machines pull the stumps, either stack-

ing them in neat windrows or transporting them to holding areas for drying. Depending on the time of the year, this can take 6 to 12 months. One might have expected to see the stumps burned, but this is not seen as environmentally friendly and there are

Fonterra changes alarm farmers andrew swallow


the timing and implications of a governance and representation review underway in their cooperative. The review was instigated late last year but until the round of shareholder meetings earlier this month, most grass roots suppliers were unaware of it. Questions asked at those meetings elicited confirmation the review is underway, as did a subsequent email to shareholders. “The timing of a governance review is completely inappropriate in my view,” South Canterbury supplier Ryan O’Sullivan says. Regardless of all the promised controls of TAF (trading among farmers), its implementation has created “a sense of loss of ownership and control” among suppliers and for Fonterra’s chairman to then suggest fewer farmer directors on the board before TAF is in place “really just adds to that feeling,” he says. “TAF needs to happen and be there for a while and farmers need to be comfortable with it before they go ahead with this review. It’s not a time to be talking about reducing farmer control on the board.” O’Sullivan’s views are echoed by Mid Canterbury shareholder Ted Rollinson, who asked Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden about the review at the Ashburton shareholder meeting. “Under good corporate governance there may be a case for decreasing farmer directors to eight and having five independents but Fonterra isn’t a corporate, it’s a cooperative. My view is that because it is still owned by farmers there should be good farmer representation at the top table. We should stick with nine.” Both O’Sullivan and Rollinson are concerned at outgoing chairman Henry van der Heyden’s ex officio role in the review working group when chairman elect John Wilson isn’t involved. “He [Wilson] needs to stamp his own culture on the board,” says Rollinson. He hopes the review and mooted 8:5 farmer:independent board split isn’t a ploy by van der Heyden to remain on the board.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

world  // 13

Alan Bullick with chipped stumps ready to be trucked off to a paper mill.


From page 12

ways to make money from the stumps. They are ‘hogfuelled’ or chipped by a huge machine which can take a whole stump at a time and in a matter of minutes convert it to chips. “The chips are trucked off to the Kinleith paper mill and used in the furnaces where they are mixed with coal dust and gas. After the stumps have been taken away or moved aside, a bulldozer with a root rake on the front rakes the ground and removes the remaining pieces of logs and branches known as ‘slash’. This is either buried in pits or pushed into low points in the ground and covered over, the objective being to end up with ground in as mowable a state as possible. At that point a huge ‘stick rake’ tidies the remaining small pieces of tree into windrows. These are then mulched and the land can then be prepared for the sowing of grass. In this case they sow mainly ryegrass and fescue with some clovers and herbs. “The pumice land of the central North Island is not easy for establishing pasture. In the past it’s been hit-and-miss (sowing outside optimum times) but Bullick says this has changed and a lot of work has been done to select the best times to sow the grass seed. Effectively a committee consisting of the agronomist, the dry stock manager, the actual farm manager and Bullick himself are involved. “We are trying to get as much seed sown in autumn as we can. Because of the volumes of seed involved, we sometimes sow in September and

October. It can take fescue between 12 to 18 months to get it to the stage when we can graze it like a normal pasture with dairy cows and so we have to have lower stocking rates in this period.” Bullick says they stick to best practice dates for sowing seed for good reason. “For example fescue has a very narrow sowing date in the autumn -- between the middle of February and the middle of March. Once we get outside of that we’ll probably sow a crop or ryegrass or a temporary grass. With ryegrass it’s got a wider sowing band -- from the end of February right through to the middle of April.” Other grass species have been tried on the pumice land, for example an extensive trial was done with chicory. But while it grew well for parts of the year, the longer colder winters took their toll and they weren’t getting sufficient overall production. Bullick says they calve early and they weren’t getting the production from the chicory they needed then. When the land is fully converted it is excellent dairy land, but Bullick says there are lessons to be learned from previous conversions. Taking shortcuts doesn’t work and cash has to be spent at the start to get the land properly prepared – this includes the use of lime and super. It’s also important not to ‘hard graze’ the pasture in the first year. “We start off in first in the first year by running 1.9 cows per ha. The next year we step it up to 2.1 and the following year up 2.3. We have been as high as 2.8 but it’s too high and we are not grow-

ing the grass given that we are 400m above sea level and have long winters. We are not the Waikato where they run between 3.6 and 4 cows per ha,” he says. The other challenge with converting forestry to dairying is the immobilisation of nitrogen in the soil. This is due to the large amount of small sticks and pine cones and other ‘wood’ material that is being broken down within the soil profile. As a result pastures can become nitrogen deficient and so initially after conversion small and frequent applications of nitrogen are required. Bullick uses the nutrient budgeting tool ‘Overseer’ as a resource. He says Overseer can model the farm and predict the fate of nutrients in the farming sdstem. While not being ‘absolute’ especially on conversion projects like this, Overseer helps guide fertiliser strategy.   This latest conversion has been driven by the ETS, the very low carbon price and especially the speed at which the change has occurred. Several hundred hectares of pine tree which were planted about a year ago will now be simply ploughed back into the soil and grass quickly sown to feed cows in about a year. When the trees were planted a year ago, there was a chance they’d be there for 30 years and be milled as mature pines. With changes to the ETS a few months ago, the owners were looking at off-setting however, the low carbon credits means it’s now more economic to cut their losses, buy carbon credits and convert to dairying.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

14 //  agribusiness

WA farmers predict fresh milk export surge Rick Bayne

A Western Australian dairy farm is predicting an upsurge in fresh milk exports as producers look for ways to overcome domestic price pressures. The Bannister Downs Farm at Northcliffe is currently exporting 300 litres of fresh milk per week to Singapore and expects to substantially grow the market from 2013. Overseas demand is growing with weekly enquiries from potential markets. Bannister Downs Farm managing director Sue Daubney said the fresh milk export market could provide a positive future for the dairy industry. “We are doing very small volumes at the moment but are trying to get flavoured products approved for export which would give us seven different lines which is much more appealing for the supermarket shelves,” Mrs Daubney said. “We are still in the experimental phase. We have started on a small scale but see opportunities to grow.” The family farm is a supplier, processor and retailer of its own milk and dairy products and while it is still looking to grow its domestic market, is also conscious of the export opportunities. “As our business grows we will be putting more emphasis on the export avenues,” Mrs Daubney said. “We have been growing at 30% per year each year since start up and just staying ahead of demand with limiting factors shifting between raw milk supply, juggling distribution challenges such as a driving team/truck space and ahead is the restriction of facility


Sue and Mat Daubney Where:

Northcliffe What:

Fresh milk exports

capacity. Having recently gained the supply of the neighbour’s entire milk production means there is room for expansion.” Earlier plans by the farm to export to Hong Kong were hung up by trade restrictions. “Hong Kong is very challenging because of the import requirements,” Mrs Daubney said. “They require bacteriological tests on every shipment before releasing it, which make it just about physically impossible to send fresh milk there.” However, the market in Singapore is much easier to access. “It’s a very simple process. There are not a lot of trade restrictions. The milk can be in the cow here in the morning, sent by air and in a shop at Singapore the next afternoon,” she said. “It is just an extension of the distribution of our milk to local retail outlets.” Mrs Daubney, who manages the farm with her husband Mat, said she saw a bright future in exports. “At the moment we are under a lot of price pressure. The supermarket price

Sue and Mat Daubney export 300 litres of fresh milk per week to Singapore.

war has devalued milk in the eyes of consumers. It has led them to believe milk is only worth $1 a litre. It’s a false economy but it is hard to reverse and has done long-term damage,” she said. The farm started exporting after being contacted by an ex-pat Australian living in Singapore. “We probably get emails from international customers once a week. We have followed up a few and are looking at options in Malaysia and Indonesia,” Mrs Daubney said. “There are plenty of open doors.” Bannister Downs Farm has more than 1500 Holstein Friesian cows milked twice daily in a 90 stand rotary dairy. “We farm using old fashioned meth-

ods with minimal interruption to our precious environment,” Mrs Daubney said. The farm does not make silage due to the volume of waste plastic from wrapping and fertilises mainly with crushed lime and chicken manure. The fresh milk is piped only 10m directly from the dairy to the farm’s milk processing facility where traditional processing techniques takes place. “The milk is processed for packaging only minutes after each cow is milked,” Mrs Daubney said. “The benefits of this system can be tasted in our milk and boasts a longer, fresher life.” The processing system, which was

set up in 2005, starts with a separation procedure to ensure the correct percentage of fat in all milk. Only the cream is then homogenised to make sure all solids are dispersed evenly. In the final stage of processing the fresh milk is heat treated using a batch pasteurisation method. The milk is heated to 65 degrees where it is held for 12 minutes prior to a fast cooling process down to four degrees that prevents any bacterial growth. The milk is then piped from a chilled holding vat into a filling room where it leaves in a sealed pouch. Once packaged and sealed, the pouches of milk are placed in cartons and transferred to a chilled storage area for distribution.

Fonterra increases Chinese investment sudesh kissun

Fonterra has

signed an investment agreement with Yutian County, to develop two more large-scale dairy farms in Hebei Province. The two farms will complete Fonterra’s ‘hub’ of five farms in Hebei Province and are the next step in its strategy to build a high quality, sustainable fresh local milk supply in China. The two farms, located 120km east of Beijing on a 80ha double site, will house about 3350 milking cows each and collectively produce up to 65 million litres of milk a year once

fully operational. Kelvin Wickham, president of Fonterra Greater China and India, said the investment was part of Fonterra’s strategy to build an integrated local milk pool in China. “The demand for dairy in China is expected to double by 2020 and much of this growth will be met from local production. We need to build a safe, sustainable local milk supply to feed this growth,” he said. “This announcement completes our first farming hub in Hebei Province. Once fully operational, it is expected to produce around 150 million litres a year. We intend to follow

this farming hub with several more through China, with the ultimate goal of producing up to 1 billion litres of high quality milk by 2020.” The double site will operate as two farms, with separate 50 bail parallel milking parlours and cow barns; however they will share common facilities such as workshops, feed mixing areas, effluent treatment and staff accommodation to maximise the efficiency of the operation. Nicola Morris, general manager of Fonterra China Farms, said the herd will be made up of Chinaborn cows bred on Fonterra’s other farms and

supplemented by around 4300 cows shipped from New Zealand. “The right people are critical to the success of our farming operations in China. We will be utilising the great farming and animal husbandry talent that we have developed on our existing farms, to make up the 175-strong workforce we need to employ locally,” Morris said. “We have a very well established training and development programme across our farming businesses in China which is helping to feed the talent pool needed to manage these farms to Fonterra’s high

Two new large-scale dairies in China will complete Fonterra’s ‘hub’ of five farms in Hebei Province.

standards.” Construction will start in December 2012 and the farm is expected to open in October 2013. Zhang Yaowu, deputy

magistrate of Yutian County who’s in charge of agriculture sector, welcomed the investment. “Fonterra’s first farming hub is helping to

solidify Yutian County’s position as a national agricultural demonstration zone. We welcome the impact this will have on our local economy.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

agribusiness  // 15 Dairy NewS aUSTraLia june, 2012

Global factors changing in our favour Export demand remains strong agribusiness // 17

buyers. DomesWith three months of supply situation cents/litre in March (AUD 41c/L) to 28 With season 2011/12 only a few incremental change in milk production (year-on-year) thatfrom weighed prices tic culling data to production figures in, the weeks Euro cents/litre (AUD 36c/L) in April. ending, attention is now Profit margins are under pressure in the on 2012/13 milk 2012. prices as farmdown in early the end of October first cut of silage in plastic focused US, and in NZ Fonterra has announced ers consider strategies for the coming balshows cull cow sales and the grain harvest well year. InMarket the final payout for the 2011/12 season some domestically-focused has been cut from NZ$6.75-$6.85/kg MS ancerenegotiated has alsocontracts been incorare down 6% in yearunderway, November is a regions, gLobaL impacT to NZ$6.45-$6.55/kg MS (AUD$4.96porating lower prices and reduced ‘tier JohN DropperT helped by the New to-date terms, suggood month to take stock one’ $5.04). access are undermining farmer Effectively, global dairy markets are confidence and supply stability. For global impact Zealand season congesting that unlike of the Australian produc- many rebalancing. Lower prices will both private label Droppert contracts and profarmers in export-oriented Shifts inJohn slow production growth and stimulate regions, a lowerto price outlook relative to cessor rationalisation have seen milk tinuing track their US countertion season to date. demand, and as this occurs we will ultithe current season not only adds to the companies adjust their intake requireclose of todoing expectaparts Australian As farmers themselves challenges mately see a price recovery. Key factors business, but seems ments and pricing to meet the changto watch on the global scene will be the of a highly pressured totions. contradict the positive medium term ing demands will be well aware, operto demand drivenretail by large farmers are retaining liverate at which milk production overseas outlook of Asia-driven dairy demand marketplace. Lower contract prices and On the inputs front, stock – which will further ating margins have been cropping programs and slows in response to lower prices, the a lack of alternative supply opportunigrowth. those in south-east Asia and the Middle impact of the current financial worries milk production in the US in a market withofflows. Dairy Australia’s indicative international grainoutlook pricesties present growth when tight over the last few thechallenges seasonal closing a 2012 support 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 experienced dramatic margins improve. months, as depressed milk published Chinese export domestax conApril (leap year adjusted), whilst early nomic growth rates that support China’s economic growth, and the value the underlying in the recentaDairy 2012: Sit- these challenges, uation and Outlook report, is for an tic market is stable, with steady per-cap- data suggests EU-27 milk production increased dairy consumption. How- of the Australian dollar. spike over the northWater is a bright spot, returns coincided with cession. 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 ern summer ucts remains a positive and will condemand growth in the market. previousthe year.risks New Zealand of El Niño providing a degree cer- 2.3% on the with sharply higher grain and MS and hemisphere a full year average price range population Despite theseofprice 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 as markets responded to In the the livestock and fodder in chased fodder. easing and full water energy prices. pressures, many anaseasons 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, report considers the wider market picwithfew changes in diet and with increasing prices retreatmarket influence given 95% ofin NZirrigation milk kets, with commodity crisisbelieve and subsequent anddrought summarisesinduced the many factors the cropfinancial place would suggest that Whilst the past allocations While these and other ture lysts therecomis suffiat 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 damage in the US Midas margins months have been testing regions helping reduce the challenges remain, seacient production capacity 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,improve, farmdomestic market ers is supported by well a peaks, whilst powder prices have the having gapof in pasture Brazil prevents global supply growth (see - with nificant supply dairy supply chain. west. will be placed to for many farmers, cost and 2011 pursonal conditions have worldwide tochart) cushion 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 perWith the US corn and been broadly favourable, producing have subsequently been reduced in capita consumption. Whilst the dairy drinking milk, many farmers ern Hemisphere amongst those expand- ing South America. Despite wider economic uncer- most exporting regions. The average market is currently a challenging place a re-balancing market in now the form ing output as their margins increased. soybean harvests milk prices are starting to face 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 bal90%tocomplete, improve and grain prices andaround reduced access ‘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. yields have become clearer seem to have stabilised. Australia’s milk output and there is less uncertainty in the market. was up 2.1% in the three Similarly, export bans months to September – in Russia the ASEAN-Australia-New Ukraine at 2.4 billion litres – notaustraLianand DairY, rice andalready wine exporters to Zealand are ‘priced in’ asFTA (AANZFTA). withstanding a variety “Protectionist sentiMalaysia are the biggest these are neither unexof ongoing challenges at ment over agricultural winners in a free trade goods is rife and growpected(FTA) norsigned materially sigthe regional level (as evi- agreement ing across the globe, so to provide portion pack between the two counaustraLian FooD nificant, given most of denced by figure 1). in this context it is pleas(200-330ml) configuratries last month. company Freedom Foods ing Australia has managed tion for beverage prodThe deal, signed after Group Ltd is to build a the exportable surplus Dairy Australia has to forge an agreement seven years of negotianew milk processing plant ucts. Malaysia that has The NSW location will tions, allows a liberalised to cash in on growing in these countrieswith has recently reconfirmed its dealt with some sensiprovide access to the most licensing arrangement demand in Asia. already been sold. forecast for growth of tive agricultural issues for Australian liquid milk The plant, to be built in sustainable and economic not effectively covered by exporters andAustralian allows southeast Australia, will be source of milk. Pactum has For dairy about 2% to 9.65 billion AANZFTA,” says Fraser. strong links to the Austraaccess for higher value the first Australian greenfarmers, litres over the full 2012/13 retail Sealing the deal: Malaysian trade minister Mustapha Mohamed “While under the products. the local harvest fields expansion in UHT in lian dairy industry and will with Australian counterpart Craig Emerson after signing the deal. AANZFTA agreement expand its arrangements It guarantees 10 years. will be theAusmajor influseason. most of Australian agriwith dairy farmers for tralian wine exporters Freedom’s wholly ence on pricing over our While the high Ausbut also through technical Despite the compleers through streamlining culture’s key interests supply of milk. The new the best tariff treatment owned subsidiary Pactum or so called ‘behind the tion of this agreement, of rules-of-origin dechad tariffs bound at zero, plant will increase scope Malaysia gives any counAustralia will run the summer. tralian dollar continues much remains to be done border’ restrictions.” dairy and rice are two sec- laration processes and try. It also allows open plant. Some of its products for Australian milk supply The FTA was signed on for Australia’s farmers to – value-added, sustainable Current forecasts sug-incremental improved marketing from tors where will be sold in Australia. to impact export returns, access arrangements May 22 in Kuala Lumpur tap into the full potential arrangements for certain market access improveand export focused. 2023 for Australian rice The company says gest the domestic wheat the outlook for closby Australia’s Trade and of the Asian region and commodities. ments have been negotiInitially the plant will with all tariffs eliminated given Asian consumCompetiveness MinisThe Malaysian market beyond. ated20-22 under the Malaysian produce 250ml and 1L bycrop 2026. will be around ers’ rising incomes and ing farmgate prices has ter Craig Emerson and his He says the NFF will is worth about A$1 bilUHT packs from a process The National Farmers’ FTA. improving diets, demand million tonnes been boosted by the com- Federation Malaysian counterpart now throw its attention lion in Australia agricul“This trade deal was line capable of 100 milsays the trade – 30% there will grow for qualtowards ensuring agricul- Mustapa Mohamed. tural exports – including also but particularly imporlion L. The processing and will improve ity dairy products from lower thaninterlast year modity price recovery on deal Emerson says Australia ture remains front and being its fourth-largest tant for sectors such national market access low-cost production bases packaging plant will emit 9% below the five global markets in the last foronly centre in completed FTAs will be as well-positioned sugar export market and less carbon, use less water, Australian agricultural as dairy that have been such as Australia, whose in the Malaysian market fifth-largest wheat export with South Korea, Japan, facing a competitive disand be more energy-effigoods. milk is well regarded. year average. few months and procesas Malaysia’s closest tradChina and Indonesia as market. advantage in Malaysia cient than equivalent “After seven years of The new plant will Whilst limited upside sors have recently begun negotiation, ing partners in ASEAN, With an annual economic immediate priorities. compared with New ZeaUHT facilities in Austrathe NFF is allow Pactum to meet “These are all markets and in some cases better. growth at about 5%, land which already has lia and SE Asia. Pactum under no illusion of how growing demand for risk remains in grain announcing step-ups. The FTA will guarantee Malaysia forms an impor- with enormous growth expects site preparation to challenging it has been to a completed FTA with UHT dairy milk, and add tariff-free entry for 97.6% opportunities and where tant part of the ‘Asian Malaysia in place.” begin in October 2012 and this FTA to capacity for valuepricing, thewith potential Dairy Australia’s Sep- complete of current goods exports significant barriers to Century’ story and the The FTA also sigstart-up by mid-2013. Malaysia,” NFF vice presiadded beverages at forDuncan attractive returns is tember Situation and Out- dent from Australia once it opportunity this presents trade in agriculture still nals some administrative Pactum makes UHT Fraser says. its Sydney factory. Pactum enters into force. This will for Australian agricultural exist, not only through benefits for Austraproducts for private label The FTA will fill is expanding its capabiliexpected toa induce northlook update indicated an rise to 99% by 2017. tariffs that restrict trade producers, says Fraser. and proprietary customers. number of gaps within the lian agricultural exportties at the Sydney plant ern hemisphere growers to improved closing price maximise plantings in the expectation of $4.70coming season. $5.00/kg MS (34-36c/L), 016-017.indd 17 6/06/12 1:41 PM This should lead to an with further upside potenimprovement in the global tial. supply situation and conThe latest monthly sequently some price relief data shows milk supply in for buyers during 2013. the northern hemisphere Fertiliser prices have has declined compared edged higher recently due to 2011, easing the over-

capitalise. • John Droppert is industry analyst with Dairy Australia.

Malaysia FTA benefits dairy Freedom

WE BUILD Foods plant targets Asia



Water is a bright spot, with the risks of El Nino easing and full water allocations in irrigation regions helping reduce the cost of pasture and purchased fodder.

Increasing Australia’s milk productivity through natural feeding systems 1800 11 88 72

Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

16 //  opinion OPINION Ruminating


Fonterra changes open new opportunities

milking it... Turn if off, Huey!

Gippsland has had a wet year, with some farmers still unable to get onto their paddocks in midOctober. However, farmers haven’t had to stretch their memory back too far to a similar year if this exchange at a recent field day is anything to go by. When an extension officer asked: “When was the last time you saw it this wet?” One farmer replied matter of factly: “Last year.” Certainly not a 1 in 10 year event then. When workshop host Steve Fallon was asked what conditions were normal on his farm, he replied: “There’s no normal. It’s either too wet or too dry.”

No bull

An earnest discussion on artificial insemination techniques at a recent workshop concluded when the extension officer asked: “Does anyone just use bulls?” Nobody put up their hand, but one farmer smiled and said: “I used to, and geez it was simple. No problem with heat detection, just open the gate and off they go.” Everyone agreed.

QDO recommends Wesfarmers

It’s interesting to see that the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation has maintained its relationship with Wesfarmers Insurance. Wesfarmers owns Coles, which the QDO has been openly criticising since the supermarket started selling milk for $1 a litre in January, last year. However, all QDO members that switch insurance to Wesfarmers will receive a discount on their QDO membership. In light of all that’s happened, we would have thought the QDO would have stopped all dealings with Wesfarmers, instead of directing further business their way.

Oh, Murray Goulburn. Really?

Hard to believe the new team at Murray Goulburn have resorted to stereotypes to launch its new Devondale logo and cheese variety. In one ad promoting its new cheese the two characters, Dev and Dale, say they no longer have anything to argue about because they like the same cheese. The characters are simpletons and play to outdated views consumers may still retain of dairy farmers. We don’t see why the same message – even the same lines - couldn’t have been used in an ad with actors that resemble everyday farmers. Better yet, find a concept that links a modern product with a modern dairy industry. We’re no marketing experts, but we think that would have been a winner all round.

Advertising Hyde Media Pty Ltd PO Box 237, Seymour, VIC 3661 Phone 03.5792 1314 Advertising Manager Trish Millington 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.

Editor Stephen Cooke 03.9478 9779 or 0427.124 437 Publisher Brian Hight 0488.558 937 Agency sales Max Hyde

Fonterra’s new Trading Among Farmers scheme has caused literally years of angst for some of its New Zealand suppliers. The cooperative’s members believe the new share system gives business a foot in the door that will one day see the powerhouse co-op turn into a listed company. Fonterra management has been at pains to explain this will never be the case but TAF opponents remain wary. TAF has provided Fonterra’s Australian suppliers with an opportunity to buy shares in the co-op it supplies, and that’s a terrific opportunity for those on this side of the ditch. The 1300 members of Bonlac Supply Company, consisting 75% of Fonterra’s Australian milk supply base, can invest in units under TAF. The co-op has allocated $25 million worth of units in the $500m Fonterra Shareholders Fund to its Australian suppliers. Rather than continuing as suppliers to a company and receiving a milk price for their work, Australian farmers now have economic exposure to Fonterra they have not had before. Fonterra is now a global player with significant worldwide investment. It is a powerhouse. Farmers are always keen to invest in their milk supply company and the products they make, TAF gives them an opportunity which they didn’t have before. Each of Fonterra’s 10,500 NZ farmers has 1 share for every kg/milk solids they supply to the co-op. Under TAF, they can sell up to 25% of shares to the Fonterra Shareholders Fund. The Fund will then sell units or dividend earning portion of these shares to outside investors. The investors will only get the dividend or value added payout (‘economic rights”) of these shares, the milk payout will still go to the farmer. The shares will fluctuate depending on Fonterra’s performance. The minimum fund size is $500m worth of units of which $25m is set aside for Australian suppliers. The bookbuild process is currently underway and the share price range is $4.60 to $5.50. The final price will be announced at close of the bookbuild on November 21. Fonterra made the decision to provide increased financial stability in times of declining milk production but it’s a decision that will win favour here. It brings its Australian suppliers closer to the “family” – extra production helps build the company, which gives a further financial reward, but on another level, it helps them feel more connected. TAF may have cast a dark shadow over some Fonterra suppliers in New Zealand who see it as the beginning of the end, but it’s caused a little ray of sunshine here.

0408.558 938

Managing Editor Adam Fricker Production Dave Ferguson Becky Williams Published by RNG Publishing Ltd Printed by PMP Print


Head Office Top Floor, 29 Northcroft Street, Auckland 0622, New Zealand Phone +64.9.307 0399 Fax +64.9.307 0122 Postal address PO Box 3855, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

opinion  // 17

Down, down with credibility THE potential for food producers was highlighted at the National Farmers Federation Congress in Canberra last week, with 250 delegates in attendance. The theme for the Congress was Food and Fibre Boom – from Grass roots to Global and it put the increasing world reliance on food producers into focus both now and into the future because of growing population and limited resources. There is no doubt if markets work freely then simple supply and demand dynamics should ensure that boom to farmers comes to fruition, but as we know market failure is not hard to achieve if it is allowed to occur. Minister for Agriculture Senator Joe Ludwig and other speakers spoke in general terms of a rosy future but, as has been seen, if market settings are not correct then the rosy future can be more thorns than bouquet. The NFF engaged Coles as their major sponsor for this event in a move which obviously disappointed all dairy farmers across Australia. The

brian tessmann Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation (QDO) has previously invited Coles to speak at our conference, but entering into sponsorship arrangements has the potential to compromise your advocacy position. Coles merchandise director John Durkin gave an extensive talk about the ongoing expectations of their customers. There is no doubt that consumer sentiments change over time, but what is never mentioned in these addresses is the responsibility of the retailer to maturely explain to the consumer what the ramifications of pricing decisions are. Simply telling consumers they can have unsustainably-priced produce on the shelf can mislead the consumer as to the actual supply situation and future consequences of the pricing level. Many arrangements with growers

“The NFF engaged Coles as their major sponsor for its conference in a move which obviously disappointed all dairy farmers across Australia.” around Australia were highlighted by Durkin and QDO fully supports sustainably priced contracts to retailers. The day when all dairy farmers can smile about the pricing level for milk into Coles and Woolworths bottles will be a day when we can move onto the many proactive issues the dairy industry has on its agenda with confidence and financial capacity. One slide that Coles presented put forward their belief in a link between the increase in total Australian milk production and the discounted store brand milk. The facts of the matter are that better seasonal conditions and higher export milk prices last year combined to lift milk volumes mainly in southern export oriented production regions. The attempt to create a link masks the

situation in the domestic focused industry and many would find it an insult to the intelligence of farmers and consumers alike. But this smoke and mirrors use of statistics has been typical of Coles since their campaign started. One other related news item last week that was reported in the QDO update were the comments by Lion chief executive Rob Murray: “We (Lion) don’t make any money on milk – the simple truth of it is that nobody is making money and you can’t make money if (consumers) buy milk at $1 a litre, it physically can’t be done”. At the recent QDO conference at Gatton, Lion spokesman Murray Jeffrey showed a video highlighting a full cost of milk to the retail level of about $1.20 a litre.

If his comments are correct and Lion’s and Parmalat’s costs are similar and, considering the fact that between them they market approximately 75% of Australia’s fresh milk sales, then the obvious question is: why the heck is there still milk priced at $1 per litre on the shelves at retail level? The situation is very simple. To sell milk at $1, retailers must buy the milk at less than $1. If there is no margin, why are the tender prices still maintained? The question then must be asked, is the pressure from the retailers such that store brand fresh milk tender prices cannot be discussed in isolation. I would suggest this is another issue with the ACCC. Is this just another case of “might makes right” in the Australian domestic food market and a total lack of fairness in the market place. If this situation continues will the global food boom be little more than just a whimper for most Australian producers. • Brian Tessmann is president of the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation.

No place for penalty rates Life has changed considerably since those days when weekends were king. Many towns had petrol stations on rosters usually only till 6pm. You had to actually go to the bank to get cash before they closed at 5pm on Fridays or go without until 10am on Monday. No ATMs; no credit cards. Restaurants added a surcharge to your bill for weekend service because, if you were rich enough to eat out on a weekend, you could afford to pay extra for the privilege. For most people, work and the weekend did not mix in those days. Pretty much everyone had leisure time on the weekends and it was accepted that this was family time - except for farmers, of course. So, if you did have to work, it was reasonable that you should be recompensed for the loss of your recreation time. This is where penalty rates (overtime) came in, traditionally time and a half on Saturdays and double time on Sundays - except for farmers,

such an anachronism. of course. The cycle of farming Our working life doesn’t stop because it and our lifestyles have is after 6pm or Saturday. changed because we Farmers can’t decide to live in a 24/7 environwork a 9-5, five-day week, ment in a globalised Monday to Friday. Cows economy. We expect need to be milked and services to be available crops need to be cared whenever we want opinion for when the time is right, to access them. We jan davis not when the labour is all work harder and cheapest. If people have longer, we do more and more work wherever and whenever to work into the night, longer than eight hours, or on Saturday or Sunday, that is on smart phones and tablets. There’s no such thing as a common what they do to get the job done. People who work in farming underleisure time and the weekend is now part of the normal working week for stand that. Farmers reduce costs as much as many of us. In this world, many people choose to they can (a), they try to optimise the work in industries where hours are not price they get for their goods (b) and the traditional 9-5; It may suit their per- they hope that b - a is a positive number. sonal life circumstances or they might They can’t just whack a premium on the price asked for the goods they are probe happy just to have a job. This is why the concept of ducing because they had to pay penalty penalty rates in many industries is rates for workers on the weekend. It

simply doesn’t happen that way. People who work in farming understand that. The TFGA has been a long-time advocate of flexible working hours because that is the only way farmers can afford to employ people. That doesn’t mean that we expect to go back to the days of slave labour; but it does mean that normal working hours should be related to the normal requirements of business. If the agreed norm is 37 1/2 hours a week, for 5 days a week, then so be it. But those 37 1/2 hours should be able to be worked without penalty in the best way to suit both the business and the employees. Normal hours for one worker might be 6am – 12.30pm Thursday – Tuesday; for another, 12.30pm – 7pm Monday – Friday; and dairy hands might work for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon on any five consecutive days. If they work outside these hours,

then penalty rates would apply. People who work in farming understand that, too. As consumers, we expect to access all services on a weekend without any surcharge. Tasmania has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet skyrocketing labour costs are forcing many businesses to rationalise their opening hours and lay off staff. It simply doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows we can’t have our cake and eat it too. If we want to live in a globalised 24/7 world, then we have to accept that there will can be no standardised working time. Other nations don’t do this, and our farmers (and other businesses) simply can’t absorb these costs and remain competitive. Otherwise, we must understand that we have to pay a premium for services outside whatever is deemed to be ‘normal’ work hours. • Jan Davis is CEO of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

18 //  breeding management

Mop the floor with your bull management Matt Reynolds

The general decline in fertility and increasing dairy herd production demands make mop-up bulls critically important. Bulls on many dairy farms are not being effectively utilised and are often a danger to the farmer and the farm’s economic viability. Effective mop-up bull management should be a priority for every dairy farmer in order to avoid the need to rebreed cows or heifers. Appropriate bulls should be: ■■ capable; ■■ healthy; and ■■ safe. A ratio of one bull to 40 cows ( joined and unjoined) should be used with this

number increasing if there is a tighter mating period. This number relates to both his ability to identify cows on heat and his serving capacity. One of the easiest assessments of a bull’s serving capacity is scrotal circumference and this should be considered when buying bulls. One method available to assist in reducing the risk of unsatisfactory joining results and maintaining the bull’s sexual interest is rotating his team between a rest paddock and the herd, with a second bull team also running an alternate rotation. A week is generally a sufficient rest period for a healthy bull team. Bulls should be grouped with equivalent-sized bulls and ideally they will have grown up with one another. When

managing bull groups try to avoid shuffling bulls between groups as each time a new bull enters a group, the whole social hierarchy will need to re-establish and this process can lead to stress and injury. Stress should be avoided due to its impact on future sperm production, with both environmental and management stress having an impact. Included in this is nutritional stress, so bulls need to be adequately fed. Bull health is the most important factor limiting the reproductive potential of bulls on farm. In many instances the bulls are not at an appropriate condition score, not vaccinated or are afflicted with some form of ailment. Ensuring the bull is free from injury

and/or structural defect is a priority when assessing a bull’s ability to get cows in calf. The bull’s conformation is important due to the strenuous nature of mounting cows. A bull with foot, leg or back issues will struggle to mate cows and if the issue is significant enough, may not even attempt to mount. Eyes, nose and mouth are also crucial because a bull requires these senses to identify cows on heat. The final health component is vaccination, due to a bull’s capacity to expose a large number of cows to disease. This means vaccinating bulls for 7 in 1, pestivirus and vibriosis as well as any other vaccine you are giving the cows. Have the vet check them at least one month before the joining period.

Personal safety is also an important issue that deters many dairy farmers from using bulls and, as a result, is costing them in reduced conception rates and a need to spend extra cash on AI programs. This issue is best managed through a zero tolerance approach to aggressive behaviour. If the bull is aggressive, towards people or other cattle, definitely don’t keep him. In summary: unhealthy bulls do nothing but cost you money and waste your time. A healthy bull can improve the fertility and the economics of your farm system. • Matt Reynolds is a dairy extension officer with the Department of Primary Industries, Warrnambool.

Seeing change through strategic bull choices

Cows are appraised on farm for their conformation, which involves no work for the farmer and offers a valuable valueadding opportunity.

On-farm competition judging underway Judging in Australia’s biggest annual dairy livestock competition, involving close to 3000 cows and 500 farms, is underway. The Semex/Holstein Australia OnFarm Competition enters its 12th year. Semex initiated the competition to acknowledge quality, functional dairy cows – often the unsung heroes of Australia’s dairy industry. It now includes a special application because cows that may not have enjoyed a profile before have a chance to shine or be discovered in the farmer-friendly format. “This competition has a lot of momentum and is held in high regard both here in Australia and overseas,” Semex general manager Jim Conroy said. Conroy said the On-Farm Competition’s role was now clear for the industry. “I’ve said this 100 times in the last six to eight months, that the breed-

ing industry is alive and well,” he said. “Milk prices are (in the main) poor, but there is good money to be made in selling high-end livestock, quality heifers to export and bull sales for breeders who are making decent bulls. “This competition is all about helping our producers gain exposure and marketability for their animals without the workload and costs usually associated with showing, picturing and/or marketing cattle.” Each of Holstein Australia’s 29 sub-branches involved are now kicking off their local competitions (which involves one judge per sub-branch). Entries peak at 270-head in some of the sub-branch strongholds. All the cows are judged for their conformation on-farm without preparation. The first and second placegetters in each class at the sub-branch level then move forward to the state finals where they will be re-assessed by a fresh over-

judge in early November to find the state champions. The state lines are divided into Northern Queensland, Southern Queensland, New South Wales, SouthEastern Australia (incorporating Victoria, New South Wales Riverina and South East South Australia), Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. The Victorian and South Australia’s South Eastern’s presentation date and venue, which involves over half the total numbers involved in the competition, has been confirmed. It will be held at the Witchmount Estate Winery, near Melton, on December 7. This year’s Semex-Jersey Australia Great Southern Challenge is also underway. The competition includes about 1400 cows from 11 different sub-branches in four states. The presentation day will also be held at the Mitchmount Estate Winery on December 12.

The Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) will soon release a Genetic Progress Report that will help farmers see the long-term genetic change in their herd. ADHIS extension and education manager, Michelle Axford, said the Genetic Progress Report (GPR) will use a farmer’s herd-recording and genetic evaluation data to illustrate the genetic progress they are making for profit, production, type, longevity, mastitis resistance and fertility. The GPR will make it easier to monitor the effectiveness of bull choices over the past decade and provide a point of reference to assist in evolving a breeding objective over time, Axford said. “While genetic improvement compounds year after year, it is often difficult to see long term genetic change,” Axford said. “Every joining decision has a long lasting impact on a herd. The impact is permanent and compounds over the generations.” While a land asset is improved by adding infrastructure and boosting soil fertility, a herd asset grows by producing replacement heifers. The choices you make in breeding the next generation of heifers have a significant impact on your herd. However, the factors that drive farm performance and farmer satisfaction vary between farms. To make sure your bull choices are matching the needs of your business, Axford said farmers should set a breeding objective. “A strategic breeding objective helps you make confident bull selection decisions to build your herd asset.”

Sales calendar DATE



Nov 16

DJ&JJ Clarke, Bowthorne Holsteins 1st Stage Dispersal

Maitland, NSW

Nov 20 Lynstar Holsteins on-property sale

Gympie, Qld

Nov 22

Southern Milkers Special Sale

Tilba, NSW

Nov 23

Globull Fusions First Edition Holstein & Jersey Sale

Berry, NSW

Nov 29 Midway Park Ayrshires Final Sale

Tatura, Vic

Nov 30 North West Stars of the Future Sale

Echuca, Vic

Nov 30 G&F Fish Complete Milking Herd Dispersal

Echuca VIC

Dec 6

Galaview Holsteins 1st Stage Complete Dispersal Sale, on-property

Finley NSW

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

breeding management  // 19

$5000 Holsteins at Shepparton A RED and white Holstein topped the Spring Spectacular Sale at Shepparton on November 1, selling for $5000. In a yarding of 150 dairy cows, heifers and bulls there were 32 registered Holsteins, which averaged $2263. The top-selling Holstein, Philynga Faber Brooke, was a 5th generation VG cow. The open 6-year-old, backed by five generations of VG dams, on account of Phil Malcolm, sold to Allen and Lois

Dennis of Yonks Park Holsteins Calivil. Bluechip Holsteins of Zeerust achieved the second top price of $4800 for the outstanding cow, Bellrock Airraid Jess VG 87, which has produced over 10,000 litres and is backed by the Blackstar Josie family. She was sold to G.Pratt, Warragul, Vic. Third top price at $3200 was Midway Park Jefferson Spottie, a high producing heifer bred from the Sunnylodge Prelude Spottie family, sold by Rob and

Lyn McCartney, Midway Park, Tatura, to B.McInnes, Gunbower, Vic. The McCartneys sold 23 head and averaged $2004, a complete dispersal of their Holsteins, ahead of their Ayrshire dispersal later this month. Stuart McCormack of Undera sold 20 Holstein August/September calved, first and second calvers and averaged $1450. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services.

Dean Malcolm, Bluechip Holsteins, achieved the second top price of $4800 at the Spring Spectacular Sale at Shepparton.

Almervista Jerseys top $7000 Tomargo Recluse in The York family of Almervista Jerseys, Longwarry, Vic, sold Jerseys to $7000 at their dispersal of Jersey cows, heifers and calves to a large crowd of buyers from all parts of Victoria and South Australia. This high production herd had been bred by the Yorks for more than 100 years and herd recorded for over 50 years. The overall average was $1598 for 209 head for a gross off $333,900. In the breakdown, cows averaged $1848, autumn calving heifers av $1494, recently joined heifers av $1442, calves av $990, bulls av $1340. Sale top of $7000 was paid by Greg Bryce of Green Pines Jerseys, Nullawarre, Vic for Almervista Navara Bellis, EX 91 - this top cow has sons in AI and has produced 413kg of fat. Her 4-year-old daughter by First Choice Mr Mega Belle, who had produced over 8000 litres, was next in the ring and sold at $6400 to First Choice Jerseys, Leongatha. Next top of $6500 was paid by the long established Kings View herd for Almervista Taranak Shirley (ET) EX 91 - this top cow had produced over 8000 litres and is from the famed Daraway Vanessa family. Krishlaye Pty Ltd of Leongatha

selected two outstanding lots in Almervista Brookbi Belle (ET) EX bred from the world famous Duncan Belle family at $6000 and Almervista Lex Inch VG 87, a top young cow (over 8000 litres) at $4400. R & K Anderson of Kings Ville Jerseys paid $5000 for Almervista Badger Ginger. Local breeders D & R Ross selected several lots including Almervista Virgil Jessie 2 EX at $4400. Heifer calves were in strong demand with a top of $5000 paid for the 3-month-old Region heifer from the Mr Mega Bellis cow selling to First Choice Jerseys. The 6-month-old Celebrity calf, Almervista Celeb Bellis, a daughter of the top selling cow, sold at $3800 to T.Bradley, Drouin West, Vic. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services. Western Spring Spectacular The spring calving Holstein heifer offering from McNamara Dairying of Larpent and Western Point Partnership of Jancourt sold to $3600 and averaged $2319 for 101 head at Colac on October 19. Both vendors sold outstanding lines of extremely well grown, very high production backed freshly calved Holstein

heifers. Buyers were from Western Victoria, South East SA and northern Victoria. Sale top of $3600 was reached twice when a pair of Shottle from Western Point were selected by K.Bailey, Carpendeit, Vic. Other noted sales included a Testimony from Wesern Point at $3200 and Redesign from McNamara at $3100 to J.Fisher, Simpson, Vic. T.Caverhill, Heytesbury, Vic paid $3200 for an AltaArmstead and $3000 for a Shottle, both from the McNamaras. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services and Charles Stewart & Co. D&B Kallady second stage dispersal The Kallady Family of Gelliondale conducted their second stage dispersal following a sale last spring, selling 94 cows for an average of $1239. Sale top of $2900 was paid for the stylish two year old Holstein by Powerplay selling to Inlet View Dairy of Foster. These buyers also paid second top price of $2600 for a four-year-old by Luckystrike. Top selling Jerseys at $1800 each were a pair of two-year-old heifers by Elton & Jevon selling to Launder Farms, Tarwin, Vic. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services.

strong demand

Dubbo, NSW breeders Steve and Erica Chesworth and family staged their

first on-farm sale last month with a large offering of all spring calved cows and heifers, reaching a top price of $7500. The 213 Holsteins grossed $702,000 and averaged $3296. The in-milk cows were averaging 39 litres with a bulk milk cell count of 85. Buyers were from all parts of NSW and Victoria. Sale top of $7500 was for Tomargo Recluse Anzac Nemesia VG 86, by Talent from an EX 91 Lartist dam with 5th generations VG. She was purchased by Avonlea Holsteins, Five Ways, Vic. Avonlea also purchased Tomargo Recluse Policy Dixie VG 88, a 6th gen VG from the famed Carmar Dixie’s at $5000. Second high at $7000 was Tomargo Recluse Talent Dixie VG 89 from an Ex Leader dam selling to Moxey Farms of Gooloogong, NSW. Moxey Farms also selected Oxley Vale Dinkum Pie VG at $5100. Third top lot at $6500 was Tomargo Recluse Wild Donella VG 87, who had produced over 12,000 litres and was bred from 2 gens of EX, she sold to J and D Redgrove, Singleton, NSW. Strong buyers through the sale were B & R Kells of Kyabram, Vic. Included in their selections were Tomargo Recluse Talent Wondergirl (ET) VG, 1st lactation and backed by the noted Whynot family at $6400; Hillview Park Gold Mary (ET) VG, a Goldwyn from the famed Murribrook Myra’s, at $6000; and Tomargo Recluse Swan Peggy, a Mr Sam from the Murribrook Peggy’s, for $5000. Another top Mr Sam, Tomargo Recluse Swan Joan VG 89 sold to R & R Marshall, Wunghnu, Vic for $5500. Glenrowan Farms of Canowindra, NSW purchased several lots including Tomargo Recluse Lucente Girl and Tomargo Recluse Talent Anthem both at $5000. Also at $5000 were Tomargo Recluse Rex Kate to Woodlawn Holsteins, Finley, NSW; Tomargo Recluse Policy Thunderbolt EX 91 to M.Hassett, Denman, NSW; and Tomargo Recluse Talent Jay VG 89 to Ashbury Holsteins, Cobden, Vic. Selling agents were Dairy Livestock Services.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

20 //  management

Development plan underpins herd expansion Rick Bayne

After renovating three farms

in 20 years, Stephen and Tania Luckin are confident their current property near Heywood in south-west Victoria is the right spot for their long-term future. “This farm ticks every box,” Stephen said. “It’s the right size, the land is fertile, we have good infrastructure and irrigation water and it is profitable.” The Luckins moved to the 310ha property in 2009 after farming in the strong dairy area around Naringal, east of Warrnambool. They embarked on a five-year development overhaul - the first part of a 15-year strategic plan which they hope will see them reap the rewards of their investment and hard work. “It was an existing dairy farm but we wanted to increase from 400 to 560 cows so it was a big challenge,” Stephen said. “We’re now up to 500 and plan to be 560 by next autumn.” The five-year development plan is running to schedule and has so far included re-subdividing the farm with new tracks, fencing and water systems, renovating pastures, extending the dairy yard and facilities and introducing an electronic herd management system. The Luckins had moved from a 152ha landlocked farm at Naringal for the expansion opportunities at Heywood. “We had no chance to expand at Naringal and we saw the opportunity for a better return on investment here,” Tania said. So far everything is going to plan. “There is loads of potential here,” Stephen said. “It is a bigger farm, higher

Stephen and Tania Luckin were named the 2012 Employers of the Year at the Great South West Dairy Awards.


Stephen and Tania Luckin Where:

Heywood What:

Farm development

rainfall and we can buy in fodder locally which is a big plus. “There is a nice mix of beef, sheep and dairy farms in the area and we can buy wheat, hay and silage from 11km away. There are good opportunities for agistment and sourcing fodder. It’s a really good area for dairy.” The farm, nestled between the Mount Clay State Forest and the Fitzroy River, also offers lifestyle benefits. Portland is just 20 minutes away and they have family in the area. The Luckins also lease a 57ha out paddock for silage and young stock. When the Luckins took over the farm it had 80% annual ryegrass but they converted to 85% perennials. “Over the 12 months perennials are easier to manage and just as productive on this farm. The annuals are slow to establish in the autumn, don’t grow much more in winter and the quality drops off quickly in summer,” Stephen said. “When we re-grassed we chose species Banquet, Helix, Ultra and Crusader that are more appropriate to this area,” he added. The farm has four soil types; heavy

Tania and Stephen Luckin have increased their herd to 500 cows and plan to be 560 by next autumn.

black river flats, grey loam, loam and light sandy. The Luckins joined a WestVic Dairy Focus Farm group in 2009 to help guide their progress. “We wanted to be environmentally and financially sustainable,” Tania said. “We did soil tests and nutrient mapping which showed the land is naturally highly fertile and so we were able to reduce our fertiliser

use which had cost benefits for the farm. “We have always done what we consider to be best farming practice but this helped us to realise that environmentally and financially sustainable farming go hand in hand.” The program also led to a partnership with the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority to fence off 2.5km of their farm’s boundary on the Fitzroy River to protect the waterway from stock. The farm produced 562 kg/MS per cow last year. “That’s about where we aim to be – on our farm and in our system that’s the most profitable level,” Tania said. “We don’t put production before profit.” The Luckins run a pasture-based system supplemented with 1.8 tonnes of grain per cow and about 30ha of brassicas. When they moved to Heywood the Luckins adopted a split calving system, thinking it would work best for the relatively wet winters. However, they have decided to revert to seasonal (autumn) calving for lifestyle and financial reasons. “Because we are more self-sufficient with improved pasture quality and better drainage, we think it is better to go seasonal,” Stephen said. “We were concerned about burn out for ourselves and our staff,” Tania added. “With the split system there was always something happening. Going back to seasonal we can employ extras

if we need over the busy time.” The farm had an existing 50 unit rotary dairy which has recently been enhanced by an electronic herd management system. “That has been a great investment,” Tania said. “We can feed cows to production and keep track of each cow. It has substantially cut our workload.” The next thing on the agenda is a feed pad to help with the extra cow numbers next winter. “We will have peak numbers through winter so the feed pad will reduce our feed wastage and pugging damage,” Stephen said. Stephen and Tania were named the 2012 Employers of the Year at the Great South West Dairy Awards. They take their role as employers seriously and completed Advanced Diploma of Agriculture and the People GPS courses to boost their skills. “We treat people how we like to be treated,” Stephen said. “We lead but we don’t dictate and like to work as part of a team. “It is important to give people responsibility and reward good work.” They are both totally involved in the daily running of the farm, with Tania describing Stephen as “the ideas man while I’m the details person”. They hope that towards the end of their 15 year plan they can “step back a bit and reap the rewards” of their hard work. “Now it’s about consolidation. It’s good here…I think we’ll sit tight,” Stephen said.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

management  // 21

Backing local labour Many New Zealand farms have employed immigrants to solve a labour shortage in recent years – so many, that one in four dairy farm staff are now from overseas, says DairyNZ. Andrew Swallow reports from a Mid Canterbury farm bucking the trend. WHEN MANY farms are resorting to immigrant labour to solve staffing issues, Mid Canterbury contract milker Shane Edwards is taking a different tack with an all-homegrown policy. “One of my goals is to employ Kiwis and helm them into the industry by creating a place where they can also have a lifestyle that is fun,” he told a recent DairyNZ discussion group meeting on the farm. This season the 378ha mostly pivot-irrigated farm is budgeted to carry 1370 cows at peak milk, producing 653,500kgMS for the season. The herd’s been increased 10% in anticipation of extra irrigation coming online. Six staff, one more than last year, mean a per cow full time equivalent of 195, down from 238 cows/FTE last year. “I’ll guarantee if someone else was to run this farm they’d pull a labour unit out and take an extra $40,000 but I’ve got four kids and I like to watch

their sport and go hunting and duck shooting. Last year I had 18 days away and [my 2IC] lifted production while I was gone! You’ve got to give these guys a crack….” Edwards’ strategy is also to make sure staff aren’t too stretched. They’re rostered to do 229 days/year and 10.5 hour days, up to a total of 2300 hours. It’s the equivalent of working Monday to Friday year-round in town, he points out. Wherever possible, rosters – 7/2 and 8/3 from late July to Feb, then 6/3 the rest of the year – accommodate off-farm activities, such as Young Farmers, or rugby at the nearby Southern club. “They need to get out there and do something,” stresses Edwards. During calving, crockpots of stew, coffee, noodles and other rations are provided at the shed. “We don’t do sick days and we eat lots.” The whole team, bar Edwards, is under 21. Current average stay is 2.2

Getting along well JAMES HAS worked for Edwards for just over a year. “Everyone on the farm is under 21 so we’re a similar age and get along good,” he told Dairy News. “We go down the pub for a drink, go to Young Farmers. It’s a lot easier [socially] when there are three of you from the same farm.” Despite having been there for a year, as far as calving was concerned this year he was one of three “greenhorns” on the farm, plus two experienced staff and Edwards. “It went really great. I’m glad it’s over but it was enjoyable too.” Now 19, he admits that at 18, when he left St Bedes College, Christchurch, farming as a career wasn’t on his radar. “I just saw the job in the paper. I thought I’d stay to January but liked it and stayed.” He’s now on a modern apprenticeship with AgITO with goals to meet every three months. James’ mate Will, 18, is also working on the farm now, having started pre-calving. “I was scaffolding in Christchurch.” While he says that was “shorter hours and we didn’t have to work in the rain” he adds he’s really enjoying the dairy farm work, the team spirit and earning more. “I was a temp as a scaffolder…. I’m learning a lot here and we’re all young.” Like all Edwards’ new recruits, he’s done AgITO level 2 and quadbike training.

years but Edwards says he’d like to see this up to at least three years. It would be higher but for two staff who’d been with him for six years, both Filipinos, leaving last year. Three junior staff live in a three bedroom house on the farm, while others have individual accommodation. Edwards says he doesn’t pay “top line” rates, and knows his employees have been

approached by other farmers. “All these guys get job offers, and one day the time will come when they go… but I just ask them why they are going. I spend a massive amount of time on my people here, and if you want to do it, it’s very rewarding.” A previous career in the fishing industry has clearly influenced his approach. “If you don’t look after people in that industry you end up with an ugly nose

and teeth.” He believes the staffing issues many farms face come down to being short of hands in the first place. Providing a meal, and making sure everybody has time to eat it, can quickly pay for itself, he adds. “It’s time for everybody to stop, and think, and maybe tell you about that down cow that’s just calved. Save a cow and the meals have paid for themselves already.”

Shane Edwards

Sprinkler know how for cool cows Some farmers might be considering installing sprinklers to help keep herds cool in hot weather. Dairy Australia’s practical Cool Cows website offers some insights on sprinkler systems. While large irrigation sprinklers throw water over a large area overhead wobbler sprinklers and garden sprinklers positioned on sides of dairy yard or overhead use less water and do not throw water as far. Garden sprinklers on sides of dairy yard might be ineffective during windy conditions. Set up system so you can turn banks of sprinklers on each side of dairy yard on/off independently. Droplets must be medium-large to allow water to penetrate the hair coat and wet the cow’s skin. Smaller droplets can create an insulating layer of water on the cow’s coat that can make the cow hotter instead of cooler. The best position depends on type and capability of the selected sprinkler and pumping system. However, as a guide, sprinklers should be spaced at intervals of 1.5 to 2 times their wetted radius, so there is a slight overlap of wetted areas. Sprinklers should be set at least 2m above the floor of the dairy yard. Pipes sizes must suit the length and area to be sprinkled, along with the number of sprinklers and their flow rates. Here is a guide:

Shed length

Diameter of main delivery line

Up to 40m

20 mm





More than 100m

2x50m runs of 25mm

PVC piping does not twist, but polythene is cheaper. To maintain low water temperatures, all exposed pipe should be painted white and header tanks should also be shrouded, insulated and painted white.

A 15-minute adjustable-type timer, attached to remote control valve (solenoid) will enable you to apply sufficient water on cows while minimising wastage. Aim to sprinkle cows for one to three minutes, which should be sufficient to wet them effectively, and then shut off for the remainder of each 15-minute cycle, to allow the water to evaporate before the next cycle. Temperature sensors can also be attached to the controller to allow sprinklers to automatically switch on when cows are in the dairy yard at a certain temperature, for example, at 25°C. (Note: if an automated system is installed, ensure you can manually override it if necessary). Low-pressure sprinklers work best (0.70 kg/cm2), producing larger droplets and less mist. A main pressure regulator can be installed at the beginning of the pipeline or smaller regulators on each sprinkler nozzle can be used. Operating pressures are usually in the range of 14 to 20m (140-200 kPa). Low pressure will produce larger droplets. Sand or dirt might clog the sprinkler nozzles, so a filter is required between the water supply and solenoid valves that control the water flow to the spray nozzles or drip outlets. A common filter type is a plastic filter with a grooved disc filter element. A 200 micron filter is used for spray cooling and an 80 micron filter for drip cooling. Filters should be capable of a flow rate of up to 1.4 L/sec for spray and 0.8 for drippers. The ideal water temperature is 15-20°C but providing cows with chilled water at the dairy to help reduce heat load might reduce water intake and be counter-productive. Water containing more than 1000 mg/L TDS (total dissolved solids) should not be used in reticulation systems because of corrosion – it dissolves concrete! An allowance of 0.5-1 litre/head/hour is common for spray-cooling dairy cows. Remember that excess water use will create waste management issues. For more complex or larger installations it is necessary to properly design the system taking into account friction losses, flow rates and component selection.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

22 //  management

Reseed returns hinge on right paddocks andrew swallow

Use objective measurements to determine paddocks for renewal, says Agriseeds’ Graham Kerr.

DO YOU know how much grass your best paddock produced compared to your worst? More importantly, do you know why some paddocks perform poorly?

Visitors to New Zealand’s Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s first focus day of the new season heard how typically there’s a 100% difference in productivity between the best and worst paddocks on most dairy farms. “It’s just ridiculous

“If it’s not Marathon, don’t run with it!” “I don’t use anything else but Marathon net-wrap because it does such a brilliant job. It’s lighter, but stronger and easier to use. The extra length in each roll means that I bale longer and I don’t have problems. And it comes from Tapex who I trust.” Robbie McCormick, McCormick Ag Services, Euroa VIC

what the range is,” Agriseeds’ Graham Kerr told the focus day. Rather than regrassing by rotation, he says monitor production and select the poor performers. “The first principle is to monitor where the cows go. They might go to your best performing paddock 17 times a year, but only 12 times to the worst.” Having established which are the poor performing paddocks, working out why is the next step. “If you’ve got an underlying problem and you don’t correct it you’ll just get the same reversion [to low output] again.” Sometimes it is simply the wrong pasture species, but soil fertility, including pH, drainage, pests and compaction should be considered as possible causes too. By picking the right paddocks the return on a reseed will typically be doubled. What’s more, the

economic gain, which on average is about $1250/ha/ year at a $6/kg payout, goes on year after year. “That’s quite a compelling number, and it’s not just in the year you do it: it’s something that keeps on going. And you can be fairly confident that if [the poor paddocks] weren’t regrassed then they would have continued to decline [in productivity] so $1250/ ha might be a bit of an underestimate of what the benefit is.” When analysing grazing days a paddock provides allow area, number of cows, and supplements used at the time of grazing, says Kerr. Also any silage/ baleage taken from the paddock. “Our experience is that most dairy farms tend to analyse poor paddocks visually or by gut feel. There are better ways to do it,” he stresses.

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iser, more is not necessarily better for maize silage. FutureDairy research has shown that although higher levels of water and nitrogen application generally result in higher maize yields, the nutritional value drops because the increase in grain percentage is offset by an increase in fibre content. Rather than focusing on yield alone, FutureDairy researcher, Associate Professor Yani Garcia, encouraged farmers to manage maize crops to optimise both yield and nutritive quality. “Nitrogen and water use efficiency are interrelated,” Assoc Professor Garcia said. In FutureDairy trials, fully irrigated maize resulted in silage with a lower content of crude protein and metabolisable energy. Nitrogen fertilisation can counterbalance this to some extent. “Nitrogen use efficiency improves with irrigation; and water use efficiency improves with nitrogen application. But there is a point where the marginal return decreases, and it’s not profitable to increase inputs beyond that level. We refer to that level as the ‘optimal level’,” he said. As a guide, maximum requirements are about 7-8ML/ ha of water (rainfall and irrigation) and about 320kg N/ha. “In practice, aim at about 80-90% of these requirements to reduce the risk of the penalty in quality,” he said. “In the past we focused mostly on yield but we couldn’t achieve the quality we wanted. Because of its high yields, maize is a big user of water and nutrients, so there are significant savings to be made through an approach to ‘optimise rather than maximise these inputs’,” he said. “When planning fertiliser applications for a maize crop, take into account irrigation water availability. Never apply the full amount of nitrogen to your crop unless you are sure water will not be limiting. And you’ll achieve better value for money by applying nitrogen at the ‘optimal level’.” If irrigation water is limited, prioritise irrigation around crop establishment and the four to five week period around tasselling.

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

effluent & water  // 23

Houle turns contractor into a one-stop manure shop Chris Dingle

A farm contractor from Baronga-

rook, just south of Colac in Victoria’s Western District, recently cleaned out over 1.5 megalitres from a customer’s effluent pond and spread it over the farm paddocks. It took 94 loads and he did it in less than two days. The reason that he could do it so efficiently was that he used a stand-alone Houle ‘Super Pump’ to agitate the material in the effluent pond, break down the solids and pump it into his new 16,000 litre Houle manure spreader. Then he could spread the manure onto the paddocks in a 12m swath. Steve Lynch has been contracting now for five years; he was previously a logging contractor, running some beef cattle on his small holding. Now he handles all sorts of farm contracting – including cultivation, sowing and spreading liquid fertiliser, as well as his recent foray into manure. He got into this side of the business because many of his dairy customers had asked him if he would look at providing a service to spread effluent from their storage ponds. So Lynch had a good look at the avail-


Steve Lynch Where:

Barongarook What:

Effluent spreader

able systems and machinery. Some contractors in his area were using umbilical spreading systems, with a high pressure pump transferring the effluent to a spreading toolbar usually through about 1.6km of hose. He concluded umbilical systems are perhaps not ideal when thicker material needs to be spread and that the length of hose would not suit him. Several of his customers need to spread effluent a few kilometres away from the ponds. He found that the set-up time, rolling out and retrieving the pipes can be high. Lynch also wanted a solution that would allow one man operation and an umbilical system appeared to present a chal-

lenge. Similarly, on speaking to a few contractors who had used vacuum tankers in the past, the negative comments were that the vacuum tankers were slow to load and unload when the effluent got too thick. If the effluent was very thick, sometimes they could not load at all. Many farmers had commented to Lynch that they were just too slow. The tanker needed to be quick to set-up and be able to load effluent of different consistencies quickly. If he could find a machine matching these criteria, he would have something new and different which would meet his customers’ demands. So the decision was made to purchase the Houle EL48 tandem spreader with a 16,000 litres tank through GEA Farm Technologies Australia. This ‘contractor specification’ model comes with load sharing suspension, double caliper disc brakes and a steering axle. An onboard centrifugal pump is available to load and unload the spreader, but Lynch chose to go for the Houle PTO Super Pump to increase the efficiency of the operation. With the separate loading pump, there is no need to connect suction hoses. Material is pumped into the top fill hatch using the Super Pump. “The issue was to have a cost-effi-

Lynch uses a Houle EL48 tandem spreader with a 16,000 litre tank.

Contractor Steve Lynch cleaned out 1.5 megalitres from an effluent pond and spread it over paddocks in less than two days.

cient way of getting manure to the furthest points of customers’ properties,” says Lynch, “and this system does that really well. The major reasons that I went for the Houle machines were the sheer size of the tanker and the ease of operation – it’s a one-man job.” At the time of our visit in early May, he had only had the tanker and pump for a month but said that it was making a big impression in the area. “I’m finding that farmers around here are moving away from urea and more towards the concept of biological farming. “I’ll go anywhere,” he says. “I’m a one-stop manure shop!” The Houle tanker is operated by a 220 hp Deutz-Fahr Agrotron TTV630 and Lynch recently bought a secondhand JCB3220 to run the pump. He can sit in the Deutz during the filling procedure and operate everything by a remote control hand-controller supplied with the Houle set-up. The controller has 20 function buttons to handle all the aspects of the pump, including six spare buttons if he needs to upgrade anything else in the future. These pumps can load at up to 12,000 litres per minute in low consistency liquid material, so it takes less than two minutes to fill the tanker. In very thick material, the spreader loads within two minutes. The performance is

excellent in effluent ponds, even when there is a liberal covering of growth over the top. It has an agitating rotor that sits in the pond, but Lynch finds the best way to break up the lumps is to direct the outlet onto the surface of the pond and it really churns it up, creating big whirlpools. “It handles the grass really well,” he said. “It doesn’t worry it, it keeps going through and chopping it up, pretty much handles anything.” The JCB just keeps running and agitating the effluent pond as he takes the manure away to spread on the farm. The tanker has three outlets, fed through a heavy-duty discharge pipe with an anti-syphoning system. Two outlets at each side swing out to provide a total spread of nearly 12m, spreading the manure at about 4kmh and emptying the load in about two minutes. Lynch said that there were no worries about getting the 16,000 litre tanker onto the farm paddocks. The steering axle and big tyres make sure that it doesn’t damage the paddocks. “I recently did 42 loads on a farm and you couldn’t see any marks on the tracks.” The Deutz-Fahr handles the tanker easily, but he muses that it is mainly flat country around his home area, and hilly terrain may test it out.


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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

24 //  effluent & water

My ideal dairy effluent barrie bradshaw

I have now been work-

ing in the area of dairy effluent management for 12 years. On numerous occasions farmers have asked “what is the best dairy effluent system

that works?” My standard answer is that many systems will work provided that they are managed correctly. The aim of an effective dairy effluent system is “to return dairy effluent to the land in a controlled, sustainable and cost effective

manner”. In my opinion a two pond system is the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly and productively beneficial system that can be installed. A two pond effluent storage system allows con-

“In my opinion a two-pond system is the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly and productively beneficial system that can be installed. – Barrie Bradshaw trol over the amount of effluent spread and the timing of spreading. It also

allows spreading to meet plant requirements and to avoid runoff and leaching.

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The ability to effectively maximise the benefit of the stored nutrients for irrigation of crops and pasture and the option to recycle for yard wash are positives of the system. Some advantages of a two pond system are: ■■ Effluent can be stored and applied to pastures when safe (with minimal runoff or leaching) ■■ Effluent can be strategically applied to crops to maximise returns ■■ You are not locked into year round irrigation. ■■ Workload can be reduced to a less busy time of the year. ■■ Cleaner second pond green water is available to recycle for yard washing, so storage pond size can be reduced if area is limiting. ■■ Fewer problems with blocked pipes. ■■ You can readily use a standard pump for irrigating second pond water. ■■ Effluent can be shandied with irrigation water during irrigation season, (generally recommend five parts irrigation to one part effluent). ■■ A wide range of pump options are suitable. ■■ You can use a variety of options for first pond maintenance every 2-3 years. ■■ Clean water is available to clean out the main line. ■■ Recycling saves on costs for irrigation equipment. Disadvantages of a two pond system are: ■■ You need a suitable site that seals properly so no effluent goes to ground water. ■■ You may need to import clay or use a synthetic liner. Soil testing prior to excavation should be conducted to ensure that this type of structure is appropriate for the proposed site. ■■ A turkey nest may be required if ground water comes closer than 1m from the base

of the planned pond. Take up space (lost grazing area). ■■ Nutrient contents are lower in second pond than from direct application ■■ More capital is required, $1300-$1800/ ML depending on site characteristics. Management of first pond (Anaerobic) What is an anaerobic pond? – An anaerobic pond provides some degree of treatment of effluent but is not suitable for discharge to waterways. Anaerobic means without oxygen. An anaerobic pond is deep enough to create an environment without oxygen where microbes break down organic matter. A two pond system is similar to a large septic tank. How it works – Bacteria breaks the organic matter into gases and sludge. How well the bacteria works depends on the temperature, pH and salinity. When a pond is working well there is no smell and gas bubbles can be seen on the surface and solids can be seen bubbling to the surface. Sizing considerations – the size of an anaerobic pond depends on the solids entering the pond, period before desludging and temperature. All ponds must be constructed on low permeable soils to prevent leaching. Management – An anaerobic pond needs to be desludged every 3-5 years depending on design criteria. In the desludging process, agitation is required to bring the solids back into suspension to raise accumulated salts, which left unchecked will reduce anaerobic function. The sludge component is where much of the nutrient wealth is stored. Equipment required – How you intend to manage an anaerobic pond will dictate the type of equipment used. ■■ Stirrer – Prior to any form of pumping the sludge needs to be brought back into suspension. The required pump will need to be able to handle solids in suspension. ■■ Pump – If the pond ■■

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

effluent & water  // 25

system is going to be managed simply by pumping, then a pump that can handle solids is required. ■■ Slurry Tanker – A slurry tanker has the ability to pump sludge, between 5-10% solid. Stirring while the tanker is being filled is recommended to allow for even spread. If the pond is managed correctly and taking into account the years between cleaning, pumping some of the liquid off first, over a 3-5 year period using this method can be reasonably cost effective. ■■ Excavator and Muck Spreader – The sludge needs to be reasonably solid, greater than 20% solid to be removed with a bucket, so again pumping the liquid off the top first. The removed solids can then be stored on an impervious layer to further dry or be spread immediately. If spread immediately a muck spreader that can handle liquid is required. If the sludge is left to dry out a belt spreader will do the job. The drying pad must be situated so the runoff and leaching is caught and not allowed to enter any waterway. Management of second pond (Storage) What is a storage pond? - A pond to store green water after treatment from the first pond (anaerobic) for a predetermined period of time before the green water is either irrigated to pasture or crops or recycled for yard wash. This

pond is purely for storage and does not aim to breakdown the solids. To reduce surface areas and therefore the amount of rain falling on the second pond, it should be of reasonable depth (3-5 metres) depending on the soil profile and ground water levels. How does it work? - Green water is stored after treatment from the first pond for a period of 4 to 6 months depending on climatic conditions. The length of the storage period is usually determined by soil conditions, for example when the soil is waterlogged applying effluent will result in runoff of nutrients. Sizing considerations – Storage ponds are sized related to: ■■ Water usage – The amount of water required to clean the shed, yard, the vat and the milking equipment. If the plate cooler water is not recycled this water must also be included. ■■ Rainfall – The amount of rain falling on the yard, the shed if not collected in storage tanks, the ponds themselves and any surrounding surface runoff that is not diverted must be considered. ■■ Storage period – The number of days that storage is required usually depends on the length of time rainfall is greater than evaporation in your region. ■■ Engineering freeboard – To accommodate wave action on pond surface and to provide a safety margin for dairy shed water use

variations. Management – A storage pond is designed to hold effluent over the wetter months when it cannot be safely applied to pasture without the risk of runoff. Effluent must be pumped out regularly during the drier period when safe to do so. However the pond must be empty prior to the start of the storage period. Equipment required – There is an array of equipment available to empty a storage pond. The equipment varies in price and how much time input is needed to maintain and run the system. ■■ Stationary (electric and fuel driven) and P.T.O. driven irrigation pumps – the type of use, recycle for yard wash or irrigation to pasture and crops will dictate the size and pump type. ■■ Stationary and travelling irrigators – management of the first pond will dictate the type of irrigator that can be used. ■■ Pipe sizing – the distance needed to pump and the type of irrigator required will dictate the pipe diameter and pressure rating. Pond nutrient concentrations Over 600 effluent ponds have been tested in Gippsland in the last four years with a wide range of results. Specific testing of individual effluent ponds is recommended if incorporating into a nutrient budget to get the best use of your effluent and the most cost effective management of your fertiliser regime.


Effluent Management ❱❱ Effluent application rates ❱❱ Using effluent to add traces to soil ❱❱ System design / EPA Compliance plans


A well maintained two-pond effluent system.

From the testing: There was little variation of nutrient concentrations within the second ponds. ■■ There were large variations of nutrient concentrations within the first ponds – need to test while stirring to get a realistic result, however the nutrient gradient is still evident. Animal health issues ■■ Avoid applying effluent ■■

to areas young stock graze and implement other Johnnes disease management practices. ■■ Avoid applying effluent where cows are to be calved due to grass tetany and milk fever issues. ■■ When applying to pasture a withholding period of 3 weeks is a good rule of thumb. Effluent system safety Dairy effluent ponds

have the potential to be extremely hazardous to children, farm operators, pets and livestock and every effort should be made to make them safe. Farm children and employees need to be made aware of the hazards of effluent ponds and particular attention needs to be paid to warning visiting children. Ponds should be fenced as soon as construction has been com-

pleted to minimise the risk to young children and stock. Appropriate signs warning of deep water or showing relevant hazard symbols are also warranted. Signs are available from safety equipment suppliers. • Barry Bradshaw is an extension officer with the Department Primary Industries, Ellinbank, with specialist knowledge on dairy shed effluent management.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

26 //  effluent & water

The Seymour Composter 4000 TravelA turns manure and other waste products into organically rich compost.

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to take advantage of an emerging industry practice which is revolutionising the use of manure and other waste products on-farm, says Colin Stray, managing director of Seymour Rural Equipment. The Seymour Composter 4000 TravelA is instrumental in a system for making rows of compost from various types of manure and other material to aid dairy farmers in managing their waste. At the same time they can lift the nutrient level of pastures. Materials used include dairy or feedlot manure, damaged hay or straw and green waste. The farmer or contractor may include additives such as trace elements or lime to the mix, depending on soil tests. The Seymour 4000 can process 700 tonnes of material an hour, turning what on most farms has traditionally been waste material into organically rich compost to help get organic matter back into the soil. Farmers are discovering that pastures treated with a composted mixture provide major benefits in soil structure and beneficial organisms, resulting in

balanced and healthy soil. The machine passes through the row mixing, aerating and conditioning the product. It is processed it into a uniform blend by adding moisture, and then turned again when the compost heats up to around 60C. Up to five turns is usual before it is ready to be applied to pasture or worked ground. The Seymour Composter speeds up composting from an average of 12 weeks to eight weeks by breaking up lumps so that there are no anaerobic pockets. “Dairy farmers have a lot of waste to contend with,” Stray said. “A herd of 300 cattle creates in excess of 1500 cubic metres of manure, straw and feed waste around a feed pad each year. “This can be processed into compost and reapplied to the paddocks, saving considerable expenditure on fertiliser. “Compost helps soil structure, stops erosion and reduces compaction. It helps soil moisture in both ways – holding on to the moisture when needed and assisting drainage. “This machine is easy to use. You can make compost from anything, this

machine will do it.” The Seymour Composter 4000 TravelA suits a windrow of 1500mm high and 3000mm wide with an operating speed of 500 to 800 metres per hour. The working width is 7.4m. Seymour Rural Equipment said an innovative drum and tine design expels the maximum amount of CO2. The tines are positioned on the drum so that they pull product from the outside of the windrow to the inside with a fluffing action that lifts and aerates the hot material at the core of the heap. The machine comes

Colin Stray

with provision for a water manifold to inject water into the compost rows to avoid them drying out too quickly. Stray explained that existing hay and silage contractors would benefit from working with this machine as it would fit perfectly with out-of-season workload. “Contractors need to move from farm to farm quickly, process the compost rows and on to the next. “The Seymour Composter 4000 TravelA can fold for transport and be within the width of a tractor in under a minute, ready to travel at 50km/h.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

animal health  // 27

Act like a boy scout with AI and be prepared animal health rob bonanno refreshing their skills and by ensuring that the logistics of getting the whole herd bred over quite a short time has been considered and planned for. It is also critical that the health and fertility of “mop up” bulls and the

cow herd is also as good as you can possibly have it, that they are clean and on the right nutritional and body condition trajectory. Yet all of these efforts amount to nothing if cows don’t ever get submitted to a mating during the joining period. This is where synchrony programs form an important and, in my mind, essential part of the reproductive toolbox. By using synchrony, it is possible to mate 100% of your breeding herd multiple times during the joining period and you will

increase the number of pregnancies generated simply as a function of the high submission rate. There is a huge number of synchrony programs and it is quite confusing as to what is the best and most economical program for you. There is no point setting up the whole herd for a FTAI if you cannot possibly join all the cows requiring insemination on that day. With FTAI, there is only a very narrow window of opportunity where you will get good results. Nor is it possible to run a big syn-

chrony program if you do not have the cash flow to pay upwards of $30/head that some programs cost in drugs and labour. And if you have not invested in quality staff who can follow the program to the letter, then the whole thing will be a huge waste of time and money as the cows may get the wrong treatments at the wrong time. Herds that have large numbers of already pregnant cows MUST ensure that their cow ID is good enough to prevent already pregnant cows receiv-

ing treatments that may result in them aborting. This is why it is well worth sitting down with your herd vet to formulate a plan that actually fits your needs. Your herd vet can provide unbiased scientifically verifiable advice on the many options for getting your herd mated this season, not just a “one size fits all” approach. • Rob Bonanno is the past president of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians Assocation and a director of the Shepparton Veterinary Clinic.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of Fixed Time AI programs that must be understood before embarking on this breeding adventure.

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nancy rate in the herd. Conception rate is a measure of the number of cows that become pregnant from a service whether natural or AI. Submission rate is basically the proportion of the cows in the herd eligible to be mated that actually are mated over a given time. Pregnancy rate is a far more important measure and driver of production as it is a function of both submission rate and conception rate. It is possible to achieve quite good pregnancy rates with quite low conception rates if the proportion of eligible cows mated is very high. This is the basis of the success of most FTAI programmes. On the contrary, spectacularly poor reproductive performance will result if only 50% of your herd are mated during the joining period no matter how high the actual conception rate is. It comes back to the basic principal that you can’t get pregnant if you have never been mated! It is essential for dairy farmers and advisors to focus considerable energies on ensuring that factors such as semen handling and storage, insemination technique and timing are excellent. Now is the time to ensure all staff or contractors to be used in your AI program are up to the task by




rolls around in a spring calving herd, thoughts turn to getting cows in calf. The options are overwhelming when it comes to joining programs. In my practice, we have every extreme ranging from herds in which the gates are simply opened from the bull paddocks and the boys set loose to do their work, to whole herd synchronisation with fixed time AI. In recent years, fixed time AI (FTAI) programs have gathered some momentum as herds become larger and heat detection becomes increasingly difficult. When I worked in the USA, FTAI was the basis of the whole reproductive program. This was largely because the herd size at 3200 cows did not allow for easy detection of heat, and planned breeding was the only real way to manage such large numbers of cows. There are many advantages and disadvantages of FTAI programs that must be understood before embarking on this breeding adventure. There is a very important concept when it comes to breeding programs and that is the difference between conception rate and submission rate and the impact that these two measures have on the final preg-

BONUS 1 L Co ope rs E

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

28 //  animal health

Vet says quality data essential for herd health Rick Bayne

A south-west Victo-

rian vet has returned from a world conference with new emphasis on herdbased health management and the need for quality data. Peter Younis attended the World Buiatrics Congress in Portugal after winning the Bovine Practitioner of the Year award from the Australian Cattle Vets Association. Dr Younis, who is a partner of The Vet Group and is based in Timboon, won the national award for his contribution to the veterinary profession, the cattle industry and his local community. Dr Younis said the conference had been enlightening. “Of particular interest

to me were the sessions on cattle medicine in developing countries and about new approaches to a herdbased approach to animal health,” he said. “While the individual cow is still important I am interested in how we can better monitor animal health on a herd basis. There is a lot of room for improvement in this field.” Dr Younis said he also brought home a new desire to push for better data management. “I am now more convinced than ever that farmers need quality data that they can use and this is a vital industry issue that we must address.” Dr Younis has been on several overseas tours in recent years to assist with the establishment of dairy herds in Pakistan,

China and Sudan. In fact he was working in a “dingy office” in Lahore in Pakistan when he learned of his national award. “I came in after a long hard day and checked my email and had to read it three times to realise they meant it was for me,” he said. He has worked with corporate dairy enterprises to establish protocols and train farm workers for the induction of export heifers and describes the work as challenging and rewarding. “It is fascinating that I can use my experience and skills but still learn new things. There is no manual for this type of work,” he said. “Basically we are upskilling people to help them to establish their herds with Australian dairy cattle.

Dr Peter Younis has been on several overseas tours in recent years to assist with the establishment of dairy herds in Pakistan, China and Sudan.

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“The animal management principles are basically the same but you have to learn to work within the constraints of a lack of expertise, facilities and infrastructure. “It is challenging but it is in everyone’s interest that the cows are well looked after and the people are very keen to learn.” Raised on a sheep farm at Port Campbell, Dr Younis graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1976 but wasn’t initially able to follow his dream of becoming a rural vet specialising in cattle health. “At the time there were virtually no rural jobs. The industry was in a significant downturn with abattoir costs exceeding the value of cull cattle.” Instead he spent the first three years of his career working in a small animal practice in Tasmania, which he described as a great learning experience, before returning to south-west Victoria where in 1983 he became a partner in the Timboon Veterinary Group. Since then Dr Younis has seen major changes in farm animal care. “Farm expertise has increased dramatically. When I started out half the cases I dealt with were for milk fever but now we have ways of preventing that. “There have been

Peter Younis

huge changes in the way we feed cows and in cow production, which have brought with them other challenges such as mastitis, lameness and calf management issues,” he said. “But generally farm expertise has increased and it is very rewarding to work with farmers who know a lot about animal health.”

Dr Younis was the first Victorian to receive the award. He was honoured for his commitment to the veterinary and dairy industries and his support of the local community. As an industry trainer he has been a strong supporter of vet students and the dairy industry, and he has contributed to many state and national veterinary and cattle projects,

including InCalf and the national dairy herd fertility project, mastitis research and Countdown Downunder. He has written numerous articles and helped establish protocols for the on ship management of dairy export heifers. “I feel very blessed. I’ve been at this for over 35 years and still doing a job that I really enjoy,” he said.

Research shows no problem with cold stored colostrum ALAN HARMAN

A STUDY looking at the wider impli-

cations of cold storing colostrum has given the practice a preliminary all clear. The Texas A&M University AgriLife Research and University of Florida report notes most studies analyse the effect of refrigeration or freezing on preservation of immunoglobulins, but the impact of such storage on other immunological factors had been unclear. “Passive transfer of immunoglobulins is the key element; however, colostrum also is an important

source of nutrients, non-specific immune factors and biologically active compounds,” explains AgriLife Research ruminant animal health scientist Pablo Pinedo, one of the report authors. Pinedo and University of Florida professor Arthur Donovan looked for differences in health in 489 Holstein Friesian calves fed fresh, refrigerated or frozen colostrum from birth. Each calf was monitored for survival, number and length of illnesses, and average daily gain. “The objective was to assess the performance, health and survival of calves fed fresh colostrum from their

dams compared to calves receiving colostrum that was not from their dams and had been treated with potassium sorbate preservative and stored frozen or refrigerated,” says Pinedo. Preliminary results indicate colostrums origin – fresh maternal versus stored – does not have a significant effect on performance, health and survival. “This is good news: proper colostrum storage is a very convenient tool in dairy farms and the absence of unfavourable effects on frozen or refrigerated colostrum would be a very good result.”

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

animal health  // 29

Heifer care crucial over summer anne mcdowell

As we move out of the

time of plenty (spring) into a time of want, it is important to pay attention to your young stock. Growing heifers to reach target weights of at least 85% of mature weight at first calving gives heifers a better chance of a long and productive life in the herd. This weight gain is best achieved through steady growth from birth through to calving. To reach a calving weight of 510kg (600kg mature weight), a heifer joined to calve at 22 months of age needs to gain an average of 0.7kg per day, every day from birth to calving. If lower weight gains occur the heifers need to have some compensatory weight gain and this can be difficult to achieve if the deficits are large. When pasture dries off and stops growing over summer, all feed requirements need to be supplied from supplementary sources of feed such as

Liveweight 100 200 300 400 500

hay, silage and grain. The table (below) outlines the daily energy and protein requirements for heifers at different growth rates and weights. For rising 1-year-olds facing their first summer, it is recommended that a high protein concentrate be fed along with a good quality fodder. For example, a sixmonth-old heifer will need about 55MJ and 17% crude protein each day. A diet of 5kg dry matter (DM) good quality silage or legume hay (10.5MJ, 16% crude protein (CP)) plus 1.5 kg DM of a high protein pellet or grain mix will meet these needs. If poorer quality fodder is used, a larger amount of concentrate will be needed to make up the balance of energy and protein. Rising 2-year-olds have the capacity to eat more and should be able to grow at target growth rates if provided with enough good quality fodder. For example an 18-month-old heifer requiring 100MJ per day and at least 13% CP could meet these demands by

eating 10kg DM of high quality silage (10.5 MJ/kg DM, 14% CP). If poorer quality fodder was used, it would need to be supplemented with a high energy and protein concentrate to compensate. For example, if you feed 8.5 kgDM of poor quality hay (8.5 MJ/kg DM, (12% CP), you would need to supplement with 2.5 kg of pellet or grain mix (12MJ/ kg DM and 16% CP) to meet energy and protein requirements. Just feeding more of the poor quality hay won’t work, as the heifer wouldn’t be able to eat enough to grow at target and the protein level would be insufficient. The critical time to monitor the growth of heifers is in the lead-up to joining — puberty in cows is triggered by live weight rather than age — so ensuring your heifers are meeting liveweight targets in the lead-up to joining will ensure more heifers in calf quicker, boosting their chances of a long, productive life in the herd. Weighing heifers every

Energy requirement (MJ/day)

Crude protein

Growth Rate (kg/day) 0.6 0.7 37 40 57 61 77 82 91 97 100 105

Requirement (%) 17 16 15 13 13

Time to take note With joining under way on many

dairy farms, managers are being encouraged to record cow matings, and to forward the information to their herd test centre. Michelle Axford, from the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme, said many dairy farmers recorded cow matings but the information did not always reach the herd test centre. “The value of mating records multiplies if the information reaches the herd test centre,” Axford said. Recording cow matings helps farmers manage their breeding programs and provides accurate records to plan for calving. It also enables the sires of next year’s replacements to be accurately identified, and allows farmers to keep track of semen inventories. Once mating records reach the herd

test centre they can also contribute to ADHIS analysis, for example in the calculation of semen fertility ratings for bulls, daughter fertility breeding values for sires and industry fertility research. “Nowadays it’s possible to supply mating records to the herd test centre with a minimum of fuss,” Axford said. “Many herd management software programs will forward the data at the click of a button. As an added bonus, storing data at your herd test centre provides an extra back-up to your valuable herd data. “So make the most of your efforts in recording matings this spring by forwarding the information your herd test centre.” ADHIS is an initiative of Australian Dairy Farmers that receives the majority of its funding from Dairy Australia through the Dairy Services Levy.

three months to monitor growth allows corrective action to be taken quickly if targets are not being met; longer intervals between monitoring can mean larger deficits, which are more difficult to overcome. Example target weights are shown in the table (right) for herds with mature cow weights of 600kg. Rearing heifers is expensive, regardless of whether it is done poorly or well. Heifers take until well into their second lactation to repay the investment of their first two years. Well grown heifers achieve more lactations in a herd than poorly grown heifers and return a greater payoff to the business. • Ann McDowell works with the Department Primary Industries, Camperdown, Vic. • This was first printed in the Dairy News, published by WestVic Dairy.

Mature weight: 600kg Target Weights (kg)

Age months

Calving 22 months







Calving 24 months















24 daily wgt gain required

471 510



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Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

30 //  animal health

Safe hoof trimming benefits both farmer and cow Can you restrain your cow so that she is comfortable and you are safe? There is a right way and a wrong way to restrain cows, says qualified hoof trimmer Fred Hoekstra, founder of Veehof Dairy Services. When a cow is being

restrained there are some principles that always apply: i) the cow needs to be comfortable; ii) the operator needs to be safe at all times; iii) the operator needs to be in control at all times. “The starting point for a cow’s comfort is the sur-

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face she is standing on,” Hoekstra said. “A slippery surface is not ideal, but even more importantly, the cow must be standing on a flat, level surface or one that slopes up,” “No matter what crush you use, a cow does not like it if she is facing downhill and you are lifting her back feet. “Purpose-built hoof trimming crushes have belly straps to support the cow when she loses her grip and falls over. “A belly strap also calms her down. Cows relax when you put pressure on their belly. “Some well-known crushes have two belly straps – one under the brisket and one just in front of the udder. “It is better to have just the brisket strap, because if a cow sits down on the second strap she will be very uncomfortable as there is no rib cage there to support her and all the pressure will go straight onto the gut. Cows tend to kick at it, but will not stand up to release the pressure. “Most people like to have a leg tied up just above the claw against a bar. It makes the leg sit more rigid but should the cow go down for any reason, there is a very high risk of injury, such as a broken leg or dislocated hip. Lifting from the hock is much more comfortable for the cow, and because

she can still lean on the raised leg, there is minimal risk of injury.” Veehof distributes the WOPA Standard Cattle Crush, which was originally developed to increase safety and efficiency whenever a cow needed to be treated individually. Using the latest technology and high quality materials, a durable, yet affordable product has been developed which helps minimise the cost of lame cattle. The WOPA crush is made of hot dipped galvanized heavy gauge steel to ensure a long life span. The frame is constructed with different panels that are assembled using nuts and bolts, rather than rigidly welding it as one whole piece. This avoids the stress cracks that fully welded machines suffer from because the frame absorbs any movement from the restrained animal. The WOPA crush comes complete with a walk-through head bail that can be opened and closed from behind the cow. Treated thick wooden floor, wide brisket (belly) strap with quick release clip, front foot support blocks, back leg strap with quick release clip, two safety winches with 2:1 reductions and a stabilising bar. Tel. 1800 095 947 or visit

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

machinery & products  // 31

Tornado whips up a storm at Tatong The Welger Tornado RPC 445 baler/ wrapper is a big unit compared with usual round balers.

working clothes chris dingle Pete Smith from Tatong in north-

eastern Victoria, about 30km south of Benalla, had owned his Welger Tornado RPC 445 baler/wrapper for about six weeks when we caught up with him in the middle of a contracting job on the last day of October. The Tornado is a big unit when you compare it with the usual round balers; it is 5.8m long, 2.8m wide and 3.35m high. Smith operates it with either a 210hp Case Puma 210 or a 110hp Case Maxxum 110. Both appear to handle the job well. He runs a contracting business as well as milking up to 180 cows on his own property with his wife Beth and says that he is lucky to have someone at home looking after the dairy while he’s out contracting. Smith does the morning milking and then heads out on the contracting during the season. It is a mixed herd of Holsteins and crossbreds, they calve in spring and autumn and milking is done in a 10-a-side double-up shed. “We bought this place 10 years ago and resurrected the shed,” Smith said. “The home farm is 132ha and we lease a further 400ha for Angus cattle and to run the replacement heifers.” Their four children; Stuart, who is 16, Kate 14, Grace 11 and William, 7, are all at school in Benalla. Before he decided to purchase the Tornado, Smith had two Welger 420 balers and a wrapper. He traded one of the balers in on the Tornado, kept the other one and the wrapper was put up

The Welger brand for sale. “The Tornado is marketed and disis nice on hay so the tributed here by Lely other Welger is now Australia and the for sale,” he said. machine was bought Smith explained through O’Connor’s that they had the idea in Shepparton. Smith for about two or three said he gets good seryears to move up to Who: vice and assistance the baler/wrapper Pete Smith from them. “The bigcombination; “With Where: gest thing was learnthe Tornado you don’t Tatong ing the system, the have to run a separate What: Welger Tornado baler/ dealer ‘babied’ me tractor.” wrapper along, and once I had When it came to learned it, it’s been making the actual great.” decision to buy he says The baler has a bale chamber diamthat he’s found that Welgers are exceptionally good balers with exceptionally eter of between 0.9 and 1.6m, with a good back up. Like many farmers with width of 1.23m. In addition to a variable their machinery, “a lot of it comes down baling chamber, the automatic wrapping system is variable as well. Lely says to the dealer”. The baler has a bale chamber diameter of between 0.9 and 1.6m, with a width of 1.23m.

Pete Smith runs a contracting business as well as milking 180 dairy cows with his wife, Beth.

the time that the Tornado takes to wrap a bale is so short that the output of the variable round baler can be utilised to its full potential. The pick-up width is 2.25m and Welger developed a completely new tine design for this machine. The baler/wrapper combination averages 73 rolls per hour and Pete uses an inoculant on the bales. It has done 3000 bales in the six weeks that he has owned it, but Pete admits things have not been so good for silage around this district this year. At one stage, he said, he would make 30,000 bales in a year, but there are not as many bales around this year because of the move to spring calving, and farmers preferring to leave the paddocks for grazing, because of the relatively high cost of baling. “This season we’ll do about 6000 bales - it’s a quiet year.” He also runs a Shuitemaker forage

wagon for contracting jobs on pit silage, and was flat out on that for three or four weeks. Other equipment in the business includes a Lely mower and a Claas mower, a Vicon mower/conditioner, a Lely tedder and a Vicon Andex rotary rake. Smith told us he plans to keep the Welger Tornado running for about the next five years. “As far as the contracting goes, I’ve been doing it for 17 years, but we keep it local these days, within a 30km radius of home. “We used to do tillage and spraying work until about two years ago. We’ve found in the last couple of years that it’s more important to concentrate on our own work, and it’s now just silage and hay.” • Working Clothes will focus on the performance of a new machine each month. Send suggestions to Chris Dingle on 0417 735 001 or email

Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

32 //  machinery & products

New Holland T4 tractor range prioritises comfort A FLAT floor and a remarkable sense of cab space distinguish the new T4 tractor range from New Holland. Pushing hard on the operator-comfort angle, NH points out productivity depends much on how the operator endures long

hours in the cab. “This completely new T4 PowerStar range is set to redefine farming comfort in this segment,” the company says. Three models are on offer: T4.55, T4.65 and T4.75 (engine power 55, 65 and 75hp respectively)

with mechanical fuel injection. Plenty of choice here for farmers, councils and other operators looking for versatility, manoeuvrability, ergonomic comfort and fuel efficiency, NH says. All suit front loading,

high speed transport and PTO work. Transmissions have hydraulic Power Shuttle and creeper options. Hydraulic flow is up to 48L/min. The tractors are offered in cab and ROPS variants. The ROPS platform shares

The T4 provides excellent visibility for the operator.

means two adults can ride. the same control layout All models have 3.2L as the cab version, flat engines (two valves per floor and tiltable steering cylinder) with maximum column. torque of 310 Nm. The ROPS version This engine has done can also be specified with FOPS (Fall On Protection three years work in the System), to offer users the current NH T4000 range and speciality series. A ultimate in peace of mind when operating with load- 540 eco PTO option is offered. Tier 3 technology ers and in enclosed enviapplies, to meet current ronments where they are emissions regulations. at risk of falling objects. Service interNH says val is 500 the entire hours. cab has been Plenty of The traredesigned choice here ditional 12 x “around the 12 standard operator using for farmers transmission advanced vir- looking for offering is tual reality versatility, available in all techniques, ergonomic models and all which has have hydrauensured that comfort and fuel lic shuttles. all controls This steerfall perfectly efficiency. ing column to hand for mounted lever operators of can be operated without all shapes and sizes.” removing the hand from The main controls are the steering wheel. to the right of the operaAn optional 20 x 20 tor in a ‘Command Arc’. This can be combined with creeper variant is available an optional 15° swivel seat for T4.55, T4.65 and T4.75 models, with speeds as low to help in work with rearas 0.108km/h. mounted equipment. The NH says the transinstrument cluster moves mission controls will be with the tiltable steering familiar to users of New column. Holland’s range of larger Locating the air contractors: they are situated ditioning fans under the to the right of the operafloor has improved headroom. Air flow can be pre- tor. All gear changes can cision directed through 10 individual vents, which all be carried out from the seat, without the need deliver even flow. to stretch and reach, and During loading work, enables the operator to the see-through opening swiftly switch from the roof hatch gives a good of steering wheel to the lever. the loader right through For loader or mid its operating range, even mounted-equipment at maximum height. work, an integrated joyThe roof hatch almost stick gives precise conmeets the front glass to trol without requiring the minimise the obscured operator to stretch and area. twist arms and wrists. Other cab features: up Up to three hydrauto three power outlets for lic remotes are available, equipment monitors or offering standard flow mobile phone chargers of up to 48L/min. The and music players; the remotes are located on the radio is set in the B pillar; cab’s ‘Command Arc’. and the full-size instructors seat, with seat belt,

Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA November, 2012

machinery & products  // 33

Large numbers handled with ease STAFF AT Lochiel

Farms, Franklin, New Zealand, had had enough of old manually operated crushes. So, the business bought two semi-automatic, air lever-controlled iDraft crushes. Farm general manager Kim Robinson says it puts big numbers of cattle through the yards but this unit handles them with ease. “The control panel has made the job a one man operation: we can draft the cattle, squeeze them up, head bail them, mark the calves, and tag and weigh them all at the press of a button or flick of a switch.” And the 3600 ha farm has the option of upgrading to fully automated

iDraft crushes. Using the full auto system, cattle can be automatically weighed, released from the crush and directed through the appropriate draft or exit gate. This unit is easily managed by one person with the auto-draft functions set up on a touch screen control unit. It can also be operated remotely via a 10 function hand held radio remote control, says Te Pari principal Jeremy Blampied. “It is simple to use and well suited to an older farmer given the less physical effort required to operate it. With an eRail EID reader system incorporated into this crush, it really is possible to weigh,

record and draft hundreds of animals per hour.” Blampied says Te Pari’s new iDraft control panel – standard on all models – has precluded some problems often found with cattle crushes. “One of the biggest features is the internal routing of loadbar cables, which keeps them tidily out of the way and completely shields them from activity around the crush. Up to 70% of all problems with weigh scales can be attributed to damaged cables.” The weigh scale mounting is at eye height, easy to use and read, and

Lochiel Farm general manager Kim Robinson says large numbers of cattle are handled with ease by the iDraft crush (inset).

TURN WASTE INTO PROFIT no add-ons are required. Other features of the control panel include a storage tray for tools and tags, and a cupboard where air regulators, EID reader control units and batteries can be stored. A lockable cover goes over the control panel for extra security and protection against the elements. Free call: 1800 650 682

Mat sweeps farmer off his feet

The Seymour Composter 4000 TravelA turns manure and other materials into organically rich compost to dramatically reduce the cost of applying fertiliser to the farm paddocks.

new zealand farmer

Peter Laing turned to Kura mats 18 months ago after getting tired of cows slipping on concrete at the feed pad, reports manufacturer Numat. One season Laing lost five cows, and he toyed with the idea of a standoff pad costing about $60,000. But he changed his mind after looking at a few farms where Kura mat had been installed. He has now had them down for 18 months, with two-thirds of the feed pad covered last year, and the final one-third this year. He has had no more cattle slippage. No cows have been lost. Laing says lameness is also a thing of the past. Previously, through hoof wear on the concrete entry and exits, lameness was a problem. In 20120-11, 45 cows had foot problems. This season only nine were lame. Barbara,

Pastures treated with a composted mixture have proved to have major benefits in soil structure and plant growth.

Materials can include dairy or feedlot manure damaged hay or straw and green waste, and the Seymour 4000 can process 700 tonnes of material per hour. A fantastic opportunity for hay and silage contractors to take advantage of this exciting new industry practice which would fit perfectly with out-of-season workload.

Kura mats prevent cow slippage, says farmer Peter Laing.

Peter’s wife, keeps track of health problems with computer software. Another benefit has been when cows are calving. They are stood to one side of the feed pad, where they are close at hand and in good light. It is much easier to see if there are problems than if the cows are down in the paddock, he says. Milk production is

about the same as last year, but there are factors other than matting involved in this; for example a smaller herd and inexperienced staff, Laing adds. “Farm management has been easier. We wintered off our cows on the feed pad last year and it was excellent. Even with twice as much rain as the average, there was no pas-

ture damage and much less mud.” Laing says the purchase cost of the matting, though a lot, does justify the benefits. As to design, the mats do a good job just as they are. “Although it was a lot of work for us to install them, there was minimal wastage because of their size.” Free call: 1800 686 287

To see how you can turn your waste into fertiliser and improve productivity, contact a contractor in your area:

Bill Jones, Link Pin Pty Ltd, Yarroweyah Ph: 03 5873 2257 Mob: 0427 732 257 email:

Jim Vaughan, Gippsland Compost Pty Ltd, Shady Creek Ph: 03 5634 2403 Mob: 0427 611 660 email:

Frank Harney, Manningtree Corporation, Elmore Ph: 03 5432 6303 Mob: 0428 511 525 email:

David Walker, Aussie Compost, Inverloch Ph: 03 5674 5520 Mob: 0419 343 307 email:

Nick Routson Camperdown Compost, Camperdown Ph: 03 5593 3737 Mob: 0417 148 656 email:

To find out how to expand your contracting business Contact Colin Stray, Seymour Rural Equipment, Seymour VIC 03 5792 1100 or 0418 576 660 email:

Dairy News AUSTRALIA November, 2012

34 //  property

Gillard seeks comment on foreign ownership register A consultation

paper on the Federal Government’s proposed national foreign ownership register for agricultural land is now available

for public comment. Prime Minister Gillard announced plans to introduce a foreign ownership register for agricultural land at the National Farm-

ers Federation conference last month. The Prime Minister told conference delegates the register would provide a more comprehensive

picture of the specific size and locations of foreign agricultural land holdings. ‘’Foreign investment is not a new thing,’’ Gillard said.


NEXT ISSUE: DECEMBER 2012 TECHNOLOGY Businesses in every imaginable industry are boosting their productivity by using information technology (IT) to do much of the heavy lifting: crunching data, weighing and scanning, even opening gates. In the next issue of Dairy News Australia we have a special report on the latest tech developments and how farmers can extract maximum benefit from them.

The consultation paper would begin discussions with farmers, the states and territories about the design and content of the register, she said.

Just 0.1% of total direct foreign investment is in agriculture, forestry and fishing, while 89% of agricultural land is entirely Australian-owned. A further 6% is majority Australian-owned and that proportion was roughly similar to levels 30 years ago, said Gillard. The consultation paper seeks views on the design and coordination of the register, including: •The scope and definitions of ownership interests and agricultural land that could be captured under a register •Any compliance issues that would need to be considered • Public access to information included in a register; and • Any overlaps with existing regulatory requirements that would need to be considered. The consultation paper was compiled by the foreign ownership register working group, chaired by the Treasury and comprising a range of Australian Government agencies. As part of the consultation process, the group will also be consulting with State and Territory governments to discuss existing land registration systems and processes when considering elements of a national register. NFF president Jock Laurie said the NFF called for a national land register in April. The NFF proposal would make it compulsory for all foreign persons or organisations that acquire or transfer an interest in agricultural land and water to report the sale.

The NFF said this would provide clarity on the purchases of land and water and enable the monitoring of trends. “In June, the Government responded, stating that they would establish a working group to consult on the development of a foreign ownership register,” Laurie said. “This was a good first step, but the Government has responded to the NFF’s calls, and announced that they will develop a foreign investment register that provides a more comprehensive picture of the specific size and locations of foreign agricultural landholdings. “This is very welcome news for the Australian agricultural sector, as it means greater transparency around this muchdebated issue.” Laurie said it must be kept in mind that foreign investment has traditionally been very positive for Australian agriculture. “It is very important that we do not deter foreign investment, but as we have been saying for months, we do want to see greater transparency around investment to ensure that the motivations behind this investment are clear. “We remain concerned about foreign-owned entities purchasing Australian agricultural land for the purposes of securing their own future food availability.” Submissions can be made at au/ConsultationsandReviews/Submissions








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Dairy News Australia Nov 2012  
Dairy News Australia Nov 2012  

Dairy News Australia Nov 2012