Visa changes alarm NSW farmers PAGE 3
DIVERSIFYING Wagyus provide income stream PAGE 6
Climate forces pasture change PAGE 16
MAY, 2017 ISSUE 80 // www.dairynewsaustralia.com.au
LONG ROAD BACK Murray Goulburn scraps clawback, closes factories PAGE 5
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
NEWS // 3
NSW farmers worried about 457 visa changes
Keep payments simple. PG.11
SA ryegrass selection. PG.18
THE FEDERAL government’s cancellation of the skilled 457 Visa foreign worker program has spread uncertainty and concern among the dairy industry nationally, according to NSW lobby body, Dairy Connect. Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said bigger feedlot dairies are particularly vulnerable to changes that may double the cost and the time taken to recruit skilled managers and dairy technicians from overseas. As part of the changes ushered in by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, new applicants will be required to show they have at least two years’ work experience in their field to be eligible for temporary work visas. “The changes lack detail and dairy families are being left to speculate on how they will address professional staffing challenges heading into winter,” Shaughn said. Ruth Kydd and her family, including two sons, milk 1200 cows on irrigated country at Finlay in southern NSW. The enterprise employs eight people and relies heavily on skilled
Ruth Kydd with staff on her NSW dairy.
Visa workers for roles that simply can’t be filled locally. Ruth bemoans the lack of detail in Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement at a critical time as the business heads towards calving in June and July. “It’s obviously going to make it get harder to get people,” she said. “We have one 457 worker who has been with us for four years. “He has two years to run on his visa but after that we have no idea
what will happen to him and we’re all very concerned.” Ruth says the enterprise also employs Masters degree graduates who sign up for a year on training visas for hands-on dairy experience before they head home with valuable work experience under their belts. “Some of them are really excellent and we’d like to employ some full time to run our dairy. “There’s obviously going to be a
lot more paperwork and everything is just up in the dairy. “Foreign workers get involved locally and contribute to our community.” The Finlay High School a decade ago had around 600 enrolments and this number has shrunk to around half that this year. “There really is no pool of local labour, particularly not skilled labour,” Ruth said. Graham Forbes, chair of Dairy Connect’s Farmers’ Group, milks 800 cows on a pasture-based family enterprise at Gloucester in northern NSW. He has also employed 457 Visa workers in the past. “Locally there’s a very limited skill base out there,” he said. “Feedlot dairies are undergoing rapid change with new technology and the industry needs access to skilled people in a workplace where we can exchange knowledge. “I’m confident in saying that dairy farmers are not abusing the system. “There are serious benefits in the system and now all we have is uncertainty.”
Genetic choices pay off. PG.22
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
4 // NEWS
ACCC takes MG, Helou to court THE AUSTRALIAN Competition and
Consumer Commission has launched Federal Court proceedings against Murray Goulburn and former CEO Gary Helou over last season’s farmgate milk price. The ACCC has alleged MG engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC also alleges that former managing director Helou and former chief financial officer Bradley Hingle were knowingly concerned in Murray Goulburn’s conduct. The ACCC will not seek a financial penalty against MG, realising this would affect farmers, but will seek declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices and costs. However, the ACCC is pecuniary penalties and disqualification orders and costs against Mr Helou and former Chief Operating Officer, Bradley Hingle. The penalty could be up to $220,000 per contravention. If there are multiple
contraventions, a financial penalty would be applied to each. “The allegations relate to representations made by Murray Goulburn to its Southern Milk Region dairy farmers between June 2015 and April 2016 about the average farmgate milk price (FMP) it expected to pay them during financial year 2015/16 (FY16),” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “The ACCC alleges that Murray Goulburn’s conduct had an adverse impact on many farmers who, as a result of Murray Goulburn’s representations regarding the farmgate milk price, had made business decisions. “The farmers relied on Murray Goulburn’s representations and were not expecting a substantial reduction in the farmgate milk price, particularly so close to the end of the season when it was not possible for them to practically readjust their expenditure.” The ACCC alleges that from June 2015 until February 2016, Murray Goul-
NO CHARGES FOR FONTERRA
burn misled farmers by representing that it had a reasonable basis for setting and maintaining an opening price of $5.60/kg MS and a forecast final price of $6.05/kg MS, and that it considered the forecast final price of $6.05/kg MS was the most likely outcome, when that was not in fact the case. Further, the ACCC alleges that from February 2016 until April 2016, Murray Goulburn misled farmers by representing it had a reasonable basis for expecting to be able to maintain its opening price of $5.60/kg MS for the remainder of the season, and that it considered a final FMP of $5.60/kg MS was the most likely outcome, when that was not in fact the case. The ACCC alleges that, in all the circumstances, Murray Goulburn’s conduct towards farmers was unconscionable. “Farmers were entitled to expect Murray Goulburn to have a reasonable basis for determining its pricing, and to regularly update farmers if there was any change in forecast prices,” Mr Sims said.
The ACCC will not take action against Fonterra, disappointing farmers and surprising farming representative groups. The ACCC said it decided not to take any further action against Fonterra in relation to the step-down of its milk price in April 2016, announced one week after Murray Goulburn’s revised final price. “A major consideration for the ACCC in deciding not to take action was that Fonterra was more transparent about the risks and potential for a reduction in the farmgate milk price from quite early in the season,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. In a statement at the time printing, Fonterra said “We anticipated several elements of MG’s announcement, and we’re working through what this means for our farmers and our Australian business. “We are meeting with some members of the BSC Board, as they’re an important stakeholder in this, and we will provide an update as soon as we can. “ Both Australian Dairy
Farmers and the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria said they were surprised at the decision not to take action against Fonterra. UDV President Adam Jenkins said he was disappointed with the outcome, but acknowledged the judgment of the ACCC as an independent regulator. “I’ve had a lot of phone calls about how did Fonterra get off the hook. We asked the same question,” Mr Jenkins said. “We provided a lot of information and worked really closely behind the scenes with the ACCC, providing information. “The law is the law, we respect that decision. Does that make it right? Morally, a lot of Fonterra suppliers are still gutted with the decision about the autumn milk last year. “We’re asking Fonterra to reverse your decision you made last year for those autumn milk producers. We ask BSC to stand up for your suppliers and Fonterra to come to the table.”
SA dairy farmer Lorraine Robertson with Rural Business Support Dairy Analyst Lachlan Hood. The Robertsons had to diversity their business to survive last year’s price crash.
Diversifying helped through price crash DIVERSIFYING THEIR business helped South Australian dairy farmers Lorraine and Brian Robertson remain in the industry when dairy giants Murray Goulburn and Fonterra dropped prices to below the cost of production in 2016. For seven months the Fonterra suppliers say they “didn’t see a milk cheque” as the equity in their business
dropped by $200,000. A week before the price crash, the Robertsons had signed up to participate in the pilot program of Rural Business Support’s Dairy Farm Business Strategic Review. They credit the review, and the ongoing help of RBS Dairy Analyst Lachlan Hood, with helping them ‘crunch the numbers’ to remain prof-
itable. “We managed to survive but it was in a state of shock and with huge emotional turmoil,” Lorraine said. The Robertsons leased a centre pivot and water to a sharefarmer to grow seed potatoes, sold beef-cross calves and halved their herd of dairy cattle to 150 milkers, retaining the Nor-
mande portion of their herd and selling their Swiss Brown cows. Leasing the centre pivot which was the farthest from the dairy had flowon benefits as cows no longer had to walk as far to the dairy, which maximised milk productivity. “It was very hard to part with them but many people knew we were
going to be selling them through the Warrnambool Livestock Auction, and as people don’t often sell Swiss Browns, there were a lot of people after them,” Lorraine said. “After the sale, a lot of people who had bought them got in touch through Facebook, so we were able to see they had gone on and done well, which made us happy.”
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
NEWS – MURRAY GOULBURN // 5
MG to close season at $4.95, scraps clawback MURRAY GOULBURN
will pay suppliers $4.95/ kg milk solids for the current season and will repay clawback funds to existing and returning suppliers. It will also close its manufacturing facilities at Rochester and Kiewa, in Victoria, and Edith Creek, in Tasmania. In a statement to suppliers, the co-op said that due to weaker trading conditions the closing milk price for the current season would be about $4.60/kg MS. However, it will pay an available average FMP of $4.95 per kilogram milk solids, using debt to finance this.
In a move popular with suppliers, the co-op also announced it will “forgive” the Milk Supply Support Package, which it introduced to claw back money from suppliers. All future repayments of the MSSP which were to recommence from July 2017 will cease. The co-op will also make a payment to continuing and retired suppliers who made MSSP contributions between July and September 2016, and to any suppliers who recommence supplying milk to MG by July 31, 2017. MG said it is taking this step “in recognition of the unintended impact
of the MSSP”. To enable MG to implement all of the above initiatives without impacting on the $4.95 milk price, MG has chosen to deviate from the Profit Sharing Mechanism by an amount of up to $410 million. The deviation includes the asset write-offs, nonrecurring costs and potential debt funded milk payments, to the extent required. “We are acutely aware of the impact that our decisions will have on our various stakeholders, including the communities in which we operate,” Murray Goulburn CEO Ari Mervis said.
“These have been difficult decisions to make, however they are necessary steps on the journey to ensure the future strength and competitiveness of Murray Goulburn.” The Federal Government has said it will continue to deliver the $4579 million dairy Assistance Package, including making the Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans available until June 30, 2018. United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President, Adam Jenkin, believes the co-op’s decision to scrap the clawback is “a huge step forward in rebuilding trust and confidence between farmers and the
Supplier retention hinges on opening price An MG supplier for about 25 VICTORIAN dairy farmer and long-time Murray years, Mr Hateley added that deciGoulburn supplier John Hateley sion to axe the clawback program would clear the air for thinks the co-operative farmers and improve is on the right track with public perception of MG. its changes and tough “It’s been extremely budget cuts. difficult over the past But Mr Hateley, of 12 months for me, like Boorcan, says MG needs a lot of other farmers,” to set a competitive milk he said. price to retain or regain A competitive milk the confidence of supJohn Hateley price will be needed pliers and could go even to get farmers back on their feet. further in making a fresh start. “I think they can recover; four “When interest rates were 19.5 new Board members, a new CEO per cent it was easier than today and new chairman is a start in the because the milk price we got in comparison to our costs was a lot right direction,” he said. “The only thing that will hold different. “We’re still on the same milk people is if they come out with a competitive milk price at the start price but the costs are so much of next season. If they’re competi- higher and we can’t do anything tive I’ll stay. Why go anywhere else about them,” he said. Mr Hateley supports the ACCC if they’re going to be around the taking Murray Goulburn to court same mark?” SOUTH-WEST
over allegations it behaved unconscionably and misled farmers. “They have to admit guilt,” he said. “Those responsible should be held accountable. Gary Helou walked away with what he was entitled to, and I don’t begrudge that, but he didn’t have to face the music from suppliers.” Mr Hateley said MG should make a clean sweep at the top. “I think anyone who was on the Board when this happened should resign immediately and open it up for a general election to get new people.” The decision to close three factories and cut costs might be disappointing for the areas but Mr Hateley said it was logical for the co-operative. “Some of the facilities needed a lot of money to be spent on them to bring them up to scratch. They can do the products elsewhere.”
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processor”. He said the move could have the effect of enticing back farmers who
had abandoned the dairy co-operative in the wake of last year’s milk crisis. He said offering a com-
petitive milk price next season should be the next step in restoring trust with its suppliers.
Murray Goulburn’s Rochester plant.
VIC, TAS PLANTS TO CLOSE Murray Goulburn will close three of its processing plants in Edith Creek, in Tasmania; and Rochester and Kiewa in Victoria. The closure of these factories will result in 360 job losses, but deliver an annualised net financial benefit of $40-$50m, according to the co-operative. MG said it intends to close the Edith Creek facility in Tasmania by April, 2018; the Rochester facility by September, 2018; and the Kiewa facility by December, 2018. “The Rochester and Kiewa closures will occur in a staged manner and are expected to
commence in August 2017,” MG said in its statement. Milk currently processed at Rocheseter and Kiewa will be transported to Cobram, while Edith Creek milk will be transported to Smithton. Assets from the three facilities will be redeployed to other MG factories to process the redirected milk. MG expects to spend $60 million of capital expenditure to enable the closures, which will be largely funded by maintenance capital expenditure no longer required at the sites.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
6 // NEWS
Wagyu-cross a valuable income stream GORDON COLLIE
NICK SHER believes there is a good long term future for Wagyu-Holstein cross beef – he just needs more dairy farmers to agree. After 20 years pioneering a specialist production chain, he is still looking to grow his business to satisfy overseas demand for the high value meat. His company, Beefcorp, based outside Ballarat, has purchased more than 50,000 calves since it was established in 1996 and will draw 3500 this year from farms across Victoria, into the Riverina and South Australia. “It’s an attractive additional income stream for dairy farmers,” Mr Sher told a dedicated crossbreeding session at the Australian Wagyu Association annual congress in Albury earlier this month. Farmers have the option of supplying both heifer and bull calves at 7 days old for $220 a head or growing them on to around 180kg liveweight for $900 including GST. The vertically integrated Beefcorp provides
Larpent farmer Lachie Sutherland’s heifers, carrying Wagyu-cross calves. Wagyus provide an additional income stream for minimal extra work.
the genetics in the form of semen collected from their own bulls or bulls delivered to the property. Semen sales at $5.50 a straw make up about 70% of the business. After background feeding, the cattle spend about 400 days in the Beefcorp feedlot near Wangaratta and are slaughtered and
sold to Sher Wagyu customers around the world. Mr Sher said his production model was built on farmers supplying calf rearing facilities located in dairy regions, but there had been a trend towards farmers taking the extra value adding step themselves. “We draw from a
number of calf raising facilities, but what is most important to us is good animal husbandry skills,” he said. Giving calves access to colostrum in their first 24 hours was critical as was feeding to encourage early rumen development. The company has developed detailed feed-
ing and management protocols to ensure strong, healthy calves to maximise their beef potential Years of accumulating carcase feedback data inform the selection of Wagyu bulls which will best perform in Holstein crossing. “Not all bulls are suitable for use on heifers
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK LARPENT DAIRY farmer Lachie Sutherland has produced Wagyu calves for Beefcorp for ten years, saying it provides valuable cash flow when milk prices aren’t good. Lachie says the arrangement with Beefcorp provides flexibility, reduces the need to purchase and retain bulls, and requires minimal management changes to his operation. Lachie and his wife, Rebecca, milk 400 Holstein cows on 182 hectares, producing 550kg
of milk solids per cow a year. They also lease an additional 178ha for young stock. “The Wagyu is a really good fit for my business it adds profit, reliability and peace of mind,” Lachie told the Australian Wagyu Association annual conference earlier this month. “But on top of this it is also about the relationship I have with Beefcorp and its people. They understand my business and I understand theirs. “The program is a win for both parties and a relationship that will continue into the future.” Lachie uses the Wagyu bulls supplied by Beefcorp as covering bulls over his Friesian heifers that failed to get pregnant from AI. Angus and Friesian bulls are used over the milking
herd, providing further diversification. Wagyu bulls are delivered, used for 12 weeks, then picked up by Beefcorp. This eliminates the need to purchase cover bulls, and hold them for the rest of the year. Bulls arrive on farm fully vet checked and replaced promptly if there are any problems. He can sell the calves at 7 days old for $100 – double that if you use AI - or rear them out to 180kg. Lachie says they are easy calving, and can be reared just like a Friesian heifer. However, they are slower growing than an Angus heifer. “It’s been good to utilise a resource that already exists to provide an additional income stream, and we know our sale market before the stock are born,” Lachie said.
and there are some genetics that just click with Friesians,” he said. The company is also conscious of the need to provide good quality semen to ensure acceptable conception rates. Mr Sher said he accepted that crossing with Wagyus would always be a sideline for dairy farmers, but there were real benefits. “We have to compete. Farmers need to breed replacement stock and the export trade for heifers is also attractive.” Weather conditions also played a big factor, with more cows culled during dry seasons reducing the available breeding pool. “We are interested in developing long term relationships with farmers for our mutual benefit.” Mr Sher said the Wagyu-Holstein beef business was market driven. “We set out to supply this market after visiting Japan a number of times in the 1990s.” “The Japanese use Holsteins in their own breeding programs. They understand the product and said they would like to buy it from us, although our system is
different with pasturebased rearing. “People in Australia thought we were crazy at the time. We copped a lot of criticism, but we are still growing and developing after 20 years,” Mr Sher said. Richard Eldershaw has just left the big Rangers Valley feedlot in the NSW New England after a long career as a livestock buyer specialising in the procurement of Holstein and Angus cross cattle He advised any farmers contemplating crossbreeding with Wagyu to do their research carefully There were only six to eight major feedlots in the market, but they needed a consistent supply of cattle and were always interested in forward contracting if they could get sufficient numbers. “Buyers want cattle which are going to perform, so you should take advice on which bulls to select,” he said. “Check the breeding values of prospective sires and look for a record of proven success in cross breeding. Wagyu markets value marbling with high score carcases attracting big premiums.”
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
NEWS // 7
Debbie causes $6m damage in Queensland TROPICAL CYCLONE
Debbie caused $6 million in damage to the Queensland dairy industry, according to the latest estimates of the Queensland Farmers Federation. Debbie caused major flooding in Central and South East Queensland, and northern NSW, in late March. It was estimated that about 45 dairy farmers experienced severe damage in northern NSW, centred on Lismore and Muwillumbah, along with about 50 in Queensland. In some cases, dairy farms were totally inundated with flood water causing animal loss, herd health issues, decrease in milk production and damage to farm infra-
Tropical Cyclone Debbie caused damage to dairy farms in NSW and Queensland.
structure. Latest surveys in Queensland reveal more than $300,000 in losses to equipment including pumps, tractors, irrigation equipment; more than 200 hectares and 400 hectares of pasture lost; 121 km of fencing destroyed; more than 10 km of internal laneways damaged; more than 400
round bales hay lost; and the loss of 11 animals. A number of farmers were isolated by flood water and debris and were without access to a mainpower supply for at least a fortnight after the event. A QFF spokesman said the cost to the farming industry in Queensland will be in excess of $6 million.
The full extent of impacts on individual farms is still taking time to accurately assess, particularly given the time required to review what can be salvaged. About 60% of farms in the flood affected regions were affected. According to initial assessments by QDO, more than 50 farms in
the Scenic Rim have been adversely affected, 16 of which have suffered major to severe impacts. Additionally, five farms in Logan City and two farms on the Gold Coast have been affected by the disaster. There were a number of farms along the Condamine and Mulgowie region that have also been affected. Queensland dairy farmers can apply for Category C assistance, which comprise grants of up to $25,000 to assist with their clean-up and recovery costs. This is a joint grant of the Federal and Queensland Government. At time of press, Category C assistance was not available to NSW farmers.
David Inall appointed ADF CEO FORMER CATTLE Council of Australia CEO, David
Inall, has been appointed CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers. Mr Inall will return to Australia from the USA after four years as the Senior Vice-President of United Egg Producers based in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr Inall began his career with NSW Dairy Farmers’ Association and has also held the position of Livestock Export Manager (Asia & Australia) for Meat & Livestock Australia. “I am excited to be joining the team at ADF and look forward to working alongside the Chairman and Board, members, the ADF staff as well as the broader value chain, serving whatever active role I can in supporting and advancing the industry,” Mr Inall said. “It is an honour to now be returning to this great industry and while dairy farmers are currently navigating their share of challenges, I am confident that the outlook is bright as the industry is poised to seize upon future opportunities.” Mr Inall has a Bachelor in agricultural science from the University of Western Sydney and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. ADF Interim CEO Mr John McQueen, who took on the role as a short-term replacement, will continue in the position until Mr Inall commences in early July.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
AROUND THE REGIONS // 9
Harvey Fresh cuts more WA farmers RICK BAYNE
THE FUTURE of at least
three Western Australian dairy farmers hangs in the balance as negotiations to fix oversupply issues stall. Meetings held between Parmalat-owned Harvey Fresh and suppliers to discuss potential solutions have yet to find a resolution. Concerned farmers are also planning to meet WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan to seek a moratorium on cancellation of contracts and a senior level industry meeting. Harvey Fresh will not renew the contracts of three of its suppliers - Mike Norton of Capel, Tony Pratico of Bridgetown and Kieran Chapman of Busselton – leaving them with nowhere to go. Together, they produce six million to eight million litres of milk annually. Mr Norton said he hoped “common sense prevails” to help all dairy farmers survive. He said he understood a proposal had been put to Harvey Fresh suppliers and growers that they
forego growth premiums for May and share up to 4 cents a litre of the transport costs for excess milk sent to the eastern states to save those facing contract cancellations. “They put a proposal to suppliers but we haven’t heard anything,” Mr Norton said. “One of the problems is that there hasn’t been enough communication between the producers and what’s going on in the market place.” “They wanted 90% of suppliers and 70% of growers signed up and I don’t think they’ll get that sort of support.” Mr Norton’s contract expires June 30. He was originally told last April it would be terminated on January 7. “We bought two Angus bulls when we were told so we could slowly change to a beef herd. It will take a while but we have a plan.” The model put in place to solve the oversupply problem isn’t working, Mr Norton said. “Part of the problem is that farmers who’ve had their contracts terminated have sold their cows to other dairy farmers. They
Queensland Fair Milk Price scheme rejected A QUEENSLAND Government committee has rec-
ommended rejecting a scheme to introduce a ‘Fair Milk Price’ logo to containers of milk. The logos would inform consumers where the milk was produced and that the dairy farmer received a certain minimum price for milk. The bill, introduced by the Katter Australia Party, would also set a minimum price to be paid to Queensland dairy farmers to carry a fair milk price logo, calculated by the government’s Dairy Accounting Scheme. The scheme was supported by the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation. QDO President, Brian Tessmann, said “disappointment and bewilderment sum up the reaction from Queensland dairy farmers”. The parliamentary committee recommended other options to the State Government, including a marketing campaign to help consumers make better-informed decisions about the milk they buy. “It is clear the committee did its best to find reasons not to pass the bill., Mr Tessman said. Mr Tessmann said the claim the logos would be in breach of section 92 of the constitution, the section that guarantees free trade between states, was “an exaggeration of the highest order”. “Section 92 restricts states from excluding product from other states or imposing disincentives such as tariffs.”
were terminating contracts to try to cut production but the cows have gone in other herds so production hasn’t come down. “The easiest way would be for all farmers to cull a few cows, cut production a bit and take an 8-9%
cut, but it’s hard to tell a farmer to take a cut.” Five Harvey Fresh suppliers were part of the initial group told their contracts wouldn’t be renewed; one sold his herd, the other leased his farm. Mr Norton said he
believed five other farmers had been notified they won’t be picked up as they come out of contract. The affected farmers along with some whose contracts weren’t renewed by Brownes Dairy will give Ms MacTiernan “a good rev up,” he said. “We’ll be
asking the minister to go to the companies and put a moratorium on cancellation of contracts and sit the industry around the table to work out a solution.” WAFarmers dairy section president Michael Partridge said he hoped
for a long-term resolution and that no more farmers would be forced out of the industry. He would not elaborate until further meetings are held to try to resolve the issue. Harvey Fresh did not respond to calls for comment.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
10 // AROUND THE REGIONS
Government to fund underpasses TASMANIAN’S PEAK
farming organisation has welcomed news that the State Government will move to co-fund stock underpasses for dairy farmers. The Government has allocated $750,000 in the upcoming budget for a pilot dairy stock underpass scheme. Farmers will be able to access funds from the
scheme as a contribution to the overall cost of installing an underpass. The Government has already developed a set of standard drawings for a modular stock underpass system to eliminate most of the design costs. The modular components can now be bought directly from precast concrete fabricators in Tasmania.
The Government already fully funds stock underpasses where a new road alignment splits a property. The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) CEO Peter Skillern said that this was a great initiative for the farming community. “The TFGA and other industry stakeholders have been advocating
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for this outcome for several years now. We are looking forward to working through the details of the plan with the Government,’’ Mr Skillern said. TFGA Dairy Council chairman Andrew Lester said that underpasses would help improve farm efficiency, and encour-
age farmers to consider expanding their herds. “This will help to make our sector more efficient and productive; and safer for farmers and their employees,’’ Mr Lester said. “It will also improve road safety and amenity concerns for the general public.”
Western Vic DemoDairy to close DEMODAIRY AT Terang will start the process of winding up the cooperative after exhausting all options to remain open. However, the Terang-based co-operative hopes to leave a lasting legacy for the south-west Victorian dairy industry by directing remaining funds into ongoing support to regional dairy education, extension and promotion activities. The DemoDairy Board has voted to start the process of winding up the co-operative, which will take several months to meet regulatory requirements. Chairman Ian Teese said the decision to close the co-operative was disappointing but unavoidable after assessing the best way forward while trying to remain financially viable and contributing to the south-west dairy industry. Over the past 18 months, there have been extensive consultations with shareholders and Industry stakeholders on the future of the DemoDAIRY facilities and dairy farm. The issues were raised at the last two annual meetings which had limited shareholder attendance. DemoDairy was established 20 years ago as an applied research and demonstration farm but its role in the dairy industry has changed substantially in recent years as on-farm research projects were phased down, and demonstration activities were largely replaced by focus farms.
Gippsland Burra lifts milk price BURRA FOODS has brought forward payment of its Burra Supply Incentive – traditionally paid at the end of the season – lifting milk prices by 6c/kg for fat and 15c/ kg for protein. Burra said the majority of its suppliers are now paid in the range of $4.80-$5.05 per kilogram of milk solids. The BSI will be paid for the period July 1 2016 to June 30, with the retrospective payment paid on May 15. Burra Foods has traditionally paid its BSI at the conclusion of each financial year in recognition for 12 months’ continuous milk supply. The company decided to bring the payment forward given the tight cashflow conditions of farmers. Burra Foods CEO, Grant Crothers, said the price rise would see an additional $2.5m paid to suppliers. “The payment has been made possible by improvements in the outlook for the final quarter of FY17 and management’s commitment to reduce operating costs,” Grant said.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
AROUND THE REGIONS // 11
South Australia Northern Victoria Keep it simple, farmers tell processors Scholarship sends vet student to New York DAIRY FARMERS want simpler
payment systems and more market intelligence from their suppliers, according to a survey commissioned by the Union Dairy Company and co-funded by the South Australia Dairy Industry Fund. The project involved a series of workshops in the Limestone Coast region of SA and south-western Victoria, in November last year, conducted by Freshagenda. Between 10 and 30 farmers operating diverse dairy farming systems of varying scales attended each of the workshops. Freshagenda director Steve Spencer said that while there were no huge surprises, the workshops highlighted that the industry was going through a period of seismic change. “Participants in the workshops made it clear that they want open relationships with their processors the importance of honesty, transparency and trust was raised at every meeting. They also want greater
security, through better forward signals and accompanying intelligence.” The project was initiated late last year by the Union Dairy Company (UDC), which is due to start processing milk at its new plant near Penola in July, 2017. The South Australian Dairy Industry Fund, which allocates money to projects raised from the sale of SADA Fresh milk, provided funds on the proviso key findings could be shared with the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association and the broader industry. Fund chair, Dennis Mutton (pictured), said UDC was keen to find out what sort of features they should be offering farmers that would be most advantageous to their businesses. Mr Spencer said there was considerable interest in flat pricing and models that fixed a mini-
mum price for a certain percentage of their milk, as opposed to traditional approaches that built in seasonal adjustments or were highly layered. “Many farmers felt that volume and productivity incentives had complicated farm-gate milk prices and disadvantaged younger, smaller farmers,” he said. “There was also considerable discussion around the seasonality of pricing. S“The workshops showed that challenge is widely felt in the South East and western Victoria, with several farmers commenting that seasonal incentives had in effect forced farmers to change practices and chase incentives for milk that is more expensive to produce.” Mr Spencer said farmers also wanted more transparent, simpler payment systems rather than having to work through monthly statements with multiple additions and deductions.
NSW Push for silage wagon extension NSW LOBBY group, Dairy Connect, has opened discussions with the State Government to ensure farmers can retain the right to carry a load of silage in their silage wagon on public roads. In 2013, the NSW Government introduced a change to the Road Transport General Act, which allows farmers and contractors to carry a load of green chop or ensiled grass
in their silage wagon. “The amendment is very specific about what you can carry in the wagon, dimensions, mass limits, speed and distance of travel, travel restrictions, night travel, warning devices, lights and reflectors, tyres, tow bars, suspension and mudguards,” Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said. “If we meet all the conditions we are currently
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Angela was pleased he chose to be a vet and broaden his options rather than go into straight dairy farming. “However, every time he comes back home, he questions us about the cows and what we can do better!” Greenhams Joint Managing Director, Grant Ryan, said the company offered the scholarship to encourage future leaders in agriculture. Scholarship applications each year are assessed by a panel of three independent judges from industry and education sectors.
the main livestock business in the area, dairy cattle account for a large part of the caseload,” says Matthew. “I’m really looking forward to making a serious contribution to the field. I want to get involved in a mixed practice but I’d like to apply my skills to the ongoing challenges of dairy production across both large scale intensive enterprises and small operations.” Matthew grew up on a Merrigum dairy farm helping to milk upwards of 150 cows for his parents, Peter and Angela.
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allowed to cart silage on the road from property to property.” This legislation has a sunset clause and is due to end in June 2018. “We have raised this Regulation with the NSW Government and we continue to seek an appropriate extension of the Order with the NSW Minister for Roads, Melinda Pavey, as well as Niall Blair (Minister for Primary Industry)”.
A VET student from a Merrigum dairy farm, Matthew DeCicco, has been awarded a $12,000 scholarship, and will use it to further his studies in herd health. Matthew is this year’s winner of the Greenham GOTAFE Dairy Scholarship, an award available to students who sell cattle to Greenham beef processors. The scholarship is now in its 12th year, and Greenhams established a partnership with GOTAFE and the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE), Shepparton this year. Matthew is in his fifth year of veterinary science at Charles Sturt in Wagga and is keen to concentrate on herd health, transition cow management, metabolic diseases, fertility and reproduction across both small and large operations. He plans to use the money to undertake a four week placement at Cornell University, NY. “Cornell offered me a spot at their ambulatory clinic in Ithaca, New York,” he said. “It’s actually one of the most highly regarded veterinarian teaching institutions in the USA and because dairy farming is
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
12 // OPINION RUMINATING
Fresh start begins by saying sorry
MILKING IT... Greener pastures
He’s a worry, this boy
South Australian dairy farmer and former Australian Dairy Farmer president David Basham has a new challenge ahead of him after being selected as the Liberal candidate for the electorate of Finniss in the March 2018 state election. David stepped down in his ADF role in December to name for pre-selection, with Victorian farmer Terry Richardson now acting in the role. David’s family has been dairy farming in the area since 1848. When he was President of the South Australian Dairyfarmers Association, the group withdrew its membership of the ADF. Once that rift was healed, Mr Basham joined the ADF and was appointed vicepresident under Simone Jolliffe. Simone held the position for less than a year before David was appointed to the top role then left less than a year later to stand for preselection. If elected, it’s fair to say, the cut and thrust of politics won’t be new to him.
IF YOU are a Canadian dairy farmer you should be worried. President Donald Trump has set his sights on the Canadian dairy industry, blaming Canada for unfair practices that hurt American dairy producers. Trump targeted Canada’s dairy industry last week during a trade speech he made in Wisconsin, the heart of America’s dairy industry.”In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers,” Trump said. He specifically mentioned Canada’s dairy supply management system, which he called a “onesided deal” that doesn’t let US farmers compete fairly. Canadian farmers believe Trump will make a move soon.
A cow of an idea Taking it easy GDP PER capita in Zimbabwe (in constant dollars) is about where it was in 1960, and markedly lower than it was in the mid 1970s. But a useful measure of how far the country has fallen is a new law which states that banks should take cattle and the like as security for loans. Zimbabwe’s bank managers, already strapped for cash for their customers, may soon have to worry about where to put cattle if the new law takes effect. It’s nothing new, of course; cattle ranchers all over the world use the value of their stock as collateral with the bank. But Zimbabwe is different; this would not be a loan to a man with a dairy cow to take it to the bull for example, because it’s having that next calf that is going to keep the milk coming and the milk is the income stream to repay the loan. Instead, cows would be accepted as security for credit in a country where most land confiscated from white farmers still carry old titles and cannot be used to secure credit by the unlawful new black owners.
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COWS IN Germany are being given three-month maternity leave to take care of their offspring. Hand Moeller, the head of De Oeko Melkburen, a dairy that produces organic milk and yoghurts, says “every calf needs its mother,” so he allowed his cows the maternity leave. Calves and cows have an intimate relationship, he said, and as farmed animals they had stopped experiencing that. But Moeller’s concept is drastically different from the way most calves are reared in Germany, whose 4.3 million dairy cows make it the biggest milk producer in the European Union. The German news agency points out that, while farmers feed most calves with buckets, Moeller’s calves are allowed to remain with their mothers and drink whenever and how long they like. Their mothers are milked regularly but the farmer only takes the leftovers.
0417 440 009
ACKNOWLEDGING YOU were wrong can be hard and yet it’s the only way to move forward. Murray Goulburn realised this with its clawback – an almost incomprehensible act for the co-operative to inflict on its suppliers. Granted, the co-op’s decision to scrap the clawback was made after realising the white hot anger it caused amongst its supply base, and the subsequent decision to leave the co-op en masse. However, the decision has been made and its suppliers have welcomed it. The co-op has made some hard decisions in closing three of its factories – inflicting further pain on local communities already feeling the pinch of a lack of flow-on spending – and now the hard work begins. It needs to offer a competitive opening milk price for suppliers, or potentially watch them walk to its rivals. It won’t be easy – it’s using debt to prop up its end of season price of $4.95/kg of milk solids, saying the market rate is about $4.60/kg. MG suppliers are hopeful they will receive further closure to the devastating events of the past 12 months with the ACCC’s decision to target former CEO Gary Helou - who is still yet to acknowledge he was wrong. The ACCC is seeking financial penalties against Helou and his right hand man, Chief Operation Officer Bradley Hingle. It also wants to see them banned for a period of time from Director roles, which would hurt Helou most of all. We can’t see Helou admitting wrongdoing, so this may be the next best thing for those hurt under his actions. The ACCC will not pursue Fonterra, saying it “was more transparent about the risks and potential for a reduction in the farmgate milk price from quite early in the season”. This has been debated widely by farmers, many of whom are angry that it dropped the milk price severely a week after Murray Goulburn dropped its price. It has sought to recover money from its suppliers too. United Dairy Farmers President Adam Jenkins has called on Fonterra to reverse its decision, and for the Bonlac Supply Company to “stand up for its suppliers”. At the time of press, Fonterra was deciding on which position to take, following MG’s decision to repay the clawback money. Perhaps it should start with the words: “We were wrong.”
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
14 // MARKETS
US sees red over Canada’s regulated market subsidies that would help make exportthe first 100 days of the Trump presi- ing easier. Canada also maintains a high tariff dency – more about what didn’t happen in comparison to the campaign prom- wall on most dairy products, which ises rather than tangible achievements keeps most imports from the US (and – but in the recent weeks the dairy others) out, helping to prop up higher industry has been drawn into some of domestic milk and cheese prices. Exceptions to these are ultrafiltered the posturing. While Trump’s promise to tear up milk and other protein-rich dairy ingredients used in cheese NAFTA – a 23-year-old and yogurt, which free trade deal with enter Canada dutyCanada and Mexico free and hence land at – and send home a a much lower cost to large number of illemanufacturers. gal immigrant farm In recent years, US workers have the US dairies have expanded dairy industry deeply exports of these lowconcerned, the recent cost products to plants. dramas stem from FRESH AGENDA In 2016, the Canasome other issues. STEVE SPENCER dian industry (well… Canada has farmers) convinced retained some strongly protectionist policies to support its the government to close the loophole dairy farmers. It hangs onto a supply in dairy tariffs with a new lower-priced management system created in the class of milk as an incentive to get dair1970s that regulates farmgate milk ies to produce these protein ingrediprices based on different end-use cat- ents using Canadian milk. That door egories, and controls access to the shut - US imports of these products higher-value parts of that pricing struc- have crashed. With the slowdown in access to ture via quotas for individual farmers. Sounds familiar – NSW and this market, some US processors have Queensland ran something simi- recently found they had too much milk, lar prior to deregulation of farmgate and blamed Canada for the need to cut contracts to about 75 farmers, who arrangements in 2000. The Canadian supply management have since been rescued by a host of system is one of the most reviewed and other companies. The brewing political furore drew in ridiculed pieces of farmgate regulation anywhere in the world, and has faced Trump - a profound protectionist who mounting internal and external pres- complained of Canada being far too sure, including persistent trade com- protectionist! Pot kettle black. In truth (if there is such a concept plaints from the US, EU, Australia and for Trump), he probably got involved New Zealand. The WTO has ruled that the high to shore up support in dairy-rich Wisprices paid to Canadian farmers are consin where his support base held a
THERE’S BEEN plenty said about
The Canadian supply management system is one of the most reviewed and ridiculed pieces of farmgate regulation anywhere in the world, and has faced mounting internal and external pressure. marginal win over Democrats in the 2016 election. The milk volumes involved in this fracas are small. The milk effect of US exports of protein products in the past year is estimated at 220 million litres, or 0.23% of US milk output - less than a day’s worth of production. The other complaint from the US dairy industry is that Canada is more aggressive in selling its increased output of skim milk powder, which included making cheap offers to the important Mexican market, and into other regions. This reopens a large old sore - a dispute made by a number of other exporters including Australia - with the charge that Canada was cross-subsidising its cheap skim milk powder exports by the high milk prices paid to farmers
under supply management. Again the numbers are not huge. Canada almost doubled skim milk powder exports in the year to February 2017 – to 27,000t – while the US shipped more than 612,000t in the same period. It’s the threat that the Canuck exports may grow to 50,000100,000t, as rumours from its industry suggest, which has hackles raised. Trump has threatened to tear up NAFTA to sort out these and a host of problems, and address a growing overall trade deficit with the two countries. That would have spelt a major disruption for the US dairy industry – about a quarter of national SMP output is trucked into Mexico, and it is also the country’s biggest cheese export market. He was forced to back down from that threat in late April after a chorus
of business and industry leaders – and others in his party - pleaded for a rethink, resorting to a renegotiation of the agreement. Trump claims his national neighbours talked him down. The reality is that both US and Canadian dairy industries have a glut of milk at a time when the world market has an increasing oversupply and weak demand, and have each cried to their governments to solve the problem. The US problem is more acute in some regions with milk regularly dumped as it exceeds the capacity of available factories. It seems a strange situation in the US, as steady growth in milk output has long been a feature of the industry, yet there is a barrier to investment in new cheese plants. Cheese production has grown faster than total milk output in the past 15 years. Quite a contrast from New Zealand where new plants are installed ahead of milk supply, but the economics in manufacturing are quite different. That’s a whole other story! • Steve Spencer is a director of Freshagenda (www.freshagenda.com.au)
Commodity Milk Value stages recovery THE COMMODITY
Milk Value (CMV) recovered in April, as spot prices of milk powders and cheddar improved and the Australian dollar sank 1½ cents since the end of March. Spot prices for whole milk powder (WMP) have lifted US$280/t to US$3,200/t in April following a couple of positive GDT results, after huge rainfall from a double cyclone event across NZ. This brought some fears of a rapidly slowing of milk as the 2016/17 finishes and risks for the start of the following season. This effect also
helped Oceania skim milk powder (SMP) sustain a small premium over EU prices which remain subdued due to the large government intervention stockpiles, which have started growing larger again. Cheddar prices have lifted US$50/t, while butter remains close to Marchend prices. Based on these movements in major commodity prices over April, the commodity milk value has recovered around 26c/kgms, ending the month at $5.42/kgms. But this came after a slide in the first half of the month, which took
the CMV back to $5.00/ kg prior to the GDTinspired rally. Looking ahead, there are some risks that this current flurry in the
CMV may be short-lived as higher milk availability in the EU spring and a likely recovery in NZ milk next season are likely to keep a lid on
commodity prices in the coming months. Maintenance of current commodity prices and a slightly lower Australian dollar will be critical to
the outlook for improved 2017/18 farmgate milk prices. About the Commodity Milk Value The commodity milk value (CMV) measurement and outlook is based on spot prices and Freshagenda’s forecast fundamental value of major commodity products (cheese, butter, whole and skim milk powder), which is in turn based on our rolling analysis of global trade balance. This is converted into a local value of farmgate milk using the industry’s product mix, deducting conversion costs and
converted to Australian dollars per kilogram of milksolids. Our approach recognises there are two components of farmgate milk prices paid by manufacturers in southern Australia – a commodity value of milk, which reflects the returns from the global market for dairy products, and an additional value captured on top of base commodity returns. Between 2011/12 and 2015/16 has averaged over 80% of final farmgate returns – ranging between 70% and 95% of the final average price paid by manufacturers in southern Australia.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
MARKETS // 15
Production growth in major markets IT’S BEEN widely reported by now somewhere between the extremes. that dairy markets are in a somewhat Milk production has been relatively steady – around 1% below 2016 levels in balanced phase. Product supply has retreated as February, and commodity prices have farmers worldwide respond to low steadied after early-year losses. The intervention program has prices, and demand has recovered thanks to those same low prices and a reopened, and skim milk powder is general rundown of inventories in key once again entering government storage, but many reports thus far indicate markets – especially China. Neither force has been enough to that only some contracts are trading at create a major price shock, so although the floor price level. Nonetheless, eight rounds of tensome products (butter and skim milk powder) are trading at significant pre- ders have failed to sell more than 40 miums or discounts to average, the tonnes of the 350,000 plus tonnes in overall market is somewhere in the storage, and the 109,000 tonne ceiling for this season is likely to be reached middle. Price shocks are, by their nature, by the end of the spring. The European Commission expects difficult to predict. They’re usually brought on in turn by climatic, eco- that milk production across the 28 nomic or political shocks, or by com- member states will grow by 0.3% in 2017 – with per-cow production growth modity bubbles. offsetting a likely fall in theonly herdasize. But the everyday ebbs and flows ofWith season 2011/12 few to domestic demand growth, supply and demand can also add upweeksDue from ending, attention is now to unbalance a market. Milk supply is the United States hasn’t been too focused on 2012/13 milk prices as farmoften where this happens, given that much of a concern for dairy exporters ers consider strategies for the coming the lagged response to market signals in recent years. But US milk supply In some domestically-focused continues to expand, and local analysts (caused by the nature of farming as ayear. regions, renegotiated contracts incorhave reported milk being dumped in at biological system). porating lower prices and reduced ‘tier By the time the milk is produced and least four states and regions, with manone’ access are undermining farmer sold, the demand conditions that gen- ufacturing capacity insufficient to deal and supply stability. For with growth in production. erated those prices have changed, andconfidence surprising you consider if everyone responded the same way atmanyNot farmers in when export-oriented that in the last years,relative US milk the same time, the overall response isregions, a lower pricefive outlook to has only posted negative effectively an overreaction. theproduction current season not only adds to the year-on-year growth for six but individual The better the view of what’s hap-challenges of doing business, seems months (out of 60). pening in the market, the less chanceto contradict the positive medium term Only one of these months has been there is of overreacting. outlook of Asia-driven dairy demand The European Union has for some in the last three years. March data growth. time now been the elephant in the shows 1.6% year-on-year growth in milk Dairy Australia’s indicative outlook room in regards to milk production. volumes for that month, in part due to southern gate milk prices being farm 0.5% (15,000 head) more– The removal of quotas, coinciding withforthere published in the recent Dairy 2012: Sitthe loss of its largest market (Russia) cows in the national herd. uation and Outlook report, is for an Whilst herd expansion is only part and a broader commodity price trough opening price range of $4.05-$4.40/kg have seen much attention focused on of the story, the USDA is forecasting MSthat andthere a fullwill year average25,000 price range be another cows Europe in recent years. producing milkand by the end of MS. the year; More recently, policy measures suchbetween $4.50 $4.90/kg The farmers are in the expansion mode and as payments for farmers to reducereport considers wider market picmore is on the the way.many factors production, and the much-publicisedture andmilk summarises Most this growth is concentrated Dutch dairy cow cull have led to sug-at play; the of key theme of the current sitin thebeing southwestern states (Texas,inArigestions that European milk produc-uation that of re-balancing the zona, New Mexico). The rule of thumb tion will fall sharply. dairy supply chain. Then there was the impending in the US is that when ‘revenue over In regions of Australia focused on seasonal flood of milk through the feed costs’ is greater than US$7.50/cwt producing drinking milk, many farmers northern hemisphere spring, that put for six months or more, milk supply a re-balancing market in the form expands. downward pressure on commodityface of renegotiation supply March marksofthe ninthcontracts consecprices. and reduced access to ‘tier one’ supply. been the So far in 2017, the reality has fallen utive month that this has
Export demand remains s With milk prices in New Zealand looking reasonable for a second season in 2017/18, local analysts suggest confidence is increasing.
duction has proven a difficult one this nificant ground to make up in rebuilding their businesses, and combined season. The drop in production following a with ever-tighter environmental reguwet spring turned out to be somewhat lations stifling new dairy developments, change (year-on-year) growthproduction in milk production is unlikely smaller incremental than originally forecast, within milk March production (up 10% compared to reach the double digit rates of years to March 2016) appearing to herald a past. The bottom line? Milk supply is big finish to the season. As it happened, this was just in not likely to contract this year, so in GLOBAL IMPACT time for Cyclones Debbie and Cook to the absence of a significant shock, we gLobaL impacT JOHN DROPPERT hit in April and shorten the season for won’t see any material supply-driven JohN DropperT a number of farms in various parts of gains in commodity prices. It isn’t expanding significantly case, with recovering milk prices and the North Island – though at the induseither, but farmers in most regions are aShifts continuation low contracts feed costsand driv-pro-try level the damage is limited. in privateoflabel ing profirationalisation tability. For the have full year, cessor seenthe milk With milk prices looking reasonable ready to capitalise if given incentive USDA expects milk production torequiregrow for a second season in 2017/18, New to do so. As a result, the expectation companies adjust their intake by 2.5%,and compared implying a Zealand’s farmers are finally putting is that we’ll see competitive pressure ments pricingtoto2016, meet the changtotal of around 99 billion litres. ing demands of a highly pressured retailtwo years of extreme cash flow pres- keep commodity prices around current Closer to home, the oft-employed sure behind them, and local analysts levels for some time yet. marketplace. Lower contract prices and • John Droppert is Senior Industry Anastrategy of trying to pick market direc- suggest confidence is increasing. a lack of alternative supply opportuniThat said, many farmers have sig- lyst with Dairy Australia. tion based on New Zealand’s milk pro-
ties present challenges in a market with flows. 2012 milk production in the US those in south-east Asia and the Middle limited manufacturing capacity. Despite is up around 4% on 2011 for the year to East maintain consistently higher ecothese challenges, the underlying domes- April (leap year adjusted), whilst early nomic growth rates that support tic market is stable, with steady per-cap- data suggests EU-27 milk production increased dairy consumption. Howita dairy consumption and a growing finished the March 2012 quota year up ever, the surge in supply has outpaced population providing a degree of cer- 2.3% on the previous year. New Zealand demand growth in the market. This situation has seen the scales tainty beyond the current adjustments. production is widely expected to finish In the seasons following the 2008 this season up 10% on last year - a huge tip in favour of buyers in dairy marfinancial crisis and subsequent com- market influence given 95% of NZ milk kets, with commodity prices retreatmodity price recovery, farmers in is exported. Argentina is also enjoy- ing steadily over recent months. Butter export-oriented regions have seen solid ing solid production growth, but a sig- prices are down some 30% from their global supply growth (see chart) - with nificant supply gap in Brazil prevents 2011 peaks, whilst powder prices have higher-cost competitors in the North- much of this additional milk from leav- lost more than 20%. Farm gate prices have subsequently been reduced in ern Hemisphere amongst those expand- ing South America. Despite wider economic uncer- most exporting regions. The average ing output as their margins increased. This season, favourable weather con- tainty, demand has remained resilient basic farm gate price for milk in France example, dropped 12% from 32 Euro as protein importing countries like China and forbalanced ditionsthehave further enhanced milkfat and Despite signifi cant divergence between products, dairy markets are reasonably overall.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
16 // MANAGEMENT
‘Fruit salad’ ensures yearround green feed RICK BAYNE
OVER THE past 20 years the climate has changed at Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil and Brian Schuler’s farm in Crossley in south-west Victoria and the paddocks have changed with it. When Brian went on the farm in 1997, ryegrass was the prominent crop with some chicory for variety. Today, ryegrass plugs holes rather than being the dominant species and they grow a “fruit salad” of varieties to ensure year-round green feed. “What we’re growing on the ground is totally different to 20 years ago,” Karrinjeet said. Solar panels, a 50% bigger effluent pond and more use of recycled water add to the farm’s recognition that the times are a-changing. The couple say they’ve had to make the changes to keep pace with the changing conditions and they expect to keep evolving. Karrinjeet said warmer soils, stronger winds, more “bad” seasons and longer summers had necessitated changes. “Absolutely we’ve noticed that it’s different. It used to be you’d get one bad season occasionally, now the bad seasons outnumber the good seasons,” she said. “We’ll have to continue adapting; we’re going to be running to keep up with it for a long time.” The farm has one large “fruit salad” paddock with chicory, clovers, lucerne, ryegrass, fescue, phalaris, cocksfoot, plantain. “There’s always something growing in this paddock, if one species isn’t working, another will,” Karrinjeet said. Other paddocks have a double-mix of phalaris and cocksfoot or summeractive lucerne and winter-active plantain, plus tall fescue with chicory. The new mix of crops started about four years ago when Karrinjeet and Brian noticed erosion between plants and changes to how things were growing.
Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil and Brian Schuler WHERE:
“Ryegrass stops growing when it gets too hot, so for five months of the year we don’t get much value out of it,” Karrinjeet said. “We get a lot of wind here. What we think is happening, and it’s backed up by climate science, is that as the temperature of the earth is warming, the winds are getting stronger and we’re finding because summers are longer, drier and hotter, rather than just going dormant over summer a significant amount of ryegrass is dying. “We have beautiful free-draining hills so we don’t have issue with mud and access but the best quality soil is most prone to erosion.” They have turned to deeper-rooting and summer active species and aim to have year-round cover for their soil. Some of the new seed varieties are more expensive than ryegrass and harder to establish which means there has been some trial and error along the way, but the results have been pleasing. “All year our cows have green feed,” Karrinjeet said. “That’s what we want. If you’re feeding more green there’s less methane produced by the cow.” They aimed for crops with bumper harvests, with brought-in feed limited to lucerne for the calving season and minimal silage. “Our main milking herd has not had a single thing fed out to it this season – no hay, no silage,” Karrinjeet said. “We deliberately don’t make a huge
Brian Schuler and Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil in front of their compost heap and in their “fruit salad” paddock (below).
amount of silage. We had a red wheat crop we grazed three times for really good winter feed and then closed it up for silage but in general we try to keep silage to a minimum which saves on harvesting costs, on plastic, diesel and man hours feeding it out.” The farm has an irrigation licence but only uses it in an emergency. “We don’t want to become dependent on it because it is expensive environmentally and it’s costly to run and it takes time and energy,” she added. Brian said the emphasis was on growing feed that best suits the cows and the land. “Instead of buying in a whole lot of energy and protein we can actually grow it by changing our crops and changing our system,” he said. “We won’t always get it right but if we try something and it works then we’ll keep going with it.” “We’ve put in crops to feed rather than trying to conserve feed to carry through, which has reduced costs and the type of feed we’re growing is more suited to the cow.” The changes will continue and will be monitored each year, but Brian and
Karrinjeet say they’re not alone in adapting to a different climate. “It’s not a journey we’re taking on our own,” Brian said. “Other farmers
are waking up to this as well. We’re sharing knowledge and learning from each other. We’re all trying new things and having a crack at different things.”
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
MANAGEMENT // 17
New tech will help offset environmental change RICK BAYNE
might be facing harsher climate conditions but that doesn’t mean they will be forced out of business. Dairy Australia’s Natural Resource Management Program Manager Cathy Phelps says farmers are already making changes so their businesses can cope with climate variability. The new CSIRO report paints a picture of warmer weather, less rain, more extreme weather events
and drier soil but Ms Phelps said farmers will adapt. “I wouldn’t make a prediction that dairying would disappear from any area,” she said. “There are farming systems that have managed these ups and downs quite well over the past decade and will continue to adapt into the future. The big challenge is the variable climate, and overlaying that is price volatility.” Feed pads to cater for summer feed gap and wet winter extremes, shifts in pasture mix with more
annuals or forage crops rather than perennial rye, carrying more fodder reserves, changing calving patterns and installing shade shelters are some of the initiatives farmers are using to mitigate the impact of climate variability. “People are adapting to increasing climate variability and the trend to hotter weather,” Ms Phelps said. “Whether they feel it is part of changes in natural cycles or whether it’s driven by concern that human activity is the cause of climate
change I can’t comment on, but there is a lot more awareness that the climate is changing and many are changing their farming systems in response.” The report suggests an increasing number of hot days accompanied by an increase in humidity and more weather extremes. “Some areas look likely to be more challenged than others but it is possible to adapt and people are adapting,” Ms Phelps said. “Every region will experience challenges; it gets back to extremes
and the timing of some of those events.” Ms Phelps said farmers will have to manage more complexity and understand and plan ahead for all the risks but added that it wasn’t all “doom and gloom”. “We will have precision technologies that will save time and get realtime data about plants’ need for water; we could have irrigation systems that apply what’s needed at the right time and we can select plant species that tolerate more heat,” she said. “There will be oppor-
Some adaptation ste ps that dairy farmers are taking include: Increasing stock shade and shelter for extrem e conditions ■ Water sav ing and recycling in the dairy shed ■ Summer cro ps to fill the feed gap ■ Carrying lar ger fodder reserves ■ Infrastructu re for feeding cows - she ds or pads ■ Upgrading on-farm water infrast ructure ■ Fans & spr inklers in sheds and yar ds ■ Business ma nagement - planning for income variability ■ Accessing long-range weather for ecasts ■ Watching and planning for globa l ma rket conditions. ■
Source: Dairy Australia Dairy Climate Tool Kit
tunities and developments to get more out of the resources we have
available and to offset the decreasing water availability.
Climate change to hit pastures, soil moisture RICK BAYNE
MOST DAIRY regions will warm by 1-2 degrees by 2040, affecting pasture growth and reducing runoff into dams, new research shows. The research, supported by Dairy Australia through a contract with CSIRO, shows Australia will become hotter, have less winter-spring rainfall, more droughts in southern Australia, uncertain rainfall changes in northern Australia, more extreme daily rainfall, higher evaporation and lower soil moisture. Projected changes in the eight dairy regions by 2040 under a high emission scenario show farmers will have issues with pasture growth, runoff into dams, viability of shade trees, managing feed, heat stress, pests, weeds, diseases and reproduction. Predicted extreme daily rainfall increases risks for flooding, erosion, waterlogging, infrastructure, supply chain and transport. To put the forecasts into perspective, in most cases a change in milk price of 30c/kg MS - about a 6% change to the long-term average - was predicted to have a larger impact on profitability than the 2040 high climate change scenario. However, farmers are being advised to get ready for the tougher conditions. Predictions from Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that stream flows in the state could reduce by about 50% in some catchments by 2065 are adding to the concerns. Some areas are expected to lose up
to 15% of their soil moisture which will have significant implications for pasture growth, runoff into dams and viability of shade trees. The time in drought will increase by more than 10% in most areas, impacting on managing feed, water and heat stress during hot, dry conditions. There will be a greater frequency of severe droughts and severe weather events. Some farmers are already feeling the pinch with temperatures rising in most dairy regions. South-west Victoria, northern Victoria, Western Australia and subtropical dairy have warmed more than other dairy regions. The CSIRO report says the evidence for global and Australian climate change is clear and further increases in greenhouse gases are expected over the coming decades. The biggest temperature increases are tipped for New South Wales and the subtropical region of Queensland and northern NSW which could warm by up to 2 degrees. Tasmania will experience the lowest temperature increase but will be still warm by up to 1.5 degrees. Other regions are expected to increase by between 1 and 1.8 degrees by 2040. Victoria’s three dairy regions are likely to experience median rainfall decreases of 3-5%, South Australia about 5%, Tasmania somewhere between zero and 15%, Sub Tropical Queensland about 5% and the southern part of Western Australia could lose up to 15% of its rainfall median.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
18 // MANAGEMENT
Ryegrass selection a balancing act HILLS AND Fleurieu dairy farmers have been debating the merit of newer late-season perennial ryegrasses for dryland pastures for years. New late season ryegrasses usually record higher dry matter (DM) yields and retain good feed quality later into spring. However the older traditional Victorian (VPR) variety seems to persist better in the longer term. Chris and Bev Rowntree manage 290 dairy cows (plus replacements) on 250 ha of dryland pastures at Myponga. They have been using late-season perennial ryegrass varieties (with novel endophytes) for over a decade and, in spite of some persistence problems, reckon these newer varieties offer enough yield and feed quality benefits to justify continued
Chris and Bev Rowntree WHERE:
sowings on their farm. “Most of our farm is as well suited to dryland perennial ryegrass as any other Fleurieu district,” Chris said. “This is an 850 mm rainfall area and we have medium-toheavy textured soils”. The district has traditionally grown VPR pastures, however Chris and Bev have been resowing mainly with new late-season perennial ryegrass varieties containing novel endophytes.
Chris Rowntree and agronomist Adrian Clarke inspecting their trial planting of Excess ryegrass in December 2016.
Chris reckons the newer ryegrasses seem to get away a bit quicker after the opening rains in autumn, but that their main benefit is in providing extended and better quality forage later into spring.
Of course, they only realise that benefit if they get continued rains into spring, like in 2010, 2012 and again in 2016. The differences were much less in some of the recent dry springs. “But the newer variet-
ies yield maybe 10 to 20% more DM overall for us compared to VPR,” Chris adds. Their experience has been with the late-season Banquet and Base varieties, which flower 3 to 4 weeks later than the traditional VPR. However, their agronomist suggested that some of the other late-season perennial ryegrasses (e.g. Bealey) would have performed similarly. However, Chris reported their pre-existing Banquet ryegrass pastures thinned out badly after the extended dry summer in 2012/13, much more so than older VPR pastures on their farm. He reckoned the latermaturing Banquet might have suffered more from the extended droughting, and possibly damage by African black beetle. “Nevertheless, we like
how Banquet and Base seems to grow quicker after autumn rains, and the better growth and reduced heading through spring is noticeable,” Chris said. “We have opted to continue resowing these later-maturing ryegrass and accept that we might need to oversow in extra ryegrass seed over time”. Chris remains concerned about ryegrass persistence on their north-facing slopes with shallow topsoils. “We would prefer an improved perennial ryegrass (with novel endophyte) but which is only maybe two weeks later to flowering than VPR for these more challenging paddocks,” he said. To this end, Chris planted Excess AR37 ryegrass in one such paddock in May 2016. “This is a trial planting but with late
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rains and mild summer it might take a couple of years to better assess its persistence on our farm,” he said. Their efforts with improved ryegrass pastures has been frustrated by infestations of barley grass. Chris explained how they had been spraying badly-infested ryegrass pastures with Shogun® herbicide for selective control. However a far more potent strategy has been to spray out the most degraded paddocks and spring-sow new chicory pastures. “The springsowing operation seems really good for cleaning out bad barley grass, and the chicory has complemented our ryegrass pastures really well with extra out-of-season paddock feed,” he said. • This article was first published in the DairySA e-loop.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
ANIMAL HEALTH // 19
Culling considerations ROD DYSON
I NEVER really liked
2036.She was the wild one as a calf. Then as a heifer she had a “spooky” look in her eye and she was always the one who went the wrong way when trying to get a mob through a gate. After having calved she caused our sharemilker some grief trying to break her in, so it was no surprise that when it was my turn to milk at the weekend, he warned me to “be a bit careful” with her. Both Saturday milkings had been uneventful, so maybe my guard was down, but on a cold frosty Sunday morning, she got me with a well-timed and savage kick, flush on my frozen fingers. As tears welled up in my eyes, I muttered “That’s it, you’re gone!”, but probably using a lot more colourful language and at high volume! After milking, I duly booked the truck for the next day, so on Monday morning she left the farm forever, and was marked in our herd records as “Sold – temperament”. As we now approach dry-off for the spring calving cows, culling often becomes part of the dry-off discussion; after all, there is no point in spending money to treat cows that will be culled. There are many different factors that go into considering which cows are to be culled - mastitis control is only one of those factors. Sometimes the decisions are carefully considered and sometimes they can be quite spontaneous. (That is when I always remember 2036!) In terms of mastitis, culling can mean different things to different farms and even to different cows. It is possible to cull a cow, cull a quarter (by making her a 3-teater), or cull a cow from the normal milking routine to reduce the risk of spread. Both clinical cases of mastitis and sub-clinically infected cows represent a significant risk of spreading infection to other cows in the herd, and the
longer they stay in the herd, the greater the risk. Obviously, not all cows will respond to mastitis treatments, but treatment at dry-off is definitely the best chance of curing subclinical infections. Persistently infected cows are cows that have had subclinical infections (as demonstrated by high individual cow cell counts) across consecutive lactations despite being treated at the intervening dry-off with antibiotic dry cow therapy. So the following are some of the thoughts we use in contributing to the discussion about culling for mastitis control. Number of clinical cases in this lactation? Countdown recommends that cows with 3 or more clinical cases of mastitis during the current lactation should be considered for preferential culling – this is the “three strikes and you’re out” concept. What is the cow’s previous clinical mastitis history? Did she have clinical cases last season? If so, how many? Have the cow’s previous clinical cases resolved quickly and easily, or have they been difficult to treat? Have cases recurred within 14 days (which suggests they weren’t cured originally)? What is the likelihood of treatment at dry-off being effective? Are there relatively recent milk culture results available to understand the likely type of infections in the herd - you should never just assume that the current infections are the same as they have always been. Some infections are likely to have significantly lower cure rates - your vet will interpret milk culture results for you in terms of likely cure rates at dry-off. Was she treated with antibiotic dry cow therapy at the end of the previous lactation? Is she a persistently infected cow? (If so, chances of a successful treatment are probably low.) What is her current stage of lactation,
pregnancy status, and production level? Cows that are not
nant, in late lactation and not producing well could be considered for early
As tears welled up in my eyes, I muttered “That’s it, you’re gone!”, but probably using a lot more colourful language and at high volume! pregnant, in late lactation, and low producers could be considered for immediately culling. Cows that are preg-
dry-off. How old is the cow? Treatment cure rates have been shown to be lower for older cows with
chronic infections, whilst young cows have a better chance of success. Is she a “good” cow? Cows with high genetic merit, favourite cows, etc. may all be considered worth another chance, but cows with low genetic merit, poor conformation, and/or poor behaviour will generally be culled earlier! This is obviously not a complete and exhaustive list of factors to consider when considering culling, but they are common
points of discussion that arise for us. And whilst each of these points could individually determine a cow’s future, generally they are all considered together to make those decisions. Obviously cows that transgress on more than one of these points will have a higher ranking on the preferential “cull list”, because treating a cow with a low chance of success, or a cow with a short future is likely to be
counter-productive and frustrating. Herd records, herd test results and a Countdown Mastitis Focus Report are all likely to be highly useful aids to interpret the records and make decisions. And at the end of the day, considered decisions are likely to be the best decisions – perhaps I should have given 2036 another chance... • Rod Dyson is a veterinary surgeon and mastitis advisor at www.dairyfocus.com.au
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
20 // ANIMAL HEALTH
Better the devil you know GEMMA CHUCK
weather often coincides with busy calving periods and an abundance of young and vulnerable calves. A change in weather can exacerbate the environmental chal-
lenge of many calf-scour pathogens, resulting in an increase in morbidity at this time of the year. Why is diagnosis important? There are many pathogens causing calf diarrhoea and these affect calves at different ages. Often multiple pathogens
affect an individual calf at the same time. Common bacteria affecting young calves include E.coli and Salmonella and only these bacterial pathogens will respond to antibiotics. Viral pathogens, including rotavirus and coronavirus, and protozoa, such as cryptosporidia
and coccidia, will not respond to antibiotics. Therefore it is essential to obtain an accurate and representative diagnosis to avoid unnecessary and inappropriate treatment. Some causes of calf diarrhoea are preventable through vaccination. However, the vaccines
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Remember, calves are usually infected with multiple pathogens at the same time and these may require differing treatments and/or preventative strategies. Removing the guesswork Diagnosis of calfscour pathogens is usually based on faecal analysis or samples at necropsy. When taking faecal samples, it is important to obtain samples from UNTREATED calves early on in the disease process. Calves that have already been treated with antibiotics should not be sampled as the antibiotic treatment can interfere with test results. It is essential that calves are sampled before any treatment and it is useful to keep some sterile sample pots for this purpose. Despite many calves being infected with multiple pathogens, not all of the causative pathogens will be continually present in the faeces of a scouring calf. As a result it is prudent to take samples from at least 3 (preferably 6) calves to help isolate all of the causative pathogens and avoid inconclusive results. If only one or two calves are sampled, then pathogens can be missed and calves may appear unresponsive to treatment. Necropsies should be performed by veterinarians as soon as possible after the calf has died to improve the chance of obtaining representative samples. Necropsies are best performed early on in the disease process and it may be necessary to perform a sacrificial necropsy to determine the underlying causes. How to take a faecal sample 1. Pre-label the sterile sample pot with a calf ID, age of calf, your name and the date. 2. Adequate restraint of the calf is required to obtain a sample. An assistant may be necessary. 3. Wearing disposable gloves, insert your index finger into the rectum of the calf and hold there. Patience is a virtue. Donâ€™t
be tempted to wiggle your finger around- this can cause damage to the lining of the rectum and blood may appear in the sample as a direct result of this. 4. With your other gloved hand, hold the open sample pot below the level of the anus, to catch the liquid faeces as it passes. Careful- it can be explosive! 5. Once the sample has been collected, secure the lid tightly and place in a zip lock bag. This will make you popular with your vet. 6. Either drop off the samples to your vet clinic or store in the fridge for no more than 24 hours. 7. Care should be taken when handling faecal samples as some of the calf-scour pathogens are zoonotic, meaning they can cause disease in humans. What happens next? Samples can be tested in-clinic or sent away to an external laboratory. The in-clinic tests can provide a good indication of which pathogens are involved but their major limitation is that they do not test for Salmonella. These tests will help determine viral scour pathogens, E.coli and cryptosporidia and can be done immediately upon collection of the samples. However, if there is an outbreak of calf scours involving the sudden death of multiple calves, it is wise to get the samples submitted to an external laboratory, as Salmonella may be suspected. The turn-around time is slower with external laboratory analysis but all the pathogens are tested for, including different Salmonella species. Various vaccines exist to aid in the prevention of Salmonella and an accurate diagnosis is important for future stock. External laboratories will also test the bacterial pathogens for resistance to different antibiotics. Regardless of the diagnostic tests used, it is important to record disease events such numbers of sick and dead calves so that your veterinarian can obtain an accurate history during a disease outbreak.
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
ABVs // 21
Higher quality bulls on supply THIS WEEK’S release
of Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) by DataGene has highlighted a trend that has seen more, young Holstein bulls of high quality coming through the ranks over the past year. The April ABV release will be the first published by DataGene, having taken on the genetic evaluation roles performed by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) over the past 30 years. DataGene Genetic
Evaluation manager, Michelle Axford, said
there were notable increases in the genetic
merit of the top Holstein young bulls (see table).
This time last year there were no young, genomic Holstein bulls with a Balanced Performance Index – BPI – above 300 in the Good Bulls Guide. Now there are more than 25. In fact, the average BPI of the top 50 young bulls is now over 300, representing a more than 20% increase over the past year. Also, there is a wider range of bull companies represented by the top 10 Holstein bulls, going up from two last April to five in
this release. “That’s great news for Australian dairy farmers. Having access to more, better, young bulls means more choice. And by always choosing bulls that carry the Good Bulls logo, dairy farmers can be confident their breeding choices will contribute to an overall improvement in their herd’s genetic merit for profit,” she said. The past three years has also seen a steady increase in the number of Holstein bulls genomically
tested (see graph). Mrs Axford said that while DataGene had taken on the role of genetic evaluation and broader herd improvement roles, ABV releases were very much a case of ‘business as usual’. “DataGene has some major projects on the go, including the development of the much-awaited centralised data repository, but the industry can be assured that the routine ABV releases continue as normal,” she said.
Balisto retains top ranking HOLSTEIN BULL Balisto has retained his place at the top of the Australian Breeding Values list released last month. Balisto (De-Su 11236 BALISTO ) has a balanced performance index ranking of $333 and is ranked number one on both the Type Weighted Index (TWI) and Production Index (ASI 276). Balisto gets 61% of his genetics from his mother, with a maternal line from Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy-ET TV EX-92 3E. “She has proven herself time and time again genomically and has now produced an elite global proven sire,” ABS National Sale Manager, Paul Quinlan, said. “With 1500 daughters globally Balisto has an exceptionally reliable proof, making him very desirable to Holstein breeders.”
Tahbik a proven sire GENETICS AUSTRALIA has
achieved top rankings in the Balanced Performance Indext (Australian Proven Only) in the April release of the Australian Breeding Values. The breeding co-op scored the number one rankings for Holstein bull Geemcee and Jersey bull, Beulah Tahbilk. Geemcee has consolidated his position at the top of the list with a BPI of $304, ahead of rising star Maebull, with a BPI of $298. Maebull (Palermo x Shottle), bred by Craig Lister of Calister Holsteins, Calivil, Victoria, is 90% reliable for production traits with 69 milking daughters combined with his genomic data. Genetics Australia General Manager, Anthyony Shelly, said Maebull offers increases to protein and fat yield combined with moderate milk flow to provide a balanced production ABV with positive deviations. “With a BPI of 298, his average sized daughters have shallow snuggly attached udders and genomics
A Beulah Tahbilk daughter.
has given us the additional tool to focus on health traits and this is where Maebull excels. “High ratings for Survival (109), Cell Count (177) and Daughter Fertility (109) make him one of the best bulls available for these important profitable traits.” Beulah Tahbilk is bred by Daryl and Lani Hoey of Katunga, Victoria.
At 299 BPI based on 72 milking daughters, Tahbilk has the best BPI (Australian proven only). “Tahbilk daughters are hard to fault, very consistent displaying fantastic frames combined with wide sloping rumps and correct legs. “Udders are strong at 111 and attachments and teat placement are exceptional.”
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
22 // ABVs
Confirmation that breeding decisions are improving herd BONNIE VIEW owners
Ray and Sue Howe and manager Stuart Seabrook make breeding decisions together. Based at Drouin in West Gippsland, there were about 550 milkers in the Bonnie View herd in a typical year, with calving split between autumn and spring. Over the past 20 years, they’ve bred high genetic merit animals, with their Holstein herd ranking 112 in Australia based on Balance Performance Index (BPI). Ray and Stuart make the sire selection decisions to breed animals that have functional
traits suited to a pasture based system. “We are looking for animals that are athletic, capable of walking dis-
attention to workability and longevity traits,” Ray said. When selecting sires, profitable production is a
tances and foraging pasture. In the past we’ve focused on Australianbred bulls but more recently we’ve paid more
Ray Howe and Stuart Seabrook have bred a high genetic merit herd, making the breeding decisions together, aiming to breed cows that have functional traits suited to a pasture-based system.
Bonnie View’s Genetic Progress report shows the herd has made steady progress in improving genetic merit for Balanced Performance Index (BPI) over the past 20 years.
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given, as Ray and Stuart tend to focus on proven bulls that rank in the top 10%. “Within that group we look at all the indices for each bull – BPI, TWI and HWI.” The first thing to note about the Howes’ results is they’ve made steady progress in improving the herd’s genetic merit for Balanced Performance Index (BPI) over the past 20 years (see graph). This is very impressive as it’s easy to get distracted on different breeding priorities over time. Using the herd’s current ABV results, which include a large proportion of genomic data, we broke the herd into five groups based on BPI. Working with the current milk price, an average cow in the bottom 20% of the herd returns $347 less income than the top 20%. There’s about 100 cows in that bottom 20%, so between them, the bottom 20% generate
$36,000 less income than the top 20%. Knowing who’s in the bottom 20% will be handy for Ray and Stuart when making breeding and culling decisions. For example, they could select replacements from the higher performing ABV cows, and apply greater scrutiny and culling nomination to the lower performing ABV cows. Genomics results for younger heifers allow herd managers to review how replacement heifers align with potential future profitability performance. Ray also sees the opportunity to keep the occasional bull calf from top cows to use after the AI period. The actual (historical) performance of individual cows (from herd test results) is compared with their ABV(g)s for specific traits. Their actual performance was closely aligned with their genetic merit, particularly for mastitis resistance, fertility and
survival. For example, the cows in the Bonnie View herd dataset with higher Cell Count ABVs have an average cell count that is 180,000 lower than the lower genetic merit cows. Cows with higher Fertility ABVs have an average calving interval that is 64 days shorter than their lower genetic merit herd mates. The cows in the herd dataset with higher Survival ABVs last on average 596 days longer in the herd than the lower genetic merit cows. That’s almost two extra lactations. BPI is also a good indicator of longevity. • This article was written by Lee-Ann Monks and Ginfo project manager Paul Douglas and was first published in the April/May Holstein Journal. If you are interested in analysing the performance of your herd or having females genotyped, contact Holstein Australia ph 03 9835 7600 or email: enquiry @holstein.com.au
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Ginfo is Australia’s national reference herd for genetic information. It includes detailed information on more than 20,000 cows including their genotypes, classification scores and performance data from herd testing. Ginfo herds were chosen because they had very good records. The project classified and genotyped the herd’s first lactation heifers. The results provided herd managers with information to see the impact of their breeding decisions and inform future
breeding decisions. Bonnie View was an ideal candidate for Ginfo, having pedigree data records back to 1980 and herd test data records back to 1987. As a Ginfo herd, Bonnie View data has contributed to improving the reliability of genomic ABVs – ABV(g) s for all traits, especially daughter fertility and overall type. In particular, the addition of classification results has helped improve the reliability of individual cow breeding values for type and mammary system.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
24 // MACHINERY & PRODUCTS
Ploughing the fields of impatience ARE YOU a patient
person? I’m not. So much so in fact, that by now anyone who knows me well has probably got their head thrown back in uproarious laughter, struggling to read through tears of hilarity. All due to the sheer force of understatement captured in those two words of admission. Anyway, we’ll continue without them. Not only am I not patient, but I’m not rich. So my normal mode of purchase, when I seek to expand my machinery holdings, is to turn up to a farmer or secondhand yard somewhere with a
JOHN DROPPERT trailer, make a decision, and take that treasure straight on home. Why muck around? The worst part about being a *wince* hobby farmer is having to then wait a long day-job working week before I can take it out and put it through its paces.
That’s not to say these are necessarily impulse buys. As any true machinery enthusiast will attest, part of the pleasure of the purchase is the many weeks spent online (or, once upon a time, salivating over the ‘Farms and Farm Machinery’ listings in print) checking out the options. At least that part costs virtually nothing. By now, the less patient amongst you will be beginning to chafe and wonder what the point of all of this is. The point is that I want to write this column about a machine that I have yet to lay eyes upon. You see, I’ve gone all
fancy and bought a brand spanker. A new S-tine cultivator from the great Australian manufacturer, John Berends Implements. Mind you, it cost less than the lime I’m looking to have spread in the next few weeks (and it’s hard to get excited about lime). The catch of course, being that by paying more for shiny paint, for delivery one must wait. This purchase is the fulfilment of several dreams. I’m buying a brand new machine, from a ubiquitous Australian company, to plough up and renovate one of my paddocks.
A paddock not being cultivated by a not-yet-delivered machine.
I’m still doing it on the cheap – old school tillage, none of this fancy disc seeder nonsense. Pasture renovation is the final frontier after spending years pursuing without mercy every barbed-wire-falling-down fence, crooked post, dragging gate, dodgy leaseholder repair job, clogged drain and potholed laneway.
At last, that bent grass and pugging damage has got it coming. Except the only thing coming so far is my cultivator. Apparently. • John Droppert has no mechanical qualifications whatsoever, but has been passionate about tractors
The new S-tine cultivator purchased by our impatient author.
since before he could talk and has operated many different makes and models in a variety of roles for both profit and fun.
GMD hits 50 THERE WON’T be many farmers from the fifties, sixties or seventies who don’t
remember the old finger-bar mowers of old, and memories of sharpening knife sections, and jamming one’s fingers in the fingers. Easily blunted, and prone to blocking in difficult conditions, everyone breathed a sigh of relief when twin drum mowers, and eventually disc mowers arrived on the scene. It’s interesting then to see that French manufacturer Kuhn is using 2017 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of its first disc mower the GMD4. Launched in 1967, the new design saw oval discs with replaceable blades which assisted the cut crop on its path, and cut smoothly in difficult conditions or lodged crops. Today, the company continues to be a leader in the design of disc mowers from 2.6 to 5.2 metres cutting widths, or in multiples thereof to make triple systems with widths in excess of 9.5 metres. Those machines include innovations such as Lift Control which offers up to 31 degrees of oscillation while maintaining a regular cutting height, or the impressive ProtectaDrive which helps to prevent driveline damage in the event of a foreign object impact. This is achieved by a pre-machined groove in the disc drive shaft fracturing above the support bearing in an impact, and allowing easy replacement in just 15 minutes.
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• More lifts, less trauma, less sulking and more success For more information including case studies & videos, visit the new website www.steinfortagvet.com.au
firstname.lastname@example.org Mark Cockerell Marketing & Sales 0435 823 386 John Steinfort Technical 0428 595 957
DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
MACHINERY & PRODUCTS // 25
Kuhn VB ups the ante MARK DANIEL
FRENCH MACHINERY giant Kuhn acquired
the Vicon baler business, and its production facility in Geldrop, Holland in late 2008, and has continued to develop the product ranges over the years to where it now offers a choice of up to 16 variable chamber machines. Two new machines added to the range for the coming season are the new VB 2265 and 2296 models, which follow the same layout as existing 2200 series machines, with 230cm pick-ups, bale formation by 3 rollers and 5 belts and Progressive Density Control, but see a number of upgrades to allow 10% greater bale densities. The VB 2265 can produce bales from 0.8 to 1.6m diameter, and the
2295 can accommodate sizes of up to 1.85 metres. Aimed at the Contractor market and dubbed the “Heavy Duty Option” the Progressive density control which comprises a belt tensioning arm, twin hydraulic cylinders and compression springs, now is subjected to greater operating pressures to control bale density from the core to the exterior. The increase in pressure from 180 to 235 bar sees an upgrade to the machine drivelines with larger size and increased quality drive chains, which are lubricated by the BaleMax continuous oiling system. Drive shafts now also utilise heavy-duty universal joints to deal with increased torque loadings, and a second driven roller on the belt drive system ensures positive bale rotation.
Durability of the machines is further enhanced by Hardox wear plates incorporated into the pick-up area and on the rotor feeder tine points. Overall choices include basic non-chopping feeder rotors, a 23 knife cutting rotor delivering a 45mm chop length,
and of course the combined wrapper system dubbed VBP. Jarrod Maskell, Territory Manager Vic-TAS, Kuhn AU commented: “We have already sold a number of units for the coming season. “Although there is a possibility of delivering higher bale weights, we
think that current weights are probably enough. “If that’s the case we think that users will probably run the units at around 70% density to deliver similar weights, but deliver less stress, and achieve a longer service life for the machines.” www.kuhn.com.au
Tough, smart and simple
THE CHEAPEST FORM OF FEED.
GALLAGHER WESTON Fence is made in Parker
New South Wales, and has been specifically designed for inclusion or exclusion- that’s keep the buggers in, or keep the blighters out! Said to be easy to install, and particularly useful for erecting long runs quickly, the system is easily configured to differing types of livestock, and would typically see a cattle set-up using 7 wires to achieve a 1100mm height Using conventional strainer posts with braces at the end of each run alongside conventional wire ratcheting fixings, steel posts are spaced at 10 metre intervals, while a clever HDPE droppers or battens are placed every 3.3 metres. Droppers are made from “drum muster” and are light to handle, and in use are thread onto the wires whilst on the ground, using what resembles a long needle, from where they are spaced onto the wires using a roller system mounted to a UTE or trailer. Once the desired spacing is achieved, a preformed galvanised wire is attached to the top and bottom wires to “lock” the droppers in place. Once erected the set up allows the fitment of hot wires laterally, from any wires on the fence.
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DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA MAY 2017
26 // MACHINERY & PRODUCTS
The best just got better MARK DANIEL
WHEN WE reviewed the VW Amorak back in February 2016, its fair to say we quite liked it. For 2017, that “like” has just moved up the scale to “love”, especially so because of the addition of the new V6 engine offering. Whilst it might be pricey, but then all flagship models are, with a V6 pumping out 165Kw of power and delivering 550Nm torque, is smoother, and pulls better than James Bond, and it gets even better when the over-boost delivers 180Kw and 580Nm. This occurs when the throttle is set at more than 70%, the speed is above 50kph, and lasts for around 10 seconds, so great for passing out on the open road- and sees 100kph coming up in 7.9 seconds. Stopping is taken care of by industry leading disc brakes on each corner. Interestingly, towing capacity remains unchanged at 3000kgs, but even with that maximum load on the tow-bar the 8-speed transmission is a joy, and leads the field
with its silky-smooth shifts, which can be “hurried up” by moving to the S-mode on the shift lever, or the wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In all reality, this tester took the “let the technology do its thing” route and came away suitably impressed. The ride, as enjoyed in the previous incarnation was comfortable and compliant and certainly didn’t exhibit the normal tendency of Utes to feel over-sprung when the load bay is empty, and deliver that “twitchy” feel. Whether this is because the rear leaf springs are set outside the chassis rails, I don’t
know, but no issues there. Permanent 4WD with a centre Torsen differential makes cornering sure-footed, although some commentators question the lack of 2WD. But the inherent technology delivers a drive split favouring 60:40 rear to front as normal, shifting to 80:20 under hard acceleration, or 40:60 when there’s soft stuff under the wheels. At the business end the load tray is the largest out there measuring 1555mm long, 1620mm wide and 508mm deep. Importantly, the distance between the inner wheel
arches is 1222mm, no doubt helped by the wide-spaced springs, and allowing the placement of standard Euro pallets. The only criticism in this area might come from vertically-challenged folk who might find the 780mm load height a bit of a reach. Back in the cabin, which is wide and airy, the front seat jockeys get great seats, great instrumentation, and a good climate package. By contrast, the rear seat occupants have plenty of width to sit three, although knees might be a little tight, but the key gripe is likely to be the lack of any ventilation outlets, and limited access to the allimportant cup holders. So, is it worth the price ticket? -a resounding yes! The opposition might point out that even at this level the Amorak V6 misses out on some hi-tech gizmos like blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. Is that a problem? -maybe, but not for this driver who likes to drive, and is a follower of the K.I.S.S. doctrine.
Quad safety stoush THE WAR of words over quad bike safety in Australia has recently been elevated, with a manufacturers’ group getting together to launch a Supreme Court action to block WorkSafe Victoria from forcing employers to fit operator protection devices (OPD) where there is a risk of rollover. In March WorkSafe Victoria said any employer who believed there was a risk of a quad rollover on farm or workplace should fit a suitably designed and tested OPD, or risk an enforcement notice. This month Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and BRP have called on the Supreme Court to declare “that WorkSafe Victoria has no statutory power to enforce employers to fit OPDs”. And they say quad operators “should not try to fit an OPD to a quad or use a quad fitted with such a device – a quad-bar, roll cage or restraint system”. WorkSafe responded saying the bike makers’ claim was without merit and would be vigorously defended. WorkSafe insisted “there are many examples of riders being crushed to death by quads not fitted with OPDs, and we believe a suitably designed and tested device is an appropriate measure to control the risk” The makers group is now investigating the Victoria Government’s $6 million quad safety rebate scheme, and has subpoenaed the Victorian Farmers Federation to say how many devices have been fitted by farmers taking advantage of the $600 rebate claimable on up to two devices.
POWER UP YOUR PASTURES WITH A JOHN SHEARER DRILL
Increase your pastures’ feed density with a John Shearer drill and get the most out of the land you already have. Shearer seed drills are designed and built in Australia for our unique conditions. With variety of sizes and ground-tool configurations available, we have models to suit every region. Every machine is engineered for a long service life and top reliability with parts and support available nation wide.
Call 08 8268 9555 or visit johnshearer.com.au for more info or to find your local dealer.
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