NSW pas­ture im­prove­ment.

Dairy News Australia - - NEWS - GOR­DON COL­LIE

AN­NUAL AND peren­nial rye-grasses with clover for graz­ing and mak­ing silage is at the heart of a cost-ef­fec­tive farm­ing sys­tem op­er­ated by Kevin and Michael Malone at Tu­mut. The Malone fam­ily have been dairy­ing in south­ern in­land NSW for more than a cen­tury and based on their cur­rent 300 hectare ag­gre­ga­tion with a 1.5 km frontage to the Tu­mut river since 1969. There was a lo­cal milk fac­tory in the early years, but now the farm is one of just two re­main­ing in the dis­trict sup­ply­ing Rive­rina Fresh at Wagga Wagga. Kevin is an elec­tri­cian by trade who has been farm­ing al­most 30 years and has been joined by his brother Michael, a qual­i­fied me­chanic. “We make the most of a wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion which is not un­lim­ited and can vary from year to year,” Kevin said. “We’ve had some tough sea­sons where our sup­ply has been down to 20 per­cent but there have been no prob­lems with avail­abil­ity since flood­ing last year. “The flats used to flood ev­ery win­ter be­fore the river flow was reg­u­lated for hy­dro power gen­er­a­tion,” Kevin said. “We couldn’t func­tion with­out ir­ri­ga­tion to get the pas­tures started each sea­son.” They use a mix of trav­ellers and a cen­tre pivot which can be moved be­tween two 24 ha cir­cles. “We’d love an­other pivot which takes all the work out of ir­ri­ga­tion. It’s on our wish list,” Kevin said.

By mix­ing an­nual and peren­nial rye-grasses the graz­ing sea­son is ex­tended at both ends with feed value boosted by the ad­di­tion of clover and oats. Peren­nial rye with clovers can pro­vide graz­ing for three to four years, with the flex­i­bil­ity to re­new by di­rect drilling. “We did a lot more cul­ti­va­tion when we were grow­ing sweet corn for the fresh mar­ket,” Kevin said. Trit­i­cale was grown as part of the crop­ping ro­ta­tion for both graz­ing and whole crop silage. Sur­plus pas­ture is con­served as fine chopped silage and some hay is also made. “We used to store the silage in square bale mod­ules, but it was a two per­son op­er­a­tion to feed out, so we’ve switched to mak­ing silage in pits.” “We can store up to 1700 tonnes of silage and like to put away about 700 to 800 tonnes each sea­son. With the floods last year, we were strug­gling to make any.” Hav­ing some smaller silage pits which can be fully used up avoids spoilage from hav­ing to re­seal a pit. Silage is fed out twice a day along fence lines to min­imise wastage from about April un­til early Septem­ber. About 3 ki­los of roller-milled trit­i­cale used in the milk­ing bales daily is the only bought in feed used. “We only started bail feed­ing in 2006 dur­ing a drought, but the value to milk pro­duc­tion was worth­while con­tin­u­ing,” Kevin said. Rye and clover grown un­der the cen­tre pivot pro­vide the bulk of sum­mer feed needs with a mix of oats and rye pro­vid­ing graz­ing dur­ing win­ter and into spring. They milk about 190 Hol­steins and main­tain a cost-ef­fec­tive pro­duc­tion of about 7000 litres or 23 litres a day. “We milk through an eight-a-side swing over her­ring­bone and would love a big­ger shed, but the re­al­ity is that the dol­lars just aren’t in dairy­ing at the mo­ment.” Many of the cows are reg­is­tered as part of the Eno­lam stud and Kevin’s youngest son Ryan, an agri­cul­tural sci­ence stu­dent at Charles Sturt Univer­sity is keenly in­ter­ested in ge­net­ics. Milk in­come is sup­ple­mented with a dairy beef en­ter­prise, pro­duc­ing Hol­stein steers and the prog­eny of an An­gus bull used over around 50 heifers each year for ease of calv­ing. Calves are typ­i­cally raised for about two years, with the Friesian steers sell­ing at 600 plus ki­los liveweight.

Michael and Kevin Malone in their eight-a-side- swing over her­ring­bone.

WHO: Kevin and Michael Malone WHERE: Tu­mut WHAT: Con­serv­ing pas­ture

Kevin Malone with calves.

Cows mov­ing into the dairy

Calf hous­ing

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