Focus Farms

 

Background

The Focus Farm project has been running in Gippsland for the last 14 years.  The project focuses on a farming family or enterprise and aims to improve operating surplus through improved understanding of operational costs and by maximising home grown feed and reducing fixed costs.  This is achieved by close monitoring of farm activities and expenditure.  The Focus Farm gets support from an experienced farm consultant, who acts as a group facilitator, and a support group made up of farmers and local service providers.

A feature of past Focus Farm projects has been the openness of the data provided and the wide opportunity for the Focus Farm families, support groups and facilitator to deal with the issues being faced on that farm. That same situation applies across these new Focus Farms. There is a wide diversity of climate, soil type, farm financial and management issues, and a diverse list of farm family goals. Information about these Focus Farms and their activities will continue to appear in How Now Gippy Cow. There will also be opportunities for farm walks and field days to inspect the farms and their progress. Items will appear in local papers, and the weekly reports in rural newspapers will continue. There is also an opportunity for people to be placed on the mailing list for a particular farm that they are interested in following. They can receive the regular meeting notes coming from that farm.

Sponsorship for the project has come from Dairy Australia and GippsDairy. Three new Focus Farms are now up and running. See an overview of who and where along with their goals, below.

Mirboo North: Bruce and Fiona Manintveld 

They purchased their farm on the Boolarra-Mirboo North Road in June 2013. Previously Bruce and Fiona had been share farming at Shady Creek. The total area of the farm is 148 ha and the effective grazing area is approximately 141 ha.This supports the milking herd, all young stock and bulls. The predominately Jersey milking herd is around 280 cows grazing an area of 115 ha. A 12 weeks seasonal calving starts mid July.

Overall farm goal is to be debt free in 10 years, whilst making farm improvements and alterations.

The Facilitator on this Focus Farm is Jeff Urie.

Toora: Dan and Cindy Knee

Their farm is in the hills at Toora and is steep to gently undulating land. They have 150 ha of milking area plus a 46 ha heifer rearing area. The farm has been in the family for 43 years. From 1 July 2014 Dan and Cindy will operate the farm business as Dan’s parents, Bruce and Rae Knee, are semi retiring and stepping back from the farm business.

Dan and Cindy have set the following goals:

  • Develop our new business and generate cash surpluses and equity gains that ensure success from dairy farming.
  • Increase profitable milk production from the cows. We currently have a crossbred herd of cows. This increased profit could be by maintaining production with lower purchased feed inputs or cows increasing production from better silage and pasture.
  • Maintain a low BMCC with minimal incidence of mastitis.
  • Improve calf rearing process, in and out of the calf shed for better replacements.

The Facilitator on this Focus Farm is Matt Hall.

Leongatha South: Tim and Grit Cashin

Tim and Grit enthusiastically took on the challenge to operate the family farm in 2006. The dairy farm has been in the Cashin family for almost 65 years.They are leasing 200 ha – 120 ha flats, 40 hectares rising red soil and 40 ha turnout. The flats become very wet in winter-spring. Seasonal calving starts 12 July for the 265 cows, they are rearing 85 heifers and 90 calves.

Tim and Grit say these are our challenges:

  • Farm expansion and development for young dairy farmers
  • Labour – where to from here
  • Cow numbers – where do we stop
  • Farm ownership
  • Infrastructure capability
  • Wet soil and related management issues
  • Lifestyle balance with a young family
  • Debt structure and reduction of it
  • Cattle breeding - choosing our direction
  • Production issues in spring

The Facilitator on this farm is Matt Harms

Note: A fourth Focus Farm will be starting in the Macalister Irrigation District later this year.  Contact John Gallienne for further information on mobile 0407 863 493 or email him at gallienne@dcsi.net.au

 

For more information about the project contact John Gallienne on 0407 863 493.