The Focus Farms program provides deep insight into local Tasmanian farming methods and industry-standard business practices - helping increase efficiencies and work/life balance for Tasmanian dairy farmers.
Tasmanian Focus Farm
The national Focus Farms program has been running Australia-wide for more than eight years and running in the DairyTas region since 2014. Focus Farms is a two year on-farm program. Through on-farm meetings, open days and publicly available reporting, Focus Farms benefits participants and interested farmers and communities both in Tasmania and nationally, creating 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 the 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 look at strategies that will be applied on-farm 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 as well as 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 the decisions and the outcome. Check out the Tasmanian Focus Farm monthly KPI reporting below.
Tasmanian Focus Farm Participants
The DairyTas Focus Farm for the 2017-2019 is run by Dave and Jane Field.
Dave and Jane Field, Circular Head, North West Tasmania
Dave and Jane have been farming in Tasmania for 2 years, but have progressed through the Dairy Industry in New Zealand. They are both graduates of Lincoln University. They progressed up through the dairy industry. Managing farms, 50/50 share-milking and onto farm ownership in 2006. They purchased a dairy farm to develop and subsequently two grazing blocks located at Murchison near the top of the South Island, NZ. The dairy farm in NZ is currently managed by a sharefarmer.
Farm Facts and Focus Farm project details
Dairy Platform = 450 effective hectares +
Grazing/support block = 300 effective hectares
250 ha under irrigation
Split calving system.
Autumn calving: 500 cows
Spring calving: 900 cows
Peak milk 1400 cows this year.
(Kg milk solids)
Aiming for 525,000 kg milk solids in 2017/18
milking on a Once a Day milking system.
What type of herd – breed / size?
The herd is made up of Holstein and cross bred cows.
Going forward the emphasis will be on gaining genetic merit and increasing the proportion of cross bred cows in the herd. Then, focusing on increasing pasture utilisation and adapting to the Once-A-Day milking system.
What step are they at when it comes to their business development?
The Fields goal is to operate a simple pasture based system, focused on growing and harvesting more pasture over time, by:
increasing soil fertility
cow genetics and management
Part of this development process was the change to a permanent once a day milking system in May this year.
Is this an open group or not?
There is a support group which meet bi-monthly and is a closed group. But over the two year project, there are up to six on-farm open days for all interested people. If you are interested in attending the next open day, please contact us.
Who is in the Focus Farm support group?
Basil Doonan from Macquarie Franklin is the lead consultant for the 2 year project. Other support group members consist of several farmers from around Tasmania and other professional expertise as required.
What benefits will there be to other local farmers having this Focus Farm on their doorstep?
Farmers will have the opportunity to look at various strategies that will be applied on farm to improve the bottom line and balance priorities in the farming business. The open days allow opportunities to talk to the Field family and see the progress that is being made and understand the rationale behind the decisions and the outcome.
Key Performance Indicator reporting
Every two weeks, the Field family and the project consultant Basil Doonan prepare a report against their KPIs, covering pasture, animals, environment, people and production.
Reporting is categorised by financial year with the latest KPI data listed here and the full reports available as a PDF below.
Growth rate has decreased to 59Kg DM/day.
Rotation length is 24 days on the milking platform.
Pasture cover has increased from 2,060Kg DM/ha to 2,160Kg DM/ha.
The milkers are currently hitting residuals of 1,500-1,600Kg DM/ha without heifers tidying up after.
We have dried off 114 autumn cows over the last fortnight. There are 350 mixed age cows to calve this autumn along with 90 heifers.
We sold 53 cows who were identified as low producers
We will herd test on 20th February to identify cows with a high somatic cell count. Any cows over seven years with a high cell count will be sold. Following this we will do another herd test in April.
We have dropped the vacuum from 41.4 to 39.5kPa to help improve teat end health.
Dave is spending some time with our backpackers to increase their skills at cups on and cups off.
Production per cow is 1.1Kg MS/cow.
All autumn cows have now been dried off.
Dave is spending time in the cow shed to focus on our somatic cell count as it has been too high for too long.
All irrigation was restarted on Monday 18th after being turned off for 11 days. The use of soil moisture meters gave us the confidence to turn off irrigation when it started raining.
We had Phillip John from Worksafe Tasmania - DPIPWE, out to assist us in updating our Health and Safety Manual. Phillip also had a look at the cow shed to identify any hazards and only picked up a couple of minor things to sort.
We had a OH&S meeting with the staff and re-inducted them with new and updated information.
Our next focus farm open day has been scheduled for March 6th with the spotlight on 'farm safety'.
Dairy Feed Tools is a complete feed management toolset for dairy farmers and managers. Feed planning, cost and resource management backed by Australian feed and pasture data to most accurately reflect the needs of your herd