High standards and animal care get this West Gippsland farm into the top 100

By Dairy News Australia

For West Gippsland farmer David Johnson, high milk quality isn’t just a matter of pride or receiving a premium milk cheque — it’s about producing high-end cheese that value adds to his farm business.

David’s 400-cow farm at Neerim South has been named in the top 100 of the Dairy Australia 2020 Milk Quality Awards.

The award is recognition for David and his staff, who are all committed to producing high quality products under the Tarago River Cheese Company brand, as well as supplying Burra Foods.

“It’s always nice to keep improving,” he said.

“My staff are the ones that are doing the grind, day in day out, and it is good recognition of their skills.”

David said it was the high standards of staff and the care they take of the animals that helps keep the cows healthy and producing milk with low bulk cell counts.

“I believe if you focus on doing the little things well the results take care of themselves.

“Having content and quiet cows that aren’t stressed also helps.”

When it comes to the nitty gritty of mastitis prevention, David cites teat spraying, blanket dry cow and teat sealing at dry-off, good shed hygiene standards and herd testing as the four key steps towards success.

Maintaining high standards over a long period is a challenge for any farm, with David viewing communication as a key plank in an ongoing mastitis prevention program.

“It’s mainly chatting to other farmers and learning what they are doing,” he said.

“We also meet often with staff to discuss and improve systems and there’s plenty of material online and on the DA website that we can access.

“I’ve also done Cups On Cups Off along with my two key staff.

“If staff are training and learning new skills they seem to get more satisfaction from their work.

“The ESKI and DA website are both very good resources for our industry.”

The bottom line for David is high quality milk means a better experience for his customers.

“Having excellent quality milk and low cell count gives our cheesemakers the best chance to produce excellent quality cheese.”