Dairy farm­ers face up to their big de­ci­sions

Kyabram Free Press - - NEWS -

MORE than 100 dairy farm­ers con­cerned about the 2018 sea­son at­tended a se­ries of work­shops hosted by Mur­ray Dairy last week.

The Avoid­ing De­ci­sion Paral­y­sis work­shops were held at Koon­drook, Katunga and Kyabram.

Topics dis­cussed in­cluded how to: min­imise loss; man­age cred­i­tors; make in­formed de­ci­sions based on ac­tual mar­ket con­di­tions; and the im­por­tance of mak­ing a de­ci­sion and mov­ing on.

Stan­hope dairy farmer Rob Schloss spoke to the group about his plans for the sea­son ahead.

He is 100 per cent re­liant on the tem­po­rary wa­ter mar­ket.

He has car­ried over 136 Ml into this sea­son and, as a rule, he likes to have some sort of for­ward al­lo­ca­tion se­cured.

He is into his third and fi­nal year of a wa­ter lease which will give him ac­cess to cheap wa­ter this year (for the past two he has paid above mar­ket price).

‘‘I used to pur­chase my wa­ter through bro­kers but last sea­son I started to source it di­rectly from pri­vate sellers to help cut out the bro­ker­age fee and I will be do­ing that again this year — I do pay mar­ket price,’’ Mr Schloss said.

This sea­son he is look­ing to milk more cows through spring and then he will make a de­ci­sion about cow num­bers af­ter that.

‘‘If we are meant to have a warmer than av­er­age spring we should be able to get a good growth re­sponse and hold num­bers.

‘‘Cap­i­tal­is­ing on spring and get­ting as much pro­duc­tion out of the cows and as much growth out of my pas­ture (as pos­si­ble) is my main Schloss said.

Last sea­son he fed about 2.2 tonnes of grain per cow, but he is look­ing at cut­ting that fig­ure back to 1.8 or a bit less for 2018-19.

He is plan­ning on us­ing less to­tal wa­ter but com­pen­sat­ing with in­creased fer­tiliser use.

‘‘The feed out­look is un­cer­tain when it comes to hay and grain but there will be some op­por­tu­ni­ties with lo­cal farm­ers and I will be look­ing to­ward them to nail some of my fod­der re­quire­ments.’’

Mr Schloss said last sea­son was quite a good one for his busi­ness.

He was able to re­duce some debt and draw down some of his cred­i­tors.

‘‘Nor­mally I would ir­ri­gate into May but I stopped in April this year,’’ he said.

‘‘My gut feel­ing at the time pri­or­ity,’’ Mr was I didn’t want to get caught if it came in wet — but it turned out I had to buy in an ex­tra 150-200 tonnes of hay to fin­ish the sea­son — which im­pacted on the bot­tom line.’’

He is part of a Dairy Busi­ness Net­work group which has be­come an im­por­tant way of en­abling him to an­a­lyse his own farm data, make de­ci­sions and im­prove his man­age­ment.

He also told the group it was im­por­tant to live with the de­ci­sions you made and ac­cept the con­se­quences.

The work­shop also looked at crit­i­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ing through­out the sea­sons.

Head­ing into spring, the group listed wa­ter­ing pas­ture, conserving as much growth as pos­si­ble, max­imis­ing milk pro­duc­tion, preg­nancy test­ing early, calv­ing and join­ing, con­sid­er­ing how to fund a loss and think­ing about sum­mer, as some of the is­sues farm­ers must con­sider this sea­son.

Chris­tine Clif­ford says the ‘back in the day’ event was a great op­por­tu­nity to make friends.

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