Subtropical Focus Farms



The Judge family, Gowrie Junction

Paul and Jo Judge lease a farm at Gowrie Junction near Toowoomba, Queensland. During their time as the Subtropical Dairy Focus Farm, they were looking at ways to generate wealth to progress their dairy career pathway after starting their business in July 2014. Learn more about their Focus Farm story below.

Farm background

Paul and Jo completed the original three-year term of a lease in June 2017 and took up an option for another five-year term.

Although the couple quickly paid back the debt borrowed to purchase the start-up herd, Paul and Jo's work/life balance had been affected, with no extra labour being employed other than the occasional relief milker.

Paul and Jo were looking at ways they could make increases in their production to enable cash flow to employ labour.

The couple's vision was to have a profitable dairy business into the future that they were proud of. Their aim was to generate enough wealth to eventually own their own land or expand with other lease options.

Paul has a long history in the dairy industry, working his way up through a dairy apprenticeship to farm management positions.

Their crossbred herd was made up of 160 adult animals, producing between 700,000 and 800,000 litres a year.

Farm challenges and goals

Specific challenges and goals for the Judge family during their Focus Farm period included:

  • Restore work/life balance – generate enough money to employ labour and have more time off-farm
  • Explore farm options for after the current lease expires
  • Increase production to 5,500 litres per cow from a 180-cow milking herd (one million litres) year-round with suitable replacements being grown out within the system
  • Have at least 75% home-grown feed that costs less than 20 cents per litre to produce, with total costs of production to not exceed 35c per litre.

Farm facts and figures

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

Farm details

Milking area

60 hectares

Dairy

10-a-side herringbone

Herd numbers

155 cows

Total herd

278

Annual stocking rate (cows/milking ha)

2.6

Milk Production (kilograms of milk solids)

50,571

Homegrown feed (tonnes of dry matter/milking ha)

7.8

Homegrown feed in diet

83%

Cows/labour unit (full-time equivalent)

129

Business

Total farm gross income ($/kg/MS)

7.80

Cost of production ($/kg/MS)

4.91

Earnings before interest & tax (EBIT) $kg/MS

2.55

Visit the regional website for further information about the Subtropical Dairy Focus Farm.


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