DairyTas Focus Farms



Tasmanian Focus Farms

The national Focus Farm program has been running in the DairyTas region since 2014.

This program benefits participants and interested farmers and communities in Tasmania and nationally. The Focus Farms program has created a growing network of dairy farms across Australia that are now models of whole farm systems and profitability. 

How does this program benefit Tasmanian dairy farmers?

Tasmanian Focus Farms provide deep insight into local farming methods and national industry-standard business practices that help increase efficiencies and a better work/life balance for Tasmanian dairy farmers. On every Focus Farm, the bottom line is always in focus.

Over the two–year project term, Tasmanian and national dairy farmers review and implement strategies to improve the farming business bottom line and balance priorities.

Farm Open Days give local and visiting dairy farmers the chance to talk to the Focus Farm farmers and community. Honest and open measures of progress are discussed and documented – allowing dairy farmers and community members to see real progress, real issues and understand the rationale behind decisions and outcomes.

To find out more about Focus Farms open days or register your interest in the program, please contact:

DairyTas
admin@dairytas.net.au
tel: 03 6432 2233

Check out the latest posts from this Tasmanian Dairy Focus Farm

The Field family, Montagu

The DairyTas Focus Farm from 2017 to 2019 was run by Dave and Jane Field, based in Circular Head, North West Tasmania.

The Field farm in Montagu is the DairyTas Focus Farm 2017 to 2019.

Farm background

Dave and Jane have been farming in Tasmania for two years and progressed through the dairy industry in New Zealand before coming to Tasmania. The Fields wanted to join the program for the opportunity it offered:

“We were new to Tasmania and knew that it would be really different to farming in New Zealand, we thought it was a fantastic opportunity to help us through the transition period and to give something back to industry.” - Jane Field

They're both graduates of Lincoln University, moving up through the dairy industry by managing farms, 50/50 share-milking and then moving into farm ownership in 2006. They purchased a dairy farm to develop and subsequently bought two grazing blocks located at Murchison near the top of the South Island, NZ. Their dairy farm in NZ is currently managed by a share-farmer.

Farm challenges and goals

Specific challenges and goals for the Field Family include:

  • To operate a simple pasture-based system
  • Focus on growing and harvesting more pasture by
    • increasing soil fertility
    • irrigation
    • pasture species
    • cow genetics and management.

Farm facts and figures

At the start of the project, the Field's herd comprised Holstein and cross bred cows. The emphasis has been on gaining genetic merit and increasing the proportion of cross bred cows in the herd. The focus then moved to increasing pasture utilisation and adapting to the once-a-day milking system, which has been in operation on-farm since May 2017.

An overview of the farm's productivity at the beginning of the project:

Total area

800ha

Dairy platform

Dairy platform = 450 effective hectares + grazing/support block = 300 effective hectares

250 ha under irrigation

Herd numbers

Split calving system
Autumn calving: 500 cows
Spring calving: 900 cows

Milking numbers

Peak milk 1400 cows this year.

Milk production
(kg milk solids)

Aiming for 525,000kg milk solids in 2017–18
milking on a once-a-day milking system.

Herd – breed/size

The herd is made up of Holstein and cross bred cows.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting

Every two weeks, the Field family and their project consultant Basil Doonan report on how the farm is tracking against the Field's KPIs. KPI data includes:

  • pasture
  • animals
  • environment
  • people
  • production.

The latest KPI data is listed below, with fortnightly reports available as downloads.

Final report - "And that's a wrap"

The 2017–2019 Tasmanian Dairy Focus Farm project has concluded. Read the Field family Focus Farm final report.

Report

DairyTas Focus Farm Report 2019

Septermber 2019 season report from the DairyTas Focus Farm project.
Published:
Industry data
Benchmarking

End of 2017–18 review and wrap up

Reach the DairyTas Field family Focus Farm review of the 2017–2018 season here.

Report

DairyTas Focus Farm 2018 Season Report

September 2018 season wrap up report from the DairyTas Focus Farm project.
Published:
Industry data
Benchmarking

KPI tracking data at 16 September 2019 (end of 24–month project)

Key Performance Indicators (from graph)

Target

Actual

Production/cow (kg MS/cow)

1.16

1.4

Production/ha (kg MS)

2.19

3.1

Average pasture cover (kg DM/ha)

2,138

2,205

Condition score (1–5)

4.5

4.7

Bulk milk cell count (cells/ml)

<250,000

240,000

Secondary Indicators (from report)

Animal

 

Pasture/cow (kg DM/day)

10

Grain/cow (kg DM/cow)

5

Silage offered/cow (kg DM/cow)

5

Heifer weight (kg)

N/A

Calf weight (kg)

N/A

Production

 

Kg MS/cow/day

1.4

Litres/cow/day

16

Kg MS/day

1399

Kg MS/ha

3.1

Pasture

 

Growth rate (kg DM/ha)

47

Leaf emergence rate (days)

15

Grazing area (ha)

 

Milking platform

450

Grazing block

325

Milk production

 

Litres/cow/day

16

Kg Milk Solids/ha

1.4

Calf milk

No milk taken from milking herd

Bulk cell count

240,000 (cells/ml)

Average pasture cover

2,205kg DM/ha

Growth rate

47kg DM/ha

Leaf emergence rate

15 days on a 30 day rotation

Milker’s rotation

 

Pre-grazing cover

2,900kg DM/ha

Post-grazing cover

1,500kg DM/ha

Cow diet

Offering 10kg pasture, 5kg silage and 5kg pellets

Rainfall

98mm

Irrigation

0

Fertiliser application

 

N:P:K:S (kg/ha)

35:2:7:8 on 50% of the milking platform and 10% of the grazing block

Other information

 

Comments

N/A

Pasture

Growth rate has increased from 30kg DM/ha to 47kg DM/ha.
Rotation length is 30 days on the milking platform.
Pasture cover has increased from 2050kg DM/ha to 2205Kg DM/ha.
Silage was fed at 5kg DM/cow/day over the past fortnight.

Animal

Somatic cell count is up at 240,000 cells/ml average over the past fortnight.
Cow condition score is steady at 4.7.
452 heifers and wagyu calves reared to date.

Production

Production per cow has increased to 1.4kg MS/cow/day.

People

 

Environment/other

We have had 98mm of rain over the past fortnight.
The paddocks are less waterlogged now with temperature and pasture growth increasing.

The Crowden family, Western Creek

Marcus and Zed Crowden own and manage a robotic milking dairy farm at Western Creek in the Central North of Tasmania.

Farm background

The Crowdens converted their farm to robotics three years ago while also running a conventional milking farm of 300 cows. The business is high input, high output and high profit, driven by high levels of productivity and labour efficiency.

Farm challenges and goals

Specific challenges and goals for the Crowden family during the Focus Farms project included:

  • To demonstrate that Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) can be run profitably in a pasture-based feeding system.
  • To debunk some of the myths around AMS.
  • To share the family business goals and ambition for growth with those in the dairy industry.
  • To work with a consultant in order to continue growing the business.

Farm facts and figures

An overview of the farm's productivity at the beginning of the project:

Farm details

 

Milking platform (ha)

60ha

Number of robots

3

Area irrigated (ha)

26ha

Peak cow numbers

225 cows

Stocking rate (cows/milking ha)

3.75

Calving start date

August 7

Annual milk production (kg milk solids)

99,251 (kg milk solids)

Feed details

 

Annual pasture utilisation (t DM/ha)

13.5t DM/ha

Grazed pasture per cow (t DM/cow)

3.1t DM/cow

Concentrates per cow (t DM/cow)

1.6t DM/cow

Hay, silage and other feed per cow (t DM/cow)
per season

1.0t DM/cow

Total feed per cow, 2014–15 season

5.7

Business details

 

Annual cost of production ($/kg MS)*

5.0

Return on assets

7%

Cows milked per full-time equivalent

235

*Annual cost of production includes non-cash costs such as depreciation and imputed people. Farm working expenses is budgeted at $4/kgMS.

The Jones family, Kayena

Limberlost Dairy in Kayena is owned by equity partners and managed by Peter and Jo Jones.

 

Farm background

Peter and Jo are responsible for the day-to-day management of the farm with larger decisions made by all parties involved in the farm business.

Farm challenges and goals

Specific goals and objectives for the Jones family during the Focus Farms project included:

  • To better utilise the resource base of the farm – pastures, water, land, labour and stock – in order to achieve 'industry-best' profitability.
  • To use a farming business model that is sustainable, providing a good income to all parties involved, which is environmentally and socially responsible.
  • To provide a workplace where staff feel valued, challenged, rewarded and provide opportunities for career development.
  • To achieve a lifestyle that allows for a balance between work and family.

Farm facts and figures

An overview of the farm's productivity at the beginning of the project:

Farm details

2013–14

2014–15

Milking platform (ha)

253ha

246ha

Area irrigated

196ha

196ha

Peak cow numbers

780 cows

770 cows

Stocking rate (cows/milking ha)

2.9

3.13

Calving start date

February 5

February 5

Annual production (kg milk solids)

323,000

363,000

Feed details*

 

 

Annual pasture utilisation (t DM/ha)

9.4t DM/ha

9.0t DM/ha

Grazed Pasture per cow (t DM/cow)

2.7t DM/cow

2.7t DM/cow

Concentrates per cow (t DM/cow)

1.2t DM/cow

1.3t DM/cow

Hay, silage and other feed per cow (t DM/cow)

1.3t DM/cow

1.5t DM/cow

Total feed per cow

5.2

5.5

Business details**

 

 

Annual cost of production ($/kg MS)

$5.02

$4.91

Return on assets for 2013/14 season

13.2%

13.5%

Cows milked per full-time equivalent

247

266

*Information taken from 2013–14 Dairy Business of the Year data.
**Information taken from 2014–15 Dairy Farm Monitor Project data.


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