SA dairy production figures back on rise

Kiara Stacey
By Kiara Stacey
November 29 2021 - 9:00pm

MILK production figures have fluctuated recently but industry insiders are tipping modest growth in the state milk pool for the remainder of the year.

Dairy Australia senior industry analyst Sofia Omstedt said they had definitely seen a recovery in milk production in South Australia in recent years.

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"Last financial year, there was almost 500,000 million litres produced in SA so it grew by about 2 per cent," she said.

"We saw an increase in per cow production in SA, which drove the 2pc growth.

"In September milk production in SA grew by 1.3pc.

"From September onwards, production has picked up in SA so we do expect some modest growth for the balance of this year."

Ms Omstedt said there has been almost 11mL more produced in 2021 compared with the previous year.

"Farmers have increased feed significantly with last year being a fantastic year for growing feed on farm," she said.

We are averaging 23.5L per cow per day where on the rotary we were averaging 25.4L per cow per day.

- DAVID SMART

"Pasture growth has been fantastic with ongoing rain throughout most of last season."

SA Dairyfarmers' Association chief executive officer Andrew Curtis said production was going well and was up a little bit on previous years.

"The season is going pretty well and prices are good," he said.

"As a whole, people are quietly optimistic about how the industry is looking because it could all come unstuck with a bad season or a global crisis but at the moment all the signals are pretty good.

"There are always opportunities to improve areas of concern, we are about to go into an election cycle so we will be looking to talk with the alternate parties about issues around workforce, recruitment in both dairy farming and manufacturing, and carbon and climate change which we need to be serious about.

"While it rains in winter and the sun shines, things are good."

Third generation dairy farmer David Smart, Mypolonga, SA, said milk production on their farm had gone down somewhat, but this was due to their swap to a robotic dairy, while milk quality had improved.

"Our quality was about 100,000 to 150,000 bulk milk cell count on the rotary and before we took over - three years ago - it was about 300,000," he said.

"It is good using this system because we know we will never go over the BMCC limit so it allows us to even out the playing field - we will always have a stable cell count range."

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Running about 450 head of Holstein-Jersey cross milking cows on two rotations, the Smart family produce 10,000L of milk daily but it hasn't always been steady travels.

Mr Smart said during the peak of the drought he took on the business from his father and culled 350 cows that were not performing, making the dairy more profitable.

"In that first year we made an extra million litres of milk, since then we have employed a nutritionist who has finetuned what we were heading towards and our production." he said.

Mr Smart said the robotic system had obviously dipped their production but they were pushing back upwards.

"We are getting our heads around the grain feeding system and the robotic system," he said.

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"We are averaging 23.5L per cow per day where on the rotary we were averaging 25.4L per cow per day."

Mr Smart said the best way to increase productivity was to employ a nutritionist and manage cow numbers.

"The nutritionist introduced minerals to make the cows more healthy and more or less only tweaked what we were already doing," he said.

"It is having the knowledge in feed tests, to tailor the feed, to drive production essentially."

Strathalbyn, SA, dairy farmer Brett Fiebig, who has been listed in the top 5pc of producers in the 2021 Australian Milk Quality Awards for the second year, said production had grown in what was one of his "best" years.

"Production has been really great," he said.

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"It has been one of the best years I have had since farming and production has increased year-on-year.

"I do pretty much all the work by myself, and you have to be in touch with your animals to know how they are going health wise."

Mr Fiebig said his BMCC per day is ranging between 70,000 and 100,000 average, and was very reliant on the good season.

"I am averaging 29L per cow and run the cows across 238 acres (96 hectares) of dryland," he said.

"There is no irrigation, so once the grass goes that is it, it is all on hay and silage then."

Mr Fiebig said he was proud of the cows and where he started from with 60 cows to running 140 head.

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Kiara Stacey

Kiara Stacey

Journalist

Journalist for Stock Journal. Kiara was in classified sales at Stock Journal before joining the editorial team. Kiara completed a Bachelor of Communication (journalism) at Deakin University in 2020.

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