ECHUCA BASED consultant, Tom Farran, presented some essential take-home messages after looking over the Victorian Dairy Farm Monitor Report.
Although there was a distinct focus on northern Victoria, some of the points he raised at a recent workshop are timeless.
Key lessons from 2018-19
- Careful and early planning;
- Carefully compare different options;
- Too many young stock were a burden;
- Buy feed based on value for money rather than just price per tonne;
- Maintain reasonable cow numbers and milk production;
- Do the basics well.
Buying in feed
- Need to compare feeds on cents per MJ of energy and dollars per kg protein;
- Factor wastage into feed budgets;
- How is the feed gong to be fed out (in the paddock? Feed rings?);
- Factor in costs of feeding out (labour, fuel);
- Do you have machinery to do it?;
- Make sure the diet is balanced and it will produce the milk required;
- Make sure the fibre content of the diet isn’t too high or they wont be able to eat enough;
- Take care not to put “all eggs into one basket” in feed sourcing;
- If not irrigating in autumn, make sure feed budget goes until August 2020.
Best bet strategies for 2019-20
Milk price is providing the dairy farms in the region with a chance, therefore:
- Cutting cow numbers may leave the farm worse off;
- Reducing milk production is likely to leave the farm worse off;
- Only rear the number of young stock required;
- Carefully put together a feed budget and begin to secure feed;
- Plan early and be flexible with options;
- Consider if farming through this year is the best option;
- Think about the impact decisions this year will have on the future of the business; and
- Look after yourself.