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Fodder supplies hit critical levels page 3

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Visa changes make hiring staff more difficult PAGES 4-5

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

news  // 3

Fodder supplies hit critical levels rick bayne

Fodder supplies have hit critical levels

Queensland farmer Greg Dennis is on a fast learning curve to think like a retailer. PG.16

Dr Stephen Jagoe says simple changes to a transition cow’s diet can be made to compensate for a lack of quality hay. PG.28

Gippsland farmer Mark Calder says improvements in new models make New Holland an easy choice. PG.31

News������������������������������������������������������3-13

across eastern Australia, forcing dairy farmers to look for novel ways to feed their stock over winter. A record dry spell stretching back to October 2012 and a late autumn break have resulted in pasture yields well below expectations, and a tight grain market is exacerbating the problem. Industry development manager for the Australian Fodder Industry Association Ltd, Caitlin Scholfield, said all key dairying areas were facing hay and fodder shortages, prompting farmers to search for alternative feed options. “Farmers are looking at other fodder sources such as almond hulls or palm kernels or whatever they can find as a fibre source to get them through winter,” Ms Scholfield said. A lot of hay and fodder stock was sold early and at high prices due to the strong demand after dry conditions since October 2012 resulted in low crop yields. “Unfortunately because the break was too late most farmers have not seen the pasture growth they expected,” Ms Scholfield said. Chief analyst at Profarmer Australia, Nathan Cattle, said grain stocks remained tight in all major dairying areas in eastern Australia; however stocks in Western Australia are more comfortable. “Grain producers achieved a good price at harvest time and were able to export very quickly which meant there potentially is not a lot of supply left in Australia unsold for the second half of this year,” Mr Cattle said. “Many local end-users anticipated what was

coming and bought a fair bit at harvest time to ensure they had adequate supply,” he added. Mr Cattle predicted farmers may not see significant price relief until the next Australian harvest because of the tight stocks. “The USDA is predicting near-record harvest globally this year and the Northern Hemisphere harvest is well underway, but dairy regions in eastern Australia may not see significant price relief until the Australian harvest is underway given how tight stocks are here.” He added that the good start to the northern hemisphere harvest could see lower prices at the next Australian harvest. WestVic Dairy chairman in Victoria, John

Dalton, said the scarcity of supply was forcing farmers to pay more and seek alternative sources of fibre. “Unless you have an established contact for supply, it’s very difficult to get hay and fodder and if you can the price is climbing. Some can’t get it at all,” Mr Dalton said. Like many other farmers in the region, Mr Dalton is using alternative feed options. “We’ve been using a blended hay, orange, grape marc and almond kernel mix for the past six or seven weeks. Everyone is looking for high fibre,” he said. “It’s a commonly held view that if it’s not the hardest season we’ve had in memory, it’s pretty darn close. We’re just getting through the best we can.”

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

4 //  visa changes

Visa process too complex Gerard was first to arrive in Australia in July 2009. With a Degree in Construction ManageIrish nationals Gerard Conway and Siob- ment he soon found ways to use his skills on dairy han Clavin found more farms. than jobs in the dairy “I found out about the industry when they sepafarm at Macarthur and rately made their way to wanted to try it Australia under out. I like counworking holiday “There’s try life and fitted visas in 2009 and a lot you 2010. have to do in well,” he said. They also – it should He is now the farm infrastrucfound love. ture technician Now happily be easier and oversees working and fill- rather development on ing a skills short- than the farm which age on a large harder.” milks more than dairy farm in 3000 cows. Macarthur in south-west Siobhan, who has a Victoria, Gerard and Siobdegree in botany, arrived han say the visa process needs to be simplified, not in November 2010. The couple met in further complicated. Melbourne and Gerard They say the use of invited Siobhan to join skilled migrants not only him at Macarthur for benefits Australian dairy farms but helps to address the second part of her 417 working holiday visa. chronic unemployment “I came here for three problems in Ireland. “Youth unemployment months and stayed,” she said. is at ridiculous levels in Siobhan is now assisIreland,” Siobhan said. Rick Bayne

Irish nationals Gerard Conway and Siobhan Clavin work on a dairy farm in western Victoria.

tant calf rearing manager. Gerard is a permanent resident and Siobhan on a partner temporary visa which will soon become permanent.

“It took a couple of months to go through the process to become a permanent resident,” Gerard said. “There’s a lot you

have to do – it should be easier rather than harder,” Siobhan added. “Needing four years’ experience before you come here makes it more difficult,

“I know some workers who were good and liked it and wanted to stay but couldn’t because they didn’t have the right skills and training,” he said.

especially when the age limit is 30.” Gerard added that only migrant workers with relevant skills were employed on dairy farms.

Farmers find applications ‘too much hassle’ Tasmanian dairy farmer

Garry Carpenter has used the 457 visa system before to find staff and says it should be made easier, not harder. “I used it about 18 months ago when the market was tight and it was enough hassle when you’re busy. I can understand why they are making the changes but it

should be able to be done in less time, not more,” Mr Carpenter said. “Employers should have the choice to look around if they can’t find someone suitable locally. Farmers won’t be involved if it gets too hard.” Skilled migration project manager for the Great South Coast

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unless they are skilled and experienced and the local market has been tested,” he said. “They are not taking local jobs and not under-cutting wages but they are helping local farmers who can’t find suitable workers.” Irish backpackers are a mainstay of overseas dairy farm workers in the region while there is also

demand for Filipino workers who gained qualification in the Philippines and practical experience in New Zealand. Mr Hoggan said many dairy farmers were frustrated when they were unable to retain good workers who didn’t meet the visa skills or education requirements, and by the mounting paper work.

Garry Carpenter

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visa changes  // 5

New visa laws create red tape barriers to fill jobs RICK BAYNE

Tougher laws

restricting the use of skilled migrant workers on dairy farms may leave many farmers unable to fill vacancies. The new rules are forcing more regulations, paper work and costs on farmers, prompting fears they will abandon the scheme because it has become too hard. The National Farmers Federation and Australian Dairy Farmers have slammed the changes, saying they will make it harder for farmers to find properly skilled people. The industry groups say

an already arduous task has been made more of a burden for an industry struggling to find suitable staff in the local market. Concerns centre around the increased onus on employers to prove they can’t find Australian staff, including new advertising and market testing requirements before sponsoring an overseas worker on a 457 visa, and more stringent training guidelines. Farmers and industry leaders say the use of skilled migrants is a vital part of the dairy industry and needs to be protected, not hindered. The new laws are intended to crackdown on

rorting, protect Australian jobs and ensure overseas workers are not exploited. But dairy leaders say the skilled migrants are not being used as a cheap option and are only employed when needed. Dairy farmers wanting to nominate a foreign worker under the 457 visa will now have to pay $330, up from $85. Candidates for 457 and permanent resident visas are also facing huge fee increases. Those aged 18-30 on 417 working holiday visas can work for up to six months each with two different employers and can extend their stay for a further 12 months if working in a regional area.

Farmers and foreign workers who want to extend their arrangements to a 457 work visa already face an arduous process and expect it to be worse after the passing of the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill through Parliament in late June. ADF president Noel Campbell said the amendment would disadvantage farmers who have a genuine need to seek overseas workers due to the lack of available local labour. “At a time when there is a critical shortage of skilled dairy workers, the dairy industry heavily relies on skilled migration to bolster its workforce

and help our farmers fill labour shortages,” Mr Campbell said. Mr Campbell said while the percentage of dairy farms using staff on 457 visas was relatively low, more were turning to the overseas market for help. “We’re hearing from more farmers all the time that they need to go down this route, especially those on bigger and more remote properties,” he said. Mr Campbell described the current application process as complex and laborious which prolonged the length of on-farm vacancies. “Instead of addressing farmers’ concerns and streamlining the appli-

cation process, the Government’s changes will make an already challenging situation even more complex, placing an even greater workload on farmers and affecting health and wellbeing,” Mr Campbell said. “It’s becoming too hard. Already some farmers have to use a third party at a substantial cost to do the forms.” Mr Campbell said the legislation indicated farmers needed to advertise positions and go through a formal market testing process. “Some details are yet to come out, but farmers aren’t set up for going to employment expos and

the like. “They may well abandon the system if it gets too hard. If it takes too long to get someone for a seasonal job, they won’t bother about it.” He said the dairy industry needed more flexibility and to be recognised as having seasonal jobs. As part of its election platform, the ADF is hoping to pressure the major parties to simplify the visa process. It is also arguing for agricultural education to be placed on the National Priority Band for compulsory HECS-HELP repayments, to encourage more students to enrol in agricultural studies.

Difficult process just got tougher Rick Bayne

A difficult process to hire skilled migrants was being made tougher for those in genuine need, according to DairyTas executive officer Mark Smith Mr Smith, who has written letters of support for local farmers to back their proposals to hire skilled migrants, said it was disappointing that the system was being made tougher for farmers who were in genuine need of employees. “A lot of farmers have

already expressed frustration over the whole process,” he said. “There is already a reasonably onerous process; farmers wouldn’t go through it if they didn’t need to find skilled workers.” Mr Smith said dairy farmers were genuine users of skilled migrant workers. United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Kerry Callow said the changes would mean farmers “have to jump through more hoops” to secure skilled overseas workers. “As farms get bigger

they are more reliant on outside labour. It’s not like the old days of small family farms where the kids get the jobs,” Ms Callow said. “These changes will make it harder for farmers to keep a stable and reliable workforce,” she said. “It’s not just a cheap option. Dairying is a skilled employment area which is often under-estimated and our difficulty in attracting people to do the work is limiting the industry’s ability to grow.” Ms Callow added that changes were needed

for farmers who have migrated from New Zealand. “There are many cases of farmers who have come from New Zealand, own land here and have had children here but have still not achieved citizenship,” she said. National Farmers Federation CEO Matt Linnegar said the changes would disadvantage Australian farmers who have a genuine need to seek overseas workers due to the lack of local availability. “Overseas workers play a small but important role in the Australian agricul-

tural sector, helping our farmers fill labour shortages at peak times when local labour is difficult to access,” Mr Linnegar said. “The labour shortage in agriculture is nothing new: we’ve been saying for many years that we simply do not have enough workers in our sector,” he said. The NFF is working on a workforce development plan to ensure longterm labour shortages can be overcome and to build the Australian agricultural labour market “But in the short term, migration programs, like the 457 visa program, are

Kerry Callow

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

6 //  news

MG improves opening price Murray Goulburn has lifted its milk price by 13c/kg milk solids to a “weighted average” of $5.73kg of milk solids – less than a month after announcing its opening price. The cooperative drew some negativity from farmers for including an optional 13c/kg pre-paid final step-up in its initial opening price of $5.60kg/MS. This step-up will be based on milk produced in the 2013-14 season and would need to be paid back if suppliers leave the cooperative. However, the improved price, which it attributed to the declining value of the Australia dollar, has been well received. The new price is a 27% increase on the 2012/13 opening price. The cooperative’s forecast end-ofseason price has also increased to a range of $5.80 to $6.10kg/MS. MG managing director Gary Helou said the co-op had seen further significant falls in the value and outlook for the Australian dollar since it announced its opening price. “This recent major shift in the currency has added favourably to MG’s farmgate price outlook and allowed this increase in opening base price,” Mr Helou said. “We were also pleased to provide a component of our pricing as cash up

Murray Goulburn took advantage of the declining value of the Australian dollar and raised its opening price. front and many MG suppliers have already submitted their form to take up this option.” The prepaid step-up is expected to be paid in a lump sum this month or next. Mr Helou said that the offer to pay the special prepaid step-up to existing and new suppliers in 2013/14 remained open until July 31. Monthly opening prices have been Gary Helou increased by $0.09 per kilogram fat and $0.19 cents per kilogram protein from the cooperative’s initial opening circular on June 5, 2013. The new price follows the opening price announcements of other major processors. Fonterra Australia has opened at $5.60kg/MS for its Victoria and Tas-

Fonterra has opened at $5.60kg/MS for its Victorian and Tasmanian suppliers.

mania suppliers and a forecast full-year milk price of $6.00kg/MS, plus or minus 10 cents. The company said individual supplier’s milk prices will vary across supply regions, depending on the individual farm’s milk profile, pricing options, regional production factors, milk quality, and farm management systems. Fonterra also today announced a

step up of 4c/kg of fat and 10c/kg of protein for milk supplied in the 2012/13 season. This step-up will be paid with June proceeds on July 15. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) will open at $5.65kg/MS – about 25% higher than its opening price last year. The company’s forecast full year price range is $5.90 to $6.10kg/MS. It also announced a final step-up for

Burra announces opening range In a break with tradi-

tion Gippsland processor, Burra Foods, has provided an opening range of prices for this season. Traditionally, farmer frustration levels rise early in the new season when they receive their milk

cheque, only to find it’s less than thought. Complexity of milk payment systems is a sore point for many – with seasonal supply curves, composition and scale affecting the official opening price.

The opening price announced by Burra Foods will see a range of $5.25 to $5.65kg/MS due to each farm milk supply partner having a different seasonal supply curve, production profile and composition. The company said this

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is a 28% increase in the opening milk price compared to last season. Burra Foods CEO, Grant Crothers, raised his concern at some of the misinformation in opening prices that were announced by some of the major processors. “It seems that some processors are in the habit of announcing an opening price that is theoretically ‘available’ but which no supplier in the pool can achieve as it’s so far away from a typical supplier,” he said. “When the actual prices as announced are applied to an average sized Gippsland farm it can be

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the 2012-13 season of 6c/kg for butterfat and 15c/kg for protein. It takes the final average milk price to $5kg/MS. Longwarry Food Park has opened at $5.70kg/MS, which includes an advance step-up of 10c/kg for fat and 20c/kg for protein. Bega cheese has opened at $5.62kg/ MS but quoted a range of $5.40-$5.90kg/ MS to reflect the different circumstances of its suppliers.

Global dairy prices 70% higher International milk prices have risen again while volumes have jumped at Fonterra’s first auction of the month on July 2. The Global Dairy Trade, which covers 30 products, rose 0.7%, with an average selling price of US$4643 per tonne. The rise followed a jump of 1.1% at the previous sale. A total of 38,890 tonnes were sold, 64% more than the previous auction. Prices for whole milk powder rose 0.1%. Rennet casein surged nearly 8% and butter fell nearly 6%. Michael Harvey BNZ economist Doug Steel said the rise may not seem much, but dairy prices are now almost 70% higher than they were a year ago. He does not think they can hold up where they are, but said they will still remain strong. In its latest Dairy Quarterly report, Rabobank shows milk production volumes in Australia have continued to decline rapidly over the tail end of the past milk season. Production volumes were down 7.6% in May and season-to-date output is trailing last season by 2.7%. Production is forecast to increase marginally over the course of the 2013/14 season, despite an expected slow start. “Rabobank expects milk supply to edge up by 1% in the second half of 2013, then by 2% in the first half of 2014, generating a small increase in exportable surplus over the period,” senior dairy analyst Michael Harvey said.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

news  // 7

Dairy Farmers rejects Lion milk price rick bayne

The Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative has rejected a new pricing structure from Lion with members reverting to last year’s prices while the issue is being resolved. DFMC chairman Ian Zandstra said the Lion proposal was a “have and have not” model which would mean lower overall milk prices for most suppliers. “We have told Lion the new model is unacceptable and we are in negotiation for our farmers in New South Wales and south-east Queensland,” he said. “The two entities are working through setting a price and structure that is appropriate and in the interim we will have a continuation of last year’s prices.” The dispute is likely to head to mediation. “One of our strong points is that we can represent farmers collectively and enter a dispute resolution process. We’ve been there several times before,” Mr Zandstra said. Mr Zandstra said farmers accepted the decision to return to last year’s prices while the dispute is being resolved; which he expects could take

a further two months. “We have had meetings with farmers to explain the negotiating process and they are generally happy to continue last year’s system. New South Wales and south-east Queensland are generally less volatile than Victoria. “We believe we are in a good position to negotiate something better. We don’t want winners and losers among our farmers.” The Lion offer was a two-tiered system, with about 40% of suppliers offered five-year contracts with a three cents per litre contract consideration rate, with all milk at tier one value for the first year only with Ian Zandstra no future guaranteed pricing. This offer targeted farmers supplying more than 1.5m litres in NSW and 800,000 litres in south-east Queensland. All others were offered a one-year contract with a view that these suppliers would no longer be supplying by the end of June 2014; this included tier two

“We believe we are in a good position to negotiate something better. We don’t want winners and losers among our farmers.”

– Ian Zandstra, DFMC chairman

milk for those farmers for the spring months. Mr Zandstra said currently contracted farmers were offered more severe terms if they did not change to new contracts. The DFMC Board says it is strongly opposed to the introduction of a severe “farmer pays” logistic model, where farmers would be responsible for paying freight costs.

Mr Zandstra described the price offer as uncompetitive and inconsistent. “There would be slight rises for some farmers, and a decrease of 3-4 cents per litre for most. We understand that Lion has lost two major contracts and needs less milk but farmers need a competitive price.” The DFMC has six years left of a 10-year contract which restricts it to supplying milk to Lion. “We have six

years left and will be reviewing that contract at the end of that period,” Mr Zandstra said. The DFMC has also established a mirror company, the Australian Dairy Farmers Co-operative, which is not restricted to supplying Lion. Meetings with suppliers in northern Victoria have yielded positive results, attracting about 12 farmers to supply 20 million litres to a fresh milk processor for $6.20, the best price in Victoria. “It’s only a small drop in the big scale of things but it is a good outcome for the farmers with a more focused processor,” Mr Zandstra said.

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8 //  news

US boosts export subsidy US dairy farmers have launched a fresh assault on key Australian markets by doubling funding for its export subsidy program. The US Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) body doubled the dollar amount of money it contributes to its export subsidy program. US farmers have backed a levy rise from 2 cents to 4 cents per hundredweight from July 1, effectively doubling

the amount used to subsidise export products. This will make US$60 million in total each year to subsidise exports. The Australian Dairy Industry Council, representing dairy farmers and processors, and Dairy Australia have said they will examine legal options and work with industry and government on other avenues. “It is disappointing that American milk producers feel the need to sub-

sidise their dairy product exports and ciently-produced Australian product will not compete on a level playing in these markets,” Mr Campbell said. “Activity of this type field,” ADIC Farmers now provide only reinforces the need chairman for Australia to sign Noel Camp- US$60 million each key Free Trade Agreebell said. year to subsidise ments such as those “The CWT being negotiated with subsidies pro- exports. Japan, China and Korea gram is targeting key Australian markets in Asia, to assist in ensuring a more level playsuch as Japan, and under-cutting effi- ing field.”

Adelaide University opens dairy teaching unit The University of Ade-

laide has opened a dairy teaching facility for its veterinary and animal sciences students at Two Wells, north-west of its Roseworthy Campus. The Dairy Practice Teaching Unit has been built in partnership with Wirrabank Holsteins at the Wilson family dryland commercial feedlot dairy farm, Bevan Park. University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor, Professor Warren Bebbington, said the Dairy Practice Teaching Unit brings together the best of theoretical and practical education in modern dairy management and offers students a unique opportunity to learn from those at the forefront of the industry on an innovative working farm. Professor Bebbington said he was very pleased the new Teaching Unit recently received a commendation from the Australian Veterinary Boards Council’s Veterinary Schools Accreditation

Advisory Committee. The Bevan Park unit incorporates a tutorial room, a holding yard, a foot-care area, an examination area, a linear race with three crushes and cattle weighing scales as well as wash-up facilities and storage rooms. Head of the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Professor Kym Abbott, said the teaching of dairy cattle practice was an important component of the veterinary and animal science programs. “This facility is an important learning resource and gives our animal and veterinary sciences students the opportunity to learn in small groups so they can master the skills essential for modern dairy practice,” he said. “Having the unit integrated into a working dairy farm means students will be able to develop their knowledge and skills within the overall context of a commercial farming operation.”

The CWT export subsidies program uses a levy drawn from about 70% of total US milk production for the sole purpose of subsidising product entry into export markets including those where Australia has a major presence. The CWT is not aligned with the US government which allows it to sidestep existing WTO rules and restrictions on export subsidies.

Independents propose stronger competition laws INDEPENDENT Federal MP Rob Oakeshott has

Veterinary Science students Kate Townsend (left) and Melissa Ewens.

introduced a Bill in federal parliament that aims to help farmers and suppliers in a market dominated by large corporations. His bill was debated in parliament but was not listed for final debate before parliament rose for the election. He was hoping for bipartisan support to allow the passage of the new rules in the last two sitting weeks of parliament. Mr Oakeshott has since announced he will not re-contest his seat of Lyne in NSW. He said his proposed changes to the Competition and Consumer legislation would strengthen anti-competitive behaviour rules by giving the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) the “power most Australians think they already have. “It would allow the ACCC judgements to take into account broader market impacts, instead of simply the direct impact on consumers, with a ‘reasonably likely’ test.” Mr Oakeshott said the major supermarkets’ $1-perlitre milk price war, for instance, was found by the ACCC in 2011 to benefit consumers, but did not take into account the long-term harm to the supply chain – the processors and dairy farmers. “If all but the largest dairies struggle to cover basic farm costs as a result of the farm gate price, it is reasonably likely those farmers will leave the industry,” Mr Oakeshott said. “It also is reasonably likely the subsequent impact of fewer suppliers will be higher retail prices. “We cannot undo dairy deregulation, but we can strengthen the rules that guide the consumer watchdog’s decisions.” Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) president Brian Tessmann said the legislative amendments proposed by Mr Oakeshott largely mirror what the QDO and Australian Dairy Farmers had itself drafted and have long been lobbying for, but unfortunately with little response or appetite for action from the Federal Government. “The QDO has long been advocating for the need for strengthening the rules around competition, as it is clear that the market has failed farmers with the supermarkets selling milk at the unsustainably low price of $1/litre, and causing downward pressure on farm-gate milk prices, which flies in the face of a booming world market and major steps up in prices now being paid to dairy farmers supplying that export market. “We welcome Mr Oakeshott grabbing that baton and running with it.” Independent Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, has proposed laws that would forcibly pressure the supermarkets to reduce their market dominance progressively over a number of years. Mr Katter had also tabled a Bill to utilise the Fair Work Act to provide fair farm gate prices to dairy farmers that produce drinking milk. The QDO continues to advocate for a mandatory code of conduct and an ombudsman with real power, and lobbied for this in Canberra late last month.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

news  // 9

Coles plans to lift milk payments it is planning to increase milk payments to dairy processors as a result of the opening milk price announced by Murray Goulburn last month. Coles merchandise director, John Durkan, said the company would respond positively to any requests made by dairy processors under ‘rise and fall’ clauses in commercial contracts to protect farm gate returns. Mr Durkan said Coles would fund the higher commercial prices to dairy processors from its own profit margin and would not pass on the higher costs to customers in the retail price.

“We will not increase the retail price but ensure that dairy processors get a justified cost increase so that farm gate prices are protected,” Mr Durkan said. “We have always said that the farm gate price is separate from the retail price and this continues to show that Coles is doing the right thing by both dairy farmers and customers.” Mr Durkan said any cost increase request from dairy processors would have to be made as part of the normal annual contract review in July and fully justified by a higher farm gate price. “We have been con-

DemoDAIRY disappointed by WestVic’s move DemoDAIRY has expressed disappointment at the decision by WestVic Dairy to leave the Terang dairy precinct. Chairman Bryan Dickson said WestVic Dairy had been a valued tenant of the DemoDAIRY site and its departure would have ramifications in ensuring the dairy industry is well serviced from a central dairy precinct. “DemoDAIRY has worked hard to build up a dairy precinct that is the central focus for dairy farmers in the region,” Mr Dickson said. WestVic Dairy has announced it will leave the DemoDAIRY site at Terang within the next three months and establish a new office base in Camperdown. It has been at DemoDAIRY since 2003. The National Centre for Dairy Education Australia is also based at the Terang site. Mr Dickson said the decision of WestVic Dairy to leave would not change DemoDAIRY’s commitment to the Terang site. This followed a call earlier in the week from Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay for DemoDAIRY to use the assets of Glenormiston College. The move is expected to happen within the next three months with an office lease soon to be finalised. Chairman John Dalton said the shift would help WestVic Dairy to more clearly define its role and brand. Mr Dickson said DemoDAIRY appreciated WestVic Dairy’s concerns about branding and would have welcomed the opportunity to meet WestVic Dairy, Dairy Australia and NCDEA to work collectively through the issue. Mr Darlton said operating from the one location with DemoDAIRY and the National Centre for Dairy Education Australia (NCDEA) had created some confusion about WestVic Dairy’s identity. “Having a stand-alone site will lead to greater understanding of the roles and brands of the organisations and give more clarity to the community about what we do,” he said. The move will also allow the expanding NCDEA to use more office space at the DemoDAIRY site. Mr Dalton said WestVic Dairy would continue to work closely with DemoDAIRY and the NCDEA. Mr Dalton said Camperdown was chosen as the new head office as a central base for the region’s farmers. “We wanted an office around the centre of the major milk flow of the region.”

cerned about a lack of transparency in what happens with farm gate prices, so we will be pushing hard to ensure dairy processors don’t pocket any additional Coles’ money,” he said. “We will request that all of the additional cost price paid by Coles is fully passed on to dairy

farmers.” Mr Durkan said the recent agreement with Murray Goulburn which starts in July 2014 will ensure much greater transparency about payments to dairy processors and farm gate prices. The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has welcomed the

public statement from Coles. QDO president, Brian Tessmann, said if Coles is true to its word, the price for Queensland dairy farmers supplying Coles with fresh milk should rise by at least 24%, which was the increase announced by Murray Goulburn. “In fact, as Coles con-

tinues to claim the world market sets the price of milk in the Australian domestic market, by Coles’ own reckoning, all fresh milk prices right across the nation should be going up. “For dairy farmers supplying that milk their farm gate prices should be going up in similar increases

to the Murray Goulburn price. “We would like to believe what Coles is publicly claiming they will do, but from our experience over the last two-and-ahalf years all too often what Coles puts in a press release differs from the reality that dairy farmers have to face.”

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

10 //  news

Tasmanian Government promotes dairy conversions in the dairy industry. “The grants program we are launching today will help more farmers make the transition to dairy, including those who may be facing challenges in other areas of agriculture,” Premier Giddings said. Despite almost $300 million of capital investment by the milk processing companies to increase capacity, Mr Bennett said no one had done anything about getting extra dairy farmers or extra cows in the state. “The time is right for farmers considering investment in new dairy enterprises to come forward,” Mr Bennett said. “Following almost $300 million of capital investment by the milk processing companies to increase capacity, there is an opportunity and need to increase Tasmania’s annual milk production to 1150 million litres.” Mr Bennett said Tasmania needed

50 new dairy farms over the next four years to achieve the ambitious target. Ms Giddings said the state’s investment in irrigation was helping drive investment in the state’s dairy sector. She said the state needed to capitalise on Asia’s growing demand for dairy. “Much of the demand is being driven by Asia, which is increasingly placing a premium on high quality, safe food, particularly milk products,” she said. “During my Asian trade mission last year I was amazed to see Tasmanian baby formula selling for over $60 a can in a Shanghai supermarket, nearly double the price here.” Ms Giddings said dairy is identified as a priority sector in the Economic Development Plan, with significant potential for expansion. “Industry research shows 40% per cent of dairy farmers plan to expand production in the coming year.”

Dollar dips but interest rates remain on hold The Reserve Bank of Australia

(RBA) kept the official interest rate on hold at 2.75% when it met earlier this month. Bendigo Bank joined all other financial lenders this month when it passed on a rate cut of 25 basis points, following the Reserve Bank decision to cut the official interest rate two months ago. The other financial lenders passed on rate cuts in May, although not all passed on the full amount. National Farmers Federation CEO Matt Linnegar said it was pleasing to see that all banks had now passed on at least some of the RBA’s rate cut, with the majority of lenders passing on the full 25 basis points. “Even though the RBA (this

month) left rates on hold, the rate cuts from the banks following the May interest rate reduction, combined with the fall in the Australian dollar over the past two months, brings with it some relief for the farming sector,” Mr Linnegar said. “We’re pleased to note that the Australian dollar is today sitting at 92 cents against the US dollar, after dipping below parity in mid-May. “Of course, it’s a double edged sword, with farmers also relying heavily on many imported inputs – like machinery and diesel – the costs of which will go up with a weaker Australian dollar.” Mr Linnegar’s comments come as farmers patiently await detail from the Federal, State and Territory Governments on the Farm

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Genetics Australia has installed a rently and the recent changes at Genetics new management team after the dismissal Australia, although unavoidable, allow a restructure that can take advantage of former CEO Chris Jones in May. of a brighter outlook for the Mr Jones has been replaced 2013/2014 season,” he said. with Etienne Veldhuis as In other changes, Howard interim CEO. Lacy, a contractor who has also Mr Veldhuis has previously previously worked at Genetics spent time in this role, from Australia, has been appointed late 2010 into early 2011. acting chief financial officer. Genetics Australia (GA) Hoon Yoo has been chairman, Ross Gordon, said employed as acting senior Mr Veldhuis brought with him Ross Gordon accountant. vast business experience and a Board director and chair strong ability to lead the organof the Audit and Risk Committee, Frank isation. It is a crucial period in the history of the Davis, has also resigned from the GA board. To fill the gap left behind by Mr Davis’ genetics cooperative, which is attempting to implement a merger with herd improve- departure, the board has appointed Stuart Horsburgh as a financial adviser to the ment organisation HICO. Mr Gordon told shareholders in a letter board and the Audit & Risk Committee. Mr that the period has been particularly chal- Horsburgh has also had previous exposure to Genetics Australia when he was advising lenging for GA. “Our industry is facing tough times cur- the board in 2010/11.

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Finance package, announced in late April. “Two months after the Federal Government announced that financial assistance would be made available to farmers facing hardship, we are still yet to see any of the State or Territory Governments sign up to the package,” Mr Linnegar said. “This means that two months on, not a single dollar has been passed on to a farmer in need. We urge the respective governments to put the politics aside and get on with delivering the policy.” The NFF’s June Loan Monitor is available at www.nff.org.au The monitor is compiled each month by leading money market monitor Canstar and published by the NFF as a tool for all farmers.

It’s hoped government incentives will see more mixed farmers convert to dairy in Tasmania.

annual production by 350 million litres to 1150 million litres to ensure industry viability, according to DairyTas chairman Paul Bennett. Mr Bennett spoke at last month’s launch by Premier Lara Giddings of the state government’s $400,000 Dairy Conversion Grants program. The Government will provide dollar-for-dollar assistance, up to $5000, with the costs of a dairy conversion plan. DairyTas will administer the program. Up to 80 plans could be funded under the program over the next three years. The launch was held at Oakdene, a successful dairy conversion in the Northern Midlands which now runs a herd of about 850 cows. Oakdene is a traditional cropping and grazing property which has been transformed by irrigation to take advantage of the opportunities on offer

Tasmania needs to boost its

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

12 //  world news

Farmers battle snow storm DAIRY FARMERS and drystock colleagues wintering dairy cattle, were battling to keep feed in front of stock, and shelter behind them in New Zealand as winter struck with a vengeance. Southland, Otago and Canterbury were the worst hit with up to a metre of snow dumped inland, and floods in coastal areas. Near Fairlie, farm manager Glen Goad was

moving these New Zealand Superannuation cows into a fresh, sheltered paddock of kale. “These are the easy ones. We’ve got more up the top where there’s two feet of snow. It’s going to be a long day,” he said. At the time, Mr Goad was fearful of potential double digit frosts to follow. “That’s when it gets really difficult because it

all goes hard on top.” Down country, near Pleasant Point, Michael Brosnahan was feeding wintering cows on an old railway embankment due to flooding. “Their paddock’s a lake.” The weather was “getting up there” with the worst he’d experienced, having farmed in the area all his life, he said. In Otago, David Wilson’s farm on the Taieri Plain was surrounded by flood water all week. “The Taieri’s come up and overflowed into all the ponding areas, which is what it’s meant to do. We’re protected by flood banks all around us.” Although severe storms last winter were still fresh in the mind of farmers, there was no-follow up to the recent falls. Farmers are now on the road to recovery.

Michael Brosnahan (right) braves the cold to feed stock while Glen Goad (left and above) move cows to another paddock in South Canterbury last week.

NZ dairy farms slip further into debt peter burke

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries is sounding a caution about debt in the dairy sector. In its latest Situation and Outlook report, MPI says some of the most heavily indebted dairy farmers may have difficulty servicing their debt even with the higher payout predicted by Fonterra for next season. It says the higher payout will benefit some but not all farmers. But Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is not too concerned about the debt in the sector, saying dairy farmers have been good at repaying debt and have realised the country has been in a tricky situation. “Of course the NZ$7 payout forecast by Fonterra has been extremely well received and that is going to help farmers repay the debt. Drought affected some farmers by up to NZ$100,000 – some more, some less depending on the locality of the farm. The debt is an issue but by and large farmers have responded by paying it down.” Mr Guy says Fonterra and other milk companies are signalling an incredibly bright future. “The world wants to consume more of our products because we’ve got the best food safety system in the world,” he says. Dairy sector debt has trebled in

ten years to reach NZ$30.5 billion, the report shows. About half is held by 10% of farmers. While the level of debt is in itself concerning, the dairy sector’s expansion must be kept in mind. MPI says it would be more concerned if the debt had been incurreed for non-productive rather than productive purposes. The debt is due mainly to dairy conversions, in particular higher land prices, MPI says. This leaves a “significant number” of dairy farmers vulnerable to a fall in the price of milk or a fall in land prices. And the drought has hit especially North Island dairy farmers with a double whammy – lower prices and less production. The drought’s impacts are, predictably, reflected in the drop in milk production of 1.2% to 1.65 million tonnes MS for this season. Dairy export revenue was also down 5.5% to $12.9 billion due to a combination of the drought, lower prices and the higher exchange rate. But it would seem that this is just a blip: a modest increase in production to 1.70 million tonnes MS is predicted for the 2013-14 season, rising to 1.95 million by 2017. Revenue from exports is also predicted to rise in the new season by 8.1% to NZ$13.9 billion and will reach NZ$17.7 billion by 2017. Like the minister, MPI is upbeat about dairying’s future: expect to see nearly 500,000 more cows by 2017

as conversions to dairying continue. But despite this expansion, the likelihood of the industry achieving the Government’s goal of doubling exports by 2025 is slim; other sectors are not enjoying the same growth as dairying. China is now New Zealand’s biggest market for dairy products (23% of exports), followed by the OPEC countries and SE Asia; the European Union takes a mere 3%. With butter OPEC is top of the list, then SE Asia and China. The EU market, in which New Zealand fought hard in the 1970-80s to retain butter access, is a shadow of its past – now taking just 6% of total exports. But with this shift in exports to Asia and China there is a word of caution, timely given recent hiccups in China over meat exports. The report notes that “cultural and language differences are the foremost barriers for New Zealand companies doing business with emerging markets”. It goes on to say that “long term proactive and strategic thinking by companies and government will be needed to overcome these challenges”. The report’s authors might have also added that companies and government agencies need to have a very good understanding of the way bureaucracies and the machinery of government operate in the new and emerging markets.

Guaranteed milk price attracts 200 farmers a risk to the co-op. Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Willy Leferink says GMP is a good way A SMALL group of Fonterra farmers are of securing the businesses of some farmlocking in their milk price at NZ$7/kgMS ers. “It’s a volatile world out there and some farmers will be happy to secure a this season. The 200 farmers are part of a guaran- milk payout no matter what happens to teed milk price (GMP) trialed this season global prices.” The pilot programme was developed by the co-op. It allows farmers to lock in a milk price announced at the beginning of to give farmers greater certainty but also more options in a season for up to 75% they structure of their milk supply. The system allows how their business, says In the unlikely Fonterra’s director event of the farm- farmers to lock in of commodity risk gate milk price drop- a guaranteed price and trading, Bruce ping below $7, the for up to 75% of Turner. 200 farmers receive their milk supply. The co-op is lookthe locked-in price. ing for a broad base While Fonterra is confident and has announced an open- of farmers who are at different stages of ing forecast of $7 for the new season, their farm’s operations, have varying herd Westpac economist Nathan Penny isn’t sizes and are located across the country. “The $7.00 GMP will allow farmers so bullish. Westpac’s opening forecast for the who require greater certainty for their season is NZ$6.50/kgMS. Penny says farming business to better plan for the the New Zealand dairy industry has full farming year, knowing exactly how rebounded after the drought, easing much money they will receive for a set global supply concerns and bringing portion of their milk supply,” says Mr Turner. prices back. “As part of our cooperative princiFonterra expects milk production to grow 2% this year. But Westpac is fore- ples we’re always looking at ways we can better support our shareholders. We will casting a 5% lift. Mr Penny says the bank is more bullish monitor the pilot over the next season on production and less bullish on price and provide feedback to all shareholdcompared to Fonterra. He says the GMP ers on the benefits and the risks and this pilot programme involves less than 1% way farmers can see if it is something that of Fonterra’s suppliers and doesn’t pose might suit them in the future.” sudesh kissun


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

world news  // 13

Fresh NZ milk sells online in China Miccio says it’s important to retain our sudesh kissun brand integrity. “All New CHINESE CONSUM- Zealand businesses and ERS can now order online organisations have a a breakfast of New Zealand collective responsibility to uphold the brand values fresh milk and Weet-Bix. of our country. NZ Pure Two-litre bottles of Shop on Tmall.com is milk are pre-sold and only for verified Kiwiair freighted to 1000 made products, and consumers in Shanghai we have worked hard every Monday from to ensure that from its Auckland and sold at launch, NZ Pure Shop $26 each. Sanitarium reinforces the strong Weet-Bix has now been environmental, quality cleared by Chinese and lifestyle brand customs for distribution values that our country in Shanghai. has.” The breakfast staples In recent years Chinese are among products consumers piloted on NZ have been Pure Shop, increasingly on online turning to safe retailer selling “We are and quality New Zealand trying New Zealand products via products, Miccio Tmall, a Chinese out our said. “Chinese shopping systems consumers website. Other for want the same products on trial different products include wine, product consumers honey, scampi buy in our and one brand of groups supermarkets infant formula. and so here. They NZ Pure also want to Shop chairman far the results are know products Aldo Miccio said the trial is pleasing.” labelled are actually from working well New Zealand.” and he expects Tmall, sales to soar once the shop is launched launched in 2008, has 180 million registered users in China later this year. and promotes 70,000 “We are trying out our brands from 50,000 systems for different product groups and so far merchants. NZ Pure Shop has signed a distribution the results are pleasing,” deal with Shanghai he said. Wai’gao’qiao Xi’bei The company is also Bonded Logistics Co. Ltd. talking to New Zealand Miccio said the deal fruit and vegetable eases the passage of exporters and meat products through NZ Pure companies and they Shop. “Businesses can are expected to join the always attempt to export shopping website within to China themselves, two months. but China’s regulations Marketing will start and processes can be in China in November extremely complicated. following the launch We are trying to make it of an NZ Pure Shop in easier for New Zealand Shanghai. Miccio hopes exporters by providing to have 100 New Zealand a trusted e-commerce companies selling up to platform visible to 500 products by then. 180 million Chinese At the launch of NZ consumers and partnering Pure Shop in Auckland earlier this month, Miccio with established logistics partners.” spoke of the growing NZ Pure Shop is demand for authentic the brainchild of Plaxo New Zealand products. Capital Group, owned by A key element of trading entrepreneurs York Zhang via NZ Pure Shop is that and Paul Gerald Hu. It products must be made was launched by Trade and assembled in New Minister Tim Groser Zealand.

in Auckland earlier this month. Groser talked about the massive opportunity for New Zealand in China and the importance of e-commerce for New

Zealand’s products. “Trade with China has tripled since the signing of the FTA, and now the big change for trade in China is the internet.”

L A I C SPE T R O REP NEXT ISSUE: AUGUST 2013 HAY & SILAGE When it comes to Hay & Silage production, preparation and planning are as important as having the right gear. To help farmers prepare and maximise the conversion of grass into milk, therefore into dollars, Dairy News is putting together a Hay & Silage Special Report. This will run in the August issue of Dairy News, distributed free to all dairy farmers. BOOKING DEADLINE: July 31 AD MATERIAL DEADLINE: August 6 PUBLISHED: August 13 CONTACT: MAX HYDE ON 03 5792 1314 OR MAX@HYDEMEDIA.COM.AU


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

14 //  OPINION Ruminating

EDITORIAL

More red tape

milking it... Coles cops the heat - alone

We know there’s no love lost between Woolworths and Coles – but a recent decision by Woolies may have made the relationship that little bit frostier. Coles executive Damian Callachor attended the recent Victorian Farmers Federation conference, only to find Woolworths had declined the invitation. This left Mr Callachor as the only supermarket representative on a panel discussion about supermarket buying power. And do you think the farmers in attendance took pity on him? Well, you can probably guess the answer. Mr Callachor had to face some tough questioning from those hurt by the supermarkets’ treatment of its suppliers without anyone else to share the heat. Still, at least he had the gumption to turn up.

Ruddy lot to do

The country may have a newish Prime Minister in Kevin Rudd but it seems Labour has created too much bad will in the preceding six years to overcome. Take for example the $420 million Farm Finance Package announced on April 27 with much fanfare. We are friends of the farmers, former Ag Minister Joe Ludwig declared. Except, the Government failed to mention it was planning to capitalise on the scheme – by borrowing the money at about 3% and lending it to farmers at 4.5%. It’s a tidy little earner to the tune of $6.3 million a year. Can you blame them? We mean, they are cashstrapped. Why shouldn’t they make a quid off the farmers they said they would help? The Federal Government has traditionally passed the margin to its State and territory counterparts to administer the scheme, but in this case has told them to pay for the administration costs themselves. To make matters worse, the scheme has stalled until the deadlock is resolved.

Farewell Ludwig, hello Fitzgibbon

Very contented cows

For anyone concerned about Joel Fitzgibbon being handed the agriculture portfolio, let us reassure you with some quotes from the Prime Minister. Announcing Mr Fitzgibbon’s appointment, the PM said the new Agriculture Minister had spent “four years in Coventry’’ giving him time for reflection and deserved “a second chance’’. Hardly a ringing endorsement, we would have thought. Fitzgibbon was a former Defence Minister in the Rudd Government before he was forced to resign over undeclared gifts and a perceived conflict of interest involving meetings between an army general in charge of defence health services and his brother Mark Fitzgibbon, who was CEO of insurer NIB Health. Labor Ag Ministers always seem to see the portfolio as a stepping stone to us – Tony Burke a case in point. Let’s hope Fitzgibbon wants to make it his own – however long he has left.

Dairy farmers in the Indian state of Kerala have been recycling malted barley from breweries to feed their cows. Seems a majority of large dairy farmers in the state have included spent barley as a cattle feed of choice due to its low cost and high protein content. Farmers have reported getting about 30% more milk from this feed. Now, we all know happy cows are productive cows, so our question is: is that recycled barley really free of alcohol? If not, we can see a whole new product line being established by the likes of XXXX and CUB in Australia.

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We’ve said it before – farmers don’t receive much in the way of Government support, the very least the Government could do is not make things harder. This is exactly what they’ve done, of course, with changes to the 457 visa, which will make it even harder to fill the huge employment problems in the Australian dairy sector. Tougher laws restricting the use of skilled migrant workers on dairy farms may leave many farmers unable to fill vacancies. The new rules are forcing more regulations, paper work and costs on farmers, prompting fears they will abandon the scheme because it has become too hard. An already arduous task has been made more of a burden for an industry struggling to find suitable staff in the local market. Concerns centre around the increased onus on employers to prove they can’t find Australian staff, including new advertising and market testing requirements before sponsoring an overseas worker on a 457 visa, and more stringent training guidelines. We’ve lost track of the number of farmers we’ve spoken to who have tried to employ locals, only to have them not show up for the second day. Backpackers, especially those from countries with a strong dairy industry, are often excellent workers. However, after a 12 month maximum stay, they have to leave. More farmers are turning to the 457 option and it has just become more difficult. Our farmers don’t receive subsidies. In an ironic twist, just as the Australian government made it harder with their visa changes, US dairy farmers agreed to double the amount of money they provide to subsidise their dairy exports. This will be used to target the Asian market. The uneven playing field just skewed even more to the advantage of our competitors. The 457 visa amendment will disadvantage farmers who have a genuine need to seek overseas workers due to the lack of available local labour. At a time when there is a critical shortage of skilled dairy workers, the dairy industry heavily relies on skilled migration to bolster its workforce and help our farmers fill labour shortages. Instead of addressing farmers’ concerns and streamlining the application process, the Government’s changes will make an already challenging situation even more complex, placing an even greater workload on farmers and affecting health and wellbeing. Kevin, please, give the agricultural sector a break.

Editor Stephen Cooke 03.9478 9779 or 0427.124 437 editor@dairynewsaustralia.com.au Publisher Brian Hight 0408.558 938

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

opinion  // 15

letter to the editor

DAIRY NEWS AUSTRALIA

MAY 2013

OPINION  //  15

Strategy failing to w hearts of consumer in the s

Comparing apples with oranges I refer to Steve Jones’s opinion in the May issue (see image right). He shows a lack of understanding. Mr Jones’s “heavily regulated” dairy industry was deregulated in 1990. Not all businesses can operate the same way. Where the customer uses enormous power to hugely disadvantage its suppliers, the customer is clearly not right. The customer has a moral obligation to do the right thing, and pay a fair price. The ACCC’s investigation of the supermarkets says they have not been doing the right thing. Relationships work in two directions; without fairness or decency, all they are is exploitation. Australian consumers have indeed “been conditioned to expect cheaper goods” and “it has become our right not a gift”. But don’t forget that Australian food is safe, it is of high quality and that this is a right of every Australian consumer. Cheap imports are not always safe. We know there is heavy metal contamination in some of China’s most productive agricul-

tural land, that radioactivity has damaged some of Japan’s most productive land, that hygiene and quality standards are not necessarily enforced in other nations. Remember donkey meat in Europe and the regular e-coli notifications in American-grown food? Australia maintains very high food standards and Australian farmers meet the enormous cost this brings to bear on agricultural businesses. What agriculture shouldn’t have to bear is extraordinary power being wielded by unscrupulous supermarket chains, driving businesses to increasing debt and insecurity. Farmers shouldn’t have to be unofficial bankers to large food processing businesses, which factor in their own costs but leave farmers to carry the burden when little is left. They should not have to watch governments throw money hand-over-fist at foreignowned companies that take the money, their businesses and jobs overseas. Farmers can’t pack up their land, trees, animals, and the years of building soil fertility or genetic quality, and move over-

seas, nor would they want to. Farmers struggle to meet mortgage payments. Farmers know what it is to go without. Farmers also know that were they to walk away from their land and businesses, they’d still be in debt for many years to come. Agriculture is different because Australians put the whole weight of their expectations about environmental, animal welfare, food quality and safety concerns on agriculture. “The natural environment is a defining and formative part of the Australian character and lifestyle; it is integral to …perceived environmental quality and quality of life” (Psychology and the Natural Environment, Joseph P. Reser, for the Australian Psychological Society Ltd, September 2007) Yes, agriculture should better coordinate its messages. In dairy, that has been difficult as our industry representatives have not listened to grass roots farmers and have instead parroted the political line fed to them from our economically rationalist political parties without truly un-

STEVE JONES

ALMOST  WEEKLY 

derstanding either the message or its impact on farmers. Yes, we need to better communicate with the public. We need them to understand jobs and export income depend on what we grow, but their own health and welfare is also dependent on how we do it. Crucially, we need to question free market economics. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” doesn’t work. One of the greatest flaws in this economic theory is that everyone must have access to all of the information all of the time. Impossible. The free market cannot and will not bring prosperity to all. Wealth does not trickle down from the few who accumulate more, and more, and more. And agriculture with its reliance on extra-long-term investment of money and planning, cannot change course in a rapidly changing free market. We cannot leave our paddocks fallow for the weeds to colonise, then continue when the market has changed. We cannot suddenly stop feeding or milking our animals.

I watch with interest an essential Australian industry losing credibility through its own actions. These include degrading its power base to being not only ineffective but counterprod uctive; ongoing non-compliance to consumer/voter expectation that causes massive disruption to their own business and the unintentional attack on the largest and most influential unofficial lobby group buying their products, the city consumer/voter. This is the wider agriculture sector I observe. I appreciate dairy is heavily regulated and, by enlarge, complies. Unfortunately however the city consumer/voter lumps all farmers together. I was raised by a builder in Gippsland and for many years our lives were affected by the fortunes of farmers. My old man would follow the wool price and if they were high he could count on some new sheds to build and if there was a drought or prices fell, we went from eating roast to mince. This developed true empathy for the ag sector, reconnected in the last few years with Queensland dairy meeting my partner who farmers works across made their feelings about most of the ag sector. Coles clear at last year’s Royal approvals, influenced Show. My path was 30 years legislation and compliance in the oil and enabled with immediate and them to continue even gas sector that culminated crip- is not just about after a pling affects in co-found- major legislated regulations, on the industry. I admire non-compliance. ing engineering and going broke. I realise the ag sector must always design company this is not reality the swift response strive to hold but it It seems to me that the Plexal Group. In 10 years is all about perception. ag sector has the self-imposed by the ag sector with the high ground in we expanded the biggest the eyes of voter senban however the NGO stick of all in terms of from our head office The government health timent. If the city consumer power produced footage in Perth to Bris- and departfeels trust ment and influence over government it is another step bane, Thailand and health groups advertising has been breached policy closer to the Bangladesh, with they will happily campaigns cliff of total abandonmen it provides 93% of all a workforce nearing our food. His- of this t bite the hand that stress you must eat 200 and servicing tory important industry. feeds them. a balwill tell us repeatedly majors such as Chevron that anarchy sumer Expectation Compliance’ ‘Con- anced diet of fresh produce. So you’ve and Woodside. is only Self-regulation often an empty belly away. is not just bought some presents inter- optional, At the beginning of In no way nal conflict this year a multi- do nutritious milk for $1/ get on board or be forced with trying to justify I advocate blocking out litre over a bottle national acquired the the by new and more of supply as it endless company and I no is of coke at $2.25/litre onerous legislation. compliance cost. It can a form of blackmail. longer work in the industry. for your kids. Coles have be hard NoneAs a CEO The views theless it told you they and then chairman I had are have provided is a massive stick “It I share are mine alone seems to me that the and in no way do and that great personal one not negotiable policy one I see thrown away I represent Plexal Group. ag sector achievement cheaper. or has You’re feeling - never, ever publicly the biggest stick broken into pieces criti- pretty good about In those 10 years we time and yourself. You don’t had our share again of power and influenof all in terms cise your client. Of course care how it has by the owners of it. of droughts and floods. come cheaper, after all ce over The Global we had robust negotiaLast week I watched Financial Crisis (GFC) we’ve all been conditioned in government policy wiped out years amazement tions behind the scenes to expect - it provides as the WA Farmers 93% of earnings; the flood cheaper goods for the in Queensland Federation of all our food. History last three decades but there is nothing to gain and it has become and the WA branch saw our office shut for will our right not a gift. weeks; floods in of the through public spats other Pastoralists and Graziers tell us repeatedly that Bangkok virtually shut Then they see farmers anarchy is than alienation down our oper- Association attacking with the Coles and ation for two months very publicly dis- only an empty belly that they are sending and the Bangkok agreed away.” client and their customer them with each other over airport was taken over broke. by protestors, whether – Steve Jones - the public consumer/ the WA wheat growisolating us for several City employees rarely weeks. We never ers voter. We actually sang understand should the the daily struggle get another finance received an ounce of assist to swallow the financial support package of the very business praises of our clients in expenditure when more or not. Divide and conquer the that pays their mortgage or direct bail-out. press and I wish to point is pressing issues of let alone a farm 101 ‘art of war’. But one out that for 25 business. commodity prices, Nor was this the case you are meant falling So every time farmers years there was a monopoly for the 30,000 to inflict equity, exchange rate attack in the Aus- Coles, they on your enemy, not yourself. small, privately owned all threaten tralian Liquid are attacking the most and often familyviability. Natural influHowever Gas sector. Behind closed doors non-compliance to run businesses that went ential lobby group that government regulations On almost a weekly basis under during members all political paror, worse still, betraying I can find ties jump must shake their heads the GFC. Reportedly to - the city consumer/vo examples of farmers the rate of small bemusement in consumer/voter and their lobby This ter. expectation, inflicts business collapses is and largely ignore because does not feel like a winning groups publicly flogging 12% higher today they costs that make the alternative stratColes and egy. are handed this gift. than during the GFC pale to Woolies. For Then for a insignificance and rarely talked moment example I watch the . Although the live export put yourself in the shoes of in the media. Their Even though the resource milk price fight with cries for a bail out 70% of industry is making sector is Coles in com- selling of the nation’s voters, significant inroads to don’t make the light of all their product overseas living in our detecting plete bewilderment. day. they and rectifying the non-comPut yourself in know cities. They see farmer During my time in they must have the against farmer pliances, the lounge of a city voter the resource squabbling heart and it is a process than needs - 70% of our minds over a finance assist package sector I witnessed significant to of be the nation city voter. - most with a small Next time look a better regulated. It growth that their tax asset and little closer is fantastic to see struggling and with it their power dollar is paying for...meanat the “We Agree” campaign and influence. while to meet the mortgage the industry come so their job is under threat pay- Chevron is running. far and improve ments, They understand their if they animal treatment power base and happen compared to their perception It is all about winin places outside of to work for an east coast how to use it effectively. ning empathy of the of farmers being wealthy. gov- Australia. I just Australian voter They have ernment A ‘hectare’ in - to ensure hope they can find the or a small business. It adapted to the expectation they support their developthe city costs $10,000,000 doesn’t improvemen demands feel like winning ts to limit opportunitie if you con- ments rather of consumer voters hearts and minds. s sider an average than calling for them far quicker than for NGOs to brand the home of $500,000 to And then this week whole effort as on 500m2 ag in the last 3-4 decades be stopped or shutdown. my lounge is a failure and do block. In their lounge Perhaps the before it is too late. they ag sector can sumer compliance exceptionally con- filled with sad and terrible images see the dairy farmer being learn from the resource of Unfortunately the city well. mistreatment interviewed sector? This has helped grease voter is largely lamenting of Australian cattle the wheels for an Egyptian in disconnected from how hard they are doing the real issues and with • Steve Jones worked abattoir. Yet another hundreds of hectares non- efforts of farming in the oil and gas of prime land in sector groups. Compliance for 30 years and sold his the background and engineerdiscard the cry of ing and design company last year.

Imagine the outcry if we did. Farming is a socio-economic activity; our actions are controlled by the expectations of our entire community. That’s why farmers are borrowing money to feed their hungry animals while the boffins discuss whether the season’s conditions tick all the boxes for a drought. And yes, they do deserve help from the rest of the community. Without them, Australia will lose so much more than a few small businesses. Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil Dairy farmer and secretary, Farmer Power Australia Incorporated

EMPTY COWS COME AT A COST

B

etween five and 20 per cent of dairy cows fail to cycle, according to Tasmanian vet, Khyle Stewart. And while five to 20 is a generously wide estimate, reflecting the variation from one herd to another, it remains an undisputed fact that any cow not getting in calf is a cost. In seasonal herds that cost is multiplied because any cow that’s not pregnant means one less calf and one lost cow for next season. Fixed Time AI (FTAI) offers a solution to non-cycling cows, bringing them into synchronisation with the rest of the herd and giving them their best chance of conceiving within a defined mating period. Dr Stewart and his partner Colleen who is also a vet, practise in the growing dairy region around Scottsdale in the north-east of Tasmania where they bought their veterinary practice three years ago. “As farm input costs increase and milk payments remain static or in decline, it is critical to maximise profits,” Dr Stewart said. While there is always a risk involved in making the change to FTAI, he believes the return on investment generally exceeds 20 per cent. “For most of those that make the change, it’s a no-brainer really.” Dr Stewart uses the Bayer Prosynch™ protocol for the cows in order to synchronise them for mating with the rest of the herd. This program involves inserting a Cue-Mate® progesterone device and injecting fertility regulating medications. “We identify the anoestrus (non-cycling) cows with tail paint a month before mating. These are the ones that won’t get in calf without some intervention, so it’s important to Any cow that’s not pregnant means one less calf and one lost cow for next season, says Dr Khyle Stewart.

PHOTO COURTESY NORTH EASTERN ADVERTISER

identify them early and sort out any problems.” The Cue-Mate goes in ten days before mating. When the Cue-Mate is removed another two injections are required and the cows are injected again and inseminated within 16-18 hours – at the same time as the rest of the herd. “The beauty of FTAI is there is less onus on accurate heat detection and a higher proportion of the herd is inseminated on the same day.” Successful mating of most of the herd on the first round of AI ensures more calves are born early. “They have longer to grow; they’re heavier at mating and therefore more likely to get in calf and to calve early.” Building this early calving pattern in herds becomes a lifetime factor in a cow’s productivity and therefore its profitability, Dr Stewart said. The FTAI - Prosynch program gives cows that don’t conceive in the first round another two chances to get in calf during the mating period. “”With the extra chances to get in calf the 6-week in calf rate is higher using FTAI.” Feeding is a critical preparation for successful joining A major challenge facing dairy farmers in building a successful,

early calving reproduction program is in the transition period and feeding for body condition rather than just for production. “Feeding to maintain body condition post calving is essential so the cows pick up quickly after calving in readiness for their next joining. If they have had one or two heats post calving they are more likely to get pregnant at their first service. A well managed transition period and appropriate feeding should make this possible. “We need to get heifers big enough so they can compete and will get in calf at the end of their first lactation.” Among the major benefits of FTAI programs in seasonal herds is calving management. While on the one hand most of the calves will be born in a shorter time frame creating an intense period of activity, once calved the farmer can get on with the other farming jobs that need to be done around calving time. FTAI using the Bayer Prosynch protocol comes in a variety of modules to suit different dairying operations and just how much hands-on involvement the farm team wants to have. “Seasonal dairy farms don’t have a lot of time at joining because they’ve just finished calving and they are often about to get into silage making and managing pastures and supplements for peak lactation, as well as rearing calves. Their involvement depends on their time and who and how much time they can spare. “The biggest barrier to FTAI in seasonal calving herds is really having the facilities to physically mate a large number of cows all at the same time. They must have the facilities and the people to get it done in a timely way. “FTAI is really a continuation of the AI programs we’ve been doing for years now. This is an improvement on it,” Dr Stewart said. For more information about Cue-Mate and Bayer Prosynch (ovulation synchrony) programs visit www.farmadvisor.com.au


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

16 //  agribusiness

Farmer learning the realities of life in retail Gordon Collie

Queensland dairy farmer Greg

Dennis is on a fast learning curve to think like a retailer. Having launched his family’s Scenic Rim 4 Real milk in a blaze of media publicity in mid-June, getting consumers on side has not been an issue. Despite having a product return policy in place with retail outlets, matching supply with demand through the supply chain has emerged as his big left field issue.

“I know it is only early days yet, but the reaction from retailers has been a bit confusing,” he said. “We’ve got over 80 outlets around south east Queensland stocking our milk and that number is growing. But for some reason they are not matching their orders to the level of demand. It’s like they have been caught off guard. “We are getting feedback from consumers driving from store to store hunting for our milk.” The farmer from Tamrookum, south of Beaudesert, has doubled his Facebook likes within a fortnight of com-

Advertising for Scenic Rim 4 Real Milk, which sells in 80 outlets across south east Queensland.

Who:

Greg Dennis Where:

Tamrookum, via Beaudesert What:

Own milk brand

missioning the property processing plant and he now has a weekly reach of more than 40,000 people through his social media network. “I really took to Facebooking and blogging to spread the message about our wholesome, natural milk over the past few months with the idea that we would hit the ground running. “Now I am appealing to our consumers to make their voices heard at their retail outlets to pull our milk through the supply chain,” Mr Dennis said. Two delivery trucks are now on the road full time and with the farm and the processing facility the business is already employing 13 people. Milk is being sold around the region

from the Gold Coast and Ipswich to to one which the southern suburbs of Brisbane with is very satissome outlets already on the north side fying. “It is not so of the city. The first outlet had just started much the cost concern, but what stocking Scenic Rim milk in homogenising does to the milk. It’s natural to have a layer of cream at the top Toowoomba. The third generation family farmer of the bottle,” he said. “Our aim is to drop homogenising has plenty of balls to juggle, having also made a major dairy investment install- and just sell a pasteurised product and ing robot milkers for the 250 cow herd that looks like happening sooner than and building a farm tourism business. we expected,” he said. Mr Dennis also made a conscious There has been a spike in the number of tour buses visiting the property since decision to return to the tradition of the processing plant has become an offering milk in 750ml glass bottles as well as plastic containers. added attraction. “One of the things we did underes“For some reason, a popular time for the buses is mid-morning and it is good timate was the extra costs involved and that we have continuous activity in the we have had to lift our price for glass dairy now with on-demand milking,” Mr bottles, but they are still proving really popular.” Dennis said. He has plans to eventually encour“We are really committed to the educational and tourism aspects of the busi- age the return of empty bottles and install a bottle washing ness and we encourage plant, but elected to get school groups to come the processing venture and visit for a real learn- “The daily bedded in first. ing experience.” tours are a good ‘We are happy to “There has been keep offering a glass a lot of negativity in opportunity to option. The demand is our industry unfortu- show-off the there, but refilling our nately, and so what we latest milking bottles is something for are trying to do is much technology and the future,” he said. larger than just our Promotional efforts farm,” Mr Dennis said. do something for his fledgling busi“We were certainly a positive for ness and the wider bit apprehensive about the image of industry are in full swing how our milk would be dairying.” and Scenic Rim will have received, but it’s really a very visible presence at gone a bit viral. We’ve one of Brisbane’s biggest got people posting photos of themselves and even their consumer showcases, the annual Exhipets drinking our milk. It’s been pretty bition from August 8 to 17. “We will be there with cows going amazing.” “We have priced our milk at a small through a robotic milking unit and premium to reflect a fair price for us and offering the public tastings of our prodthere has definitely been no problem uct. “It’s a good opportunity to showgetting consumer acceptance of that.” In line with his promotion of Scenic off the latest milking technology and Rim as a natural and wholesome prod- do something positive for the image of uct Mr Dennis has been doing his best dairying,” Mr Dennis said. “What we are doing is not for every to educate customers of the benefits of non-homogenised milk and has been dairy farmer, I understand that. “A personality test showed my traits very pleased with the response. “We decided to cover our bases and are the exact opposite of most dairy also offer a homogenised product, but farmers but I really enjoy what we are it’s probably being outsold four or five setting out to achieve,” Mr Dennis said. Greg Dennis sells his branded milk in 750ml glass bottles as well as containers.

Greg Dennis on his southern Queensland dairy farm, where tour buses visit to inspect the new processing plant.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

agribusiness  // 17

South America looms large as world Export demand demandincreases remains strong Dairy NewS aUSTraLia june, 2012

agribusiness // 17

With the global dairy market undergoing a rapid transition from over- to under-supply in the past 12 months, the effects of ebbs and flows in export returns have impacted all major dairy exporters. Exposure to input cost, climatic and political pressures has varied however, and with that in mind it is worth taking a look at the situation in South America – an important dairy region that plays a significant role in maintaining the global dairy balance. South America is a significant dairy region not only because of the volume of product exported (over 860,000 tonnes in 2012), but also because countries such as Argentina and Uruguay have some of the world’s lowest dairy production costs. These two countries accounted for 75% of South American dairy exports in 2012, eclipsing one-time heavyweight Brazil, which continued to increase imports as consumption growth outpaces local production. Brazil’s 220,000 tonne total of dairy imports in 2012 marks a 7% increase on 2011 and is double that of five years earlier. This has helped cushion global dairy markets from the impact of steady increases in production from Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. The trend has reversed in 2013 however, with imports 50% lower in the five months to May than the same period in 2012, driven by the sharp increase in international prices, which has slowed consumption growth from the rapid rates of previous years. Brazilian milk production in 2012 was 2.5% higher than in 2011 – dropping off sharply in the second half of the year as lower world dairy prices and higher grain costs squeezed margins. Following the global strengthening in commodity prices, milk prices have rebounded across the supply chain. Given the time required to stimulate production increases, local analysts expect that milk production will grow by 2-2.5% for 2013 – concen-

trated in the second part of the year. Lower production costs are also expected to aid this recovery as grain prices ease. Production growth, albeit modest, will likely lead to some continued displacement of imports – which would have to find a market elsewhere. Local sources and published data suggest Argentinean production has contracted 5.6% in the calendar year to June, compared to the first half of 2012. For the 2013 year as a whole, production is expected to expand by 3.3% as growth recovers with better margins. Population growth is around 1% per year but gains in dairy consumption per capita are expected to moderate export growth. Farmgate milk prices have increased strongly since December 2012, but government policy is a major concern for those contemplating investment, with a lack of consistency in inflationcurbing measures causing significant uncertainty in the wider economy. Of the smaller players, Uruguayan milk production is 3.5% down for the year to date, with signs of a turnaround evident in May’s production result, which was equal to that of May 2012. A small but rapidly growing dairy exporter (producing just under 2 billion litres in 2012), Uruguay exported 253,000 tonnes of dairy products in 2012, up 27% on 2011 but has recently emerged as an alternative supplier of dairy heifers to China, which is likely to dampen future growth. Chile is only slightly larger than Uruguay in production terms (2.1 billion litres in 2012) but with five times the population (17 million compared to 3.3 million people) has a much smaller export footprint, shipping 84,000 tonnes of dairy product in 2012. However like Uruguay however, Chilean consumption of dairy products is fairly stable, while milk production is growing steadily. Production is up 3.7% for the first quarter of 2013, and is expected to

opportunities average 4-6% over the full cents/litre in March (AUD 41c/L) to 28 With season 2011/12 only a few incremental change in milk production (year-on-year) Euro cents/litre 36c/L) in April. from ending, attention is now South American Dairy(AUD Exports in their home year asweeks farmers capitalise Profit margins are under pressure in the focused on 2012/13 milk prices as farmregion is likely on favourable prices. US, and in NZ Fonterra has announced ers consider strategies for the coming the final payout for the 2011/12 season year.of Inthe some domestically-focused to see more Each above counhas been cut from NZ$6.75-$6.85/kg MS regions, renegotiated contracts incorgLobaL impacT South Ameritries has its own set of to NZ$6.45-$6.55/kg MS (AUD$4.96porating lower prices and reduced ‘tier JohN DropperT $5.04). undermining farmer can product factorsone’ataccess play,are and trade Effectively, global dairy markets are confidence and supply stability. For global impact finding its way withinmany the region accounts rebalancing. Lower prices will both private label Droppert contracts and profarmers in export-oriented Shifts inJohn slow production growth and stimulate regions, a lower price outlook relative to cessor rationalisation have seen milk further afield. for thethelion’s share of demand, and as this occurs we will ulticurrent season not only adds to the companies adjust their intake requiremately see a price recovery. Key factors ments pricing to meet the challenges of doing at business, but seemsuct, • John Droppert theand combination of changexports. However a time to watch on the global scene will be the to contradict the positive medium term ing demands of a highly pressured retail is industry analyst with pricing signals at the farm when outlook the wider global dairy rate at which milk production overseas of Asia-driven dairy demand marketplace. Lower contract prices and slows in response to lower prices, the a lack of alternative opportuni- Dairy Australia. growth. and reducedsupply selling market is looking for prod- gate Dairy Australia’s indicative outlook for southern farm gate milk prices – published in the recent Dairy 2012: Situation and Outlook report, is for an opening price range of $4.05-$4.40/kg MS and a full year average price range between $4.50 and $4.90/kg MS. The report considers the wider market picture and summarises the many factors at play; the key theme of the current situation being that of re-balancing in the dairy supply chain. In regions of Australia focused on producing drinking milk, many farmers face a re-balancing market in the form of renegotiation of supply contracts and reduced access to ‘tier one’ supply.

ties present challenges in a market with limited manufacturing capacity. Despite these challenges, the underlying domestic market is stable, with steady per-capita dairy consumption and a growing population providing a degree of certainty beyond the current adjustments. In the seasons following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent commodity price recovery, farmers in export-oriented regions have seen solid global supply growth (see chart) - with higher-cost competitors in the Northern Hemisphere amongst those expanding output as their margins increased. This season, favourable weather conditions have further enhanced milk

flows. 2012 milk production in the US is up around 4% on 2011 for the year to April (leap year adjusted), whilst early data suggests EU-27 milk production finished the March 2012 quota year up 2.3% on the previous year. New Zealand production is widely expected to finish this season up 10% on last year - a huge market influence given 95% of NZ milk is exported. Argentina is also enjoying solid production growth, but a significant supply gap in Brazil prevents much of this additional milk from leaving South America. Despite wider economic uncertainty, demand has remained resilient as importing countries like China and

those in south-east Asia and the Middle East maintain consistently higher economic growth rates that support increased dairy consumption. However, the surge in supply has outpaced demand growth in the market. This situation has seen the scales ®dairy martip in favour of buyers in kets, with commodity prices retreating steadily over recent months. Butter prices are down some 30% from their 2011 peaks, whilst powder prices have lost more than 20%. Farm gate prices have subsequently been reduced in most exporting regions. The average basic farm gate price for milk in France for example, dropped 12% from 32 Euro

impact of the current financial worries on consumer confidence, the path of China’s economic growth, and the value of the Australian dollar. Demand for exported dairy products remains a positive and will continue to grow with the middle class in large emerging markets such as China, with changes in diet and with increasing urbanisation - and also in conjunction with global population growth. Locally, the domestic market is supported by a growing population and stable percapita consumption. Whilst the dairy market is currently a challenging place to be a seller, all signs indicate that balance will ultimately return.

Teatseal . Real stories, real savings.

Malaysia FTA benefits dairy Freedom austraLian DairY,

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

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

Ben McKenzie – Cobden, VICTORIA Foods plant “Since using this product I have almost totally eliminated mastitis targets Asia at calving and effectively removed mastitis issues from my herd… I have more than saved the cost of the Teatseal, antibiotic dry to provide portion pack austraLian FooD cow therapy and associated application labour the(200-330ml) massive configuracompany Freedomby Foods tion for beverage prodGroup Ltd is to build a reduction in lost milk, medical costs, time and culls.” ucts. new milk processing plant

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

ers through streamlining

Despite the comple-

but also through technical

or so called ‘behind the tion of this agreement, of rules-of-origin decMark Williams – Toolamba West, VICTORIA border’ restrictions.” much remains to be done laration processes and The FTA was signed on for Australia’s farmers to improved marketing “The use of Teatseal is now an integral part of my Mayherd 22 in Kuala Lumpur tap into the full potential arrangements for certain by Australia’s Trade and of the Asian region and commodities. management. The initial cost is far outweighed by the time Competiveness MinisThe Malaysian market beyond. ter Craig Emerson and his He says the NFF will stress is worth about clinical A$1 biland money saved treating mastitis. Less on Malaysian counterpart now throw its attention lion in Australia agricultowards ensuring agricul- Mustapa Mohamed. exports – including cows,tural staff and in particular management.”

016-017.indd 17

being its fourth-largest sugar export market and fifth-largest wheat export market. With an annual economic growth at about 5%, Malaysia forms an important part of the ‘Asian Century’ story and the opportunity this presents for Australian agricultural producers, says Fraser.

ture remains front and centre in completed FTAs with South Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia as immediate priorities. “These are all markets with enormous growth opportunities and where significant barriers to trade in agriculture still exist, not only through tariffs that restrict trade

Emerson says Australia will be as well-positioned in the Malaysian market as Malaysia’s closest trading partners in ASEAN, and in some cases better. The FTA will guarantee tariff-free entry for 97.6% of current goods exports from Australia once it enters into force. This will rise to 99% by 2017.

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

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

Peter & Jeanette Clark – Korrine, VICTORIA “250 cows treated with Teatseal costs approximately $4,000. Milk from each cow saved - 7,000L at 35cents/L equals $2,450. So in our case, two cows saved [from being culled] more than pays for the Teatseal.”

6/06/12 1:41 PM

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

18 //  breeding management

More WA dairy farmers switch to fixed time AI More Western Australian dairy farmers are switching to fixed time artificial insemination to counteract low conception rates. Due to the pressures on modern cows, they are showing fewer signs of being in heat and over the past 10 years it has become increasingly difficult for dairy farmers to accurately detect cows’ readiness for artificial insemination (AI). Farm West beef and dairy synchronising coordinator Paul Kersten suggested that because conception rates are falling in many countries, including Australia, dairy farmers are keen to find ways to improve procedures on how to get cows back in calf effectively. Mr Kersten said pressures on modern cows to produce more milk and an increase in average herd size from 130 to 330 in the past 10 years had contributed to lower conception rates. However, he said many farmers were keen to get more certainty into their

reproduction system. “I believe some farmers will want to take the guess work out of heat detection and make sure they don’t miss out on a cycle,” Mr Kersten said. “At $200 per missed cycle, it’s worth the effort to look at synchronising as part of the solution.” Mr Kersten said he had noticed more farmers using fixed time AI this year than in previous years. “It’s too early to tell how great the improvement will be but the early indications are positive. “With fixed time insemination you know you’ve prepared the cow for the optimum time to ovulate to coincide for the optimum time for insemination. This means sperm and egg are in the right places at the right time doing the right thing.” Many farmers are using Bayer CueMates®, a flexible progesterone-releasing device, as part of their effective breeding programs.

“We use Cue-Mates as part of the solution for synchronising programs,” Mr Kersten said. “The body of the CueMate flexes with the natural movement of the cow which means they are more secure and it’s thought they are a better design for cow comfort. “With the wish bone shape you get splattered with less gunk when you pull them out! All in all we think Cue-Mates are a good product and will continue to recommend them.” Bunbury-based Farm West is a supplier of quality national and international bovine genetics, milk recording services and associated herd requirements and equipment. Bayer will be represented at Farm West’s upcoming Discovery 2013 on September 5 at the Koombana Bay Sailing Club, Koombana Drive, Bunbury. • For more information about BoSynch Fixed Time Artificial Insemination (FTAI) programs as well as Cue-Mate visit www.farmadvisor.com.au

At $200 per missed cycle, it’s worth the effort to look at synchronising.

Check us out Online BREAKING NEWS MANAGEMENT STORIES MACHINERY REVIEWS AND MUCH MORE...

www.dairynewsaustralia.com.au


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

management  // 19

Disease top concern for rearers ANDREW SWALLOW

DISEASE PREVENTION is the number

one priority for calf rearers, judging by a show of hands of delegates during a workshop session at last month’s South Island Dairy Event in New Zealand. It topped a long list of issues put forward for calf rearing guru and veterinarian Dr Bas Schouten to tackle, most of which he answered in a whirlwind session during the three day event. Dr Schouten stressed “it all starts with colostrum.” Calves need 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum, so a 40kg calf needs 4kg. Studies have

shown 80% of calves learn to suckle in their first six hours and if they haven’t done it by then, they won’t, so why leave them in the paddock any longer, he asked delegates. Most farms check calving paddocks many times every day anyway so take the trailer when you do and pick up calves that are over six hours old while you’re there, he advised. When they get back to the shed, give them a feed of gold (ie first milking) colostrum, probably by tube, as a matter of routine to ensure all have an adequate intake. “I do recommend tube feeding, particularly with large herds and where there are lots of staff.” Challenged on whether

tube feeding would interfere with the suckling reflex, Dr Schouten countered that a cold wet calf won’t suckle anyway. “Get one or two litres of hot colostrum into them and they’ll be bouncing by night-time and they’ll suckle then.” The best colostrum is produced by second or third calvers, but contrary to some commentary, there’s nothing wrong with heifer colostrum. The worst will be from cows, typically older ones, that leak milk. Colostrum with blood in is also no problem, and will actually have the highest immunoglobulin content, and clotty mastitis colostrum is okay too. However, colostrum with

brown mastitis in it should be discarded. Once in the rearing shed, feeding should be twice daily until at least ten days, but once-a-day is fine after that, “particularly if you don’t bring the volume up above four or five litres.” Restricting milk intake to such volumes provides enough nutrition to get the calf started and stimulates meal intake, promoting faster rumen development leading to earlier weaning. In energy content, four litres of milk is equivalent to about 1kg of meal, both containing about 12MJ of ME, but the milk cost is about $2.40/day at 60c/ litre, compared to about 90 cents/kg of meal. “And once you’ve got a calf onto

Medic alert system RATHER THAN using spray markers or noting hardto-spot numbers of calves requiring extra attention, Bas Schouten recommends a “medic alert” system of coloured tags on neck bands. Yellow could be for calves with scours, red for navel infections, white for a slow drinker. Provided all staff are briefed on the system, and the colour coding key is displayed in the shed, it will make monitoring problem calves much easier. Also, because the ‘alert’ is removed when the calf overcomes its problem, you’re not left wondering what the marker means weeks down the track, as you might be with a spray marker, he points out.

Colour-coded tags on neckbands are an easy way to pick out calves to watch, vet Bas Schouten suggested to SIDE delegates.

Once in the shed, feeding should be twice daily to at least ten days.

intake. When to turn calves out onto pasture was another question. “Turn them out at three weeks if possible, but not onto sheep shit…. No calf should be on less than a 1600kgDM/ha cover.” On pasture, shifts should be at least every three days, or ideally daily, he says. “They are very, very selective grazers… if you can see the drymatter cover has gone down, then you’ve left it too long to shift them.” Continuing to offer hay at pasture will help maintain required fibre level in the diet on lush spring grass, he adds. On bedding, Dr Schouten said animal welfare concerns about riverstone have, in his experience, proved unfounded. “I was very

meal, you can’t kill it anymore!” Whether to wean on age or weight was another delegate’s question. Dr Schouten dismissed DairyNZ’s 100kg bodyweight guideline for Friesians, saying the key is a combination of bodyweight according to breed, bodyweight compared to birthweight (ie weight gain) and intake of meal. For example, for dairy beef calves’ bodyweight should be at least 65kg, and at least 25kg above birthweight, with the calf eating over 1kg of meal/day. “All three things must apply before weaning,” he stressed. “If you want the calf to eat more meal, then take a litre of milk away.” Meal should be offered at 1-2kg/head/day for at least a month after weaning, regardless of pasture

concerned about them five years ago but all I can say is now that they work a treat and they make it miles, miles easier to keep things sterile.” However, that cleanliness depends on getting the set up, and management right. Stones need to be big enough to roll over and allow faeces and urine drain through them; a minimum 30cm depth is required with a drain down the middle; never wash down during the rearing season; don’t let hay or straw clog the stones. “That is the hard part!” Water troughs should be at the front of pens where they’re easier to check and keep clean, and putting a sick calf in a fenced of corner of the main pen is better practice than moving it, and its bugs, to another area.

Planned meetings offer better outcomes ANDREW SWALLOW

WE’VE ALL been to

them: the meeting you wish you’d never gone to. But are you guilty of running them in your own business? From the formal meeting with the bank manager, to the informal chat with staff, all should be planned if you want to achieve the outcomes you want, said Glen Smith, manager of a large-scale dairy farm business, speaking at last month’s South Island Dairy Event in New Zealand. “The first question I’d like you to ask, if you’re going to run a meeting, is do you actually need to have a meeting?” Defining the objective of the meeting will help clarify the need, and if you can’t define the objective, then you shouldn’t

be having the meeting. Having defined the objective, think about the who, what, where and when, he says. The golden rule about who should be there is: only those who can add value. The exception would be someone who is going to get disgruntled if not invited and there’s a need to keep them onside. What the meeting is about should be shared in good time so all participants have time to prepare. Mr Smith recommends “over preparing.” “There’s nothing wrong with being over prepared: do your homework, do the detail… and be a bit cynical. If things aren’t going your way, have a ‘Plan B’… It can be a great asset to be able to walk away without the right answer, but also without giving the wrong answer. ‘Where’ should fit the

business meetings, though community meetings – he’s vice-president of a rugby club – often have to be held in evenings to maximise opportunity for

Glen Smith

objective: it might be over the bonnet of the ute, or in the boardroom. “It all depends on who you are dealing with and what you are trying to achieve.” Location can be used to put participants at ease, or on edge, he adds. The “shiny suit” bank manager will be at home in the boardroom, but less so in the paddock, and vice versa for farm staff. The when needs planning too: Mr Smith’s preference is 10am for

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any distance don’t have to start too early, so they should be sharp when they arrive, and not so late that minds start to wander to lunch.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

20 //  management

Agricultural College dairy must pay its own way Gordon Collie

The next generation of

dairy farmers training at Tocal Agricultural College get a sound grasp of commercial reality. The 300ha dairy within the College Campus has to pay its own way while doubling as a key education centre and showplace for the industry in the region. The college near Maitland in the Hunter Valley is owned by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. It is in the unique position of offering the only residential dairy courses in Australia. About 30 trainees employed on farms attend six week-long training blocks each year with students undertaking general agriculture courses at the college also rostered on for milking and farm duties. The Tocal courses are offered within the framework of the National

Centre for Dairy Education. Traineeship co-ordinator James Hooke juggles his responsibilities with contributing to the family dairy farm at nearby Dungog. The University of New England graduate has been in the position five years and shares his passion for dairying with students. “We try to give trainees an all-round experience, involving them in the dayto-day management of animal husbandry and pasture development,” Mr Hooke said. “It’s a different learning experience. It allows students to work in groups and solve real-life farm problems.” About 50% of trainees are from a farming background and 50% have had no previous rural experience. The college has become an ambassador for the dairy industry with active

James Hook and Basil Gijsbers with the Tocal dairy herd.

Tocal Agricultural College students Luke Summerfield, Sydney, and Holly Clayden, NSW Central Coast.

Who:

Tocal Agricultural College Where:

Tocal, near Maitland What:

Residential dairy courses

support of the Cows Create Careers outreach program to high schools in the Hunter region. “I go to schools and give classroom presentations and we have groups of school students visiting the college and using our facilities,” Mr Hooke said. “We need to reach out and attract young people into dairying.” Tocal agricultural manager Basil Gijsbers said the dairy had to fulfil its training and educational role while grappling with the

James Hooke and Basil Gijsbers with a Holstein bull.

same challenging issues facing all farmers. Not the least of these is market security for production from the expanded herd of about 200 milkers. As a long standing supplier to Lion through the Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative, Tocal lives in the shadow of tier one price cuts and unsustainable tier two prices. “We were aiming to get milk production up to two million litres, but have backed off to target 1.7 to 1.8 million litres due to

the uncertainty,” Mr Gijsbers said. There could also be an increased focus on pasture production although the dairy has operated a hard stand feed pad for several years. A 17 cubic metre mixing wagon is used to feed about 6kg of grain a day in a ration which includes cotton seed meal and brewers grain. It also serves a small beef feedlot on the campus. “The feed pad has been a good investment as quite a large part of the farm is flood prone and it gives us the ability to protect dairy pastures when they are very wet,” Mr Gijsbers said. The dairy has about 90ha of irrigation with the feed bulk provided by kikuyu and ryegrass pastures with a small area of lucerne and some herbs, including chicory and plantain. “Water use efficiency is a constant challenge and we are looking at the feasibility of installing a 30Kw solar power system to help reduce our energy costs,” he said. A recent fall in pregnancy rates has the focus on fertility. AI and other reproductive practices are being reviewed, as well the

introduction of a mop-up bull. A Jersey bull is being tried over Holstein heifers to evaluate the performance of crossbred milkers. The dairy is also used to conduct research and pasture trials with field days for local producers. There is a focus on fertiliser use efficiency and minimising nutrient runoff. Trials have also researched kikuyu sup-

pression methods when establishing ryegrass pasture. Controlled rates of glyphosate were found to be effective and this treatment also reduced summer weed invasion. “We like to provide a great learning environment for dairy trainees, and are mindful of the role we can play to benefit the wider industry. “But there is a bottom line priority that the dairy needs to pay its own way,” Mr Gijsbers said.

Tocal dairy manager Matt Hogan.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

management  // 21

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northern Victoria are moving away from annual pastures and planting more perennial crops and lucerne as they adapt to new water supply surety. Echuca Town and Country Supplies agronomy manager Jono Fenwick said a one-third split between perennial pastures, annual pastures and lucerne was being seen more consistently across the region. “Previously there was a large percentage of annual pastures; probably about 80% on average and in some cases up to 100%,” Mr Fenwick said. “Because of increased water allocations over the past two years, farmers have been able change what had become an annual-based pasture system to include more perennial species.” The good news for those dairy farmers is the changes have generally led to improved ability to cover their feed gaps. Mr Fenwick addressed a recent Focus Farm field day at the farm of Leigh Verhey and Angela Turner, where he is the agronomy consultant, on getting the most out of a farm’s feed base and establishing a manageable pasture system. He said getting the pasture balance right was a key part of feedbase success. “You can’t efficiently milk a cow without good pasture,” he said. “The cheapest way to make milk in northern Victoria is to graze pastures and establishing the right pasture system with the correct management on farm is an essential part of that.” Mr Fenwick said water entitlement, soil type and fertility, farm size and how many cows have to be fed and when were the most important factors in deciding on the most suitable mix of pastures. “Farmers should aim to utilise as much homegrown feed as possible, especially with the high

right won’t cost anything, he said. “The information is out there, the key is to work out whom to listen too,” Mr Fenwick added. “I once heard a saying

31

Dairy farmers in

price of purchased feed,” he said. “Most farmers can grow pasture; another key in production efficiency is to know how to best utilise it and correct grazing management is critical and often overlooked.” Traditionally farmers in northern Victoria have grown perennial ryegrass as a summer crop; however Mr Fenwick said growers need to understand the growing nature of perennial ryegrass. “Its summer production in the region is extremely restricted when temperatures are above 30 degrees. Limiting irrigation over the hot months increases the water use efficiency, reduces problematic weeds such as couch and saves labour.” Lucerne remains very popular, along with oceanic and continental fescue for farmers wanting summer feed, while perennial ryegrass, Mediterranean fescue and short term ryegrass provide large amounts of feed over the cooler months. Mr Fenwick said the shift from annual crops had also meant a perceived reduction in workload for farmers. “The water supply is the main reason to move back into a more permanent system, but farmers also appreciate that there is less work involved because they don’t have to re-sow every year, however irrigating more frequently over the warmer months creates another workload. “Dairy farmers in the region are in the right place at the moment to capitalise on the new season milk price.” Mr Fenwick added that farmers, particularly younger generations, were taking more interest in agronomy. “In years gone by there was more emphasis on cow genetics than pastures and crops, but farmers today are realising it is important to be able to feed these cows the correct diet to get the most out of the genetics.” Learning how to correctly manage pastures and crops by getting the grazing, irrigation, nutrient application and timing

FR

Rick Bayne

Jono Fenwick

30/04/13 8:07 PM


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

22 //  management

Trials show efficient cows consume 20% less feed Agricultural Research Station in New Zealand. The trials subsequently continued A seven-year trans-Tasman study through later lactations. DEPI senior scientist Dr Jennie Pryce has found that some calves and cows are genetically more efficient feed convert- said the research would lead to improved ers than others – but farmers might have breeding values available to Australian to wait a few more years before reaping dairy farmers. “Feed efficiency is of great interest the full benefits of the new information. A feed conversion study under- to dairy farmers and one of the main taken in Australia and New Zealand has motivators behind this research is to shown certain calves and cows have spe- understand more about the actual measures of feed intake cific genetic markers which rather than approximates,” identify them as being more Calves that Dr Pryce said. efficient converters of feed. eat 20% less “Dairy farmers will The trials aimed to idenfeed could be able to improve their tify gene markers for what is known as ‘residual feed save farmers selection of the best cows or bulls to convert feed into intake’ (RFI), which is the $200 from profit.” difference between what weaning to Dr Pryce said about 1000 an animal eats and what first calf. calves were part of the trial it is expected to eat for its live weight and level of growth or pro- in each country. The results of the calf trials in New duction. This meant finding animals that eat less but produce the same amount of Zealand showed the most efficient calves ate up to 20% less feed than the milk as other cows. The project ultimately aims to deliver inefficient calves, which could represent new ways to choose dairy bulls, and cows a saving to farmers of up to $200 in that produce more milk for the same taking them though from weaning to amount of feed without compromising when they first calve. The calves were six months old and health and fertility. The trials started seven years ago their feed intake was measured each day with more than 2000 calves at the for 60 days. They were weighed three Department of Energy and Primary times a week. They were fed lucerne cubes for the Industries Rutherglen site and continued by taking selected calves to participate in trial to provide a consistent feed quality. a lactating experiment at the Ellinbank Electronic feed stations were used to in Victoria under the Dairy Futures ensure individual meals were measured CRC program, and also at the Taranaki and ensure data accuracy. Rick Bayne

Cows in the trial were fed these lucerne cubes to provide a consistent feed quality.

The next stage of the trial was to see if the feed conversion efficiencies in calves could be translated into lactating cows and again the results were positive. The difference in lactation was not as pronounced as in calves at about 4%, but the most efficient calves remained the most efficient at lactation. Dr Pryce said 110 of the least and the most efficient heifers were purchased by the DEPI for follow-up trials at Ellinbank

Food security depends on producing more from less The International Food

and Agricultural Organisation sees research like that of the trans-Tasman project into feed efficiency as critical for the future, according to DairyNZ’s chief scientist, Dr Eric Hillerton. “They are looking at the macro picture for food production to feed the supposed 9.1 billion people that the world will have in 2050,” Dr Hillerton said. “We are significantly short of high value foods like meat and milk. They point to the importance of improving the conversion of relatively low value fibre feeds - the stuff we feed our ruminant animals is where a lot of progress can actually be made. So being even more efficient converters of fibres like grass into human foodstuff is a major challenge going forward.” As a by-product of identifying feed efficient cows, the trial is also helping to reduce methane gas emissions. The research has found that if more efficient cows eat less, and pro-

DairyNZ senior scientist Kevin Macdonald.

duce the same amount of milk, they will have a lower methane production per kg of milk solids produced. Senior scientist with DairyNZ, Kevin Macdonald said that given the variation in the feed conversion efficiency of the calves in the discovery phase of the project, reduction in emissions of up to 5% should be

possible by selection for improved efficiency. Part of the objective of the trial is to establish the relationship between feed conversion efficiency and methane emissions in lactating dairy cows, and to quantify the extent of emissions in low and high feed conversion efficiency animals.

where they were fed Australian-made feed intake data which, at the detail we lucerne and pasture cubes. The results require, is too expensive for commercial were very similar to those from the dairy farms to record.” The results from the trials using earlier lactating cow trial with the cows identified by the RFI markers as being Holstein Friesian cows were similar in most efficient generally remaining most both Australia and New Zealand. Dr Pryce said the research had the efficient. The validation phase of the trials has potential for huge savings for the dairy industry and farmers. recently finished and Dr “We expect it could Pryce said it was hoped to “We need improve the value of the have provisional breeding to ensure dairy industry by about values available within health and $300 million by selecting the next 18 months for for feed conversion farmers to start using the fertility is not RFI as a tool to predict compromised efficiency and other traits using genetics and feed efficiency, including and using biomarkers.” in bulls. genetic “At this stage it is not as DairyNZ’s chief reliable as other breeding markers for scientist, Dr Eric Hillerton values. Currently, the high feed said organisations such as genomic prediction has efficiency is the Food and Agricultural a reliability of 10-12%, cost effective Organisation which are which is a lot lower than looking at ways to feed the milk production traits for farmers.” world’s rapidly increasing (about 60%). While it – Dr Jennie Pryce population see this sort of is still a useful tool, we science as critical for the would like to increase that reliability future. and recommend that it not be used as “They are looking at the macro picture the sole selection criterion.” for food production to feed the supposed Dr Pryce said more recent trials 9.1 billion people that the world will have were determining if the cows maintain in 2050,” Dr Hillerton said. efficiency in lactation and found that “We are significantly short of high they did. value foods like meat and milk. They point “We have to look at the consequences to the importance of improving the conof selecting for feed efficiency. For version of relatively low value fibre feeds example, there were differences in 6 - the stuff we feed our ruminant animals week in calf rate between the extremes is where a lot of progress can actually be and not the way we wanted – the more made. So being even more efficient confeed efficient cows had a poorer six-week verters of fibres like grass into human in-calf rate. We need to ensure health and foodstuff is a major challenge going forfertility is not compromised and using ward,” he said. genetic markers for high feed efficiency The research was supported by the is cost effective for farmers. Gardiner Foundation, the Dairy Futures “We are also collaborating with CRC, DEPI (Agribio and Ellinbank), researchers in seven other countries to DairyNZ and the Livestock Improvement include other information, especially Corporation in New Zealand.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

management  // 23

Mixed pasture reduces nitrogen peter burke

MIXED PASTURE spe-

cies may be another tool some farmers can use to reduce the amount of nitrogen their cows put on pastures through their urine, says a DairyNZ senior scientist. Dr Sharon Woodward told a recent forum about the results of a three-year farmlet study of the value of mixed pasture species, done at a DairyNZ research farm in Waikato. One finding is that mixed pasture species will reduce the amount of N released by a cow when it urinates. The trial involved growing a mixture perennial ryegrass and white clover with other species

such as lucerne, chicory, plantain and prairie grass. The latter was quickly ruled out as it didn’t perform but all the others remained. “We were looking at it firstly from just a dry matter availability point of view, especially over the summer. We expected when we established those pastures that they would offer big benefits in summer and autumn. “The other question was, when you feed mixed pastures to your cows, do you at least maintain milk production at the same level and not experience any losses?” Dr Woodward said they haven’t seen any decrease in milk production during a couple of the autumn periods and have actually

seen a bit of an increase. “On one of the field trials we were running, the cows were on equivalent intakes, so we wouldn’t have expected to see much difference in milk production because it would only have been a quality issue. But when we had the cows indoors and they were able

to eat ad lib, we did then see differences in intake and in milk production.” Dr Woodward said the cows on mixed pasture ate a little less (14.6kgDM) than those on conventional pasture (15.8kgDM). But despite eating less the cows on the mixed pasture were more efficient and

produced more milk. Pasture performance proved interesting. For example, in summer at the height of the drought the lucerne acted as a ‘shade’ for the ryegrass. “You could see ryegrass still at a reasonable length and lush green, whereas the ryegrass in the stan-

dard pastures was a few cm high and brown and curled up. AgResearch scientist Katherine Tozer had been looking at ‘weedyness’. Her research showed that the weed population in mixed pastures is kept under better control than in the standard pastures and in our

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WITH INCREASING numbers of Australian dairy cows now being milked by robots, researchers are looking at a range of exciting ways to use robots on farm. One that has already shown promise is the use of robots to herd cattle from the paddock to the dairy. Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Dairy Science Group and the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, have used an unmanned ground vehicle (robot) to herd dairy cows out of the paddock. Dairy researcher Associate Professor Kendra Kerrisk said the team was amazed at how easily the cows accepted the presence of the robot. “They weren’t at all fazed by it and the herding process was very calm and effective,” Dr Kerrisk said. “As well as saving labour, robotic herding would improve animal wellbeing by allowing cows to move to and from the dairy at their own pace.” The robot was developed by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics for tree and fruit monitoring on tree-crop farms. It was used in the initial trial with very little modification for the dairy paddock. “While the robot showed exciting potential for use on a dairy farm, it would need to be adapted to operate autonomously on the terrain of dairy farms and its programing would need to be customised for dairy applications.” In addition to robotic herding, some of the possible applications include collecting pasture and animal data in the paddock; monitoring calving and alerting the manager if attention is needed and identifying and locating individual cows in the paddock. “The research is in its very early stages but robotic technologies certainly have the potential to transform dairy farming, in terms of reducing repetitive work, increasing the accuracy of data that farmers collect and making data available that we currently can’t capture.”

trial the weed populations are very very low,” said Dr Woodward. But for dairy farmers, the possibility that mixed pasture species result in less nitrogen being contained in the urine of cows offers some hope in areas where N leaching looms as an inhibitor to production.


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

24 //  animal health

Lame cows aren’t inevitable andrew swallow

DON’T ACCEPT a high level of lameness, even if a farm has a history of the problem. New Zealand sharemilker Kevin Louw relayed how, with the help of Dairy NZ’s Healthy Hoof program and some investment from his farm’s owner, he and his staff have slashed foot problems from 5-10 new cases/day, to one or two a week. What’s more, those cases are now caught early and cows generally recover in a few days, whereas previously it was weeks, or in the worst cases, not at all. “It got incredibly bad: at one point during calving we had more

New Zealand sharemilker Kevin Louw.

cows in the lame mob than we had in the colostrum mob,” Mr Louw said. “A good 20% of the herd was lame and it was all imploding upon us. Healthy Hoof was something we could hook onto and follow and it started to work.” That was at the start of the 2011/12 season, his first on the 440-cow farm near Edendale, at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. After an assessment visit (see sidebar) Louw’s Healthy Hoof provider Kristen Willis, of VetCo, highlighted a shortage of yard space, misuse of the backing gate, a track bottleneck at the shed, and disrupted cow flow due to using a chain behind the cow in the end bail. Poor visibility into the shed for cows coming in during daylight hours further hampered cow flow, as did slippery concrete at the entrance and exits. “It was really dark in our shed so we water-blasted the windows and the owner put in rubber matting at the entrance and exits,” Mr Louw said. But while the infrastructure changes help, big improvements from better staff training and stockmanship alone can be made, he stresses. “I grew up on a farm and you tend to assume

people know what to do, but they don’t and you’re not there all the time so you’ve really got to have buy-in from your staff so that they think the same way as you.” Mr Louw said they now have a “no heads-up” rule when moving stock, as a head up indicates a cow being pushed too hard. Paddock gates are opened 20 minutes earlier to allow cows to make their own way to the shed and the backing gate’s been slowed down and is only used to take up space, not push cows. They don’t worry about cramming every last cow onto the yard at the start of milking anymore, and all lame cases are recorded in detail: type, date, treatment, hoof affected, recovery etc. A wall chart plotting the reduction in lame cow cases proved a great motivator for the team, showing their efforts yielding results. When there was a slight increase, a meeting revealed some old habits coming back in and a training refresher soon got things back on track. As a sharemilker, implementing management changes makes it easier when sitting down with the farm owner to discuss infrastructure improvements, he points out. “Immediately it’s not a them and us situation: we’re in this together.” While there will be other management factors involved, he believes Healthy Hoof played a key role in lifting production from 168,000kgMS in 2011/12, to 186,000kgMS last year. Empties were also down from 9% to 7%.

move early to help recovery DairyNZ Healthy Hoof program manager Anna Irwin has stressed the importance of early identification and intervention with lame cows. “Early detection is crucial to a fast recovery.” Since the program’s launch in New Zealand five years ago 80 vets, technicians, consultants and extension staff have trained as healthy hoof providAnna Irwin ers and more than 400 farms have registered for the program. Registering means a provider will be allocated to your farm to identify and suggest solutions to factors likely to be causing lameness. While the Dairy NZ tools to tackle the problem are free, the provider’s fees are paid by the farm. The provider works out an action plan with the farmer, helps develop staff skills relating to lameness, and assists the farmer in monitoring results and reaching goals set in the action plan. The action plan is revised at least annually to refresh knowledge and introduce new staff to it. “While all farmers gain some

insight into lameness on their farm, it is the farmers that have integrated the entire programme into their farming business that have seen the most improvement,” says Ms Irwin. Besides reduced lameness, improvements in milking efficiency, staff morale and job satisfaction are also seen. Production, reproduction and other animal health benefits also accrue, though quantifying them is tricky. “If cows are walking over 1.5km/day you can expect it to have an impact on lameness, but it’s not the walking that’s the problem: it’s the wear on the soles of the hoof so they become susceptible to bruising,” she explained. “There’s only 3mm of sole there, which is why I don’t like angle-grinders being used [for hoof trimming].” Some large herds also have inadequate infrastructure, typically because it was built for a smaller operation and the herd’s expanded. More farm staff, not all of whom may be trained in limiting lameness, can also add to problems.

Cows shun water beds andrew swallow

WHEN COWS hit the

sack in a free-stall barn, they’d rather be on sand than a water bed, a team

of researchers at New Zealand’s Massey University has found. “In fact, they were happy to use any type of bed with the exception of the dual chamber

water beds,” corresponding author for the Pastoral 21-funded research program, Jean Margerison, said. Dr Margerison presented a short commu-

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Bed type

Lie Time* (hrs)

Pasture

10.4

Sand

10.4

Water

7.3

*Of 16-hour overnight housed period

nication paper at last month’s New Zealand Society of Animal Production conference in Hamilton, New Zealand detailing the behaviour of three mobs of cows in the project: one at pasture 24/7, and two grazed for four hours/day, then housed in free-stall barns with access to either sand or water beds. The pasture mob and the sand mob spent just over 11 hours/day lying down, but the water bed mob reclined for just 9.6 hours/day. What’s more, that 9.6 hours/day included 1.7 hours of the 4 hours/day grazing period. Cows in the sand mob spent less time, 1.2 hours

of the four hours/day, at pasture lying down while the 24/7 pasture mob spent just 45 minutes lying down in the same period. “Cows at pasture need to graze for longer than cows offered silage in a shed and so the housed cows can spend more time lying at pasture,” Dr Margerison said. She notes a different result might be seen if cows were fed less than the 10kgDM/cow as silage that was offered in the shed in the trial. All the cows were given a three day acclimatisation period to their bedding, before a three day monitoring period. Heeding the water bed

Jean Margerison

manufacturer’s advice that animals may take a fortnight to acclimatise to the product, some cows were kept on the beds for an extra 14 days but lie time declined even further. “The problem with more standing and less lying down is, as other researchers have shown, reduced productivity and more animal health issues, most notably lameness.” Dr Margerison notes several overseas studies have found cows to be uncomfortable on water beds. Some of findings point to the temperature

of the bed being a problem, but the Massey work was done mid summer so beds were unlikely to be too cold, or too hot, she said. The behavioural differences observed in the Massey work couldn’t be assessed with respect to animal productivity as the cows in the trial were dry at the time. In the trial, all mobs were stood on concrete for two hours/twice a day to simulate milking during the research. Dr Margerison notes that of all the beddings used, the cows kept cleanest on sand.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

animal health  // 25

Proper nursing boosts downer cow survival rate Rick Bayne

A new study has found that proper nursing of downer cows dramatically improves their survival rate. The ongoing research shows that survival rate can be improved five-fold for cows nursed well compared to those nursed poorly. The research also shows that nearly three quarters of the cows suffered secondary complications which delayed or prevented their recovery and were often more deadly than the primary condition that caused their initial illness. The research is being undertaken by veterinarian Dr Phil Poulton from the Tarwin Veterinary Group in Leongatha,

Gippsland for his Master’s Degree. The study has been supported by the University of Melbourne and Dairy Australia. It is expected to be completed later this year. Interim findings were unveiled at a recent FarmChat workshop held in Purnim, near Warrnambool, hosted by the Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic. The FarmChat session was the first of regular six-weekly workshops planned by the clinic. Dr Poulton told the FarmChat session the preliminary findings illustrated the importance of developing a nursing plan to give the cow the best chance of survival. “If you are going to nurse them, do it properly or don’t do it at all. If the cow has a poor chance of getting up because it has a

severe condition, or if you can’t nurse them well, you are better off euthanising them quickly and properly,” he said. “It is an important animal welfare issue and farmers have a duty of care to the animal and the industry to ensure they manage downer cows properly.” Dr Poulton said downer cows should be nursed in a dedicated small sheltered area on deep, soft bedding with 30-40cm of hay or sawdust. A barrier is needed to prevent the cow from crawling off the bedding. He said dairy farmers should have a suitable area established before any problems arise. “If you wait until you have a down cow you often don’t have time to set it up then, as they always occur when

you’re too busy,” he said. Most cows will be down because of milk fever, pregnancy toxaemia and calving paralysis but without adequate nursing the cow will be prone to other problems. During the FarmChat workshop, Dr Poulton said leaving a downer cow outside in the paddock in the wet and cold was not suitable but putting them in a shed on a hard floor wasn’t any better. Both would lead to secondary complications. The study found many cows died from secondary complications including femoral nerve damage, significant muscle damage, dislocated hip and exposure. “That was because they were not managed well,” Dr Poulton said. Dr Poulton said that

lifting and moving a cow must be effective, safe and supervised. Carrying them into a front-end loading bucket is an excellent way to move them and they should not be moved by lifting with hip clamps only, unless for only a very short distance. Downer cows should be treated with anti-inflammatories, rolled to prevent injury and monitored every day for secondary complications. Dr Poulton said about half the sick cows he saw last year were nursed unsatisfactorily when he first saw them. “It is important that farms do this properly. It is very rewarding when they get up and this study shows that if you have excellent nursing practices nearly half of them will make it.”

IDeNTIfy

Stone bruises not to blame for lameness Fred Hoekstra

“Stone bruises are the primary

cause of lameness in my herd.” It’s difficult to challenge the prevailing view – especially when it is so often repeated; but if you think logically about this, you’ll see why it simply cannot be so. First, an anatomy lesson: the corium (red outline in diagram 1) is the skin that grows the hoof. When a cow is under stress, the corium, ligaments and tendons weaken which lets the pedal bone rotate in the claw (blue arrow). Viewed from below (diagram 2), the back part of the pedal bone (blue outline) compresses the corium between the pedal bone and the sole of the claw. This results in a bruising at exactly that spot in the claw. It has nothing to do with standing on a stone. It is weakened live

tissue, which we call laminitis. Now, evidence from the field: as a professional, qualified hoof trimmer I have viewed tens of thousands of hooves and I can tell you for a fact that there is a pattern of lameness that emerges time and time again. Have a look for yourself the next time you trim cows’ feet. Which claw has the most bruising? Which claw is usually the lame claw? Where on the claw do you find most of the bruising? How do you explain the same pattern coming back over and over again? If the problem was caused by standing on stones would you not expect a much more random pattern? Think about it – myth busted. • Fred Hoekstra is the founder of VeeHof Dairy Services Ltd, based in New Zealand. He has been trained in Europe and holds a diploma in hoof care according to the Dutch method.

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

26 //  animal health

Are your heifers on target? Lesley Irvine

Heifers that reach

target weight by calving will produce more milk, are more likely to get-incalf, and so are more likely to have a longer, more productive life in the milking herd. At a cost of $1300$1500 (excluding labour) to rear a heifer to pointof-calving, a ‘typical’ loss of 30% of heifers from the herd before their second lactation is very expensive

to a business. To assist farmers in assessing their heifer management program, Dairy Australia has developed the Heifers on Target campaign. Benefits of achieving target weights: ■■ Improved heifer fertility – the InCalf project determined the percentage of heifers calving in the first six weeks with a precalving liveweight of less than 400 kg was

■■

■■

79% compared to those heifers which calved at over 440kg in which about 90% calved in the first six weeks. First calver fertility – heifer pre-calving liveweight also has a flow-on effect to the next calving. A third of heifers with a precalving liveweight of less than 400kg were late calvers at their second calving. Production – an extra 1.6 kg/MS is produced for each extra kg of

■■

liveweight achieved by the first calving (this is over the first three lactations). While this may not appear to be a lot, if you rear 100 heifers each year and they average 30kg below target weight, this is 4800kg milk solids. Longevity – heifers that reach target liveweights are more likely to get back in-calf earlier in the mating period and will have higher milk production

making them less likely to be culled. What is the target weight? The target is for heifers to be at 85% of the mature cow liveweight by pointof-calving. For example, at the TIA Dairy Research Facility the majority of the young stock are Friesian Jersey-cross with a mature cow liveweight target of 500kg. This means that by point-of-calving, the cross-bred heifers should

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Heifers should be at 85% of the mature cow liveweight by point-of-calving.

weigh 425kg. There are still some straight Friesians within the herd and these have a mature cow liveweight target of 600kg which means that Friesian heifers will have a target of 510kg by point-of calving. Dairy Australia has produced a number of calculators as part of the Heifers on Target program and one of these will produce a monthly target liveweight graph so, if heifers are weighed, their growth can be monitored against targets as they grow. What if heifers are not weighed? Monitoring heifer weights on a regular basis is the ‘gold standard’ within a heifer program as it allows you to be proactive with management – if they are under target at weighing, the feed program can be adjusted to increase growth rates. However, there are a number of other benchmarks that can be used to assess a heifer rearing system: ■■ Age at first calving – target 24 months, if it takes longer than 27 months to get a heifer to target weight it is an additional cost to the business and indicates that there is room for improvement. ■■ Heifer fertility – 70% of heifers should be calved within three weeks of the planned start of calving and 95% should be calved within six weeks. ■■ First lactation heifer fertility – target is a 6-week in-calf rate of 60% and a 21-week not in-calf rate of 6%. ■■ Production – first lactation heifers’

■■

production should be at least 85% of that of the mature cows. Longevity – the percentage of second calvers to first calvers should be greater than 85% and the percentage of the herd that is in the age range of 4-8 years old should be greater than 50%.

Where to start Most farmers are aware of the benefits, and recognise the importance, of achieving target liveweights with heifers but there are still many that don’t assess how well they are doing in this area. Dairy Australia have put together a number of calculators, in addition to the one previously mentioned, to help you assess and manage your heifers. These are all available on the Dairy Australia website (www. dairyaustralia.com.au). This next season, make heifers a priority in your business, and start now by benchmarking your heifers’ performance using one or more of the measures listed above. There isn’t only a financial benefit to your business in achieving heifer target liveweights, there is also a really big ‘feel-good’ factor when you see a well-grown group of heifers join the milking herd, produce well and get back in-calf. Visit http://www. dairyaustralia.com.au/ heifersontarget to book your place in a free twohour interactive session, or to access the Heifers on Target calculators. • Lesley Irvine is a dairy advisor at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Dairy Centre.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

stockfeeds  // 27

Concentrates boost milk income: study The use of grain-based dairy concentrates has lifted the productivity of the Victorian dairy industry and added a total of $435 million to the annual incomes of the state’s producers, according to a new economic analysis. The Dairy Stockfeed Economic Analysis from consultants GHD reports that concentrates allow producers to increase stocking rates, as well as lift milk production per cow. A diet incorporating an average 4-5kg of grain concentrates across the Victorian industry as a whole generates 1.046 billion litres of milk and 78 million kg/MS, increasing farm income by $435 million. Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia (SFMCA) executive officer, John Spragg, said dairy concentrate feeding is often seen as a negative by financial advisers. “Feed is usually the single largest cost for dairy farmers, and when farms are struggling banks and advisers often suggest cutting concentrates. But this essentially results in reduced production,” he said. “The SFMA Vic commissioned the GHD analysis to identify exactly what value concentrates deliver to the Victorian dairy industry. The findings indicate that feeding dairy concentrates generates additional milk and milk solids, allows farmers to increase stocking rates, increases return on capital, and results in more profitable farm businesses.” GHD analysed data from the Victorian Dairy Industry Farm Monitor Project, run by Dairy Australia and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, and data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and reviewed other relevant industry literature. This showed that concentrate feeding produced an additional 228,000 litres of milk per farm in a year, or 1425 litres per hectare. This generated an additional $94,771 per farm, or $592 per hectare, and

increased gross margins by $59,404, or $371 per hectare. There is a positive correlation between concentrate feeding rates and return on farm assets, thus feeding higher levels of concentrates results in greater financial benefits for dairy farmers. Mr Spragg said the higher stocking rates and improved cow genetics have also helped to improve the value for money from concentrates. Milk income generated from expenditure on concentrates has increased from a ratio of 3:1 in 2006/07 to about 4 1/2:1 in 2011/12. He also said use of concentrate feeding increases milk production by 1425 litres/ ha for the average dairy farmer, this being achieved through a 33% increase in milk production per cow and a 50% increase in stocking density. The report confirms that cutting back use of concentrates has a negative short term effect in reducing milk production as well as long term declines on cow body condition, fertility and lifetime productivity. “The use of higher concentrate feeding rates allowing farmers to increase herd size and production per cow provides an overall response of 1.8 litres of milk per kilogram of concentrate,” Mr Spragg said. “Additional benefits are provided in improvements in cow body condition and subsequent fertility and cow health. “Dairy concentrate feeding is used as a means of supplying required nutrients of energy, protein and essential vitamins, trace minerals and feed additives.” The GHD report identifies that for the average Victorian dairy farmer, the use of concentrate feeds provides an additional $59,500 in gross margin and $24,036 in operating profit. “The level of concentrate feeding on Victorian dairy farms has increased between 1991/92 and 2011/12 from an average 900kg to 1,800kg/cow/annum,” Mr Spragg said.

Cows blossom after drought At Birregurra, in Victo-

ria’s southwest, concentrates have proven crucial in maintaining the health and productivity of John and Clare Cotton’s dairy herd. They currently milk 540 head on their 400ha property, feeding grain concentrates at a rate of 9kg a day during peak production in conjunction with silage and pasture. Mr Cotton said they have been working to lift production for more than a decade and have achieved gains of more than 20% over that time. Average production is now 8500 litres per cow per year, and 550 to 600kg/MS, with some variation depending on the season. He says the severe drought during 2006-07 was probably their most difficult season in recent years. While he reduced this stocking rate as far as possible, he maintained concentrate feeding rates as best he could, although admitting it hardly seemed cost-effective at the time. “But when the drought broke, we were ready,” he said. “Recovery depends on the condition of the cows, and we were able to maintain their body condition.

John Cotton

So when the drought broke we were able to get them back in calf straight away. For some people it took more than a year to get back into full production.” Mr Cotton said fertility was an ongoing challenge for the industry, but he has found the high rates of concentrate feeding have helped. “If we feed them well, we find the cows

are easier to get back into calf, and they have fewer issues when they do calve. Their overall health is better.” The Cottons use Ridley AgriProducts dairy pellets, with advice from their nutritionist who helps to calculate what is needed to complement the changing mix of grass, silage and irrigated pasture to help ensure the best nutritional balance.


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

28 //  stockfeeds

Simple grain recipe to overcome hay shortage Rick Bayne

Simple changes

can be made to the diet of a transition cow to compensate for the lack of quality hay in southwest Victoria, a FarmChat workshop has been told. Dr Stephen Jagoe from

the Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic told the workshop that an increased level of grain feeding would be required this season to meet cow requirements. “Farmers are facing a shortage of quality hay and silage and what is available is expensive;

therefore they will have to make some relatively simple changes to their feeding program to maximise their cow productivity,” he said. Dr Jagoe was speaking at the first FarmChat workshop hosted by the Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic. The clinic plans to

hold regular workshops on district farms to provide practical education and information to farmers. The first session at Anthony and Wendy Eccles’ dairy farm at Purnim focused on transition and downer cow management. Further ses-

sions are planned in July on teat sealing and joining programs. Dr Jagoe said a transition cow needed an energy-dense diet of about 11MJ/kg DM with a dietary cation-anion difference close to zero, neutral detergent fibre of about 40%, 14-16% pro-

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Dr Jagoe said there tein, and controlled levels were many advantages of calcium, magnesium from good transition and phosphorous. feeding. Dr Jagoe said this “You will have less could be achieved by milk fever, fewer sick using 3.6kg/DM wheat, cows and cows that pro0.9kg canola meal, 1kg of duce more milk and get grass, and 5kg/DM of hay. into calf faster,” he said. This diet will just satisfy “There are clear prothe requirements of a late duction and fertility benpregnant cow if there is a efits.” small amount of grass in Dr Jagoe said feeding the diet. However in some a dedicated situations transition higher grain diet for three levels might be “You will weeks was required. have less critical. “The “Tradition- milk fever, whole of the ally we have fewer sick dry period more hay but cows and should be used it’s not availto prepare the able this year cows that cow for its so it will be produce transition back an economic more milk to lactation, choice for farmers to look and get into but it is particat increased calf faster.” ularly critical in the last 21 grain feeding,” days. he said. “On a “Protein and fat yields cost of energy basis, grain are higher after a cow is the cheapest option.” has been on a good tranHe recommended sition diet for 21 days. farmers use the milk fever risk calculator avail- More cows will become pregnant and less will be able on the Dairy Austraculled due to milk fever lia website, test available and other diseases,” he feeds to ensure they match cow requirements, said. “Twenty one days is and use help to formulate the optimum period so transition cow diets. Farmers were also told accurate pregnancy testto not introduce grain too ing and calving dates are an important key.” quickly to the cow’s diet, For more information and at higher grain feedcontact Dr Stephen Jagoe ing levels cows might 55 612255 or sjagoe@wvc. need to be fed smaller com.au amounts more often.


Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

stockfeeds  // 29

Cost-effective protein sources of amino acids. Lysine and methionine are the two amino acids most likely to be in short supply for the lactating dairy cow. Furthermore, lysine and methionine are essential amino acids, which means the cow is unable to synthesise them herself and so they must be supplied to the cow. The essential amino acids are supplied to the cow from the protein in rumen bacteria that pass from the rumen to the small intestine as well as from rumen ‘bypass’ protein (UDP, RUP) in the cow’s feed.

of lysine and methionine required in the protein digested and absorbed from the cow’s small intestine are 7.2% and 2.4% respectively in a ratio of 3:1. So the questions to be asked include: Are these lysine and methionine levels being met for your cows and are they in the right ratio? Are your cows deficient in either lysine or methionine which is limiting the efficiency of how protein is being used by the cow to produce milk protein? Are you over feeding protein to meet the lysine and methionine requirements and therefore feeding protein in a cost in-efficient way?

Lysine and methionine requirements In the 2001 National Research Council (NRC) publication on the Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle, the levels

Lysine and methionine supply The concentrations and balance of lysine and methionine in the rumen bacterial protein that passes from the rumen

Rick Carter

Protein is composed

to the small intestine are ‘in line’ with the optimal levels. However, the cow also relies on rumen ‘bypass’ protein from pasture, silage and other feedstuffs. Whilst the ‘bypass’ protein component from these sources does provide lysine and methionine to the cow, the levels and ratio don’t match that supplied from rumen bacteria or the optimal

specification for protein digested and absorbed from the small intestine, ie metabolisable protein (Table 1). Correcting undersupply, over-supply or an imbalance With the aid of computer programs, nutritionists can answer the questions listed above and advise how to correct amino acid imbalances.

Table 1. ‘Typical’ lysine and methionine levels as a % of protein content

Source Metabolisable Protein (NRC) Rumen bacteria Ryegrass Lucerne Corn silage Wheat Barley Oats Sorghum Canola meal Cottonseed meal Soybean meal

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% lysine % methionine ratio 7.2

2.4

3.0

7.9 2.8 4.4 2.5 3.1 2.6 4.2 2.0 5.6 4.1 6.3

2.6 0.7 1.4 1.5 1.4 1.6 1.5 1.3 1.9 1.6 1.4

3.0 4.0 3.1 1.7 2.2 2.2 2.8 1.5 .29 2.6 4.5

Fortunately, both lysine and methionine are available as individual amino acids and so can be fed to cows to specifically correct problems of both supply and balance. However, the amino acids need to be in a form that enables them to pass through the rumen so they can be supplied directly to the cow rather than simply being fed to the rumen bacteria. Cost of supplying lysine and methionine Protein meals with varying levels of rumen ‘bypass’ protein are fed to try and meet the cow’s need for amino acids, but these meals are not the most cost-effective way to provide the cow with lysine and methionine per se. Rumen ‘protected’ lysine (LysiPEARL) and methionine (MetiPEARL) are cost-effective sources of these critical amino acids (Table 2).

Table 2. Approximate cost comparison per kg of rumen ‘bypass’ lysine & methionine

Protein Meals Soybean meal Cottonseed meal Canola meal LysiPEARL MetiPEARL

Cost/kg ‘bypass’ lysine

Cost/kg ‘bypass’ methionine

$72.00

$326.00

$59.00

$159.00

$73.00 $38.00 -

$195.00 $26.00

Rumen ‘protected’ lysine & methionine These specific lysine and methionine sources are fed to lactating dairy cows to ensure the correct levels and balance absorbed from the cow’s small intestine, thus improve the efficiency of the cow’s use of protein. This can offer a number of potential benefits including: ■■ Increased milk and milk component yield, eg. Australian trials have resulted in increases in milk yield of 2.1-2.3 litres in early lactation cows.

Increases in milk protein % and milk fat %. ■■ Helps avoid over feeding of protein by enabling a reduction in the crude protein content of the cow’s total feed intake. ■■ Environmental advantage by reducing nitrogen excreted by the cow. ■■ Possible fertility and health advantages. ■■ Improved costeffectiveness and financial return. • Rick Carter is technical services manager at Kemin AgriFoods. ■■

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

30 //  stockfeeds

Daily rate of 8kg brings out best Berrigan dairy farmer Ken Clark

is among those feeding his cows high rates of concentrates, with a daily ration of 8kg – a rate decided on based upon his 50 years of experience in the industry. For Mr Clark and wife Terrie Sullivan, this feeding regime, combined with pasture and silage, produces 9000 litres of milk and 636kg/MS per cow per year. The milking herd currently numbers 140, Mr Clark expects it will increase to 300 head by the end of the year. “For me, the 8kg provides the balance between productivity and profitability. The concentrates make the

margins tighter when milk prices are low but you have to maintain the body condition of cows to take advantage of any price increases when they come.” Mr Clark has tried several feeding strategies over the years, with varying amounts of concentrates. “At one stage I just milked off the grass, but the condition of the cows dropped and production fell.” Once this happens, he says, it can take 12 months to get the cows back into full production. Improved herd genetics have also contributed to increased production.

Mr Clark has been operating a Holstein stud as part of his dairy for as long as he has been in the industry and says there have been significant improvements in the genetics of the breed that makes up the bulk of the national dairy herd. But the only way to get the most out of these improved genetics is to feed the cows well, he says. He has been using a nutritionist for more than 20 years, and feeds a balanced ration prepared by Rex James Stockfeed at Nathalia, which he said allowed him to get greater value out of the stock than grain alone.

Ken Clark on his Berrigan farm.

Mr Clark also feeds them as much home grown feed as he can, with pasture and silage produced on their 202ha

irrigation property, which is midway between Berrigan and Finley in southern NSW.

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With dairy cows yielding more milk and consuming more feed to provide the nutrients to produce more, cows have to cope with higher levels of acids in the rumen. The replacement of grain with good quality roughage can alleviate the buildup of these acids, however, at a certain point of replacing roughage with grain, energy intake becomes limited and will start to influence production. Sub-acute ruminal acidosis needs to be considered in many of our high producing herds due to the conditions described above. Ruminal acidosis effects fibre digestion and ruminal function. It reduces fertility, can lead to laminitis and increased somatic cell counts, and affects herd health and productivity. Rumen pH fluctuates throughout the day from a normal pH of 6 down to an acidic range of about

5.5. Where the rumen pH remains at the acidic levels for prolonged periods of time, sub-clinical acidosis sets in. This is due to the reduced growth and activity of fibre digesting microbes and the proliferation of lactic acid producing microbes. Lactic acid production in the rumen is undesirable because it is not as well absorbed as the other acids, which leads to its build up. Feed additives can help greatly in the prevention of ruminal acidosis and help to maintain a healthy rumen. Buffers are regularly fed, such as sodium bicarbonate and magnesium oxide. Most buffers on the market have a mode of action that alkalises the acids in the rumen and the better ones buffer excess acid over an extended period of time which matches acid production and the rumen outflow rates.

Another school of thought is tackling rumen health and feed efficiency at the heart of rumen function. Feeding specific rumen yeast cultures helps maintain a healthy rumen environment and improved fibre degradation. These live yeast cultures stabilise the rumen pH by reducing the number of lactic acid producing bacteria and increases the number of lactic acid utilising bacteria in the rumen. Bach et al, in research published in 2007, showed LevucellSC, a rumen specific live yeast, improves the stability of the rumen pH which also led to the cows eating more regularly. Improved fibre degradation is due to indirect and direct effects in the rumen even when acidosis is not an issue. Oxygen uptake by yeasts is also an important impact due to the fact that for the opti-

Damaged ruminal papillae after acidosis. PHOTO: Vetnext

mal fermentation of fiber, anaerobic conditions are required. Ondarza et al, in 2010 published a multiple study analysis of LevucellSC showing how the live yeast improved milk production and increased feed efficiency significantly over the control groups, due to the effects on rumen health and improved fibre degradation. Over the last two decades feeding yeast cul-

tures have gained considerable scientific interest. Effects of a yeast preparation are strain dependant, so not all preparations are equivalent in efficiency. Strain guaranteed products with guaranteed concentration and consistent efficacy are important criteria when selecting the right yeast culture. • Paul Drew is a nutritionist with Vitec Nutrition. References are available from the author.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

machinery & products  // 31

Improvements make New Holland easy choice Mark Calder milks about 220 through Gendore Tractors & Machinery cows in conjunction with his parents, at Leongatha. Mark said most of the new Bruce and Dorothy, on their property gear on the farm comes from Gendore; just out of Dumbalk, about 20km from “Tim Burgess and Kevin Smith are real good to deal with.” Leongatha in South Gippsland. Mark has been workBruce moved here ing at the dairy helping from Wild Dog Valley, Bruce and Dorothy, since just to the north of he left school. He and his Leongatha, where wife, Amanda, moved his parents had been to a separate house on farming. The farm covthe property about four ered 65ha 25 years ago years ago. Mark and and has now grown Bruce do all the milkto 160ha. They also have a 20ha run-off working clothes ing and they have no chris dingle employees. Amanda block at the old family works off-farm as a property at Wild Dog nurse in Inverloch and Toora, helping Valley. All the tractors and most of the out occasionally in the dairy. The milkmachinery they have owned are still ing shed was upgraded four years ago to on the farm. That includes two Massey an 18 unit double-up DeLaval plant with Ferguson 65s, a Chamberlain industrial rapid exit. The first New Holland tractor was front-end loader and a John Deere 2850. They are still operating a New Holland bought 12 years ago, a TND model which is basically a vineyard machine, 1282 SP small square baler. They now have three New Holland with Supersteer. Bruce said that this tractors on the place, all purchased was the first new tractor he had ever

The New Holland T7185 Classic c ame fitted with an MXT12 front-end loader that lifts just two tonnes.

Who:

Mark Calder Where:

Dumbalk What:

New Holland tractors

had. “It’s easy to get on or off, highly manoeuvrable, excellent with the hay mower, the round bale feeder is on it at the moment,” Mark said. The Calders stuck with New Holland for their next purchase in 2005 – a 75 horsepower TN75D with an MX front end loader. Mark said it is a real general purpose machine, used for mowing, post-driving, tedding, raking and the like and they have been happy with the performance. In October last year they bought a New Holland T7185 Classic fitted with an MXT12 front end loader, that lifts just under two tonnes. At 185 horsepower this machine handles the seed drill, tillage gear and the pipe-layer, and has a maximum lift capacity at the ball ends of 8257kg. “It’s ideal for our place”, said Mark. “It has full PowerShift – just push the button for up and down from first to nineteenth gear. It’s easy to drive and comfortable.” New Holland claim the Power Command transmission is a full powershift transmission, where operators select the gear speed by simply pushing up or downshift buttons, and say that the IntelliShift gear changes are a key feature across the model range. The Calders have opted for an extra high

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Contact your local Reese Agri Aitchison dealer for details, or free phone 1800 140 196 Brendan Prentice 0400 540 300 www.reeseagri.com.au

Mark Calder with the New Holland T7185 Classic.

ratio 19x6 transmission. The engines in the T7 tractor range use New Holland’s ECOBlue SCR technology, to meet stringent Tier 4A emissions standards. This uses AdBlue to transform nitrogen oxides contained in the exhaust gas into harmless water and nitrogen. This system is separate from the main engine which means only clean, fresh air is fed into the engine. The T7185 also has an ‘Engine Power Management’ feature, where the engine develops more power and torque according to the load on the transmission, hydraulics and PTO. So that it delivers extra horsepower only when it is needed, to maintain performance. The Calders are growing all their

own silage and hay. Mark said they buy occasional hay bales for the calves, but not for the last few seasons, and haven’t bought in any silage at all. They don’t have a round baler or wrapper - a contractor based on the dairy farm next door comes in for the round bale work. “This time last year it was very wet, then the weather went hot. From sodden paddocks to rock hard, it dried out so quickly.” Mark and Bruce are in dairying for the long haul and Mark said he enjoyed the business, particularly being your own boss, “You have the freedom to choose what you want during the day, between milkings.”

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Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

32 //  machinery & products

Loading made easy with Deutz Fahr Agrifarm’s Brett Trengove at the Casino Primex Field Days.

No aggravation when planting The Agrifarm Agrivator range comes

in three sizes and is popular for its extra heavy duty construction, built for Australian conditions. The Agrivator machines are made in Taree in NSW. Agrifarm was established over 25 years ago by Brett Trengove and Tim McCormick to deliver quality locally manufactured agricultural implements to the Australian market. The Agrivator AV Series is a three-point linkage mounted rolling tine aerator. Mr Trengove said it is ideal for shatter-

ing and allowing water absorption into the soil and expansion of root zone in pasture and crops. Features include heavy duty frame design; extra-large capacity rotor bearings (greasable); high wear resistant tines; tow hitch for harrows; four angle settings for rotors; Cat 1 and 2 hitch; and it comes in a painted or galvanised main frame. Agrifarm AV series aerators can be fitted with a small seeds C seeder, allowing a one pass operation with aeration seeding and harrowing.

Kyogle Tractors was present at the Primex Field Days last month and included on their large display was a wide selection of Deutz Fahr tractors. Managing director Stuart Hauser said the quality designed and built German machinery easily handles all conditions. They can come fitted with the Deutz Fahr CRX loaders (pictured) which have been built for versatility, longevity and flexibility. The CRX series of loaders helps the operator achieve optimum rollback angles. Whatever the task and whatever front implement attached, large implement angles makes it possible to work with full loads and with all possible materials. The joystick control operates all of the functions including the third service with a push-button switch located on the lever. The controller is ergonomically placed on the right hand side giving the operator precise and perfect control with the maximum amount of comfort.

Derek Yates and Stuart Hauser, of Kyogle Tractors, at the Casino Primex Field Days last month.

It comes with several options, including: ■■ Hydraulic shock compensator: The shock absorber increase efficiency whilst being gentler on your tractor. The compensator provides the dampening of the load on subframes, tractor axles and on the drier’s body. ■■ 4 in 1 bucket: the efficient multipurpose bucket has many functions and makes picking up and dumping material easy. It can be

■■

used as a normal bucket as well as a dozer blade, leveller, stone picker among other things. Hi Back Hayfork: This hayfork is a two tine implement to lift round hay bales. It is equipped with a Hi Back design to achieve maximum safety for the operator. This hay fork has provisions for an extra two tines to take larger square bales.

Tel. Kyogle tractors (02) 6632 3288.

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Dairy NewS AUSTRALIA july 2013

machinery & products  // 33

Multi-task spreader helps reduce fertiliser bill by 66% STEPHEN COOKE

Gippsland dairy

farmer Chris Vaughan uses a McIntosh manure spreader for spreading both effluent and homegrown compost on his Yarragon dairy farm. Mr Vaughan and his wife, Lynette, run 260 cows on a 130ha farm with their daughter Alex and her husband Marty. Chris and Lynette’s son, Jim, runs Gippsland Compost Pty Ltd. Chris had previously used contractors before purchasing the manure spreader from local McIntosh dealer, Allan Slater of Claas Harvest Centre in Warragul, eight months ago. As the amount of compost increased, and the thought of spreading

Who:

Chris Vaughan Where:

Yarragon What:

McIntosh spreader

effluent when he wanted, instead of having to wait for contractors, became more appealing, Mr Vaughan quickly settled on the McIntosh brand. With wet conditions in Gippsland, Mr Vaughan needed to be able to spread effluent when conditions were right. Extra rain overnight could make paddocks too wet to access.

“It’s also best to spread compost just before it rains to get the full benefit of working microbes and fungi into the ground,” he said. “The McIntosh spreader has sealing rubbers to handle semi-liquid slurry,” he said. “That’s vital when we cross Hazeldean Rd, which splits the farm, so it’s important not to leak. “Allan showed me a photo of one full of slurry, and that sold me on the concept. The exchange rate with New Zealand was also attractive.” The 7.5 cubic metre McIntosh Manure Spreaders are designed to spread a wide variety of products in a consistent and even manner. Mr Vaughan bought a floor chain model and said it spreads everything

Gippsland farmer Chris Vaughan with Allan Slater of Claas Harvest Centre, Warragul.

very evenly, over a width of 8-12 metre, and handles the hilly Gippsland country well. The 600mm wide tyres ensure the wagon doesn’t mark the paddock, even fully loaded. Mr Vaughan pulls it with a New Holland T6020 120hp tractor, which provides more than enough grunt to pull it fully loaded on the flat and on the hills. Effluent is spread 3-4 times a year, covering 70% of the farm. Liquid from a new weeping wall system is distributed through irrigators. Mr Vaughan has been producing compost for the past two years but admits he is producing a much better product now. Compost is made from sawdust and manure from the calf sheds, woodchips and manure from the feed pad and spoiled hay. It is carted into a paddock and lined up in rows where a Seymour Composter, owned by Jim, passes through the rows, mixing, aerating and conditioning the product. There must be a moisture content of about 25% and if it looks dry, Mr Vaughan plugs a water line into the turner to add water while it turns. Turning ensures the correct temperature is achieved. Microbes generate the necessary heat but it must be watched. A heat

of 55 degrees Celsius for three days – or 65 degrees for one day – is necessary to sterilise the compost. “We test the temperature every fortnight. If it gets to 65-70 degrees, we turn it and the air cools it down.” Up to five turns is usual before it is ready to be applied to pasture or worked ground.

Mr Vaughan applies 3-4 cubic metres of compost per hectare, once a year. “Before we started spreading compost, new pasture varieties would last two years on this hill. Now, they last longer and stay greener longer,” he said. “We grow more grass than we used to – as soon as we get a decent break,

the microbes kick into gear and it grows quickly. “We don’t use urea on our farm any more, our nitrogen is sourced from the effluent. “The compost and effluent spreading has reduced our fertiliser bill by 2/3, about $30,000 to $40,000.” Tel. Claas Harvest Centre (03) 5623 4475

A good start

Evolve. Lely offers a wide range of Dairy products to suit your needs to help with maximising your profit while respecting the well-being of the animal and the environment. These products include: Lely Calm automatic calf feeder - giving peace of mind throughout the rearing process. Lely Cosmix M mobile automatic concentrate feeder - when grass is not enough. Lely Compedes rubber flooring - best possible traction and animal comfort. For more information, visit www.lely.com, call (03) 5484 4000 or email lelyaus@lely.com

The McIntosh spreader is used for spreading compost and semi-liquid slurry.


Dairy News AUSTRALIA july 2013

34 //  machinery & products

Total solutions for dairying GEA Farm Technologies

Jones family: (from left) Matthew, Lucas, Faye and Laurie Jones with their new Kubota M135GX and RTV900XT Camo.

Tractor excels doing ‘grubby’ work

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‘GRUBBY’ JOBS such as spreader towing have been assigned to the Jones family (Pohangina Valley near Ashhurst, NZ) Kubota tractor, a 1982-model M7500 (80hp) with four gears, high and low ranges and creep box. But that’s no slur on the brand. In fact, the Jones have a “continuing love affair” with Kubota, as shown by their new arrival – a Kubota M135GX, delivered in April. Matthew Jones, sharemilking on parents Laurie and Faye’s farm, points out that the M7500 was their first Kubota – “a good, basic reliable tractor, and easy to teach workers how to drive. With very little instruction they can be off.”

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used the new M135GX for is drilling and it was easy for the tractor to handle. Next season it is lined up to do ploughing, topping, rotary hoeing and cutting green grass. “We chop a load of grass from the run-off across the road and cart it to the cows. They can get one or two loads a day depending on what’s on the platform,” he says. The engines in the latest Kubota’s are common rail, and have exhaust gas recirculation and a diesel particulate filter that work together to reduce harmful emissions. All of the Jones’ latest tractors have loaders with self-levelling.

“We have it on all the time and it’s useful for jobs like unloading pallets.” The family also has a four-yearold Kubota MX125, which does the feeding out and carts bales when doing baleage. The new M135GX is approximately the same length and weight, so when they decided to get another it made sense to get the same type of tractor, but with the extra power and extra features. Laurie and Matthew ordered the M135GX after seeing it in action at the Kubota Roadshow in Masterton. And having bought the tractor they went into a draw and won a new Kubota RTV900XT Camo utility vehicle.

High capacity, low weight feeder THE JF-STOLL range of

M O

The MGX has three ranges of eight gears, changed at the push of a button. Matthew likes the MGX range’s bigger cab because he often has passengers. He also likes the cab layout, its height and overall comfort. “You have better visibility being up higher and without the centre pillars. It’s also quieter than previous models and very manoeuvrable; that’s useful for putting hay bales in the shed. The cab monitor is clearly set out. It was easy to use, once I read the book; I set up the displays to show what I wanted – like speed of the PTO and kph. It can also show the rate of fuel consumption.” So far the main job Matthew has

3-auger diet feeders now contains two new models – of high capacity and low height, suiting passage through buildings below 3 m, says distributor CB Norwood. They can feed 220 dairy cows effectively in one mix, powered only by a 110-120hp tractor. Two versions are on sale: VM 29-3 (side door) prepared for five openings; and VM 29-3 B with cross conveyor and big front door for feeding dry mixes with high fibre content. The lower sides of the tub are made of 8mm high strength steel; the augers

are made of high strength steel with 15mm auger flights. Wireless weighing is standard – Feed Manager, upgradeable to the programmable Pro Feed Plus system – for a “onetime modest cost” that then allows flexible ration planning and monitoring of mixes. This ration information is transmitted wirelessly to and from the farm computer to the main monitor normally mounted in the handler/ loader tractor. Eight weigh cells are fitted as standard; nota-

ble because many others only use three, four or six. Weighing is therefore more accurate.

The new models are fitted with a twin axle spring-loaded tandem system and the standard

wheel 435/50R19.5 which gives a total height of 2.92 m. Tel. Inlon (02) 4389 1477


BALER & WRAPPER SPECIALIST McHale’s core business focuses on the creation of high output balers and bale wrappers for the production of baled silage, haylage, hay and straw. McHale manufacture a range of fixed and variable chamber round balers, square and round bale wrappers, the Fusion integrated or combination baler wrapper and a range of round bale handling, bale splitting and silage & maize block cutting equipment. McHale have been manufacturing high quality agricultural equipment for over 20 years. The main focus of the business revolves around providing practical solutions for farmers and contractors.

MCHALE BALE WRAPPER – TOO GOOD TO GO PAST Melbourne 5th May 2013 Dwight Gall grows lucerne with his father, Geoff, on 128 acres of river flats at Manilla in northern New South Wales. The family began selling silage and contracting five years ago when the drought eased and they bought a McHale 991BE bale wrapper. Dwight said he looked at other models but the Irish-built McHale was just too good to go past. “McHale machines are built that much heavier than anything else on the market and they are just so reliable,” he said. “We had a McHale wrapper years ago and we were very happy with it and we also use a McHale V660 variable chamber round baler that’s an excellent machine.” Their McHale 991BE bale wrapper has wrapped 14,000 bales and Dwight said the machine is still as good as new. “It’s a high output, low stress machine. Our neighbour saw it in action and doesn’t bother wrapping his own bales anymore. He gets us to come and do them for him with the McHale. “The wrapper has given us no problems at all, maintenance is zero, changing wrap rolls is easy and we’ve had no breakdowns. That kind of reliability is vital with silage,” he said. The 991BE wrapper has fully automated operation but the operator can also select options to suit varying ground conditions. Four heavy duty belts ensure even bale rotation and the operator lifts the arm, loads the bale and sets the arm clear at the touch of a button. With the rotating table in the tip position, the patented bale damper system holds the bale while the second arm is lowered to the ground, allowing heavy bales to be lowered without damage. Two stepped 750mm aluminium dispensers keep the wrap at a constant stretch and provide an overlap where the two sheets come together. The hydraulically operated cut and tie system cuts and holds the wrap ready for the next bale so there is no need to manually reattach it. In addition to paddock work, the Galls also use the wrapper as a stationary unit, bring the bales to the wrapper, loading and wrapping them and stacking straight off the wrapper.

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“With lucerne, you can’t dump the bales on the ground because the stalks can go through the plastic,” Dwight said. “Bringing bales to the wrapper also means there’s no dirt contamination which is important when we’re wrapping haylage for the racehorse market. “We use four layers for silage and up to eight layers for haylage and the McHale 991 wraps bales faster than I can stack them. “We definitely wouldn’t swap it for another brand. It does exactly what we want it to do, when we want it done, every time. You can’t ask more of a machine than that,” he said. For more details about McHale machines, visit www.mchale-australasia.com

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Dairy News Australia July 2013