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TAS Country : March 15th 2012
Special Feature Dairy Business Awards 22 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 16, 2012 PROVEN STRATEGY: ANZ Dairy Business of the Year winners Kim and Grant Archer. KAROLIN MacGREGOR Winning focus on dairy basics KEEPING it simple has proved to be a winning formula for 2012 ANZ Dairy Business of the Year award winners Grant and Kim Archer. The Archers share farm at Cressy on the Rosemount property owned by Rob and Jo Bradley. A strong focus on dairy business basics like growing top-quality pasture and using it resulted in a 20.3 per cent return on assets during the 2010-2011 competition season. While they are now based in the state's central north, the Archers first taste of share farming was in Circular Head on a property at Mella. Mr Archer first started his career in the dairy industry as an apprentice on the family farm at Moltema. In 1986 the family moved to a new property at Mella. After attending Marcus Oldham Col- lege and graduating with a diploma in farm management, Mr Archer moved back to the Mella property and share farmed under a 33 per cent arrange- ment before gradually moving up to 50/50. In 1990 Grant and Kim Archer bought their first 600 cows for the 1996-1997 season. They bought the Mella farm in 2001 and ran the business until 2007. Mr Archer said they made the decision to move from the North West to give them more options when it came to their children's education. ''We'd operated the farm up there for six or seven years and our plan had always been to move up this way eventually for the children's edu- cation,'' he said. ''We'd found a really good manager that we could trust and I've go got the view that when you find good people like that you need to step back and let them do the job without interfering too much, so we decided to make the move.'' After leasing some land for a short time the Archers were approached by Rob and Jo Bradley who were looking to diversify their cropping operation at Rosemount and thought dairying might be a good fit. Using extra heifer calves they had reared at Mella the Archers were able to put together a herd of 370 cows to start milking at Rosemount in July 2008. The property's existing 27-unit swing-over dairy, which hadn't been used in several years was given a quick revamp and the dairy operation got under way. ''It was a little bit of a change for dairying at Mella, but in some ways it's easier up here because you've got the irrigation so you can guarantee your feed,'' he said. ''Mella is a great place to farm and most of the time it's not a problem, but if it does stop raining up there it can get quite dry and that makes things difficult.'' The Archers gradually expanded the herd milking 440 cows in their second year at Cressy and 500 in the compe- tition year. Production has also increased sig- nificantly on the farm since that first season. Mr Archer said they had used a good fertiliser program and careful manage- ment to improve pasture production. This combined with a high stocking rate of between three to four cows a hectare has also improved pasture utilisation. ''We try to keep a fairly simple system and we don't do anything particularly out there,'' he said. ''We concentrate on growing grass and using that pasture as much as we can, because that's the cheapest form of feed we have.'' Moisture metres are used to ensure irrigation is as effective as possible. During peak pasture growth periods like spring, some high-quality silage is made off the milking platform. Mr Archer said they used this as a tool to manage excess pasture growth and maintain quality. ''If we make silage we want it to be really good quality, and a lot of the time it's more of a management tool to keep those paddocks in the rotation,'' he said. Grain is also part of the cow's ration and can vary from 1kg to 8kg a day depending on feed availability. ''We use the grain to fill feed gaps and we stay focused on getting our pasture residuals down to the correct levels,'' Mr Archer said. During the competition season, this strategy clearly worked and the ma- jority of the cows were still producing at the same level in March as they were in December.
March 8th 2012
March 22nd 2012