Western Victorian focus farms to open doors

Western Victorian focus farms to open doors at field days

Dairy
ON FARM VISION: Two field days next month in western Victoria will allow farmers to see progress being made on WestVic Dairy focus farms.

ON FARM VISION: Two field days next month in western Victoria will allow farmers to see progress being made on WestVic Dairy focus farms.

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Two upcoming field days will give the western Victorian dairy farmers the opportunity to see the progress being made at WestVic Dairy's Focus Farms.

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Two upcoming field days will give the western Victorian dairy farmers the opportunity to see the progress being made at WestVic Dairy's Focus Farms.

The events offer attendees the chance to learn from the decision-making processes and the results seen so far.

The first field day will be held on Peter and Fiona Musson's farm at Macarthur, Vic, on Thursday, March 4.

This is the first chance for farmers to see the Musson business first-hand, with the pandemic impacting this project that started in January last year.

In the past 20 years the Mussons have built a very successful business, which now extends to 730 hectares and milks 770 cows.

The goals outlined at the start of the project included developing staff capability, utilising technology and to continue pasture improvement by exploring different cultivars.

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WestVic Dairy extension officer Debbie Twiss is managing the project along with facilitator consultant Owen Rees.

"It is fantastic to be able to hold an on-farm event at last," Ms Twiss said.

"There are many interesting aspects of this project to show off to the broader dairy community.

"On the day we will introduce Peter, Fiona and their business, then focus on: activity monitors and using the resulting data in an extensive sexed semen program; nutrition challenges and opportunities; Clare Leddin will provide a Pasture Smarts report; and we will discuss the pros and cons of building a cow shelter to prevent pasture damage."

The second field day will take place a week later on Thursday, March 11, at Ondit, Vic.

Dale and Karen Angus are now 18 months into the Focus Farm project and have made great strides towards their goals.

After discussing various options with the support group, the Anguses have implemented multiple changes including: improvements to irrigation infrastructure, lead feeding of cows, silage sampling, increased home-grown feed consumption and cow activity monitors, which will be fitted any day.

These changes, combined with an excellent season, have seen milk production increase by 18 per cent in the last calendar year.

In turn, this has allowed significant debt reduction - a key goal of the project.

The support group is led by farm consultant Paul Groves:

"Dale and Karen continue to show how it is possible to run a highly profitable dairy business in an area with lower rainfall and shorter growing seasons," Mr Groves said.

"During the project we have looked at lifting production without complicating or adding risk to a system that works.

"They have made use of the resources on-farm to raise production, without increasing purchased feed costs.

"There are many learnings that farmers throughout south-west Victoria can take away from what is being achieved here.

"At this field day we will go over the business financials, looking at what is going well, as well as any areas of potential improvement.

"The use of genomics will be discussed, the R1 heifers were tested recently, so we'll see the results and discover how this information can be used to boost farm profitability

"Autumn resowing will also be covered - 80 hectares are resown here each year.

"We'll look at the best varieties available, along with sowing strategies to ensure good fodder production."

Both field days will run from 11am to 2pm. All farmers and service providers are welcome.

COVIDSafe rules in place at the time of each event will be adhered to. RSVPs are required, contact WestVic Dairy on (03) 5557 1000 or visit the events page at westvicdairy.com.au.

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