Changing forage management for a future in dairy

Scholarship winner changing forage management for a future in dairy

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Fourth generation northern Victorian dairy farmer Mitchell Lumsden will use the funds from an AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition scholarship to learn more about managing seasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning.

Fourth generation northern Victorian dairy farmer Mitchell Lumsden will use the funds from an AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition scholarship to learn more about managing seasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning.

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Mitchell Lumsden will investigate the transition from pasture-based dairying to TMR with the help of a scholarship.

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We aren't dairy farmers anymore; we are crop growers who milk cows.

That's according to Mitchell Lumsden, the latest Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) GenAg Scholarship winner.

The 22-year-old will use the $3000 scholarship to investigate transitioning his family's pasture-based, grazing dairy operation in northern Victoria to a housed-cow total mixed ration system.

His research will focus on the viability of TMR farming, especially in low farmgate milk price seasons.

Mitchell said water availability and cost determined dairy profitability in recent years and he didn't think this would change.

"The irrigation water reliability isn't here anymore, it has changed with environmental flows and foreign buyers," he said.

"Water is hard to come by, this means to run a successful business we are going to have to think differently and farm differently."

Mitchell is a fourth-generation dairy farmer at Leitchville where his parents milk up to 800 cows.

Running the family farm is his dream, but since finishing school he has furthered his skills and education working at other dairy farms, for a forage contracting business in Canada and is currently employed by Eade Forages in northern Victoria.

Managing seasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning was something he learnt in Canada.

Mitchell Lumsden will investigate the transition from pasture-based dairying to TMR with the scholarship from AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Mitchell Lumsden will investigate the transition from pasture-based dairying to TMR with the scholarship from AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Mitchell wants to use the GenAg Scholarship to further explore this in an Australian context where farmgate milk prices fluctuate.

"In NSW, they have almost already gone through this transition period - between grazing and TMR - where we are at," he said.

"They are more of a dryland operation which can get water sometimes. Last year they got 0 per cent allocation and we, in Victoria, got 80 per cent. We are only 100 metres away from NSW, there's every possibility that could happen in Victoria."

"I want to meet those people and see what changes they have made to their businesses, what they think the key points are now, with their business, and what their focus has changed too."

"We all know grazing is the cheapest form of feed, but if water is over $250-$300 a megalitre, it is not viable, and you can't get the quantity of milk out of the cows."

Mitchell anticipates his research will discover the extra cost of TMR - up to $100 a dry tonne to chop silage, feed it out and labour - would mean the business would have to produce more milk to cover costs.

Feed planning and the development of a self-sufficient dairy farm is also something Mitchell wants to explore.

Lallemand Animal Nutrition is proud to support the next generation of professionals in the forage industry, Lallemand Animal Nutrition Managing Director - Australia, Alex Turney said.

"As a global leader in natural microbial products, Lallemand is committed to working with and supporting the future industry leaders," he said.

"Mitch demonstrates a commitment to growth and has specific interests that will contribute to the forage industry for years to come.

"Lallemand is happy to have a small part in supporting his success.

"The future of agriculture is in good hands."

AFIA Chief Executive Officer John McKew said the GenAg Scholarship is an important financial aid for young people in the fodder industry.

"It helps to develop their knowledge, experience and career aspirations," he said.

"I commend Lallemand for their support of the next generation of agricultural leaders and influencers."

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