TWO Burra Foods suppliers have used the company's On-Farm Investment Rebate Program to make vital upgrades to their dairy equipment to ensure they can continue to supply high-quality milk.
The Chapman family used the program to buy a diesel generator on their farm at Caldermeade, Vic, while the Jones family used it to buy a new prechilling system for milk entering the vat, as part of major infrastructure upgrade at their Foster, Vic, farm.
A lengthy power outage in August 2020 sparked angst, frustration, inconvenience and expense for the Chapman family at Caldermeade.
For three days, their 200 cows could not be milked (causing significant mastitis), vital water ceased being pumped from bores to troughs, and cooling infrastructure was inoperable.
The cost of the resulting mastitis was $7000, and the inability to supply milk to Burra Foods compounded the situation.
"We didn't hire a generator at the time because we simply didn't know when the power was going to be restored," said Campbell Chapman, who farms with his wife Karen, son Lachlan and father Bob.
"It was so stressful and costly, but we just had to wear it in the end."
That extended blackout was the catalyst for the Chapmans installing a standalone 88kVA diesel generator, which is large enough to simultaneously power the 18 swingover dairy, cool the milk and supply the water troughs.
The Chapmans utilised the Burra Foods On-farm Investment Rebate Program - which provided a 20 per cent rebate of the equipment cost - to assist with the purchase and to help soften the financial blow.
While the generator was a significant economic outlay, it has brought the Chapmans priceless peace of mind.
"At least now we know that if the mains power is lost - and that has happened twice since the generator was installed - everything will continue to function without disruption," Campbell said.
"And if the power companies shut down the grid on those days of catastrophic fire danger, we can continue to milk the cows and keep the water up to them, which is so important in the heat as they each drink around 100 litres a day.
"Before the generator was installed, whenever we saw a storm coming, Karen would say that we should bring in the cows now and start milking early in case the power goes out.
"On top of that, the factory is assured that cold milk will be provided on time."
The Chapman family has been farming at Caldermeade for 45 years, switching from beef production to dairy in 1994.
They are in their third year of being Burra Foods Milk Supply Partners, supplying Burra with all the milk from their herd of predominantly Holstein Friesian milkers.
The Chapmans last year won a Burra Foods Gold Milk Quality Award and they have on numerous occasions been named in Dairy Australia's Milk Quality Awards top 100, recognising farmers producing the country's best milk, based on bulk milk cell count.
In all that they do, family is first and foremost for the Joneses. It is the driving force behind their large and progressive dairy enterprise, located between Toora and Foster in South Gippsland, and is central to their investment decision-making and strategies for the future.
Long-standing Burra Foods Milk Supply Partners, the family business includes Kevin and Helen Jones, son Mitchell and his wife Alanna, and daughter Katie, who is also a school teacher.
All family members live on the property and share ownership of some of the land, which Kevin and Helen bought in 2002.
Mitchell, 24, now manages the farm, comprising a 300-hectare home farm and a 42ha turnout block. The land has undergone significant improvement as part of a strategic capital investment program to future proof the business.
Recent recipients of a Burra Foods 10-year supply award and consistent winners of the Burra Foods Gold Milk Quality Award, the Joneses have implemented a solid and sound
succession plan allowing Kevin and Helen to step back from the day-to-day management and pass the baton to Mitchell.
The increasingly efficient enterprise is well set up for now and into the future.
Underpinning that position has been the installation two years ago of a 60-stand rotary dairy to replace the 20 double-up herringbone, a 700 cow all-weather feedpad constructed last year, and a new prechilling system for milk entering the vat.
Utilising the Burra Foods On-Farm Investment Rebate Tool for Milk Cooling and a State Government grant, the chiller has provided the Joneses with reassurance and comfort in knowing that the quality of their milk is without compromise.
"The milk now meets collection standards before we've even finished milking, which means the Burra tankers can pick up our milk any time," Kevin said.
"Although the chiller doesn't mean we get paid any more for our milk, it enables us to maintain the highest quality of raw milk in the vat and because we produce a food product, we strive to do what's right by the consumer.
"Hopefully, we won't have to do anything with the chiller for a long time - like the rotary dairy, we expect it will be here for at least another 25 years."
Kevin said the new rotary allowed the cows to be milked in less than half the time they were previously.
"We were therefore putting a huge volume of milk into the refrigeration vat so much quicker. We were struggling to get it to cool quick enough in time for pick-up by the tanker, so the new chiller, helps make a big difference in cooling the milk in a timely fashion with the added
benefit of reducing the chilling load on the vat and therefore reducing energy costs."
The new feedpad - which may one day be covered with a roof - has also enhanced efficiencies and productivity for the Jones family, enabling them to feed cows throughout the winter months without damaging pastures.
Kevin and Helen have watched with pride as Mitchell has transitioned to the day-to-day management of the farm, imparting all their knowledge and experience along the way.
Mitchell, who is supported by another two full-time employees and a couple of casual workers, is approaching the future with enthusiasm and determination.
"I worked out at a young age that I wanted to go into dairying," said Mitchell, a father of two.
He has embraced the family's investment in new technologies and infrastructure, recognising their value in terms of productivity.
"Technology and cost savings are enabling the business to move forward in positive ways, and to create a good family life," he said.
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