Western Victorian dairy farmers Wes and Belinda Lenehan have boosted performance by 1000 litres per cow in the last five years - and say DairyBase has played a key part in this success.
The Weerite, Vic, dairy farmers milk a 100-cow herd on 80 hectares, after previously operating a larger family farm until 2014.
Now five years on from reducing their herd size and starting their own operation, Mr and Mrs Lenehan attribute their ongoing profitability to making better informed decisions using tools like DairyBase.
Reducing cost of production
Lifestyle and profitability are major drivers for Mr and Mrs Lenehan, and they say it is crucial for them to measure and compare their financial and feedbase performance. "Decision-making - and financial decision-making in particular - is crucial for us on a daily basis because we have such a strong focus on keeping our costs in check," Mr Lenehan said.
"Every day, we are making major operational decisions about feed costs - trying to grow as much grass as possible so we can avoid buying in feed and in turn keep our costs down.
"We use DairyBase to help make those decisions - it allows us to track our feed costs using a number of key performance indicators."
The Lenehans analyse their performance on a quarterly basis, using metrics such as pasture growth per hectare and comparisons of their fertiliser use and rainfall over time.
Using this data, Mr and Mrs Lenehan have been able to optimise their fertiliser use and reduce the ongoing cost of bought-in feed.
"Using DairyBase data, we made the decision to use extra fertiliser to grow more grass - that has in turn made us more profitable as we've seen year-on-year reductions in our bought-in feed costs," Mr Lenehan said.
Feeding their cows more home-grown fodder has in turn resulted in a significant improvement to herd health and production, with an increase of 1000 litres per cow over the past five years.
"That's just from better managing and tracking our pasture growth and monitoring our performance using DairyBase," Mr Lenehan said.
For Mr and Mrs Lenehan, using DairyBase to compare their farm to others in the region has been crucial to tracking their performance.
Referring to other regional data sets as a benchmark, the Lenehans have set targets for themselves to improve their pasture growth and profitability.
We use DairyBase to help make those decisions - it allows us to track our feed costs using a number of key performance indicators.
"It's been very useful for us to see how others are tracking in our region," Mr Lenehan said.
While their farm and herd size are smaller than most others in the region, Mr and Mrs Lenehan use data like milk solids per hectare to compare their farm to larger farms.
"This means that even though I'm running a smaller operation, there is data that's relevant to compare, no matter your farm size," Mr Lenehan said.
Through their local Regional Development Program, Mrs Lenehan has undertaken training to upskill and better understand how to be better organised and collecting the right information to use DairyBase to their advantage. For Mrs Lenehan, the Farm Business Fundamentals course she accessed through WestVic Dairy improved her knowledge of how to pull together farm information.
She has also developed her understanding of how certain information can be accessed via DairyBase to inform decisions.
"Farm Business Fundamentals gave us a sound knowledge of the basics of running the business - from there I picked up more as I went," Mrs Lenehan said.
"Now I know why I'm entering certain information, and how I should use that information when it comes to our farm business."
Dairy farmers can access Farm Business Fundamentals and Dairy Farm Business Analysis training by contacting their regional team or by visiting dairyaustralia.com.au/events-calendar.
What is DairyBase?
DairyBase is a web-based tool that enables dairy farmers to securely store their annual farm data, and measure and compare their farm business performance over time.
Since it was created in 2015, DairyBase now has more than 2500 users - of which 1800 are dairy farmers - jointly managing more than 10,000 unique data sets.
Dairy farmers and their advisers are equipped to create reports and forecasts and identify opportunities to drive profit and manage risk.
Comparative analyses can be generated according to farm size, region and production system.
Register now at dairybase.com.au.
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