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TAS Country : December 1st 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011 Tasmanian Country 17 The Stock Report change creates a new tradition Really it's not all that different from cropping. If you're cropping on dodgy soils there are risks and it's the same with dairying' ---DAIRY CONVERT BILL CHILVERS MAIN PICTURE: Dairy cows graze in what was traditionally a dry-land cropping region. RIGHT: Share farmer Grant Archer, left, and property owner Bill Chilvers, who are behind the Oakdene dairy conversion at Symmons Plains. Pictures: Karolin MacGregor ''Really it's not all that different from cropping. If you're cropping on dodgy soils there are risks and it's the same with dairying,'' he said. ''Whether you're cropping or dairying, it all comes down to better management.'' The extra irrigation water needed for dairy pastures is something Mr Chilvers said he would be monitoring closely to see if it would have any impact on salinity across the dairying area. Water application levels for the pasture are expected to be 5-7ML/ha, which is a considerable increase from the 1.5-2.5ML/ha used during three previous strategic irrigation operations. To monitor any changes to ground water levels, piezometers have been installed. However Mr Chilvers said a return to long-term pasture would also provide soil health benefits after years of continuous cropping. While the duplex soils on the property are naturally quite acidic, 15 years of cropping has gradually increased soil fertility. The dairy farm is now running a herd of 850 friesian jersey cross cows. Mr Archer said he was a firm believer is setting up a dairy and then bringing in the cows to suit, not the other way around. As it is quite a wet area, the cross-bred cows worked well because they were lighter, but still had excellent conversion rates and good production, he said. The stocking rate has been set about about four cows per hectare. Mr Archer said something that was a little bit different on the property was the use of larger paddock sizes. Rather than getting a new paddock every day, the cows are run in the same paddock for several days. He said this had cut down on the amount of fencing and number of water troughs needed, and would also make things easier when those areas needed to be returned to a cropping phase. The Archers are experienced at running large herd operations, having farmed on a 950-cow operation at Mella in the state's North West. Mr Archer said one of the main differences he had noticed between Mella and the Northern Midlands was a shift in the pasture growth curve. During winter, he said, the pasture growth at Symmons Plains was much slower, but he said the cows seemed to like it better there because the weather was less wet and windy. Mr Archer said that one thing they had learned from past experience was to allow for more animal health costs during the first year of operation at a new dairy, due to factors involved with mixing cows together. The cows are run in a two-herd system, which Mr Archer said also allowed the younger cows to perform better. The budget allows for about 1.4 tonnes of supplementary grain feeding per cow over the season. The dairy's milk production targets for the season are 330,000kg/ MS. The herds will soon be moved onto a three milkings in two days management system, which is expected to cut labour costs and reduce other expenses such as electricity and use of cleaning agents. Mr Archer said an essential part of establishing a new dairy was having good staff to run the day-to-day management of the operation. Mr Chilvers said they believed that having a good level of equity in the business was vital in order to manage risk. He said this would help protect them if the share- farming arrangement ceased, and also gave them flexibility to add more infrastructure such as feed or calving pads if needed. Mr Chilvers said another benefit of the share-farming system was that it allowed knowledge and skills to be combined. ''I think you've got to realise that you can't be an expert at everything, and even though I'm OK at the cropping side of things and can produce reasonable lambs, I don't have any experience with dairy cows and that's not what I really want to be doing anyway,'' he said. ''I enjoy the development side of things, so the share farming means that I can still concentrate on what I like doing.'' With a major push for more dairy production across Tasmania now on, it is hoped that new irrigation schemes coming online will enable more farmers to undertake dairy conversions. Enquiries: Georgina & Hamish Wallac 5322 - Andrew Calvert 0418 130 155 2047162-111118 ce 6381 5320 0 0-J J J Jo o ohn n n nG Grove e e es6 6 6381 Catalogues available from agents ffering: 24 Superfine Saxon 2 1/2 yr Rams 46 Superfine/Fine Wool 1 1/2 yr Rams by Nerstane 59 & 293. On display for the first time in Tasmania Progeny from Nerstane N910 (Champion Fine Wool Ram Bendigo 2011) Tuesday December 6th 2011, 1.30pm At Trefusis Ross Also displaying in Macquarie Fields Day Fri Dec 2nd at 9.am all sale team plus other stud Ewes & Lambs. Superfine/Fine Merino 28th Annual Ram Sale
November 24th 2011
December 8th 2011