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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 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

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 525,000 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
  • irrigation
  • pasture species
  • 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.

 

The 2017-2018 Focus Farm season has now wrapped up,
check out our review of the season here!

 

DairyTas Focus Farm - KPI Tracking for 9th December 2018

 

 

Key Performance Indicators (from graph)

  Target   Actual 
Production/cow (Kg MS/cow)   1.2  1.2
Average pasture cover APC (Kg DM/ha)   2000  2103
Condition score (1-5)   4.6  4.8
Bulk milk cell count BMCC (cells/ml)   <250000  253,000

Secondary Indicators

 Animal   Production   
Pasture/cow (Kg DM/day)  18  Kg MS/cow/day   1.2
Grain/cow (Kg DM/cow)   0.5 Litres/cow/day   15
Silage offered/cow (Kg DM/cow)   0 Kg MS/day  1682 
Heifer weight (Kg)  N/A 
Kg MS/ha
3.7
Calf weight (Kg) N/A     
 Pasture
Growth rate (Kg DM/ha)  69
Leaf emergence rate (days)  9
Grazing Area (ha)   
Milking Platform 450
Grazing Block  300
Milk Production   
Litres/cow/day  15
KgMilk Solids/ha  3.6
Calf Milk  400
Bulk Cell Count  253,000 (cells/ml)
 APC 2,161 Kg DM/ha 
Growth Rate  76 kg DM/ha 
Leaf Emergence Rate  9 days 
Milker's Rotation   
 Pre-grazing cover 2,990 Kg DM/ha
Post-grazing cover  1,500 Kg DM/ha
Cow Diet  Offering 18 Kg DM/cow/day pasture and 0.5Kg DM/day pellets
Rainfall  30.8 mm
Irrigation   20
Fertiliser application   
N:P:K:S (Kg/ha)  N/A
Other   
Comments   
Pasture 

Growth rate has increased from 69Kg DM/day to 76 Kg DM/day.
The average pasture cover has increased from 2,103 Kg DM/day to 2,990 Kg DM/day.

Animal 

Start date AI 14th November.  921 cows inseminated from a possible 948 cows in the spring herd.
No hormone treatment.

Production 

Production per cow is 1.2 Kg milk solids for both Autumn and Spring cows.
Stripped milkers found 12 new cases of mastitis.

Silage production ongoing, expect to finish soon and start making 1,500 bales of hay.

 People
Our next open day has been scheduled for March 6th and will feature a range of guest presenters.             
 Environment/Other Water is being drawn from TI Duck Scheme
All four pivots are operational.  20mm is being applied.
Taking 6.7 megs per day of scheme water.
The allocation this year is for our full flow rate over approximately 80% of the 120 day irrigation season.
This is our full flow from 3 December until the 9th of March.
Every day we don't take water or take a reduced flow will push the end date for our water later into March.

 

Complete fortnightly reporting

Financial year 2018-2019

 9 December 2018 27 November 2018   11 November 2018  31 October 2018 15 October 2018 
 1 October 2018
 17 September 2018 3 September 2018 23 July 2018  9 July 2018

Financial year 2017-2018

26 June 2018  11 June 2018    
28 May 2018 17 May 2018  30 April 2018  16 April 2018 
2 April 2018  19 March 2018  2 March 2018  19 February 2018 
5 February 2018  22 January 2018  8 January 2018  11 December 2017 
27 November 2017  13 November 2017  30 October 2017   

 

Check out the latest posts from this Tassie Focus Farm on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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