Summer on the Tallangatta Focus Farm
The summer feeding program was a hot topic at the Tallangatta Focus Farm field day, held at Mark and Narelle McDonald's farm in November.
Who knows what summer will bring; it will be a matter of keeping an eye on the progress of La Nina during the summer months and her associated indicators (SOI, cloudiness at date line and strength of trade winds). The McDonalds and the farmer members of the support group and are similar to many farms in the north east - prepared for either extreme with strong home grown fodder reserves. It was generally agreed however, considering the milk price (36c/standard litre), it will be important to use feed that is of high quality, which will be pasture/fodder crops or supplements such as grain (particularly at a price of 22 cents/kg), instead of the lower quality fibre sources such as silage and hay.
Cow numbers on the Focus Farm are now up to 392 after Mark and Narelle decided to buy a further 19 since the field day. Currently providing 26 litres with 1.84 kg milk solids @ $4.29/kg MS equates to $7.89/cow or $0.30/litre.
The planned diet to achieve around 26 litres production in the split calved herd will be:
- 6 - 7 kg of grain @ 22 cents/kg, plus additive @17 cents/cow/day;
- 2 kg of irrigated millet/brassica estimated @ 9 cents/ kg dry matter;
- 9 - 10 kg of irrigated pasture estimated at @ 11.5 cents/kg;
- At this stage it is hoped not to feed any silage until it is required.
The total diet will cost $2.87/cow, given their milk price of $0.30/litre, the break even point would be 9.6 litres. Any production above 9.6 litres/cow is generating profit. The projected milk production is 26 litres, which will generate a healthy profit margin of $4.92 per cow. You only have to think back to the summer of 2009 after the price drop, when $1.00 per cow was considered about as good as you could do to know that this is a good profit margin.
The area to be irrigated on the Focus Farm will depend upon how some of the pastures are performing and responding in summer, but will be a minimum of 76 hectares (5.2 cow/ ha) and a maximum of 110 hectares (3.59 cows/ha). Currently the millet/brassica mix is looking great. The long term plan is to get this area back into a perennial rye grass for next summer (2012/13).
Autumn start irrigation options will be assessed during this summer. The bi-annuals on the dry land will be grazed as the rainfall permits, having been set-up to grow by removing all of the stalky, poor quality feed in spring.
For further information on the Tallangatta Focus Farm or to receive the monthly support group notes, please contact Troy Mauger at Murray Dairy on 0417 870 038.