Gippsland milk production surges

Gippsland milk production surges with bumper season

Dairy
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Gippsland milk production has surged on the back of a bumper season.

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Gippsland milk production has surged on the back of a bumper season in the western and southern parts of that region.

The latest figures from Dairy Australia reveal January production in Gippsland was up 10.5 per cent on the previous January, while year-to-date production is up 3.8pc.

The lift in production in Gippsland and Tasmania helped boost national production into positive territory - with Australian production 0.5pc ahead of last January.

Tasmanian production was up 4.9pc for January and year-to-date production is up 1.7pc.

Tyers, Vic, farmer Steve Snowdon said the turnaround since October had been amazing.

On the back of a much better winter/spring, production on his farm with the same number of cows was up "a whopping 49.93pc" in February compared with last year.

This followed a 29.2pc increase in January, 16.02pc in December and 9.74pc in November.

"Plus the double benefit of extra income from both the extra production and higher milk price," he said.

Mr Snowdon said the farm was feeding the same level of grain as last year - six kilograms of pellets for a total of 1.5 tonnes per cow for the 300-day lactation.

"(We're) just feeding heaps less supplementary fodder to the milkers and young stock," he said.

Mr Snowdon is looking to grow the herd to 375 cows next year, having taken on a new employee who has brought 90 Jerseys to the herd.

He will sell some of his cows and excess heifers to help finance a new pivot and some fixed-sprinkler irrigation, as well as 30-kilowatts of solar panels on the dairy.

The irrigation would help drought-proof the property.

Mr Snowdon said the farm had a high level of labour with three full-time employees and one part-time milker.

"But even at 320 cows, the past three seasons have been extremely profitable," he said.

"This season is the icing on the cake."

Pine Hill Dairy Farm, Labertouche, Vic, manager Chris Kane said this season was totally opposite to last year.

"It is one out of the box," he said.

It was unusual to have the three ducks in a row with a good milk price, good season and good price for chopper cows.

Last month the corporate farm, which is owned by Mileshan Nominees, was 46pc ahead of budget for milk production while the milk cheque was about 60pc ahead of budget.

The farm has received 341 millimetres of rain since January 1.

The spring-calving herd of 380 cows is still producing 30 litres (2.17 kilograms of milk solids) per cow per day, having peaked at 35 litres (2.45kg MS)

The great season has allowed the farm to lift its conserved fodder stores.

"The amount of grass and silage that we have still got, and still cutting, we will have nearly two years worth of silage up our sleeves by the end of this year," he said.

"We fed silage for 25 days in January and haven't fed since."

The farm has 1400 wet tonnes of pit silage, with about another 400 wet tonnes to harvest, 350 wet tonnes of maize silage, with 600 wet tonnes to be harvested, 650 rolls of silage, with about another 200+ rolls still to be harvested, and 150 rolls of hay.

The farm's turnip crop produced 25 dry tonnes to the hectare in winter and 15 tonne/ha in summer, while Mr Kane estimates they have already harvested about 10 dry tonne/ha from the chicory crop.

But the successful season is a little bittersweet for Mr Kane, who sold his own farm 12 months ago.

"We basically got out because we ended up in too much debt and I saw an opportunity where we could get out, clear all our debt and pretty much start again," he said.

"Looking back now if I had stayed I would have cleared all my debt anyway.

"But you don't have a crystal ball."

Mr Kane said he still thought there was a bright future in the dairy industry.

"We'll definitely go again, there is no doubt in my mind," he said.

"Since I was 12 years old, I've always wanted to buy a farm."

Mr Kane has been sharing photos of the brilliant season through the Show Some #dairylove Facebook page, although he said this at times made him feel a little guilty because others were going through a hard time.

"I sort of do it in the hope that people see there is light at the end of the tunnel - it will rain again in some of those areas and they will have green grass," he said.

"Twelve months ago we were as dry as."

The next challenge for Mr Kane is planning for the prospect of a wet winter and being able to continue to access paddocks.

"You've just got to plan for it," he said.

"So at the moment, we've got excavators in clearing out all the drains."

Production falls in other regions

Northern Victorian production also lifted marginally in January, up 0.4pc, but year-to-date production still lags behind last year (down 6.4pc).

Green shoots are also appearing in inland/central NSW where January production was up 2.0pc, while year-to-date production is down 2.5pc.

But production is down in Western Victoria, which also has experienced good seasonal conditions - with January production down 4.6pc and year-to-date production down 6.1pc.

Queensland continues to bleed production.

January production there was down 15.3pc and year-to-date production is down 14.2pc, as that state heads towards its biggest annual milk production fall in 30 years.

South Australian milk production is also dropping dramatically - down 8.3pc for January and 9.9pc year to date.

NSW overall production was down 3.9pc for January and 6.7pc year to date, while Western Australian production was down 1.4pc for January and 4.1pc year to date.

The story Gippsland milk production surges first appeared on Farm Online.

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