Show skills

A dairy vet­eran is en­joy­ing the chal­lenges of run­ning the farm at Sh­effield School, where ju­nior han­dlers showed their skills last week. Karolin MacGregor re­ports

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE -

Work­ing at a school farm can come with unique chal­lenges but for Sh­effield School Farm man­ager David Cox it has also pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mr Cox has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in the dairy in­dus­try, hav­ing pre­vi­ously share farmed at Tog­ari and also owned a dairy op­er­a­tion at Scotts­dale.

He took on the role of the school's farm man­ager about two years ago and has im­ple­mented a num­ber of changes to boost milk pro­duc­tion and qual­ity as well as prof­its.

When he took over the farm man­age­ment, the op­er­a­tion was milk­ing about 100 cows and now that num­ber has in­creased to 133.

Cell counts were an is­sue in the herd when he started, so Mr Cox im­ple­mented herd test­ing to find out where the prob­lems were.

“The cell counts were pretty high and that meant they were get­ting dis­counted on the milk so they weren’t re­ally mak­ing any money,” he said.

“I started herd test­ing al­most straight away and it was re­ally just a few cows which were caus­ing most of the prob­lems. I culled a few cows and treated some of the oth­ers and that made a big dif­fer­ence.”

Mr Cox does most of the milk­ing in a 10-unit swingover dairy.

“I keep a close eye on them and I’m care­ful about teat spray­ing and mak­ing sure if there are any that need treat­ing I get on to it quickly.

“I have the in-line milk fil­ters too so I check that reg­u­larly.”

Gravel has also been put in some of the laneways to pre­vent wa­ter buildup in the wet­ter months.

At the end of last sea­son Mr Cox also used a dry-cow and teat-seal­ing pro­gram across the herd to help pre­vent mas­ti­tis.

Herd pro­duc­tion is now 25 litres a day. Mr Cox said while this was not all that high, it had im­proved off a pre­vi­ously low base.

“They didn’t feed much grain here be­fore, only a bit out in the pad­dock which was mainly wasted, so I’ve put in grain feed­ers which has helped,” he said.

Mr Cox has also im­proved some poorer per­form­ing ar­eas of the farm by pas­ture ren­o­va­tion and also soil test­ing pad­docks and ap­ply­ing fer­tiliser where needed to en­sure good soil fer­til­ity.

As well as the milk­ing herd the 84ha prop­erty also runs a flock of about 30 ewes, dairy young­stock, a small num­ber of pigs and some poul­try.

While milk­ing in the small and old­fash­ioned dairy is a chal­lenge, Mr Cox said he en­joyed see­ing the stu­dents learn­ing about the dairy in­dus­try.

“It’s good be­ing around and some of them re­ally get into it and oth­ers not so much,” he said.

At last week’s school show, a top

line-up of com­peti­tors and qual­ity an­i­mals made judg­ing tough. More than 100 ju­nior cat­tle han­dlers and judges com­peted in the dairy and beef sec­tions.

In the beef judg­ing for those aged 15 to 25 the win­ner was Thomas Fe­bey while The dairy ju­nior judg­ing competition was won by Ryan Barker.

This year’s cham­pion of cham­pi­ons beef-han­dler ti­tle went to Jor­dan Burr from Nook while the cham­pion of cham­pi­ons dairy han­dler was won by Anna Hamil­ton from Yolla.

In the pop­u­lar beef teams competition Scotts­dale School was the win­ner with Sh­effield School se­cond.

The an­nual hoof-and-hook competition was well sup­ported once again in all three weight cat­e­gories.

In the trade cat­tle sec­tion the cham­pion was on the hoof went to Mitchell Grey while re­serve cham­pion went to the Sh­effield School team.

In the rump and loin cat­tle Glenda Wot­ton was the cham­pion while Ay­den Grey got re­serve cham­pion. These two cat­tle went on to be named as grand cham­pion and re­serve grand cham­pion.

In the heavy­weights, Mitchell Grey was the win­ner while HC and WD Rock­liff took re­serve cham­pion.

The cat­tle were pro­cessed at JBS Swift’s Quoiba fa­cil­ity. Both cham­pion and re­serve cham­pion car­cass awards in the trade sec­tion went to Sh­effield School. In the rump and loin class Glenda Woot­ton won and an an­i­mal from the Sh­effield School team from Cleve­land was re­serve cham­pion.

Cham­pion car­cass in the heavy­weight class went to an an­i­mal from the Scotts­dale High School Farm board and re­serve cham­pion was won by HC and WD Rock­liff.

Sh­effield school won the school car­cass competition with Scotts­dale se­cond. The breed team competition was won by a Gel­b­vieh-sired group.

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