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created and managed by dairy farmers, for dairy farmers and all those connected to us
Australian Dairy Conference 2010
Sea Change; See Change
A conference for farmers, by farmers and this time, by the sea!
go on, you deserve it!
Novotel Resort, Wollongong NSW February 23-26, 2010
Expect excellence An excellent time, an excellent place, with simply excellent people
Major supporting Partner Platinum sponsors Major sponsors
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Australian Dairy Conference 2010
Sea Change; See Change
2-14 cliff rd
Wollongong nsW 2500
Pre Conference Tour – February 23
Welcome Function – February 23
Conference – February 24/25
Post Conference Tour – February 26
Program and Proceedings
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the papers within these proceedings are those of the author and not necessarily those of
the board of the ADC. Whilst all care has been taken in the compilation of these proceedings, neither the board of the ADC nor
the conference conveners take any responsibility for the accuracy and content. The program was correct at the time of going
to print however the organisers reserve the right to make adjustments to the program
All inquiries in relation to the management of the 2010 Australian dairy conference should be
Esther Price Promotions
Po Box 341, Mundijong WA 6123
Tel: 08 9525 9222; Fax 08 9525 5008
esther Price 0418 931 938
donna sykes 0412 778 849
dear Australian dairy conference delegate,
dairy Australia is very proud of our role as the major sponsor of the Australian dairy conference, which we have held since its inception
six years ago. i hope that you will have a rewarding three days, with a terrific array of topics of relevance to you and your business.
As the new Managing director of dairy Australia, i welcome the opportunity to learn — to learn from world-renowned speakers, to learn
about the latest in dairying trends and to learn from each other.
i encourage you to share your views of the dairy industry from your business’ perspective. dairy Australia is the industry’s national service
company, owned by dairy farmers and industry bodies. For this reason it is vital that you, as a dairy farmer or service provider, talk with
dairy Australia’s team members and share your experiences and thoughts. The Australian dairy conference is a great vehicle to do so.
This year’s conference follows the theme of sea change; see change. Following on from a period of extreme variability in terms of price,
water and environment, this theme is very important. it looks at different ways to deal with future issues and encourage the resilience
of the dairy industry. With topics including risk management, herd management, sustainability, carbon and climate change and new
technology, as well as some great insights from reputable dairy visionaries, there is a strong focus on thinking for the future.
Take this time to benefit from exchanging ideas and information with your peers. By the end of the conference, i hope you will be able
to go home armed with the tools to make decisions about growing your business and the dairy industry as a whole.
i look forward to sharing my first Australian dairy conference with you, and wish you all the best for a time of learning and sharing.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
8 organising committee
10 Program at a glance
11 general information
12 Full Program
17 May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back – Mike Magan
20 dairy Business in china and opportunities to Australia The Perspective from an entrepreneur – su Hao (James)
22 The rivers run dry by not the herd – craig & Penny gallpen
24 Producing efficient and excellent Quality Milk – dr. Andrew P. Johnson
27 The dollar advantage of comfortable cows – Karl Burgi
32 Was 2009 the great recession? (or the recession that made you great) – rick Lundquist
35 A farmer snapshot – gary & Lee Hibberd
36 Kydd Family company – neville & ruth Kydd
38 The practicalities of taking control – dennis Hoiberg
41 Boscawen Holsteins and Jerseys – Tracey russell
43 Alanvale dairy Farm – garry Morrison
44 snapshot: Annette van Velde-oudijk
45 Learnings around Automatic Milking system adoption on-farm – dr Kendra Kerrisk and Mr Bevan ravenhill
50 robotics in future farming systems – where are we going? – dr Kendra Kerrisk
54 Herd navigator® Proactive Herd Management – stefan Bergstrand
56 carbon read dairy demonstration project: carbon emissions at the Macalister demonstration Farm – neil Baker
60 improving reproduction through utilisation of records – dr Matthew izzo, dr John House, dr Alison gunn
63 A dollars and cents look at genetic Merit – Paul douglas
67 simplify Bull selection with selectabull – Michelle Axford
70 The Australian government’s department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 2010 Young dairy scientist communication Award.
71 Mooin Transfer – deanne Kennedy and John Hutcheson
72 sub-surface drip irrigation for lucerne production – does it pay? – Melanie Porker
74 detecting ovulating cows is the key to improved reproductive performance – carl Hockey
76 Pasture measurement a key to success in Automatic Milking – daniel dickeson
80 Less grain and more gains: milking from home-grown forage – santiago Fariña’s
83 reducing emissions and growing more grass – is it possible? – Tim Huggins
86 is sexed semen the answer? – dannielle McMillan
The Australian dairy conference encourages all delegates to acknowledge the considerable support afforded to this event by the
following major sponsors*, without whom this event would not be possible.
Major Partner Gold Sponsor
dairy Australia The gardiner Foundation
Locked Bag 104 gardiner Foundation
Flinders Lane Vic 8009 Level5, 84 William street
Melbourne Vic 3000
rabobank Gold Session Sponsor
Box 4577 Artex Barn solutions
sydney nsW 2001 151-32500 south Fraser Way
elanco Concurrent Session Host
Level 5, 123 epping road deLaval Pty Ltd
north ryde nsW 2113 Po Box 1410
Westmeadows Vic 3049
genetics Australia Gold Sponsor
Box 195 Agri8 / Form Feed
Bacchus Marsh Vic 3340 Po Box 6122
Maroochydore QLd 4558
incitec Pivot Tour Sponsor
70 southbank Boulevard dairy nsW
southbank Vic 3006
Gold Sponsor Fonterra Australia
department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 327 Ferntree gully road
Po Box 858 Mt Waverley Vic 3149
canberra AcT 2601
Mulgrave Vic 3170
*The list was correct at the time of going to press.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Agri8 / Form Feed Holstein Australia
Po Box 6122 Po Box 489
Maroochydore QLd 4558 Hawthorn Vic 3122
Allflex Australia Pty Ltd Incitec Pivot Limited
33 neumann road 70 southbank Boulevard
capalaba QLd 4157 southbank Vic 3006
Artex Barn Solutions Lely Australia Pty Ltd
151-32500 south Fraser Way 48 Mackey street
Abbotsford cAnAdA rochester Vic 3561
BEC Feed Solutions Murray Irrigation Ltd
Po Box 475 Po Box 528
goodna QLd 4300 deniliquin nsW 2710
Castlegate VGS Pty Ltd Pro Dairy Australia Pty Ltd
Po Box 6499 Po Box 2140
Baulkham Hills nsW 2153 Bendigo Vic 3550
Champion Liquid Feeds / Biowish Technologies Probiotec Ltd
Po Box 33 Po Box 2193
inala QLd 4077 Bomaderry nsW 2541
Dairy Constructions Rabobank Australia Limited
Po Box 203 gPo Box 4577
Foster Vic 3960 sydney nsW 2000
DeLaval Pty Ltd Shoof International
Po Box 1410 46-48 Longview court
Westmeadows Vic 3049 Thomastown Vic 3074
Dairy Australia World Wide Sires
Level 5, 60 city road Po Box 3007
south Bank Vic Albury nsW 2640
East Coast Stock Feeds Wrightson Seeds
Po Box 189 Po Box 333
Miranda nsW 2228 Laverton Vic 3930
Elanco Zinpro Performance Minerals
Level 5, 123 epping road Po Box 366
Macquaire Park nsW 2113 Mt eliza Vic 3930
Po Box 5510
Brendale QLd 4500
Proud sponsors of the dinner at Picnic Point
The Australian dairy conference 2010
381 occupation Lane
garvoc, Vic 3265
T: 0437 926 283
Together with Lynne strong (nsW), carl Hammond (Vic), Jill Moxey (nsW), colin Thompson (nsW), Joe chittick (nsW),
Kendra Kerrisk (nsW), Hank Bruger (Vic), glenys christian (nZ) Brad silver (nsW), david nation (Vic), Jock MacMillan (Vic)
The Australian dairy conference Limited Board 2009/2010
Matt Reid - Chair Steve Coates
carlisle-colac road dairy Australia
carlisle river, Vic 3239 Level 5 iBM Tower
email@example.com 60 city road
T: 03 5235 0393 south Bank Vic 3006
T: 03 9694 3700
993 John Allan road
Kyabram Vic 3620 Paul Bethune
firstname.lastname@example.org Bethune Land
T: 03 5859 4238 Lake Boga Vic 3584
T: 03 5037 2898
210 emu Bay road
deloraine TAs 7304 Jock MacMillan
email@example.com University of Melbourne
T: 03 6362 2969 dept Veterinary science
250 Princess Highway
Werribee Vic 3030
1 ottonville road
Angledale nsW 2550
T: 03 9731 2234
02 6492 2428 Jamie Snell
Po Box 143
rMB 1455 graham road
Merrigum Vic 3618
Tongala Vic 3621
T: 0408 503 863 Michael Perich
1675 The northam road
Bringelly nsW 2171
56 Meander Valley road
Westbury TAs 7303
T: 0409 911 369
T: 03 6393 1153
national Foods ADC Secretariat:
Q1 8 Parkview dr Kim d’Arma
sydney nsW Po Box 208
firstname.lastname@example.org Benella Vic 3672
T: 02 8732 5232 email@example.com
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
An invitation to dairy farmers and service
providers across the nation and beyond
it is with pleasure that we present to you the 2010 Australian dairy conference – a conference convened by dairy farmers for dairy
our decision to take Australian dairy conference to nsW is part of our philosophy of bringing the conference to the regions and our
choice of ‘by the sea’ at Wollongong means that we can offer the double advantage of business and pleasure.
We’ve welcomed the assistance of dairy nsW and its partners in the development of the pre and post conference tours – and have early
indications that these will be incredibly well supported.
At the time of designing the 2010 program, the Australian dairy industry was experiencing almost unprecedented challenge in terms
of price, water and environment. The resilience of our industry however never waivers and it is times like this when farmers need an
opportunity to see different ways of doing things in order to clear the hurdles in front of them - hence the theme – see change; sea
The program has, i believe, wide-ranging appeal. There is something in this for everyone and therefore, a remarkable opportunity to
benefit from the coming together of your peers and to exchange ideas and information in a manner that will send you home in a positive
frame of mind, re-energised to take on the challenges ahead. i know personally, that i have experienced that mind shift after attending
previous Adc events. They are good for the mind and spirit!
Australian dairy conference would not be possible without the very strong support of our partners in dairy Australia, elanco and
rabobank, together with our gold sponsors and many trade exhibits. Their financial contribution is the reason your attendance fee is
as attainable as it is – providing you with what we believe is great value for three days of excellence in information, entertainment and
i commend this year’s conference program to you and encourage you to plan now to visit Wollongong in February 2010 and join with
dairy farmers from all over Australia as well as nZ in what is always a rewarding experience.
Adc 2010 Programming committee
Program at a glance
Tuesday February 23
10.30am Pre conference tour departs novotel Wollongong
3.00pm conference registration desk opens
5.00pm Tour bus returns
6.00pm Welcome function – in the trade exhibition area – including drinks and finger food
8.00pm Welcome function ends
Wednesday February 24
8.00am registration desk and trade show opens
8.20am official conference opening
4.00pm Adc AgM
4.15pm The Australian government’s department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Young dairy scientists’ communications award –
5.00pm day 1 close
6.30pm Pre dinner drinks
7.30pm dinner, featuring special guest speaker, dutch dairy farmer Jan smoulders
Thursday February 25
8.30am conference day 2
5.00pm day 2 close
Elanco Farewell Dinner
5.45pm depart novotel for 10 minute walk to Lagoon restaurant
6.00pm elanco pre dinner drinks and informal dinner, incorporating the announcement of the winner of the dAFF Young scientists’
10.00pm Function closes
Friday February 26
8.30am Buses depart novotel for Leppington Pastoral company
3.00pm Buses depart Leppington for Wollongong and/or Airport
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
The rabobank dinner on Wednesday night is held in the main ballroom at novotel – the same venue as the conference. seating
comprises tables of 10 and seating will be arranged. delegates are asked to check the seating plan during pre dinner drinks. The
rabobank dinner will feature special international guest, dutch agricultural investor Jan smoulders ....
The elanco Farewell BBQ dinner on Thursday evening takes place at the Lagoon restaurant – which just a short walk north along the
beach. This is a very informal evening - a combination of seating styles to allow for optimum networking. The dinner includes the
presentation of the winner of the dAFF Young scientist communication award and culminates with an hilarious presentation from the very
very clever ventriliquiust darren carr. You will go home with sides aching from too much laughter!
The Australian dairy conference AgM
The Adc is run by Australian dairy farmers, for Australian dairy farmers. The Adc philosophy is to provide a truly independent,
challenging forum of information and networking that brings Australia’s dairy farmers together in a unique environment and program.
The ability of the Adc to remain fresh and relevant is enhanced by its composition of a governing board and programming committee.
The opportunity to influence and take part in the ongoing development of the Adc is one that many have taken on as a significant
personal development opportunity as well as an opportunity to ‘give’ to the Australian dairy industry. We encourage your attendance and
consideration of the AgM in order for the directors and programming committee to continue to provide excellence in dairy conferencing.
The Adc AgM takes place mid-afternoon on day 1, just prior to the young scientists’ presentations.
The conferences organises regret to advise the dr Andy Johnson will not be joining the conference in person as per the original advertising.
A change in scheduling has meant dr Johnson has been unable to make the journey to Australia. However, he will join the conference
as per the program, by video.
Post conference tour – Friday February 26
Buses will depart for the Friday post conference tour to Leppington pastoral company at 8.30am sharp. delegates should gather in the
delegates should choose from the ‘airport bus’ – which leaves Leppington and arrives sydney Airport by 5pm; or the Wollongong return
bus. Any delegates catching planes that afternoon should bring their luggage with them.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010
Day 1 - February 24
8.20 An introduction from your Master of ceremonies – Gerry Gannon
8.30 Welcome – Adc conference programming committee chair, James McKinnon
Day 1, Session 1 - Dairy Visionaries
8.35 Introduction: rabobank’s global dairy analyst Tim Hunt introduces this session where e get into the minds of three remarkable
individuals. An irishman, a chinaman and an Australian. Here have a remarkable opportunity to share their vision for dairy –
locally, nationally and internationally – and help us as farmers to refine our own visions for the next five years.
8.40 May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind always be at your back...: The irish are well known for their warmth and
optimism as this saying goes. They are also known to be well travelled and can have one eye at home and one eye abroad
at the same time. irish dairy farmer and industry leader Mike Magan provides such a view for the dairy industry, with a
positive outlook for the future of the irish industry and for countries like Australia. Mike explores: What are some of the keys to
setting up our industry for success?
9.15 A towering inferno. Massive change is occurring in the chinese dairy industry. The Melamine outbreak has no doubt
provided a wake-up call and perhaps accelerated the rate of change that some analysts suggest could result in china
becoming a significant exporter of quality milk powder within five years. charismatic chinese dairy entrepreneur Su Hao
(James) provides his perspective and vision for the chinese dairy industry (which is underpinned by his recently completed
MBA degree awarded by new York’s Fordham University), on the founder of chinese dairy manufacturing giant Meng niu).
While he’s at it, we ask also, what impact such growth may have on Australia – especially in the face of increased chinese
investment activities in Australian dairying.
9.45 The rivers run dry but not the herd. riverina dairy farmers Craig and Penny Gallpen from Warragoon, nsW have a vision
for riverina dairy farming. Their vision must rise above the triple whammy of climate change; water change (from a commodity
to a political football) and milk price; and the social welfare implications that reach into the heart of their community. This – a
rare opportunity to hear how they do it.
10.15 Speakers Forum – an opportunity to question and discuss.
10.30 Morning Tea – sponsored by Fonterra
Day 1, Session 2 – Herd management NSW style
nsW dairy farmers have a reputation as significant users of external consultants. Today we bring to you three of the really
big guns direct from the Us – an international panel on animal health and nutrition – to extend your thinking, bend your mind
a little and challenge you to pick the eyes out of their way of doing things. Their presentations take a close look at some of
the hidden cow costs – the ones that don’t necessarily appear on the balance sheet. Firstly we give you a snapshot of the
philosophies behind each of these specialists – as a forerunner to you choosing two intensive workshops to follow.
11.00 Udderly healthy: Udder doctor Andy Johnson joins us by video to provides his philosophy behind the holistic approach to
11.25 The dollar advantage of comfortable cows: Karl Burgi is credited as the man responsible for keeping several of Australia’s
most intensive dairy herds mobile. But his philosophies and their application extend way passed cows on concrete. Karl
challenges the Australian dairy farmer to look at cow comfort with new eyes, including one on the balance sheet.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
11.50 Nailing Nutrition: specialist feed systems company agrig8 has invested in the thinking of acclaimed Us nutritionist Rick
Lundquist and brought him to Adc. rick says that no matter what system you subscribe to, optimal feeding is the ticket to
success. in this segment rick takes a top line look at matching feed to feed availability and milk price.
12.20 A look in our own back yard: Three of our own join our Mc Gerry Gannon ‘on the couch’ to talk about their own way of
doing things in the area of animal health and nutrition – and of course, we can’t but resist ask their opinions on what they’ve
just heard from our international panel and give them a dose of an Aussie reality check:
• Neville & Ruth Kydd, Finley, NSW
• Gary & Lee Hibberd, Timboon, Victoria
• Hank Bruger, Group Advisor, Warakirri Dairies P/L
1.00 The Incitec Pivot Luncheon
Day 1, Session 3 – Delegates can choose to attend two workshops – of 40 minute duration.
2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00
Concurrent 3.1 Concurrent 3.2 Concurrent 3.3 Concurrent 3.4
Thinking Differently Managing lameness In a Nailing Nutrition Everybody’s different
changing dairy industry
dairy analyst Steve Spencer Preventing lameness in a Astute Supplementation: Lessons from a Longneck:
is joined by Mike Magan changing dairy industry Rick Landquist explores the Farm consultant Les Sandles
and Su Hao (James) to takes more than identifying real opportunities of astutely explores the Longneck farm
explore their approach to and treating lame cows. in managed supplements and discussion group philosophy
entrepreneurship. For those this segment, Karl Burgi will concentrates in order to with Craig and Penny Gallpen
wanting just a mere dose reveal the causes of lameness optimize pasture production. to have a look at what makes
of their enthusiasm and and present field-tested This segment is brought to you them tick and their farm
insatiable desire to succeed, strategies to prevent lameness. by agrig8. systems so successful.
we ask them to share their
philosophy on wealth creation
2 .45 2.45 2.45 2.45
Concurrent 3.1 Concurrent 3.2 Concurrent 3.3 Concurrent 3.4
Thinking Differently Optimising udder health Optimising Feed Conversion Everybody’s different – part II
(Session repeated) Efficiency
dairy analyst Steve Spencer Dr Andy Johnson takes Argentinian nutritionist Dr Les Sandles continues his
is joined by Mike Magan a more detailed look at Fernando Bargo offers his discussion session, this time
and Su How (James) to the management practices perspective of feed conversion with Neville and Ruth Kidd
explore their approach to that will achieve optimum efficiency and explores if and Chris and Lee Hibberd.
entrepreneurship. For those udder health, critical now we are pushing the ceiling Two very different farming
wanting just a mere dose as penalties for non- far enough. This segment is systems, two equally
of their enthusiasm and compliance increase and brought to you by Elanco and successful results.
insatiable desire to succeed, quality standards for premium Dairy Australia.
we ask them to share their payments are lowered. The
philosophy on wealth creation economics are a driving
through enterprise. force – and udder health is
3.30 Afternoon Tea
Day 1, Session 4
4.00 ADC AGM
4.15 The dAFF Young scientists’ communication Award
Led by Jock Macmillan & David Nation this rapid-fire session where the audience is the judge, has become a unique highlight of
the Australian dairy conference. Featuring seven young scientists who showcase their research work in a four-minute powerpoint,
backed up by posters and a magazine article.
5.15 day 1 close
Rabobank Industry Dinner
6.30 Pre dinner drinks
7.30 rabobank dinner with special guest, dutch agricultural investor, Jan Smoulders.
Day 2 - February 25
Day 2 , Session 1 – Taking control
Hosted by the gardiner Foundation
8.25 Welcome to Day 2 – with the Gardiner Foundation
8.30 Taking charge of dairy destiny: We ask respected dairy analyst steve spencer to put the thinking of yesterday’s opening
speakers into Australian farming terms. steve believes we can take better charge of our destiny and this is his view of how to.
9.00 A risk, a gamble or a bloody great opportunity? over time, dairy consultant Les Sandles has subjected himself and his clients
to each of these categories. The experiences have been both sobering and rewarding. With the benefit of 2020 vision, we
ask him to reflect on the follies of some of the big corporate dairies that are with us no longer; and what from this plus his own
experiences can help removes the gamble factor and shores up the opportunity within our family dairy business to take control.
9.30 Farmer control: is it fact or Fantasy: our host gerry gannon takes on Spencer and Sandles for a robust exploration of their
9.45 The practicalities of taking control: rapidly changing market signals and variable weather patterns have contributed to an
unprecedented rise in debt to equity ratio on dairy farms in the last decade. The roller coaster of opportunity and disappointment
produces a set of circumstances that requires a balanced decision-making process that takes into account possible financial and
family stress. consultant Dennis Hoiberg from the Melbourne-based rimfire resources takes a look at the science of how to deal
with high and low risk decision making.
10.15 On the couch: Two farmers, representing opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of approach to risk, join dennis to give a
snapshot of significant decisions made within their businesses in the last three-to-five years: seventh generation local dairy farmer
Tracey Russell and ‘seven minute’ Victorian dairy farmer Garry Morrison (zero to 3000 cows in three years) share their secrets
to sanity, their vision for 2020 and dennis’s commentary on their approach to task.
Day 2, Session 2 – Sustainability: An essential component of dairy business
11.15 Social and environmental trends and dairy farming: sustainability strategist Paul Gilding, a former executive of greenpeace
international and leading business advisor to companies including dupont, Ford, Fonterra and the AnZ challenges us to respond
to the increasing social and environmental pressures in a manner that will create value for dairy. Paul has received international
recognition for his thought leadership. in 1992, the influential World economic Forum (WeF) appointed hima global Leader for
Tomorrow at its annual meeting in davos, switzerland. This was followed in 1993 with the Australian Prime Minister presenting
Paul with an Australia day Award for outstanding Achievement for services to the environment. in december 1994, he was listed
by Time international in its “Time’s global 100 Young Leaders for the new Millennium” and in 1997, he received the prestigious
Tomorrow Magazine environmental Leadership Award.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
11.45 A factor of 10: if we thought Australian dairy farming was undergoing intense scrutiny, spare a thought for dutch dairy farmer
Annette van Velde who provides us with a first-hand look at what the customer and the government expect of milk producers
in europe. Annette is grappling with the challenge of growing a dairy from 100 cows to 1000 - in an environment where
regulation, radicals and bureaucracy know no bounds. she has all the numbers to justify the economics but she has some hurdles
still iln the way between their plans and success. Annette is a member of the dutch european dairy Farmers executive and her
reality should ring some warning bells if we are intent on staying ahead of the regulators.
12.15 Are robots part of our sustainable future?
narrikup, Western Australia dairy farmer Bevan ravenhill heads up one of the largest and most successful dairy family businesses
in Western Australia and has been pitching the robot concept to his father, two brothers and their partners for some time as ‘the
next frontier’ for ravenhill dairies. Widely regarded as cutting edge dairy farmers, the family have put the pressure on and said
to Bevan: “only if it works and makes economic sense to our business”. Bevan has recently completed a visit to four dairy farms
who have made the commitment to Automated milking. This is what he found:
1.00 The Genetics Australia Lunch
Day 2, Session 3
2.00 Concurrent options: Each session repeats – running 50 minutes each. Delegates can choose two
Concurrent 3.1 Concurrent 3.2 Concurrent 3.3 Concurrent 3.4
new Technologies carbon data analysis Bringing the pasture inside: is
– hosted by De Laval – hosted by Dairy Australia – hosted by Genetics Australia there a better way?
– hosted by Artex Barn Solutions
New Technology Facing up to Carbon The cycle of life: When data Bringing the pastures inside
in this session, camden rabobank’s general manager really is sexy John de Jonge, President of
University’s Dr Kendra of Food and Agri research and • Reproductive analysis Artex Barn solutions Ltd and
Kerrisk and DeLaval’s smart Advisory, Justin Sherrard has that actually makes his north American partners
Farming experts explore the an extensive background in a difference: sydney are considered the experts
possibilities that come with carbon and climate change and University’s Matt Izzo when it comes to building free
new technology: takes the chair in this session. gives the detail. stall barns around the world.
How will technology change He introduce’s dairy Australia’s
the way we milk, feed and Chris Phillips knows better than • A dollars and cents look This highly practical session
manage cows? anyone the challenge ahead at genetic merit: With looks at the nuts and bolts
can we increase productivity that we face with fitting dairy hundreds of dollars of quality barn design, the
based on the information that into the new carbon world. He difference between the challenges of moving from a
is captured during milking? is directly involved in informing top and bottom groups pasture to barn operation and
How can we utilise technology environmental Minister Penny of cows in Maffra, Paul how to avoid the production
to make early decisions Wong on the implications of Douglas from genetics issues that are commonly
regarding treatment and carbon trading on dairy farms Australia explores this. associated with free stall
management of health, and this is a unique opportunity barns.
• How to make ADHIS data
nutrition, reproduction and to hear from chris and enjoy work for you – select bulls With a track record of
well being? some detailed discussion and using your own criteria! building barns for 200
deLaval calls the answer to questioning to help us prepare for Michelle Axford explains. through to 20,000 cows in
this “smart Farming”: Labour, the carbon future on dairy farms. europe, south America, saudi
lifestyle and oh so much more! Arabia, china and north
Macalister demonstration Farm
robot user Annette van project manager Neil Baker America, there is no shortage
Velde, and robot would-be is heading up a project to of experience in this session!
user Bevan Ravenhill join the identify the source and size of
discussion panel. carbon emissions generated by
normal dairy farm operations.
This information will be used to
develop a carbon emissions
reduction Plan that includes
strategies to minimise and offset
carbon emissions and an analysis
of the financial impact of the
plan on the farm business. This
puts neil in a unique position to
deliver the on farm perspective of
what it all really means.
4.00 afternoon tea
Day 2, Session 4 – Finale
4.00 The Pitch for Dairy: A team of school students with aspiration for dairy go head to head “gruen Transfer style” in what is the
culmination of the cows create careers project. enjoy a great finale as we hear from the voice of youth, about the case for a
career in the dairy industry.
4.30 Conference reflection – meet the new Managing director of dairy Australia – Ian Halliday
4.45 Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity: The charismatic Paul Gilding sends us home with a finale message.
5.30 Refreshments await! relocate to the elanco finale, including announcement of the dAFF communications Award and the
fabulous ventriloquist Darren Carr.
6.00 elanco Finale dinner at Lagoon restaurant
7.30 Award Presentations commence
Post conference tour
See Australia’s largest family-owned dairy farm
Friday February 26 departing novotel Wollongong at 8.30am
With special workshops conducted by Burgi, Johnson and Lundquist
The Leppington Pastoral co (LPc) is a family owned and operated dairy farm nestled in the township of Bringelly. Kolombo and Julia Perich
founded the dairy in 1951 at Leppington, new south Wales, milking 25 cows. The current operation is run by the third generation of
the Perich family and features a 2000 cow dairy freestall facility. The post conference tour is a unique opportunity to gain an insight into
the workings of this intensive facility on sydney’s outskirts.
it is a story of remarkable animal and environmental management, drawing on the expertise of various consultants who specialise in
intensive dairying systems.
on arrival at Leppington, delegates will be greeted by the Perich family and then divided into four working groups and rotated around
four stations, each for an hour duration:
• Karl Burgi lameness workshop and hoof care demonstrations
• Rick Lundquist nutrition workshop
• Perich Dairy inspection
Tour buses depart Leppington at 3.00pm, with options for returning to the airport or novotel Wollongong.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind
always be at your back
i am a 56 year old dairy farmer from the middle of ireland. My son now runs the farm with me and this releases me to spend time on
industry issues. i’ve had a very varied and eclectic involvement in the industry over the past 20 years. some of this has been a progression
from one organisation to another and some of it is not connected.
i am currently chairman of Animal Health ireland, a state and industry initiative, not unlike Animal Health Australia in its structure and
objectives. This organisation is now one year old and is making significant progress with help from many others, including dairy Australia.
i am the chairman designate of the Agricultural Trust which publishes the irish Farmers Journal. i am currently chairman of the dairy
research stakeholder group in Moorepark which is our main dairy research facility.
in the past i have served as a director of ireland’s second largest dairy co-operative and was chairman for four years. during that time i
served as a director of the irish dairy Board (idB) and have been deputy president of the organisation of co-operatives in ireland. i’ve been
chairman of the irish Holstein Friesian Association and past president of the irish grassland Association. i have also served as chairman
of the irish branch of the european dairy farmers.
so, make up your own mind. i’ve either got loads of experience or i don’t stick at anything for very long! coming to Australia to suggest
what you do with your industry is dangerous, as any of you can rightly ask why haven’t you got the irish industry sorted? Believe me, we
are trying. And the work continues but painstakingly slowly. Before i took my current position as chairman of Animal Health ireland i met
the Minister of Agriculture about the role. i expressed my continued interest in dairy industry reform but was convinced that with progress
being so slow there would still be time for the new role!
ireland dairy industry analysis
The irish dairy industry has a fragmented structure when compared to some of our international peers. ireland has 30 dairy societies with
13 involved in milk processing and while the industry has some strong companies with a global scope irish dairy farmers would benefit
from further consolidation. Before any conclusions about the future are reached it is important that we assess the strengths and weakness
of the industry while being mindful of the social concerns and the opportunities and commercial threats which actually exist out there.
in ireland six companies process 80% of the milk while in denmark, the netherlands and new Zealand one company processes 80%
of their respective milk pools. some of our processing plants are as efficient as anywhere in the world and significant improvements have
been made within the industry in recent years. But, it should be remembered that the global dairy industry is capital intensive and the
irish dairy industry is no different.
Measurement of some of our processing co-ops shows that they are operationally efficient, given our seasonal production curve, but under
returns on investment measures the irish industry is behind some of our competitors. in part, this is due to our seasonal production curve,
high dependence on commodities and lack of economics of scale so the quest for continuous improvement and strategies to maximise
returns must continue.
ireland is one of the few countries in the world today where its dairy marketing division, the irish dairy Board, is separated from its
processing and research function. The countries that operated separated marketing boards like new Zealand, denmark and Finland have
now fully integrated the marketing function into their dairy models.
our dairy industry has a good image, produces high quality milk, has low production costs and has developed some good routes to
market. But the simple fact of the matter is that there are other regions in the world where milk can be produced at a lower cost, so it’s
imperative that whatever market we’re going to be in we need to be the most efficient possible.
ireland has attracted some of the leading players in the infant formula sector. it is estimated that the combined turnover of these players in
ireland last year was in the region of €667m. Between them they supplied 15% of the global requirements for infant formula and in terms
of the eU it is estimated that ireland supplies 40% of the eU’s infant formula requirements.
Yet, despite these economic successes and other down stream economic possibilities, the focus on research and development within the
irish dairy industry is extremely low. The level of expenditure on r&d on an annual basis is estimated at less than 0.05% of overall turnover.
Further focus needs to be placed on r&d, however a prerequisite to this is a properly functioning dairy model.
The disconnect between processors and the end market is impacting on research and development within the irish dairy sector and this
disconnect is also having an impact on creating a new streamlined dairy industry. While we have some r&d expertise these talents are
not being fully harnessed and it is difficult to see how r&d can evolve on a global commercial basis under the current structures, given
the fragmented milk pool and the funding required.
The capital expenditure programmes by the irish dairy co-ops pales in comparison to our competitors. given the number of co-ops in
ireland it follows that there is duplication of functions across the sector.
ireland is ranked 31st in the world in terms of milk production and 80% of our milk is exported. our competitors have taken the lead in
consolidating their industries and are actively partnering with global food players at a time when these players are opting to work with
fewer suppliers. retailers are now operating across borders and the way they conduct their business will have implications for all our
dairy companies. our current structures mean that we cannot bridge this gap and this will remain the case as long as these structures are
in place.At retail level intense competition has lead to a situation where, in the major markets, the three top retailers control more than
two-thirds of the total purchases. The increased sales of private label products will impact hugely on the global dairy industry.
The overall pace of change in the irish dairy industry has been historically slow and behind that of our competitors. in terms of milk
price, the average irish milk price has trailed behind the eU 15 for the years between 1996 to 2007. in summary, the global market is
competitive and weak businesses will not survive in the short to medium term. This also applies to weak co-ops and milk processors. eU
policy is moving away from direct supports in order to have a sustainable irish dairy industry a plan is required.
The past two to three years have been extremely volatile in milk price terms. What we can we learn from this is that this kind of volatility
can happen and that factors far removed from our industry can have such an impact on our livelihoods. The biggest question is, can we
do anything about it? in a world of growing retailer consolidation the power of the retailer is massive. As a disjointed industry producing
commodities for a world market we are insignificant. When we combine and get an agreed strategy we can start to address this issue.
Australian dairy industry analysis
The past ten years many of your colleagues have left the industry. i was here at the time of deregulation and i was very keen to see what
kind of impact that had on your industry. At that time there was great concern as to what impact it would have and i suggest to you now
that it was not nearly as much as you initially feared. Many of the changes that have occurred in the past ten years have been as a result
of climate, water, market volatility and natural wastage. When i was last here ten years ago my opening remarks were “The Australian
dairy industry has an interesting choice to make. do you take short term gain and hope for a good future or do you organise your industry
and shape your own future”. i think that question is still relevant. My last two sentences ten years ago were “a fundamental question is
why should profits generated by the sweat of the farmers brow go to others? i firmly believe in farmer ownership and control but the way
we exercise this ownership and control must change to reflect the pressures of the 21st century”.
The issues that we all have in common as dairy farmers is how do we retain the maximum margin as primary producers? We are in the
commodity markets, a vicious place of low returns and massive power wielded by super powers. The only way to tackle this is on a united
front. As a nation you consume around 55% of what you produce. This may grow with population growth and increased spending power.
How you manage the export portion of national output will determine where you go over the next ten years.
The countries i admire most for having a clear strategy are new Zealand, Holland, and denmark/sweden. Finland is also an interesting
example of an industry with a strategy but it is more relevant to their unique circumstances. The principle, nonetheless, is the issue of
i had a brief visit to Australia in August and got an impression of a “can do” attitude among the farmers i met. i noticed resourcefulness
and determination to tackle what lies ahead. What i did not examine was how involved farmers are in shaping the future direction of their
industry. i hope it is an active involvement!
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
issues facing your industry are;
• Water (we have too much, you have too little)
• Land use (where grass will grow and what kind of animal should use it)
• What products to produce
• Who processes
• What markets
• How to sell the products, by whom and with whom?
i like what dairy Australia does, and how it responds to the farmers’ needs. This will be an ever-changing scene and will need continued
refinement and focus. The equivalent organisation in ireland is Teagasc, and there we have decided to concentrate on what is our main
strength…grass. We are very good at growing grass but yet have huge range in output per hectare across the country, despite virtually
no climatic or soil variation. our focus for research is in this key area, but also keeping an eye on genetics, fertility, calf rearing and low
We are a rural based country with low population. We have relatively poor land use and i believe we can double dairy output over the
next ten years. Quotas will go in five years time and currently beef is a vey low margin enterprise. There is an opportunity for a major
shift from beef production to either dairying, or contract rearing young stock for expanding dairy farms. Farms are small and ownership
of land is a very emotive subject, but still the potential for growth is real. output will be seasonal, linked to the grass growth curve, and at
a low cost. some may choose a higher output per cow model, but if they do they will be more vulnerable to market fluctuation, and will
work harder for lower return. The future will be dominated by farmers focussed on profit per hectare, not on output per cow.
europe post quotas will not change dramatically, but will see a shift in production to the grass growing regions. This means that ireland,
western parts of the U.K., parts of France, Holland, Belgium and germany, will form the major dairying regions. southern european
countries will continue to produce for the local market, but costs of production there will be too high to have any influence on the export
market. other areas of the world that will be major players into the future include; the U.s. which has major production potential but
structural problems; south America, where political issues are a factor; new Zealand, as today, will continue to dominate the market,
but have a more finite land mass than others; and china intends to grow, but i believe will hit the ‘water wall’ first and may opt to import
more and more product. Their presence in the market will be the biggest single issue for the next ten years.
The Australian dairy industry is quite unique. The area covered is huge by any terms and the link to domestic consumption and milk
production is very clear. The domestic supply is somewhat insulated from international markets but contract renewal will tend to be linked
to prevailing world markets. This domestic market is very important to the Australian industry, the export portion of your industry is much
more vulnerable to world trends. i believe your domestic market will grow beyond your current 50-55% of national production as your
population grows, spending power increases and changing consumption patterns among some of your immigrants.
The problems or solutions that you face are different to the ones we are looking at in ireland. reorganising the dairy processing part of
your industry is more difficult given the demographics but the one real area for reform is in how you market the commodity portion of
your industry. Butter, cheese and milk powders are bought and sold in ‘000s of tonne lots. so the organisations that control the bigger
quantities of these commodities will have the greatest influence on the market in future. i’m aware of your different ownership models in
your industry but that should not prevent you from looking at how to best market your product collectively.
in today’s open world market it is impossible to stop free trade, but that should not prevent the Australian industry in creating the maximum
possible awareness of home product to cultivate a loyalty among Australian consumers for your own produce. A small example of this
is where the irish industry has recently started a campaign of irish branded milk endorsed by one of our top rugby players. We live in a
very competitive market but national pride is always worth cultivating.
The number one question for dairy farmers anywhere in the world is “how do we retain the maximum margin of the final price for
ourselves?” notwithstanding the variation in structures and ownership models internationally, we do produce one of the finest wholesome
products in the food chain. if coca-cola owned the formula for milk just think how much a litre would cost you today! We will not be
able to get a full reward for our endeavours but we need to combine our efforts to get more than we currently do. The interaction between
producers, processors and the market are very varied internationally. How we interact, the amount of interest we take and also our
involvement in this question of maximum return will determine our future. it’s when we get passionate on this subject we will be able to
start clawing back what is rightfully ours.
dairy Business in china and opportunities to Australia
The Perspective from an entrepreneur
Su Hao (James)
co-founder, director and general Manager
east rock Limited
in early 2004, one of my MBA assignments was to conduct a case study of a chinese company on entrepreneurship. i chose Meng-niu
dairy corp., a company launched in 1999 and became one of the top three liquid milk providers in china in 2003. The case study on
this miraculous growth gave me a chance to look at dairy business in china for the first time in my life. since then, my personal contact
with the dairy industry has been limited to simply consuming dairy products on a regular basis with little interaction other than what i
read in the news papers. However, in 2007, opportunities arose in the dairy business, and together with my business partners, we have
been creating another miracle in this industry. Within less than three years’ time, east rock Limited, the company i founded with a group
of ambitious young entrepreneurs, has become one of top four enterprises in china in dairy facility development business. Why we are
determined to pursue the success of this business for our future? What the opportunities for us? And what are the opportunities in china
for our Australian dairy colleagues? By trying to discover the answers to such questions, this presentation is going to bring a brief look of
china dairy business, where it was, where it is, and where it is going. it may not be an intellectual and academic report, but surely, it
will be a true story and a real perspective from a dairy entrepreneur.
We can not ignore the cultural factor for any particular industry. Food structure is an important piece of it, especially in china. There is a
famous old chinese saying; the masses regard food as their heaven (prime want). Were dairy products showing up everyday on the table
of most households? if not, why? is that changing now? How many more changes are there going to be in the future? The presentation
will start by answering these questions, toward the discovery of a reasonable positioning of dairy industry in china and its great potentials
for the future growth.
getting excited by having envisioned such a huge potential growth, we still need a snapshot of the dairy industry today. With a
population of over 1.3 billion, why the total number of dairy cattle is only under 13 million?
• Why the national average per cow production is less than half of which in US and Canada?
• Why dairy farmers were still losing money while the raw milk price in China was 50% higher than that in US?
• Where and how are the dairy cattle raised?
• Where are the feed from?
• Who are raising cattle in China?
• Where are the dominant markets of the dairy products?
• Who are the dominant consumers?
• What dairy products are the most popularly consumed?
• What is the national per capita consumption of dairy products today, and its comparison to the global average and that of the
Yes, you will find out answers to all these questions from this presentation; and a quick insight will be concluded.
While the “was” and “is” questions are answered, we are ready to trace where it is going. Let us take a closer look of the upstream of
this industry. How many sizeable dairy farms have been built or being built in the recent years? in what ways are the dairy cattle raised
on those farms? What farm sizes are typical in this new trend? Who are the driving forces of this trend? Who are investing? Why do they
invest? What is the role of the government in this trend? Are there challenges?
Yes, there are many challenges in the dairy industry in china. Food safety issue is a typical example. no one will ever forget the
melamine issue exposed on september 11th of 2008. Why it happened? While we say it was almost a vital strike to this fragile industry,
why we still see positive impacts to the long term development of chinese dairy industry? Why this issue triggered a swifter growth in
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
• The Industry is aiming at providing Quality Milk confident consumers; sizeable dairy farms will play a significant role with no doubt.
However, what other potential challenges for them are on the road?
• How to improve the efficiency of those farms?
• How to guarantee the returns of such investment?
• How to make it a long term profitable business?
• Without sound solutions to all these question marks, we can hardly say it will absolutely not become a flash in the pan.
• However, how to make it “evergreen”?
The erection and implementation of the concept of scientific development is a popular political term in china. The interpretation for the
dairy industry, especially the upstream, is that the sizeable farms (and all farms) have to be developed and managed in a scientific way.
While people say the enormous success of china economy over the last thirty years was a miracle, we should never forget the contribution
of the import and introduction of “foreign” technology. especially in the era of global economy, china is open to the world with a global
vision. china dairy industry is looking for technologies from developed dairy nations. By grouping up six different companies from Us
and canada, whose histories varies from 30 to 50 years in the facility sector of dairy development, respectively in dairy design, cow
comfort, housing equipment, ventilation, cooling, waste processing, and construction, east rock international dairy team was set up in
the mid of 2007 and became a pioneer of scientific and efficient dairy facility development in chinese dairy business. over the last 3o
months, east rock has been involved in a Large percentage of the new dairies constructed in china and has won sound goodwill from
the industry. in addition to the ties with numerous dairies, east rock runs workshops with Ministry of Agriculture and dairy Association of
china all over the country to provide guidance and assistance to dairy farmers with mature dairy facility expertise. However, technology
does not refer to facility and hardware alone. scientific management will play a more significant role when a good facility is in place. is
scientific management a combination of formulas of software only? no, far beyond that; and that is experience – experience of modern
dairy management from developed dairy nations.
Looking at the accelerating growth of chinese dairy industry, what are the opportunities for Australia? As you may know, Australia and
new Zealand are the top two origins of heifers for china. And the growth rate of heifer import easily hit triple digits in 2009. Large
quantities of bulk milk powders are flown into china from oceania as well. However, what else can be done? Being satisfied at the
success of today, shall we plan for more and for tomorrow?
during our personal involvement in the dairy construction in china the past 3 years, we have seen thousands and thousands of Australian
and new Zealand dairy cattle imported to china. As the dairy industry continues to gain momentum and grow rapidly this trend will
likely continue as there are great success stories with the quality of the cattle originating from Aus and nZ. in 2009, 45,000 dairy cattle
were imported for Aus and nZ and we see this number likely to continue to grow.
one other potential opportunity for Aus dairy industry as we see it is that while the melamine scandal is still fresh and real in the chinese
consumers minds, a reasonable portion of the consumers are seeking high quality milk and dairy products from foreign countries.
The infrastructure within china is fragmented and will take some time before a trusted and wholesome milk product will be available
consistently to the chinese public.
Last but not least, the senior management of Yili group, the no.1 dairy products provider with an estimated sales of over rMB 24
billion (abt. AUd 3.9 billion) in 2009, has a message to our Australian dairy colleagues. They are looking for experienced dairyman
to work with them. Many options are available for potential investors and professional managers. They are ready to help you get your
land, launch your own farm, and buy milk from you. They are ready to lease their farm to you, and buy milk from you. They are ready to
provide senior job opportunities to you who will confidently manage their farms. Your experiences of managing farms will demonstrate
great value there. Although Yili is a dairy giant in china, such invitation is not only from this enterprise, it is from the industry. off course,
there are many details to evaluate before we conclude that feasible; and there will be various opportunities in addition to what have been
covered in this presentation.
Mate, jumping on a flight to the north, ten hours away from home, you will see china. Welcome to my homeland! You will love my country
just like i love Australia; and what’s more, i believe you will find your own opportunity there.
The dairy industry has a promising future, but the road will not be easy. There will be challenges. However, it is encouraging to see more
and more elites like the people of east rock entering into this industry. To east rock and all people with inspiration, the value of success
in the dairy business will not be limited at a foreseeable economical return alone. in addition to it and on top of it, the improvement of
life quality for the human being, and the enhancement of welfare for the human being will be achieved.
Mate, let‘s do it! And let’s do it together!
The rivers run dry by not the herd Farm snapshot
“La Villa” 103ha
A presentation from Craig & Penny Gallpen 503 ML Allocation
Warragoon nsW Milking 350 holsteins (4 million litres)
dairy 15 d/up rapid exit herringbone
craig left school to come home on the farm with his parents in 1984. He took courses in nutrition, Ai, preg testing and dairy farm
management. He had a keen interest in learning about genetics and conformation of a dairy cow which still exists today but has been
overshadowed by the focus on feeding a cow for maximum milk production.
Penny was born and bred in Blighty. Her parents were rice growers, an industry which has suffered greatly in this period of uncertain
water alllocations. After teaching for 10 years, she now works full time on the farm mostly involved in bookwork.
craig’s parents gave him the opportunity at an early age to make management decisions which quickly led to controlling all areas of the
business. About 10 years ago, a succession plan was developed with our financial adviser and we now own the business, with craig’s
parents in semi-retirement.
in the past returns have come from high water allocations allowing us to grow low cost feed. Up until 2003 we grew summer pasture to
feed cows from november to March, then irrigated winter pasture 2 or 3 times to grow annuals from March to october and conserve
the excess in the spring. in 2003 our water allocation was just 8% which was a frightening prospect. The next few years saw a reduced
allocation but enough to irrigate at a high cost. Then in 2007 and 2008 our allocation was zero, followed by 9% in 2009. obviously
change was inevitable. summer pasture was no longer sustainable.
in the past 3 years there have been major shifts in the way we dairy farm. some of the most crucial focuses have been:
1. Maximising Milk Production
our aim has always been to increase milk production to dilute our fixed costs. in 2004 we purchased 150 cows, almost doubling the
herd size. in 2008 when faced with a declining milk price, we were looking to once again increase production. rather than invest in
more cows, we decided to utilize our existing capital and milk the fresh cows 3 times per day. The herd was already split into fresh and
stale cows both for management reasons and feed use efficiency. so the transition was a slight change in milking times and sourcing and
managing extra labour. We are continually ironing out wrinkles, but day to day operations generally run smoothly.
2. Water Use Efficiency
reduced water availability and an uncertain water future has brought about the most rapid change for us. We have become a semi
feedlot which has required some capital investment (feed pads, troughs, mixer wagon, extra tractor). it has also become more labour
intensive with feeding cows and maintaining the feed pad being a full time job. summer pasture has become a thing of the past and all
available water is used to irrigate annual pasture which gives the most return per megalitre
3. Source Quality Feed
Moving from grazing to lot feeding has emphasized the importance of quality. cows no longer get to choose the best quality and sourcing
this quality feed has become another constant job. in 2007 with no water in the region we had little choices. cows were fed failed wheat
crops which impacted production and ultimately profit. We now choose quality above all else and have networked to build relationships
with grain, lucerne and pasture growers.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
4. Social Networking
The stress involved with managing drought implications and rapid change has been highly publicized. our local community has a wide
range of support groups and continually holds free workshops and farm walks. These are crucial to keeping perspective, enthusiasm and
balance. A few years ago some likeminded dairyfarmers got together to form “The Longnecks” to meet and discuss farm issues over a few
ales. This has become a valuable release valve in these high pressure times and has extended to occasional bus farm tours, golf trips etc.
not to be outdone the wives formed their own group and meet bimonthly to put their issues on the table (mostly the men!).
We are still coming to grips with the major changes of the last few years and have certainly learned a lot. We are optimistic about the
future of dairying and keen to continue to learn and be open to change. Visiting the Us to see other dairy systems has been very valuable.
Also learning from other progressive farmers on our own shores. Moving from being a labour unit to business manager and dealing with
staffing issues is an ongoing challenge. Paying attention to detail including feed quality, cow comfort, operating systems and procedures,
staff communication are all vital as there is less room for error in an intensive system. Planning for work life balance with more flexibility
in being able to take time off and reducing daily workload. More time for longnecks…
continue to use professional consultants. never say never!
Producing efficient and excellent Quality Milk
Dr. Andrew P. Johnson
clintonville, Wisconsin 54929
Mistakenly, most farms only look at scc or clinical mastitis as their gauge to the quality of milk they produce. it is important to understand
that efficiency is also a major factor in the total milk quality picture. Many years ago, i coined a phrase, “The Mastitis Triangle” which
is widely used throughout the dairy industry yet today. The “Mastitis Triangle” looks at the total quality milk picture by addressing the
relationship of the milking routine, the milking equipment and the cow (environment and bacteria). dairies that look at the total picture end
up with lower scc, fewer clinicals and faster milking which are all positive things for a dairy. When only parts of the “Mastitis Triangle”
are looked at, the chances of failure in milk quality are high.
i have made my living for over 30 years consulting in milk quality and on every consultation visit; i look at all three pieces of the triangle.
My largest group of farms milk a total of 65,000 cows, average over 38 kilograms of milk a day, and have an average scc for the
year of 165,000. it is important to know that every load of milk from every farm is tested for scc, sPc, and antibiotic residues without
exception. so the average scc i listed for the year is based on a minimum of 365 scc tests per farm. The farms that ship to this milk
shed must have a low scc or are given 60 days to correct a high scc or are asked to leave or canceled if their scc is over 350,000.
The bottom line is simple; dairies with low scc provide a better quality raw ingredient for the dairy industry which will allow them to give
their consumers better quality products. More importantly, cows with low scc are healthier as well as more profitable.
Milking routine is the most critical when it comes to producing low scc milk, low clinical mastitis and healthier teats. cows with a poor
milking routine will milk slower; have more teat end problems, higher scc and more cases of clinical mastitis. in our dairies that milk
around the clock, they cannot afford to be slowed down and must get as many cows milked per hour in order to be successful. The
dairies that milk the most cows or most pounds of milk per hour are dairies with full milking routines. Most dairy farmers clearly understand
the term overmilking and understand this to be at the end of milking. Unfortunately, 70% of all overmilking occurs at the beginning of
milking rather than at the end. overmilking leads to longer machine on times and more risk to new infections and poor teat end health.
Farmers are convinced they do not have the time to do a full prep and still milk enough cows but i can clearly demonstrate to them they
cannot afford noT to do a full prep.
There are many full milking routines that work but this is the routine i prefer to use on my dairies. Most use a two step approach to each
cow in a group. The first step is to fore strip milk from each teat and then predip each teat. After they have done a group of cows, then
they go back to the first cow in group and wipe the teats dry with a cloth towel and then attach the unit. After the machine is removed,
the teats are dipped and noT sPrAYed. dipping give better coverage and uses less teat dip which saves money.
The latest data in UsA is clearly showing one of the biggest myths is putting machines on sooner milks more cows. Lag time is critical to
milking speed and udder health and is defined as the time from fore stripping to unit attachment. in the past, the gold standard was 45
to 60 seconds of lag time. now the new data show a minimum of 90 seconds of lag time is critical to the over all milking process. A
new study being completed at cornell University has shown longer lag time is definitely better than a shorter lag time. on many of our
large rotary parlors, by simply moving the attacher three or four stalls further back has decreased over all milking times. instead of putting
units on empty teats and overmilking them at the beginning of milking, the teat cups are attached to a full teat with milk let down and the
cow has higher flow rates and faster milking.
i have dairies with double 48 parlors using 4 people and getting 5 turns per hour in the parlor using a full prep. The cows are averaging
over 15 kilograms of milk/milking 3 times a day and have total milking durations of under 4 minutes per cow.
i understand that Australia and new Zealand do not believe in pre-dipping and post dipping and feel they are effective without. However
your own milk quality data clearly shows a problem with scc at the start of lactation and a huge increase in scc towards the end of the
lactation. neither of which are normal but in most places, after awhile the abnormal gets accepted as the normal. Another huge issue in
your country is c. bovis mastitis which is directly related to spraying teats rather than dipping teats. You can either accept the problems
you are having or try proven techniques that will eliminate these problems and add to the profitability of the dairy.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Milking equipment is not commonly the cause of scc issues unless the equipment is not properly maintained or updated. once in
awhile, milking equipment can malfunction causing serious mastitis problems. The most common malfunction is bad pulsators, poor
vacuum stability, mismatched vacuum level and liners/shells or over used rubber goods. i cannot stress the importance of having the most
important piece of machinery on your dairy properly maintained on a regular basis. After all, this is the machine that harvests your most
important crop that pays most of your bills.
To assure healthy teat ends and comfortable milking, i want to have at least 200 milliseconds of d phase under load during milking.
A common mistake made in the dairy industry is to check pulsators not under load which gives you 20 to 45 more milliseconds than
there actually is. The standard is to always test pulsators either while on the cow milking or with teat dummies in the inflations and the
vacuum on to the claw.
Another very important issue is milking vacuum in the claw during peak milk flow. As far as i am concerned, this is the only vacuum you
need to know on your dairies. if the vacuum is not tested at the claw while a cow is at peak milk flow, the milking system has not been
properly tested. There are no exceptions to this rule. There is not an equipment company anywhere in the world that knows what vacuum
to set your system at without doing claw vacuums at peak milk flow.
setting vacuum any other way is a guess and unfortunately every farm is different because of milk production and equipment installations.
Having the correct claw vacuum at peak milk flow is critical to milking speed as well as teat end health. My recommendations assuming
you have good let down at the beginning of milking and minimal overmilking at the end of milking are to have the claw vacuum at peak
milk flow range from 11.5 to 12.5 inches of mercury (38 to 42 kPa). Milk production as well as milk hose size and length are big
factors in claw vacuum.
Minimizing the machine on time is also a function of the automatic cluster remover (Acr). Many of the new automatic systems allow you
to set maximum machine on times as well so durations can be controlled. When i go to a dairy, i will check cows when the machines
come off by doing residual milk yields. ideally, there will be 250 to 450 ml of milk left evenly divided in the whole udder. When residual
milk yields are lower than 250 ml, the cows are being grossly over milked. Most Acr systems have two settings that can be adjusted.
one is the flow rate to initiate unit removal and that should set between 0.8 and 1.0 kilograms. The other setting is the delay time after
the low flow rate is reached and that number should be set at under 5 seconds. My best dairy has its end of milking flow rate set at 1.2
kilograms and the delay time at 2 seconds. Their herd scc on over 1500 cows is 89,000 for the year with a clinical rate less than
0.7%. cows can be trained to milk fast or slow and unfortunately most farms train them to milk slow.
The environment and housing in my country are much different than in Australia. even though you use pastures and we used confined
free stalls barns, the concepts are the same. cows need to be clean, dry and comfortable 24 hours a day. The fact you rotate pastures
and minimize the time a cow is exposed to manure is important. The real reason most of your herds have high scc in early lactation is
not because that is normal but because the lots these dry cows and springer’s are in are often too dirty. The cleaner the cows at calving
time, the lower the risk to new infections in early lactation. even though the scc drops in the first 60 days after freshening, research data
on over 100,000 complete lactations in the UsA shows that animals with scc over 200,000 on their first test will give 770 kilograms
less milk in that lactation no matter how low the scc goes after the first test. in the UsA, we use aggressive dry cow antibiotic therapy
along with internal teat sealants on all lactating animals and many farms also dry treat springing heifers. other dairies use aggressive
cMT protocols on all fresh cows and heifers. All animals are checked with cMT on day 3 to 5 after calving and if the cMT is positive,
the animals are cultured and treated based on culture results. if the cMT is negative the animals are moved to the clean herd and milked
as normal. To make this process easier on larger herds, all animals that freshen on sunday to Tuesday get one colored leg band on their
rear leg and animals that freshen on Wednesday to saturday are given another color of leg bands. Two times a week, the person in
charge of fresh animals are present for the post fresh pen and on Friday check the animals with the first colored leg band and Tuesday
the animals with the second colored leg bands are checked. This way, all cows can be easily checked by having a person there twice
a week for that pen of cows.
All dairies regardless of their management practices experience cases of clinical mastitis. i would prefer to prevent all mastitis because
when a clinical case occurs, i feel we have lost the battle. When clinical cases do occur, the cow needs to be appropriately treated to
assure cures and fewer cases of repeat clinical mastitis. our dairy industry if finally at the place where dairies can treat the right bug
with the right drug. This is done by doing on farm culturing of all clinical cases. The research world wide shows no reduction in cure
rates when a cow is treated 24 hours later than treated immediately. our dairies have simple culture systems on farm so they have results
in 24 hours or less. if the dairy cannot get culture results in 24 hours or less, then a culture and treat program will not be successful. All
treatments are based on the actual bacteria that are causing the clinical case.
The most important factor affecting cure rates is treatment durations. The dairy industry unfortunately approved most mastitis treatments
not on cures but on how quickly milk would look normal and how soon it could back into the bulk tank. This method has caused many
dairies to have 25 to 70% failures in cure rates and they need to treat many animals multiple times. For instance, strep species causing
bacteria really need a minimum of 5 days of proper antibiotic therapy to get cure rates over 90% while staph species need a minimum
of 3 days. Using the right drug on the right bug for the right time has dramatically improved cure rates and has reduced the number of
repeat clinical cases.
Milk quality is a world wide issue and dairies that are committed to producing the best quality milk will survive the turbulent economic
times in the dairy industry. scc standards will continue to be lowered due to consumer pressure and dairies with low scc will assure
themselves of a place to sell their milk. i would encourage all dairies to evaluate the “Mastitis Triangle” on their farm and make sure all
parts are working properly. it will be the first step you need to take to produce quality milk. All dairies would like to see the dairy plants
pay higher prices for low scc milk but dairy farmers have to understand that over 90% of the economic benefit from low scc dairies
comes from factors other than milk price. it does pay to produce quality milk.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
The dollar advantage of comfortable cows
By Karl Burgi, Dairyland Hoof Care Institute Inc.
Throughout the world, lameness in dairy cows has a huge impact on a dairy farm’s bottom line. it is a known fact that, depending on
farming style and management, up to 60% of cows are affected by lameness annually. As the Australian dairy production is transitioning
from a grazing to a semi-confinement or confinement system, lameness prevention presents a new set of challenges. drs. Malmo and
chesterton estimate lameness in oceana’s grazing herds averages at roughly 8% per year. Much of the lameness (66%) in grazing herds
today is due to trauma, with primarily white line lesions (38%) and toe ulcers (28%) according to chesterton. confinement herds also
have a high occurrence of lameness. An investigation (M.i.endres 2006) into the lameness incidence in 50 confinement dairies in the
state of Minnesota, U.s.A. found the average lameness to be 24.5%. in confinement, sole ulcers and white line lesions are the dominant
claw horn lesions. Additionally, many cows are infected with digital dermatitis lesions. When we look at the economic loss that occurs
from lameness it can range from merely $50 per incidence to over $500 with an average loss per case of about $257. An additional
factor is temperature. research conducted by dr. nigel cook confirms that claw horn lesions are more prevalent following hot weather.
graph 1 shows the association between claw horn lesions and temperature.
dr. cook found cows would stand up to 3 hours longer per day during hot weather. His work showed the extra standing resulted in more
claw horn lesions. dairy cows have a strong behavioral need to rest. According to grant 2006, cows require 12 to 14hours per day of
laying time. reduced resting time decreases feed consumption and increases claw horn lesions. As dairy environments and management
practices change, much more attention must be paid to a high producing dairy cow’s daily time budget in order to reduce lameness.
According to research and observations at the Miner Agriculture research institute such a time budget would look as follows:
Australia’s dairy production is moving from smaller herds, which are strictly grazing type production systems, toward a confinement or
a modified grazing system. Herds are rapidly increasing in size and some of the daily grass rations are supplemented with grains and
This ration is presented to the cows at fence line feeders or feed bunks. While consuming this ration, cows are forced to stand for
extended hours. on the other hand while herd sizes are increasing, cows are also forced to stand longer in milking sheds due to the fact
that milking is done on a whole herd basis.
it is believed that this extra forced standing and longer walking distances are the major contributors to increasing lameness in Australia’s
dairy herds. Animal welfare and consumer attitudes call for an ethical obligation to accommodate natural behavior of dairy cows with
management strategies. The United states national Animal Welfare Audits calls for 90% of dairy cows with locomotion scores of 1 and 2.
change is absolutely vital to correct management practices and reduce lameness.
This requires a commitment from dairy herd owners along with the implementation of a hoof health management plan, which is composed
of the following points:
1. give every cow the opportunity to comfortably rest or lie down for 12 to 14 hours per day.
2. cows must be observed daily for signs of lameness and immediate attention should be given through functional and therapeutic
hoof trimming. it is essential that blocks be used as an aid in healing claw horn lesions. Lame cows should be considered special-
needs cows and may need functional trimming more frequently.
3. cows provided with a proper, functional trim before stresses such as calving, ration changes, and hot weather are far less likely to
become lame following these periods. Functional hoof trimming adjusts claw length, leading to proper claw balance and correcting
the toe angle while leaving enough horn to protect the vulnerable corium. Functional trimming should be learned through a qualified
instructor and regularly scheduled.
4. All cows must be locomotion scored bi-weekly or monthly to assess overall hoof health.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
5. Assess, and functionally trim if needed, every 1st calf heifer and every cow prior to parturition to ensure the best possible hoof
condition the day of calving.
6. if heifers are raised on a yielding surface (pasture or dry-lots), introduce them to concrete, a non-yielding surface, 6 weeks to 4 weeks
before parturition. This allows the lamina to adjust to the concussion from this non-yielding surface prior to the major change.
7. Minimize time 1st calf heifers stand in milking sheds for the first 2 to 4 weeks following calving to allow them to rest more hours per day.
8. introduce heifers at 7-months pregnant to dry cows, to allow them socially adjust. Waiting longer may adversely affect heifers’ hoof health.
9. Practice excellent herdsmanship by moving cows calmly and quietly. Minimize the use of backing gates (crowd gates) and dogs.
10. Maintain all walking surfaces including tracks, milking, and feeding areas for smoothness, proper traction, and cleanliness.
11. Manage nutrition so cows have access to a consistent diet every hour of the day, 365 days a year.
12. Put in place a heat abatement system to keep cows cool during hot periods.
13. design and construct dairy facilities that are optimal for high-producing cows. Putting cows first improves longevity, reduces
lameness, and increases yields.
14. in case of infectious diseases, a footbath should be used for prevention and treatment.
implementing an aggressive lameness-prevention program is essential to maintain healthy hooves. Producers, managers, and other dairy
professionals must work together closely to identify problems and determine solutions that will improve the productivity of today’s dairy
cows. This team approach yields results and keeps cows on solid footing.
Managing a footbath successfully
Footbaths are an essential element of a lameness-prevention program. instead of treating active infections, they prevent hoof diseases
from spreading. When used properly, footbath solutions condition and strengthen the hoof’s soft tissue, making it more resistant to invasive
pathogens. Footbathing also reduces the bacterial bombardment on the soft tissue. Usage varies at each farm based on environment,
hygiene and stocking density. Leg hygiene scores dictate how frequently the farm must use a footbath.
Design and Placement
carefully consider the footbath dimensions and location. A footbath should be 3.20m to 4.00m long, 45cm to 50cm wide, and 25cm
deep. Place the bath where there is minimal slope, to ensure the solution is at least 10cm deep for the entire length. Make sure the
sidewalls are tall enough to prevent cows from walking on them.
• See the diagrams at the end of the article for details.
Clean Feet Before And After
Hoofs must be clean to be effectively exposed to solution, plus they should enter a clean, dry area after passing through the footbath. i do
not recommend using a wash bath or pre-bath because it rarely yields positive results. The wash-bath solution dilutes the treatment bath.
And the hoof skin will not absorb the solution as readily when it is wet. research indicates that when a pre-bath is used there is up to 4
times more urination and defecation in the treatment bath.
Replace Solution Frequently
Two things compromise the footbath solution’s effectiveness: the number of cows passing through and the length of time the solution
is in use. Anecdotal research indicates most solutions lose their effectiveness after 150 to 200 cow-passes, primarily from manure
contamination. The length of time the solution has been exposed to manure also impacts success rates.
• Note: Overused solutions become a bacterial haven!
How often to use a footbath depends on which infectious diseases are present, and varies by farm and season. The better the hygiene
in the facility, the less frequently the footbath needs to be run. in some cases, one to three passes through an effective solution per week
may control infectious diseases well.
• Note: Keep the bath clean when not in use.
Accommodate Lame Cows
Lame cows are the last cows to exit the milking parlor, usually when the solution is at its weakest.
Rotate Treatment Products
several footbath products are currently available. They are categorized as cleaning agents and disinfectants. rotating cleaning agents
and disinfectants achieves the best results.
detergent, like hand soap and bleach, and feed-grade salt clean the hoof and loosen manure, allowing air to enter the interdigital space.
Use these cleaning agents approximately one-third to one-half of the time, but rotate with disinfectants.
solutions containing copper and zinc sulfates, formalin, quaternary ammonium compounds, and a range of commercial products disinfect
the hoof. Use these to complement cleaning agents.
Calculating solution amount Product rate % liters per100l kg/100l
Always use the correct amount of solution and follow copper sulfate 5 5
the manufacturer’s recommendation. To determine how
Zinc sulfate 5 5
much solution you need, measure the footbath and
calculate the amount, Zinc sulfate 10 10
Formalin 37% 1 1
Concerns with Copper Sulfate
Formalin 37% 2 2
recently the price of copper sulfate has escalated and
concern about soil contamination is causing everyone Formalin 37% 3 3 not
to seek alternatives. some new footbath additives are recommended
now available that make it possible to use 40 to 60 soap and Bleach 1 soap
percent less copper and zinc. it is important to follow 2 bleach
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
For more information, visit www.comforthoofcare.com
Was 2009 the great recession?
(or the recession that made you great)
Rick Lundquist, Ph.D.
Lundquist & Associates
Last year was a disastrous year for the dairy industry, with record low milk prices, high feed prices and ever increasing energy, regulatory
and environmental costs. The extent of financial hardship on individual dairies depended on how well they were prepared and how
quickly they adapted to the financial downturn. As Friedrich nietzsche put it, “What does not destroy me, makes me strong”. Lessons
learned from 2009 should not be forgotten, even when the good times return.
in the United states, the losses averaged $100 - $130/cow/month in 2009 (Merlo, 2009). net farm income dropped 94% from
2008. Milk price was $3.00 to $7.00 below the cost of production. Although feed prices dropped from the record highs of 2008, many
producers were stuck with previous contracts, so average feed prices paid in 2009 remained stubbornly high. The U.s. recession turned
into a global recession, reducing export demand and prices for dairy products. The result; years of hard earned equity was destroyed.
This presentation will address nutrition and management lessons learned and sort through what is important to increase profitability in an
increasingly competitive and variable market.
data collected by the california department of Food and Agriculture was used in a study that looked at the effects of high and low milk
prices on 150 california dairies ranging in size from 140 to 4600 cows (rodriguez and deFrain, 2009). These herds included Jersey,
Holstein and crossbred cows. The study compared 2006, when milk price averaged $11.46/cwt. (26 cents/l), to 2007, when milk
price averaged $17.69/cwt. (40 cents/l). The study concluded that solids corrected milk production was the single most important
determinant of profitability, regardless of feed cost. The highest producing herds minimized losses during low milk prices and maximized
profits during high milk prices. This was true regardless of herd size, breed or whether herds were milked 2X or 3X/day.
i am often asked by clients how we can lower feed cost when milk prices are low. if i could do this without reducing milk production, then
i was wasting my client’s money when milk prices were good. our feeding philosophies really shouldn’t change much with varying milk
prices. in the california study, herds with higher milk production had higher feed costs per cow. However, feed cost/unit of milk produced
was lower for the higher producing herds. in other words, feed efficiency was better on the high producing herds.
nutrition and Management That saved the Farm in 2009
1. High quality forage
it sounds redundant, but there’s no substitute for a consistent supply of high quality forage. Whether its pastured, home raised and
harvested or purchased, dairy producers who fed good quality forages generally had higher production, healthier cows, and better
reproduction. dairies that had to buy forage hand to mouth suffered more from inconsistent quality, leading to reduced production.
This led to a downward spiral as reduced cash flow made it difficult to buy more good quality forage or to buy seed and fertilizer for
the next crop.
2. Reducing waste or “shrink”
Feed waste or “shrink” is simply the difference between the amount of feed purchased or raised on the farm and the amount consumed
by the cattle. As feed costs go up and margins get skinnier, reducing shrink can make a huge difference in what’s left over at the end of
the month. shrink may represent as much a 15-20% of total feed cost (Brouk, 2009).
dairies that controlled shrink essentially reduced their feed cost without any affect on milk production. in fact, reducing shrink with better
bunk management, improved silage management and accurate mixing can reduce feed cost and improve milk production – a win-win
for feed efficiency.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Here are some ways to reduce shrink:
a. Feed bunk management. A consensus of U.s. dairy nutritionists showed that most recommend feeding to about 3-5% refusals (Lundquist,
2009). Use of computer feed programs has helped enormously with consistent feeding and monitoring of feed intake. refusals can be
re-fed in dry cow or heifer rations. if silage is fed, moisture levels should be tested at least weekly, or if changes are obvious. TMr’s
or PMr’s should be adjusted accordingly. in my experience, feeding on concrete under a roof will reduce waste about 10% over an
open feed trough. Feeding on the ground is obviously the least efficient. Many of my Florida clients who had grazed their milking
cows, reduced waste and improved their feed efficiencies by green chopping grass and mixing the grass into the TMr rather than
grazing it. Maintaining a consistent fertilization regimen and proper cutting intervals ensures that the grass is of consistent high quality
b. Silage management. since silage can be a large part of the total ration, reducing shrink here can be huge. Proper harvesting moisture,
chopping length, filling, packing, covering, and feed-out of silage will reduce silage losses. Use of proven inoculants will also reduce
nutrient losses. inoculants containing L. buchneri can cut losses at the face and spoilage in the bunk. Keeping the face of the silo vertical
and sizing the face to fit the herd size will also reduce losses. silage losses can be as high as 30% if not properly managed. A goal
of 5% silage shrink is attainable.
c. Accurate mixing and delivery. Mixing and delivery errors not only add to shrink, but also result in inconsistent production and potential
digestive problems. ingredient mixing order, optimal mixing time, minimum amount of an ingredient in a recipe, use of premixes and
delivery method (scheduled delivery vs. batch) should be considered for improved accuracy (Lundquist, 2009).
d. Farm pests. Birds, rodents and wild pigs (in Florida) contribute to shrink. Although difficult to control, these farm “pests” eat, defecate
on, and destroy tons of feed on the dairy. i’m sure Australia has its own unique feed thieves too.
e. Other areas that contribute to feed shrink include cattle tossing feed, wind, tracking feed by running over it with tractors or loaders and
increased use of wet feeds (Brouk 2009).
3. Alleviating heat stress
Heat stress negatively impacts milk production, feed efficiency, health and reproduction in dairy cattle. dairy producers that minimized the
effects of heat stress in 2009 not only cut their losses during the summer, but bounced back quicker as temperatures cooled off. only about
50% of the effects of heat stress can be attributed to reduced feed intake (Baumgard, et.al. 2009). Altered endocrine status, reduced
rumination and nutrient absorption and higher maintenance requirements also contribute to loss of milk. so, the net effect of heat stress on
feed efficiency is potentially greater than any other factor.
since it was difficult to add any new capital expenditures in 2009, cooling systems such as shades, fans and misters or sprinklers typically
had to be in place before the milk price plummeted. However, proper maintenance and operation is an ongoing thing, so keeping
cooling equipment in proper order is important. i observed some dairies that had the equipment, but weren’t using it because cloth shades
were shredded, fans were broken or misters and sprinklers were plugged.
cow comfort is extra important during heat stress. successful dairy producers “allowed their cows to be cows”. cows make milk when
they are lying down and ruminating (grant, 2007). High producing cows need 14 hours of resting or lying time per day and 10 hours
for ruminating (6 hours while resting and 4 hours while standing).
As far as nutritional heat stress management, a clean, accessible and ample supply of water is the cheapest and most important factor
for maintaining milk production and health during heat stress. one of my clients instituted a daily water trough cleaning routine. This
inexpensive routine resulted in an immediate 1.5 – 2 lb milk response.
dairies with good quality forage were better able to meet energy demands during heat stress without risking acidosis. don’t overfeed
protein as excess protein generates more heat. Maintain a positive dietary cation-anion difference of 20 to 30 meq/100 grams dry
matter for lactating cows. Potassium should be increased to 1.4% - 1.6% of dry matter during the summer. High potassium forages and
potassium carbonate are the best sources. Magnesium and sodium should also be increased. Heat stressed cattle have an extra need for
glucose (Baumgart, 2009), so dietary changes that favor propionate production (the primary glucose precursor) without reducing rumen
pH will enhance milk production. rumensin and certain live yeast strains have been shown to help.
4. Properly balancing rations for each stage of lactation and taking advantage of good quality, consistent
and local byproducts
Feeding a properly balanced ration for each stage of lactation (dry, transition, fresh, early, mid and late lactation) optimizes production
and insures efficient use of nutrients. Many successful dairies feed a one group TMr to lactating cows. However, expensive ingredients
such as supplemental fat and certain additives can be wasted on cows past peak lactation. changes in lactating rations should be made
gradually and regrouping cows should be minimized. if cows are successfully transitioned through freshening and early lactation, the rest
of the lactation is usually uneventful.
dairies that reduced feed cost without sacrificing milk last year took advantage of good quality, consistent and locally available byproducts.
consistency is most important when utilizing byproducts. Booking ahead and assuring a constant supply is critical. dairies that ran out of
feed or sourced byproducts from various suppliers experienced variable milk production.
5. Judicial use of proven additives and supplements
Additives that have been researched and proven effective should add to profitability (or help minimize losses) regardless of milk price.
i took a hard look along with my clients at all expenditures in the rations. Most of the additives that we fed prior to the downturn were
left in the rations. Products that helped increase feed efficiency (rumensin, yeast, rumen bypass proteins and amino acids) were deemed
just as valuable, if not more valuable after milk price tanked. However, 2009 economics probably revealed wasted profits from over-
supplementation of minerals, vitamins and feed additives on many dairies. on the other hand, one of my clients removed all supplemental
vitamins and trace minerals in order to reduce costs. eventually, the losses in production on this dairy far outweighed the savings.
6. Walk around management
Probably the cheapest and easiest way to ensure that the dairy is running at top efficiency is by “walk around management”. Producers
or managers that can get away from the day to day details of running a dairy and just walk around the farm observing everything
that’s going on seem to be the most successful and also weathered the storm of 2009 better. This is also the duty of a good consultant.
Procedures break down, bad management habits get worse and order tends to drift toward chaos in any business. Taking time to look
at the big picture on a regular basis will allow dairy producers to catch inefficiencies in the operation and get them corrected quickly,
before they become too costly.
Last year was one of the toughest years ever experienced in the dairy industry. Most dairy producers are still digging themselves out of
the financial hole that it left them in. Hopefully the lessons learned will be valuable to all of us who derive our living from the dairy cow
and will help us become more efficient and prepared for the future.
Baumgart, L.H., M.V. skrzypek, r.J.collier and r.P. rhoads. 2009. new concepts on heat stress. Proc. Four-state dairy nutr. and
Management conf. pp 111-115.
Brouk, M. 2009. don’t let shrink kill you with high feed prices. Proc. Western dairy Management conf. pp 227-232.
grant, r. 2007. Taking advantage of natural behavior improves dairy cow performance. Proc. Western dairy Management conf. pp 1-13.
Lundquist, r. 5/13/09. Feeding management. dairy Today Magazine.
Merlo, c. 12/3/09. The hard facts of 2009. dairy Today Magazine.
rodriguez, L.A. and J.M. deFrain. 2009. Factors affecting profitability of western dairies. Proc. southwest nutr. and Management conf.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
A farmer snapshot
Gary & Lee Hibberd
gary & Lee Hibberd’s entry into dairy was via a share milking arrangement involving in the first instance, 100 cows that gary had purchased.
This grew to share farm milking 200 cows and then 20 years ago, farm ownership starting with 120 hectares and 200 cows.
Today the farm business comprises 500 hectares, 650 cows and 400 heifers.
The Hibberds resolved early on that the pathway to achieving these numbers was not the traditional pasture-based dairy and a herd
average of 5000 litres and they explored options for a new farming model. its basis lay in cow comfort – a philosophy of better feeding
and efficient utilization of land.
The philosophy was to have 650 cows producing to the optimum of their breeding with the most efficient feed conversion of (firstly) home
grown and then topped up with purchased feed. They are firm believers in the feed conversion rule and have already implemented this
into their system which is based on the european system of housed cows partly throughout the year.
They have built a 300 free stall barn which when the weather is very wet (they operate in a 55-60 inch rainfall) they can split herds on
a rotational basis, enabling minimal wastage of feed, preventing paddock pugging, minimize walking (every 1km costs one litre of milk)
and optimizing cow comfort by protecting them from weather extremes.
They have also developed a maternity barn, again to address cow comfort. The fact that in september they calved 300 cows and
didn’t lose one cow is testimony to their management style – an ability to constantly monitor the cows in a regulated environment, and
consistently lead feed in a timely and accurate manner.
gary and Lee Hibberd and their six children have worked out a system that suits them and they consider offers comfortable cows, a
friendly workplace, a healthy environment and quality milk.
They have taken the traditional step from share farming, to farm ownership and grown the business to where they are today with the cows
now producing between 10-11,000 litres per lactation.
They believe the system they farm under now allows them to either grow bigger again relatively quickly – and 1000 cows has been touted
although is dependent on family aspirations - and sustainability of milk price!
Kydd Family company
Neville & Ruth Kydd
our 530ha dairy farm is located near Finley in southern new south Wales. We purchased the initial 217ha farm in 1985, moving
from gippsland in Victoria after share farming there. our children daniel and steven are both interested in the farm. daniel is taking on
management on the farm and steven is a diesel mechanic.
We have slowly developed the farm so it is fully laid out for flood irrigation with drainage and recycle. The majority of the paddocks are
2.5 ha and can all be irrigated from the channel system or from recycled or deep bore water.
rainfall is normally 400mm per year but over the last few years we have seen a significant decrease in rainfall, especially rainfall in the
autumn and spring. Along with decreased rainfall in our area we have had significantly decreased irrigation allocation. We live in a
grain growing area which has allowed us to purchase failed crop for silage and grain.
With the decrease availability of irrigation and decrease in milk price we have been forced to change our traditional grass based system
to a mixed system trying to utilize the grass as best we can and supplementing the diet with a mixture of silage, grain, PKe, ddg and
almond hulls to allow us to feed the cows with a diet that is high quality and profitable. We normally milk between 1000 and 1100
cows but have reduced numbers to between 700 and 800 to reduce the amount of hand feeding we have to do and wear and tear on
equipment and people.
The herd is a seasonal cross bred herd calving in July. originally a Friesian/Jersey cross herd but we have changed to a 3 way cross in
recent years by introducing Ayrshires as the third breed. We are aiming for a tough cow that has a good Fat and Protein production, is
easy calving and most importantly has good fertility. This season all milking cows were synchronized with prostaglandin 3 weeks prior
to the start of mating then those that had not cycled by the 7th day of mating were given another shot. We inseminated 97% of the herd
in 16 days and achieved a 65% conception rate at pregnancy testing. Last season the cows averaged 6080 litres and 511kgs milk
Although the drought and global financial crisis has had a big impact on dairying in the area the strength, flexibility and ability to work
together has helped farmers in this area to continue to produce high quality products at cost effective prices.
Key Performance indicators
effective Milking Area 371 371
cows 730 870
Production (kgs Ms/ha) 1071 1199
Production (kgs Ms/cow) 544 511
return on capital 9.90% 4%
return on Assets 9.90% 3.50%
operating Profit Margin 21.90% 8.50%
cost/kg milk solids $4.89 $4.94
Pasture Harvested (t dM/ha) 7.1 8.4
Labour efficiency (cows /full time labour unit) 148 149
core per cow costs $568 $417
The practicalities of taking control
My advice to you is when in doubt, think like computer – as a computer is an almost perfect decision maker as very decision is based
100% on logic. The computer is not emotional about the decisions it makes. it does not worry about what others. When it is given an
instruction to do something, it figures out the most efficient way to do so.
The computer analogy is supported Warren Buffet, one of the top investors in the world, who is famous for saying that “emotions should
be left out of the investing process.” He feels that if you are going to be emotional when it comes to investing, then don’t put your money
if it was only that easy!!
Many people sitting in this room and reading this precise are what i call true believers – really believe in what they are doing, the asset
they are building, the lifestyle they are trying to build for their future generations (in some cases, based on what they were left from their
forbearers) and the contribution they are making to the betterment of the economy and to the Australian way of life.
given the hours we work, the conditions we work under, the money we are paid/make, the commodity process, the drought etc etc etc
– you have to be true believers to survive in this sector!!
Thank god for the true believers!!
However at time the true believers can make the worst decisions as they break many of the rules of decision making – many of their
decisions are based on fact And emotion.
And i personally think this mixture is good. if we made decisions based on pure rationale and logical processes – then – well we just
if all of our decisions are based on pure emotion – then you like i would continue to support the Melbourne Football club and suffer the
highs and lows (unfortunately more lows that highs lately).
so the challenge for us is to get the right BALAnce into our decision making. To me in achieving the right balance; the thinking process
to follow is
• How are you feeling?
• What thinking are you following?
• What’s your Plan B? and
• What’s your energy level?
How are you feeling?
Are you capable of making decisions?
There are just times in our life, depending on your resilience levels that individuals is just not capable of making decisions. i define
resilience as the ability to “keep on keeping on”, your ability to bounce back – to keep going through the good and bad times – and in
this game we know that there are any. in our life, sometimes on a daily basis, our resilience level goes up and down. The following slide
illustrates this point.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
(source Mental Health at Work – www.mhatwork.com.au)
QUicK – do an exercise – right now – where are you on this scale?
if you are in the green – enJoY – you are energised, capable of making balanced decisions, considering options and happy to wear
the consequences. May need to take a second to think but on the whole capable of making decisions.
if you are in the yellow, TAKe cAre – look after yourself. Be a little more diligent in making decisions, ask for advice. You may not be in
the best frame of mind to make decisions – is it possible to delay such a decision? – may be sleep on it, consider options.
if you are in the red, don’T do iT (whatever iT is!!) – i would argue that you are not capable of making decisions and need to “get
yourself” right” before taking any action or making any decisions. i recently consulted to a group of people who unfortunately had been
recently made redundant. Like most people who find themselves in that position, these people were frantically attending interviews to
secure employment. They could not understand why they performed so badly in the interview and got repeatedly rejected. They were
clearly in the red zone – down on themselves, low in personal esteem and because of this – guess how they performed in the interviews
– which only contributed to a increasingly downward scale. They had to stop, get themselves right, take action then make a decision.
How are you feeling – are you psychologically competent to make balanced decisions?
What thinking are you following?
A wise man makes his one decisions; an ignorant man follows opinions. chinese adage
What decision making process do you follow?
A simple five step process for decision making is;
1. State The Problem - The first and arguably the most important step in the decision making model in five steps is to identifying the
problem. Until you have a clear understanding of the problem or decision to be made, it is meaningless to proceed. if the problem is
stated incorrectly or unclearly then your decisions will be wrong.
2. Identify Alternatives - sometimes your only alternatives are to do it or don’t do it. Most of the time you will have several feasible
alternatives. it is worth doing research to ensure you have as many good alternatives as possible.
3. Evaluate The Alternatives - This is where the analysis begins. You must have some logical approach to rank the alternatives. develop
a decision matrix or a sWoT analysis around the problem.
4. Make A Decision - You have evaluated your alternatives. Two or more of your high ranked alternatives may be very close in the
evaluations. You should eliminate all of the alternatives that were low ranked. now it is time to go back and examine the inputs you made
to evaluation criteria for the close high ranked alternatives. do you still feel comfortable with the inputs you made? When you have made
any changes it is time for some subjection. You have eliminated the alternatives that do not make logical sense. now it is time to let your
subconscious work. review all the details of the remaining high ranked close alternatives, so they are completely clear in your mind.
completely leave the project alone for a few days. When you return to the project, the decision will likely be very clear in your head.
This only works if you have done your homework!
5. Implement Your Decision - A decision has no value unless you implement it. if you are not good with implementation, then find someone
that is. Part of the implementation phase is the follow up. The follow up ensures that the implementation sticks
What’s your Plan B?
What happens if your decision doesn’t go to plan? What are you going to do? it is a joy to work with decisive people – it is just as sad
as working with people who “bet the farm” with no plan B.
This is where a simple risk management matrix needs to be worked through. What is the likelihood of things not going to plan and what
is the consequence of it not going to plan?
in those circumstances where there is low likelihood and low consequence of things not going to plan – make yourself a nice cup of tea
and relax – there is no problem.
in those circumstances where there is low likelihood of things going wrong but high consequence if they do, relax a little bit but make
sure they don’t go wrong!.
in those circumstances where there is high likelihood of things going wrong but little consequence if they do; enjoy your cup of tea- but
still monitor what is going on.
in those circumstances where there is high likelihood of things going wrong and high consequence if they do, do some serious contingency
planning – have a plan B.
Keep your energy up!
i wanted to finish where i started. Monitor your level of resilience. if you have high levels, your energy is up and you are able to
make competent decisions. if resilience is low, your energy is low and i would strongly advise you either not to or delay making your
FinALLY – As MY MoTHer ALWAYs ToLd Us Kids;
You can’t be responsible for what happens to you – but you can be responsible for what you do.
Make good decisions following some of these tips and you may do the right things.
MAinTAin THe FAiTH.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Boscawen Holsteins and Jerseys
gF rF Herne & TL russell
630 greenwell Pt rd, Brundee Via nowra. nsW
our family has been on this farm since an original land grant in 1826 our children are now the 7th generation to work the land. Brundee
is about 5kms east of nowra and heading towards the coastal beaches we are on a flood plain with rich soil and have fairly reliable
rain fall and access to the towns reMs (regional effluent Management system) water. A pocket of very efficient farmers surround this area
with long term quality sustainable milk volumes being available to the sydney market
Boscawen Holsteins was recently awarded our Master breeders award from HFAA and are already 10 years into the second award.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our parents geoff and elaine Herne (Mum has now passed away but dad still has a role to
play on the farm managing our property at Boorowa and backup for everything else on the main farm). My brother Bob, husband Tom
and our two sons and daughter along with a string of almost family members and other staff help manage the everyday running of the
Milking numbers: 550 currently and growing fast
Breed Profile Holsteins: 95%
Milking Area: 147 ha
swamp land 145Ha
Heifer run 570 ha
Annual Litres: 6 million L +
Per cow: 10,000 L +
5 full time family members & one partly retired unlimited casual milkers (always have enough ready to take over when someone else is
unavailable or there is extra work to be done)
To improve infrastructure And farm quality both financial and environmental for the long term benefit of future generations, with our
children seventh generation on the farm and we have no plans to go elsewhere.
What satisfies and motivates us most is milking a fresh herd of well looked after, well conditioned cows that will last a long time. i would
rather milk top producing cows to their potential than struggle through being overstocked and underperforming. We have grown in
numbers from our own stock by better managing our own replacements and avoided importing problems.
Farm decisions are not always based on measured performance but a need for infrastructure to manage the task, both safely, less
strenuously, efficiently and sometimes just because we want to try something new. Things can become very mundane and you can quickly
loose the desire to do the same job if you don’t try something new occasionally. We also work with a number of advisers in areas such
as Herd health, reproduction, and nutrition to challenge our thinking to look outside the square to continuously improve the way we do
There is always a lesson to be learnt and we enjoy learning it keeps things interesting
going three times a day was a big step and took 18 months of thinking before we took the plunge. it was the next step for us as our cows
were busting with milk. Last year so far we have produced our personal best average 43.5L per cow milking 3 times a day
Pushing our boundaries makes milking cows more exciting.
All members have to be keen, in our system females do most of the milking and the boys help if we are short staffed. it’s a good team
Where to from here?
We continually recognise problem areas and room for improvement and are willing to make changes to our system. now we are getting
more heifer replacements we recognised we could do a better job with their growth after weaning and have invested in to a property to
grow better heifers. still more challenges to meet
Underlying all this is the fact that running a good condition, high producing herd is what we like to do.
This is our life choice, if we didn’t like doing it we wouldn’t be doing it – so why not make the most of it!
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Alanvale dairy Farm
Hawkesdale, Western Victoria
garry Morrison purchased Alanvale (610ha) in Hawkesdale in Western Victoria in early 2004 while still living overseas.
significant re-pasturing, fencing and new water facilities were added and the property ran for four years as a prime lamb enterprise.
garry returned to Australia permanently 2005. He lives in Melbourne but spends on average 1.5 days a week on the farm – which is
45 minutes from his Melbourne home.
since first acquiring Alanvale a number of adjoining or very close by properties became available and the holding has now increased
Two of these properties had previously been dairy enterprises and were purchased with 50 stand rotaries already established.
garry constructed an 80 stand rotary on one half of the original Alanvale property, commissioning it on April 1, 2008.
Today, the business is spread across the three rotaries and a grazing platform of around 1335ha. some 2600 cows were milked at the
peak in 2009 and the intention is to reach 3000 by May 2010.
snapshot: Annette van Velde-oudijk
• 46 years old.
• Dairy farmer in the Netherlands, Western Europe.
• Member European Dairy Farmers, board member EDF Netherlands.
• Member Global Dairy Farmers.
• Once every two weeks column on the local radio.
• Organising pasture dinners and a track of art at the farm.
• 150 cows; yearly milk production 1.200.000 kg, 3.45% protein, 4.35%fat.
• 120 young stock.
• 85 hectares.
50% Ad van Velde
40% Annette van Velde
Total: 44 hours per week 15.3 hour per year per cow
524.5 liter milk per hour
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Learnings around Automatic Milking system
Kendra Kerrisk and Bevan Ravenhill
University of sydney
Whilst Automatic Milking systems (AMs) are being adopted around the world and Australia with >10,000 commercial dairy farms now
in operation in more than 32 different countries, on-farm adoption in Australia is still in its infancy.
in the past 12 months we have seen 9 commercial dairy farms install and commission AMs units. in addition to these nine farms there
are another three farms in the process of installing AMs at the time of the study tour presented here. The first commercial AMs farm in
Australia has been operating since 2001 and was therefore not included in this study tour The confidence that has been developed with
regard to operating AMs in a pasture-based environment has undoubtedly had some impact both on the willingness of manufacturers to
sell their technology and the interest that has been generated in the industry with regard to on-farm adoption. At least one contributor to
this growing confidence has undoubtedly been the results of the AMs farm systems research that has been carried out at camden in new
south Wales. As a voluntary and distributed milk harvesting system (i.e. cows milk themselves voluntarily throughout the 24-hour period
with no distinct milking session times) it is accepted that this is not only a new way of milking cows but a new way of farming. given
this, it is expected that there would be a clear benefit for us to try to capture learnings from the commercial farms whilst the planning,
installation and commissioning periods are still fresh in the minds of the farmers involved.
To capture some of these learnings a study tour was carried out which involved 7 of the 9 commercial farms. The remaining two were
not included for the following reasons:
i. one farm opted out of the study for undisclosed reasons
ii. The remaining farm commissioned the machines and started milking cows within the four week period prior to the study being carried out.
The study tour was carried out in late January 2010 seven farmers being interviewed solely by Mr Bevan ravenhill - five of the seven
farmers were interviewed in person whilst the remaining two were included by phone interview. The results of the seven farms have been
collated but no indication of the source of individual results will be presented here.
it is generally expected that it should take farmers 12 months of operation to really have an understanding of the system and the impacts
it will have on labour, lifestyle and productivity. The 12-month period allows the farmer to experience all seasons and a full annual cycle
of his operation with the new milk harvesting equipment. it also allows for the whole herd to calve back into the system as experienced
animals (regardless of their stage of lactation at start-up). given this it is important to keep the findings of this study tour in context and to
understand that the results presented here are from a group of farms that are still in their infancy of AMs adoption. despite this the timing
of the study tour was relevant to maximise the learnings whilst memories are still fresh.
The farms had been commissioned between three and nine months prior to the interview being conducted and ranged from 93 to 310
cows with between 2 and 4 AMs units. The number of cows milked per AMs ranged from 50 to 78 at the time of the study and was
determined by a range of factors including farm capacity, target milking frequency of the cows (and machine capacity) and plans for
herd expansion. it should be noted that an individual AMs unit can only carry out around 150 milkings per day, depending on the target
milking frequency, stage of lactation, production levels and many other factors. For example 75 cows milked twice a day would result
in a similar utilisation as 50 cows milked three times per day.
The interview comprised of 40 questions, and was generally conducted over a 2-3 hour period. The questions were categorised under
the following headings and will be presented in the same order.
1. general farm information and decision making
2. Farm system management
3. The planning and installation period
4. The commissioning period
5. Post commissioning
All interviews were carried out in the absence of any representatives of the company supplying or servicing the on-farm AMs equipment
and involved only the interviewer and the farmer (and/or spouse). some interviews also had other family members involved in the farm
business present for the interview.
general farm information and decision making
The majority of the seven farms have maintained a similar herd size to that which they were milking prior to installing AMs. Approximately
half of the farmers were planning to increase the herd size within the first 12 months of operation.
six of the seven farms are operated as complete farm systems with no interactions or transfer of cows between the AMs and any
conventional milking systems (cMs). All but two of the farms had previously milked dairy cows on the property with the AMs being an
upgrade of the existing milk harvesting system rather than a new conversion from a dry stock farming operation.
interestingly (and in line with overseas findings) the key drivers for investing in AMs were around labour and lifestyle issues and were not
necessarily driven by financial reasons. Most farmers had a number of key drivers for investing in AMs. Two of the interviewed farmers
responded that in investigating the cost of a new dairy the AMs was very cost comparable to a conventional milk harvesting system
with a high level of automation. in addition and more specifically the key factors contributing to the decision to adopt AMs included
(frequency of answer in brackets:
• Opportunity to increase milking frequency without increasing labour (1)
• Capture efficiencies of inputs and scale of operation (1)
• Perceived advantages in individual cow feeding (based on production level) (1)
• Sustainability of operation (environmentally and with regard to labour and lifestyle) (6)
• Farm succession (2)
• Appeal of technology (2)
• More appealing to return to dairy industry or to remain in industry without having to milk cows (2)
• Age, need to slow down and reduce physical labour (1)
surprising, despite the size of the investment and limited commercial adoption in Australia to date, there was a common trend that farmers
carried out only a limited amount of homework prior to deciding to invest in AMs. Five of the seven farmers visited less than 6 (four visited
only one or two) commercial installations before committing to invest in AMs and only four of the interviewed farmers had visited the
camden AMs research farm prior to commissioning. The key source for information was the commercial suppliers of the technology.
Farm system management
six farms in the study were considered as pasture-based operations with cows allowed to graze for at least 300 days per year and
estimated diet composition being in excess of 60% grazed pasture. supplementary feed was made available to cows either in the
paddock or in a designated feeding area/feed pad. Five of the seven farms were predominantly using three way grazing – cows were
provided three pasture allocations per day, rather than the standard two allocations that would normally be provided in a twice-a-day
conventional milk harvesting system. Three-way grazing has been promoted to the AMs industry as a means of gaining more regular and
predictable cow traffic than two-way grazing.
The level of concentrate feeding varied considerably between farms and across the lactation. only two of the installations included some
form of out-of-parlour feeders to allow for higher daily intakes of concentrates. it would be fair to expect that feeding in the milking bail
alone restricts the level of concentrate feeding that can be implemented due to the reduced “bail-time” of most cows – in an AMs the time
available for consumption of concentrates is dictated by the milking frequency and speed of milking of each individual cow rather than
the row speed or platform rotation speed in a cMs. despite this a number of farmers were reporting daily concentrate feeding levels in
the order of 8-10 kg concentrate/cow/day for cows in early lactation. All farms interviewed indicate that they are comfortably using the
individual cow feeding tools that are incorporated into the AMs support software.
All of the pasture-based installations were using a controlled cow traffic system whereby cows must pass through pre-milking drafting gates
that restricts access to the milking stations using a variety of selection criteria that can be changed by farm staff.
it is recognised that not all cows will always move themselves around the farm system and some will require encouragement from farm
staff. Whilst the interviewed farms are still within the first six months of operation it was encouraging to note that all interviewees indicated
that they spend only 10-60 minutes per day fetching cows for milking (average around 20 minutes) and that this task was generally
carried out 2-3 times per day prior to setting up new pasture breaks.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
All but one farmer felt that the monitoring tools built into the system gave them the ability to reliably detect and treat mastitis and all appear
to have managed to maintain a reasonably high to excellent level of bulk milk quality. However, one farmer indicated that they found
conductivity to be an unreliable indicator of clinical mastitis and one reported that on-line somatic cell counting devices were less reliable
that they would like. There was also some comment made by one farmer that the development of feasible working routines regarding
the timing of treatment for mastitis and other ailments presented some issues on farm. in an AMs cows can be automatically drafted for
attention after milking and a good draft yard location and design will allow for those cows to be attended to just twice a day. However,
if these cows do not have ready access to quality feed or a non-concreted area they may require more prompt attention.
Two of the AMs farmers interviewed were not incorporating Ai into their reproduction management plan and were instead using bulls
for natural mating. of the remaining farmers that were practicing Ai there was a general indication that the activity devices were useful
as an aid to more conventional oestrus detection tools and visual observations. only one farmer reported concerns with reproductive
management pertaining particularly to the AMs farm system and the workload with oestrus detection.
Most of the farms had mixed breeds with the predominant breed being Holstein Friesian. The general comment was that all breeds
seemed to adapt to the system well. However, it was also noted though that the smaller breeds and/or younger cows can pose some
minor attachment problems during settling if they move around in the crate too much.
The planning and installation period
There was a general consensus that farmers had a considerable amount of knowledge and support to allow them to contribute to decisions
regarding the layout of the dairy and other aspects of the farm system. one farmer said that whilst the layout worked well he would likely
change some aspects if he were to repeat the exercise. There was also a clear indication that most farmers contributed considerably to
the technical aspects of the installation and three commented that the traditional installation designs (for indoor systems) would have at
least some unsuitable aspects had they been incorporated into a pasture based system. some farmers felt that the original dairy layout
designs were clearly intended for barn/indoor systems and required modifications to ensure they were more suited to the pasture-based
cow trafficking system.
When asked about the hurdles and adherence to target deadlines with regard to commissioning of the new AMs dairy many of the
interviewed farmers indicated some level of at least minor displeasure. Two farmers indicated installation and commissioning delays
occurred with one reporting that power supply to the site was the cause whilst the other reported that shipment arrival timing was the key
cause combined with an undesirably low level of technical capability. There was also some concern around communication from the
technical installation crew and farmer expectations surrounding commissioning dates. Two farmers expressed that the workload they had
imposed on themselves by co-ordinating the service providers and carrying out construction was perhaps too great. Local councils also
created some issues for two farmers.
All farmers were clear that they have experienced very limited challenges with regard to industry level regulations. Although most felt
that the industry is not yet well prepared for the incorporation of AMs into industry and are yet to modify the wording of regulations to
accommodate AMs installations/operations. Two farmers mentioned that local councils had created some hurdles/difficulties prior to the
commissioning and two farmers reported some minor issues with dairy inspectors/auditing regulations. There were three comments made
around the lack of knowledge within the government extension bodies and that this needed addressing by the industry.
The commissioning period
The approach taken to adaptation of cows and heifers to the AMs was quite farm-specific and depended on the timing of commissioning
in relation to the calving dates and patterns of the herd. despite this there was an outstanding agreement from all of the farms that the
herd adapted well to the AMs system. However, where additional cows had been bought into the system after commissioning there was
a tendency for these cows to behave with a herd mentality which took some time to break. These later groups of cows were largely self-
trained (after initial training and encouragement by dairy staff) by following the experienced cows. it was also a common comment that
late lactation cows did not adapt to the system particularly well and were often remaining in the paddock requiring fetching for milking.
However it was recognised that whilst late lactation training required more effort the cost in reduced milk production was minimised.
When these cows calved back into the system they have been seen to perform exceptionally well to date.
When queried about the proportion of the herd that had been removed from the farm due to unsuitability with the AMs the answers
ranged from 2-3% with just one farmer reporting 10-15% of the herd being unsuitable. The key reasons for unsuitable cows included
udder conformation, slow milkers and some undesirable behaviour.
When farmers were asked the question – “what came as the biggest surprise, what did they not expect that could have better prepared
them for being an AMs farmer” they responded with a range of answers (both positive and negative) including:
• Management of sick and mastitic cows more difficult than expected
• More alarms than expected during initial weeks
• Less alarms than expected during initial weeks
• Efficiency of machines and entire AMS farm system was much higher than expected
• Didn’t expect to have contribute so much to maintenance and servicing of the machines
• Impressed with decreased bulk milk somatic cell count and increased production/cow
• Surprised at speed and ease of cow learning
• Surprised at the intensity of the first few weeks and how much effort was required in helping cows to adapt
• Should have been encouraged to allow cows to explore more – found it somewhat frustrating to walk away from cows and give them
• Paddock and grazing management impacts largely on cow traffic and milking frequency/production more than expected
When asked about the impact that AMs has had so far on labour and lifestyle (despite the infancy of the installation) the majority of
farmers felt that AMs had impacted largely on the flexibility of daily routines compared to cMs. There was also an indication from most
that they are starting to capture true labour or lifestyle benefits with reduced stress/pressure on both cows and people, more frequent sleep
ins, increased confidence in leaving the farm, reduced physical labour requirements and reduced total labour for operation.
Most farmers involved in the study felt that they had received a reasonable amount of training in regard to understanding the technology
and development of daily routines. However, there was also an indication that farmers continued to learn about the capabilities of the
system and software well after the cows had adapted.
Five of the seven farmers felt that they had developed a good understanding of how to motivate cows around the system within one to
two months of commissioning. However, one farmer suggested that he has not yet stopped learning and one believed that had taken as
long as 3 months to really understand the motivating factors. As farmers entered different seasons and climatic conditions they felt that
their knowledge and learning continued to be challenged and developed.
The time taken to feel that farmers were managing their system in such a way as to achieve an adequate level of voluntary and distributed
cow movement was dependent on the stage of lactation and the feed availability at start-up. However, most responded that within less than
three months after commissioning they felt they had a reasonable handle on this. some farmers indicated that whilst they were comfortable
with the cow traffic they are achieving they will continue to learn and understand more in this area over the coming months.
Aside from milk price the key hurdles experienced on farm post-commissioning tended to be related to seasonal and climatic impacts on
feed quality, availability and cow traffic. There were also individual comments about AMs reliability, wet weather cow traffic management,
milk quality caused by technical difficulties, hot weather cow traffic management, finance with banks unfamiliar with AMs technology and
oestrus detection. The majority of farmers indicated they were very positive about the technical reliability and performance of the entire
AMs installation (including surrounding infrastructure) even though two mentioned some technical reliability issues during the early start-up
period. it was also found that all farmers interviewed felt that they are already well placed to make system management decisions that
will allow them to achieve target performance levels.
interestingly, all but two of the interviewed farmers indicated that they are not in regular contact with any other AMs farmers (although two
felt that they should be) and are focussed on their own operation. This may be a reflection of the infancy of commercial AMs within the
Australian industry and the lack of experienced farmers – the two that are in regular contact are only taking regularly to the farmer who
adopted AMs in 2001.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Whilst AMs installations around the world are now common-place, on an international level there is only limited expertise regarding
operating AMs within the bounds of pasture-based grazing systems. With this in mind, the early adopting farmers have a lot to learn
and will pave the way for the industry. in addition to farmer learnings the commercial companies will also further develop their expertise
around pasture-based AMs and specifically expertise within Australia allowing improved support to farmers through the planning,
installation and commissioning processes. despite the hurdles that have to be expected during the early adoption of such a technology
and the infancy of on-farm adoption of AMs in Australia, the farmers involved in the study tour presented here are extremely positive about
the steps they have taken to secure their future in the dairy industry. overall the farmers spoke highly of the technical ability of the milk
harvesting equipment and the speed at which the cows adapted to the system.
The first 12 months of such a “new way of farming” will surely be a challenge but the results presented here indicate that those farmers
that have taken the plunge are already reaping the rewards. Whilst the farmers are still learning (and will continue to for some time) it
seems that the cows are much quicker learners!
robotics in future farming systems
– where are we going?
Dr Kendra Kerrisk
University of sydney, Futuredairy project (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Australia’s adoption of Automatic Milking systems (AMs) is still in its infancy with just 12 farms committing to incorporation of the
technology into their farming operations. Whilst the first commercial farm was commissioned in 2001 the remainder have all been
commissioned since February 2009 which is a reasonably rapid rate of adoption given the recent climatic and financial pressures the
industry has faced. it is also important to remember that whilst AMs units themselves are reasonably well proven (we know robots can
milk cows) Australia farmers have had the added complexity of making the system work in a pasture-based setting.
Across the industry there is only an increasing level of belief that robots are the way of the future for milk harvesting. At least for the time
being it is also accepted that robots are not for everyone. in fact there are some farm layouts, people types, and business models that
may never be suited to AMs. despite this it is likely that it will become a very realistic option for many farmers when they access their
options in relation to building a new milk harvesting centre.
robots themselves have improved dramatically in their reliablility, efficiency and capability over the past 10-20 years. They are typically
much more than a milk harvesting unit and most brands have the capability to carry out the following functions:
• Feed measured amounts of a variety of concentrate feeds to individual cows
• Monitor the milking process at a quarter level indicating milk yields and milking speeds per quarter
• Create alerts to the farmer regarding milk quality from individual quarters and potential intramammary infections
• Divert “abnormal” milk (either programmed and/or automatically detected) to a variety of storage locations or to waste drains
• Carry out pre-milking sanitation, teat stimulation and stripping procedures
• Carry out post-milking sanitation of teats
• Incorporate data from automated oestrus detection aids into the farm management program and alerting/monitoring system
• Complete fully automated system rinses and washes at set times and after certain criteria are met
• Automatically draft cows both pre and post milking to different areas of the dairy or farm system
• Automatically collect milk samples for routine herd testing and carry out some level of milk testing automatically using a range of
sensors and procedures
given the speed of technological improvements and developments already seen in the AMs world, it is surely expected that we will
continue to see changes to robotic milking as we currently know it.
in the commercial world of product development companies have many reasons to keep their cards close to their chests. From intellectual
Property and competitor advantage aspects it is expected that many new advancements are not disclosed publicly until they are launched
to the market. it is inevitable that there new AMs technology being developed and tested behind closed doors. However, there are
a number of AMs technologies that have at least some aspects of them that are public knowledge. it is these technologies and their
potential for adoption in Australia that will be discussed in this paper.
A robotic rotary
sometime ago i was clearly quoted as saying that whilst many farmers think they need an automatic cup attachment robot that can be
retrofitted to their existing rotary – i couldn’t see that this would be delivered to the market in the near future. i still stand by this statement
and believe that technologically this is a very big challenge for any product development company. i have concerns about the true impact
this could deliver on farm with regard to labour and lifestyle. in addition the cost of this technology in addition to the already expensive
and largely automated milk harvesting rotary would likely hinder uptake on farm.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Whilst there is still some way to go to develop automatic cup attachment for a rotary dairy, greensource Automation (gsA) appears to
be leading the way with their post-milking teat spraying robot - rotaryMate. The robot has been installed on 8 farms and is capable of
spraying more than 600 cows an hour. in the biggest installation the rotaryMate is spraying over 15.000 udders per day. retrofitting
any type of robot to an existing rotary is an amazing feat - dealing with a moving platform, moving cows and rear-entry for udder access.
Also take into account the fact that rotaries are of different dimensions so the robot would have to be programmed for the different bail
sizes and arc of the platform. Through an intelligent learning software, the gsA robot can be adjusted to any rotary type within half a
day whilst installation and cow training are being carried out.
Above: The RotaryMate is seen operating with a “dummy” cow at an expo display. Real footage of the teat spraying robot can be seen
in addition to the post-milking teat spray application by the rotaryMate, gsA is also working on a pre-milking sanitation and stimulation
robot and have the ultimate goal of tackling automatic cup attachment.
it is somewhat difficult to comprehend the incorporation of a rotaryMate into anything other than a large “heavyduty” rotary with large
daily throughput of cows – unlikely to be adopted on a 300 cow dairy. Until gsA decides to enter the Australian market we are stuck
with existing teat-spraying systems and the associated levels of accuracy and consistency that are commonly criticised. However, it may
be possible that gsA will deliver the AcA (automatic cup attacher) for a rotary that i predicted would be unlikely to enter the market.
Whilst at Futuredairy we have focussed on incentive based systems that encourage cows from the paddock to the dairy on a regular and
predictable basis – should we be taking the robot to the cows?
researchers in both denmark and the netherlands are working with developers to refine prototype “infield AMs” units. Whilst there are
a small number of commercial operations that have adopted the technology on farm it seems that there is still some practical challenges
that remain to be solved. it is apparent that deLaval, Lely and FutureLine have all been involved in some form of investigations and/or
developments with infield or mobile AMs units. Units have been installed in denmark, norway, germany and Holland.
An infield AMs is seen as a potential solution that allows cows to be housed in a barn during some parts of the year and pastured during
other times without cows having to traffic back to the barn for milking during pastured periods. The units are generally completely self-
sufficient with milk storage, power generation, water tanks and concentrate feed on-board the mobile unit. The infield AMs needs to be
sited close to a tanker access road to allow consignments of milk to be collected. conversely another option maybe to bring the unit back
to a docking point or main milk vat on a regular (at least daily) basis to allow milk to be transferred to the collection vat.
Above: A DeLaval VMS unit is mobilised as a prototype with a vehicle on tracks and placed directly in the field.
Above: A FutureLine robot housed in a semi trailer is towed by a tractor to different locations on the farm or back to the barn as required
The question for Australia is around the need for such technology. if it were widely available, would a mobile AMs unit(s) provide
sufficient advantages over fixed installations to generate uptake on farm.
it is possible that mobile AMs units could allow areas of farms to be used as milking areas when the walking distances to a dairy would
otherwise restrict this option. However, farms with remote areas tend to be larger farms so the number of mobile AMs units required
may limit uptake, conversely a small but more remote area could be set up with one or two more permanent (non-mobile) AMs with a
dedicated smaller proportion of the herd being managed on that aspect of the farm.
Another potential advantage of mobile AMs could be relate specifically to drought prone areas of Australia where the farm system can
change from a 100% feed lot system to a largely grazing pasture-based system between years or even during different seasons of the
By enlarge – the majority of AMs installations in Australia are unlikely to be mobile/infield AMs units when we have already developed
the confidence that cows will walk to the dairy from the pasture on a regular basis provided the farm system itself is well managed.
Addressing the cow:robot ratio and cost of technology
it has been recognised since the start of the Futuredairy research programme that one of the issues with current AMs technology surrounds
the cost of the technology and the modular nature of an installation. For every 70-90 cows an additional robot must be installed which
means that the cost of capital per cow is not greatly reduced for the larger operations compared to installation of a conventional milk
harvesting unit. it is expected that this is likely to limit the uptake of AMs considerably with large herds.
on our own doorstep the Futuredairy project has been (and continues to be) heavily involved in testing the feasibility and application
on farm of a new prototype of AMs that is designed for larger herds. The specifications for the prototype is that it should be capable of
milking in excess of 240 cows whilst maintaining a voluntary and distributed milk harvesting platform. it is also expected that the new
concept should be much more cost comparable to conventional milking equipment than the current AMs technology is for larger herds.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Until the concept is proven and refined we are not in a position to disclose what it looks like or how it will operate. despite this secrecy
and the fact that the research site is not open to the public until later this year it is an exciting development for the Australian industry that
we anticipate will make the wait worthwhile.
it is not expected that the new concept will replace the current single box technology for the smaller farms but has the potential to provide
a more viable solution for the larger operations.
Aside from specific milk harvesting solutions
it is also important to consider other technologies that may become available for our industry. Milk harvesting automation equipment is an
easy target as it addresses our labour and lifestyle sustainability issues on farm. As milk harvesting is one of the largest labour requiring
tasks on farm it makes sense for our focus to be in this area.
There is no doubt that farmers could accommodate other types of automation or information generating technologies to allow them to:
• Be more informed of real-time situations on farm allowing for proactive rather than reactive responses especially in terms of nutrition,
animal health and reproduction
• Refine a variety of practices to achieve productivity gains that cannot otherwise be captured with crude estimation of on
• Reduce the potential for human error and reliance on human input into otherwise subjective or labour-demanding tasks
• Improve animal performance, productivity and welfare
imagine a dairy farm where technology takes care of heat detection, mastitis prevention and detection, milking duties, body condition
scoring and monitoring of heat stress and pregnancy.
The following products are just some of those that are already on the market overseas or on trial prior to commercial release:
• Automatic gates that can be set to open and shut or draft in different directions and at pre-set times, using many different criteria
• Robotic fencing that moves break fences at pre-set times and pre-set distances.
• A robotic milking unit that takes daily milk samples which can be analysed on-site to identify cows losing body condition, on heat,
pregnant, anoestrus, mastitis infections, cystic ovaries, or other illnesses.
• Sensors in the cow’s rumen that monitor feed intake, energy balance (affecting liveweight changes), heat stress levels and other
indicators of nutritional or health status; with automatic computer alers when treatments are required or the ration needs adjusting.
• GPS devices attached to cows’ collars that monitors activity as an indicator of oestrus.
• Remote monitoring of farm performance, cow health, milk production and composition to allow you to alert farm staff to potential
problems early, even when you are absent from the property.
• Robots that perform tasks previously involving strenuous labour or heavy lifting.
• A sensor that monitors silage fermentation process to track feed quality.
• Milking machines that automatically advise the service company of faults and parts needed and when repairs and maintenance
Welcome to the world of precision farming! The term refers to innovations that allow more precise farming without the need for
dairy farming is an industry that has seen a vast amount of change in technology and resultant on-farm efficiencies over the years.
it should be fair to say that this is not likely to change and that dairying as we know it will not last forever. it may be time to start
questioning the efficiency of different aspects of your operation and picking on the areas where the greatest improvements could
potentially be captured. Keep informed of the development of technologies that will address these areas and asses the potential fit of
the technologies for your farm business.
Proactive Herd Management
deLaval international AB
dairy farming is changing rapidly. Larger herds are more difficult to control and manage. in order to keep achieving high efficiencies with
growing herd sizes, dairy farmers need top performing surveillance tools. Herd navigator® is a product developed by danish Lattec A/s,
a jointure venture company of deLaval international and Foss Analytical, is currently being introduced into different european farms.
Herd navigator is the expression of the Proactive Herd Management concept. The system automatically takes representative milk samples
from specific cows of the herd and analyses parameters that help farmers to monitor reproduction, mastitis, and energy and protein
balance of the animals. The system contains unique biological models, which take in consideration the measured parameters, cow
information and additional risk factors to keep the herd healthy. in this way it prevents costly treatments and large production losses.
significant improvement results on reproduction, mastitis, and ketosis have been proved on the farms that are running the system.
description of the solution
The solution automatically takes a representative milk sample of individual cows during milking. The milk is taken at the milk samplers
connected at each individual milking point. Before the milking session, the biological modes have decided which cows should be
sampled for each individual parameter when they arrive to the milking parlour or VMs (deLaval robotic milking system).
When a row of cows have been milked the samplers deliver their respective milk samples to the sample intake unit (si) located at the end
of the milking pit. This device holds the samples and sends them one by one to the Analyzer instrument (Ai) located in the milk room.
Figure 1. Flow diagram of the Herd navigator® solution
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
The temperature and humidity controlled device is a fully automated analytical laboratory, which uses dry stick technology to perform the
analysis. each parameter has its own specific stick, which are stored in cartridges inside the Ai. The parameters measured are:
Focus area Parameter analyzed in milk early/on time detection
reproduction Progesterone Heat
Udder health LdH – Lactate dehydrogenase Mastitis
Feeding and energy Urea Feed ration – protein
balance BHB – Beta Hydroxy Butyrate Ketosis
secondary metabolic disorders
The techniques used for LdH, Urea and BHB are based on a colorimetric principle while the Progesterone determination is based on an
The measured values are fed into the biological models. The models process all available data and provide risk values of any of the above
pathologies and physiological statuses and at the same time decide when each parameter will be measured again for each individual
cow. The risks can be anywhere between 0 and 100 %, and the user can set his own thresholds for alarms in the system. The output from
the biological models can be presented in tables and graphs in the user interface, and it is possible to filter away alarms that are not
relevant at present, e.g. heat alarms in early lactation.
The complete system is cleaned automatically together with the milking machine equipment.
Herd navigator impacts on the most important factors on milk production, i.e., reproduction, feeding and the most significant disease of
dairy farming, mastitis.
Herd navigator detects consistently above 95% of all heats of the herd (including silent ones) and with the fact that the system is able
to pin point the time of the heat and the likelihood of a prospective insemination, the pregnancy rates achieved on the farms using the
system improved considerably.
The system is able to detect anoestrus post partum, pregnancy and both types of ovarian cysts.
Farms running Herd navigator show significant reduction in days open, and improvements in pregnancy rates. in particular, by using
the system the farmer will be able to time the insemination according to a standard operations Procedure tailored to the specific herd.
Herd navigator is able to detect clinical and subclinical mastitis up to 3 to 4 days before clinical signs are visible in the animals affected.
The sensitivity of the system reaches more than 80%. The time from the mastitis alarm can be used for additional diagnostic confirmation
of the mastitis case, e.g. cell counting and bacteriological culture.
Feeding and energy balance
Herd navigator is able to detect all cases of clinical and subclinical ketosis, and normally it reaches 50% more diagnostics than the one
done by the farmers or herd managers. The detection of hitherto unobserved cases of ketosis has a considerable effect on milk production,
when these cows receive targeted treatments.
For an average european herd the data shows that Herd navigator can bring profit improvement potentials for farmers from 250 to 350€
per cow per year.
carbon read dairy demonstration project:
carbon emissions at the Macalister
The Macalister demonstration Farm (MdF) is a cooperatively owned dairy farm located near Maffra in gippsland, Victoria. The mission
of the farm is “To enable shareholders to improve the profitability of their farms and their lifestyles through the demonstration of superior
and sustainable management systems and the provision of education programmes necessary for their adoption.” it is in the light of this
mission that the farm applies for grants to deliver innovative projects that will benefit the dairy farmers of the Macalister irrigation district.
At the same time, it is a commercially operating farm of 90 ha with a milking platform of 73 ha in 2008-09 the farm milked 290 cows,
generating more than 2 million litres at 6,900 litres/cow with a fat content of 4.32% and protein level at 3.52%. This equates to 541
Kg Ms/cow or 2,308 Kg Ms/ha.
in May 2009 the MdF made a successful application to the Australian government for Farmready industry grant funding to undertake the
‘carbon ready dairy demonstration’ project. The project will use the MdF as a case study to identify the source and size of carbon emissions
generated by normal farm operations. This information will then be used to develop a carbon emissions reduction Plan that includes strategies
to minimise and offset carbon emissions and an analysis of the financial impact of the plan on the farm business. The carbon emissions reduction
Plan will be completed by october 2010 with a review in March 2012 against any changes in the ‘rules’ for carbon emissions.
A key to the project is to gather and interpret information in a practical way so that farmers can make informed decisions about their
investment in carbon emissions reduction or offset.
The government has recently announced that agriculture will not be included in the carbon Pollution reduction scheme (cPrs) but the
scheme is still likely to have an impact on dairy farming by impacting on the cost of farm inputs and by raising costs for diary processors
that may then be passed on as a lower farm gate price. This paper looks at the level of carbon emissions generated at the MdF and the
implications for the farm business of the proposed carbon Pollution reduction scheme (cPrs).
carbon emissions at the MdF: How are they measured?
carbon emissions are measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (co2-eq) with the ‘global Warming Potential’ of each gas measured
against the impact of carbon dioxide. For the purpose of the cPrs, agricultural emissions are limited to methane and nitrous oxide; carbon
dioxide produced by animals is not included. carbon dioxide represents 1 co2-eq, each unit of methane (cH4) is 21 co2-eq, and each
unit of nitrous oxide (n2o) is 310 co2-eq.
The calculation of emissions at the MdF has used the dairy greenhouse gas Abatement strategy (dgAs) calculator developed in partnership
between dairy Australia, the Tasmanian institute of Agricultural research, the University of Tasmania and the dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Forestry. This calculator is available on the dairying for Tomorrow website1.
The farm data needed to make the calculation is not too difficult to find and is shown in Table 4.
How much carbon is emitted at the MdF?
insert size and production stats for MdF
Based on the level of production and management system in place, the MdF was responsible for the generation of a total of 1918 tonnes
co2-eq over the season. The breakdown of these emissions is shown in Fig. 1.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Fig 1: MDF Total Carbon Emissions 2008-09
About 80% of farm emissions, or 1539 tonnes co2-eq, were generated by on-farm activities. More than 72% of total carbon emissions
at the MdF are from methane generated by rumen digestion, 14% by indirect losses of nitrous oxide, 10% generated by losses of nitrous
oxide in dung and urine and less than 3% generated by nitrous oxide loss from fertiliser (Table 1).
These emissions have now been excluded from the cPrs.
Table 1: MDF Carbon Emissions Breakdown 2006-09
Pre-farm emissions 06-07 07-08 08-09
Fertiliser 38 43 45
grain 243 205 170
other feed sources 138 30 11
on-farm emissions – no cPrs liability
co2 –energy – electricity & diesel 262 177 153
on-farm emissions – cPrs liability
cH4 - ruminant 1254 1141 1115
cH4 - effluent ponds 21 18 18
n2o - effluent ponds 1 1 1
n2o - n Fertiliser 31 38 44
n2o - dung, Urine, spread 152 147 153
n2o – indirect* 193 196 209
Tree plantings 0 0 0
TOTAL EMISSIONS 2334 1996 1918
cPrs obligation 1653 1541 1539
*Indirect emissions include later or off-site losses following runoff, loss to the air and leaching of dung, urine and fertilizer; it also includes
estimates of loss following soil cultivation.
Less than 12% of emissions are generated in products or feedstuffs before reaching the farm.
on-farm carbon emissions are made up of electricity and diesel emissions – this 8% of farm emissions is also counted against refinery
and power generation emissions but the extra cost of power will almost certainly passed on to farmers, while the extra cost of diesel will
be protected for at least four years.
What does this mean under the proposed cPrs for the MdF?
The government has announced that the scheme will begin in July 2011 for all sectors other than agriculture. on the surface this appears
to be a good outcome, however, agricultural industries will still be accountable for their emissions. of immediate concern are the rises in
costs coming from the cPrs on farm inputs. Under the cPrs, emissions generated in the manufacture and transport of inputs used on the
farm will be the responsibility of the business that generated them but will only attract extra costs if the business is caught up in the cPrs
net. This means that for some inputs price increases will be very small and for other inputs they will be more significant.
However, the government has made it clear that if agricultural emissions are not included in the scheme it will consider alternative ways
of reducing agricultural emissions to ensures that the sector makes an equivalent emissions reduction at about the same cost as the other
sectors that are included in the scheme. That is, if the carbon price was $25/tonne co2-eq then the government may make it compulsory
for agricultural businesses to invest in emission reduction technologies or practices to the value of about $25/tonne co2-eq. At the
moment there is no clear advice as to how this might be applied so it is not considered in this discussion.
To get some idea of how the cPrs will impact on dairying let’s imagine that the production figures, cost of production and carbon
emissions for 2008-09 are exactly the same as in 2011 when the scheme begins. What impact will the scheme have?
According to the dPi (Vic)2, the impact of the cPrs on the dairy industry at the commencement of the scheme (and assuming a carbon
price of $20/t co2-eq) will see a rise in feed costs by 1.5%, fertiliser and farm chemicals by 2% and electricity by 16%. However, the
cost of permits in the first year has been fixed by the Australian government at $10/t co2-eq but analysis by the Australian Treasury3
suggests that the carbon price will be at $30/t co2-eq by 2015. Based on these assumptions the financial impact of the scheme up to
2015 (with agriculture excluded) is summarized in Table 2. All costs are in 2009 dollars and exclude the effect of inflation.
Table 2: Anticipated financial impact of the CPRS at MDF up to 2015
Pre-cPrs After-cPrs After cPrs
costs/year costs/year increase
in 2010 in 2015 in costs
electricity $19,621 $24,330 $4,709
supplementary Feed $307,698 $314,621 $6,923
diesel $5,060 ? ?
Fertilizer $47,247 $48,664 $1,417
Farm chemicals $3,707 $3,818 $111
A fuel tax adjustment will be introduced at the beginning of the cPrs whereby there will be a ‘cent for cent’ reduction in fuel excise to
compensate for any rise in fuel price due to the sale of carbon permits. Agriculture will be able to access this fuel tax adjustment for three
years from the start of the scheme. This means that there will be no increase in diesel price as a result of the scheme until July 2014. After
the fuel tax adjustment is phased out there is likely to be a rise in the cost of fuel but the level of that increase is unclear.
There may also be a fall in milk prices as milk processors are drawn into the cPrs. dairy processors are likely to be classed as emission
intensive Trade exposed (eiTe) and will receive 95% of permits for free. detailed emissions data is not available from processors so any
estimate would be speculative, but, while support is in place, it is unlikely to be a significant cost for each supplying farm. Under the scheme
eiTe assistance will fall at a rate of 1.3%/year over a period of 11 years to 2020-21. However, eiTe assistance will be reviewed every five
years with five years notice given of any changes. The government has said that eiTe assistance will be maintained until equivalent emission
reduction schemes are in place in competing marketplaces. At this point all countries will be competing with the same costs imposed.
The total increase in costs for the MdF as a result of the introduction of the cPrs is likely to be around $13,160 by 2015. This is equivalent to
a fall in earnings Before interest and Tax (eBiT) of 0.5c/kg Ms. compared to the 2008-09 cost of production of $1,100,006 this is represents
an increase in costs of 1.2% at the introduction of the scheme in 2015. This is consistent with an ABAre4 analysis that suggests an increase in the
cost of production in dairying at the commencement of the cPrs by 0.5% and by 1.1% in 2015 if agriculture is not included in the scheme.
However, it must be stressed that all of these estimates assume that farms make no attempt to reduce emissions and will bear the full cost of
the cPrs. of course, this is not the way of farmers who will strive to find ways to minimise the impact of higher costs on their bottom line.
dept of Primary industries (Vic), issues Brief Impact of Emissions Trading on Farm Costs (Mar 09)
dept of Treasury, Australia’s Low Pollution Future: The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation, 2008
ABAre, Issues Insights Agriculture & the CPRS: Economic issues and implications (Mar 09)
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
How can the MdF minimize the impact of the cPrs?
The current stage of the project is investigating ways to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions and to analyse the case for business
investment in emission offset or reduction measures. The variation in emissions at the MdF from one year to the next as a result of
management decisions suggests that there will be some immediate, low cost measures that can reduce emissions, with some of them also
generating a production benefit. There are also some new technologies and management approaches that are worth investigating.
results of this investigation are not available at the time of publication but areas under consideration are as follows:
emissions source options under consideration
electricity switch to green energy; solar electric cells for feed in to the grid; solar water pumping; solar hot water;
cold water washing
diesel Biodiesel; retirement of diesel pumps
Farm chemicals Use so few, not worth it
nitrogen Fertilizer nitrification inhibitors
effluent Ponds Anaerobic digestion and electricity generation from methane
ruminant digestion Feeding oils and tannins to reduce methane production
All Planting trees for emission offset
Table 4: CARBON EMISSIONS CALCULATOR – MDF FARM INPUTS
Whole Farm details nutrition
Trees planted since 1990 (Ha) 0 0 0 cattle season Feed Type digesti- Protein 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Farmland (excluding tree area) 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 Type bility % % Kg dM/ Kg dM/ Kg dM/
irrigated pasture (Ha) 65 68 68 cow/dy cow/dy cow/dy
dryland pasture (Ha) 0 0 0 Milkers spring Pasture 79 22 9 12 14
irrigated crops (Ha) 0 0 0 con’trates 84 13 4.5 5.5 4.5
electricity (kwh/yr) 172905 111710 135829 silage 65 15
diesel/Unleaded (litres/yr) 6010 6039 5025 PKe 55 16 0.5
Fertiliser summer Pasture 79 22 3 8 11
nitrogen (tonnes eLeMenT/yr) 16.0 19.5 22.4 con’trates 84 13 6.5 7.5 6
Phosphorus (tonnes eLeMenT/yr) 2.0 1.5 0.4 silage 65 15 6.5 2
Potassium (tonnes eLeMenT/yr) 5.4 5.2 2.8 PKe 55 16 1.5
sulphur (tonnes eLeMenT/yr) 1.7 0.9 0.6 Autumn Pasture 79 22 4 8.5 9
Lime (tonnes/yr) 0.0 0.0 0.0 con’trates 84 13 6 6.5 5
Purchased Feed inputs silage 65 15 4 0.5 1.2
Pasture hay (tonnes dM/yr) 413 0 40 PKe 55 16 1
grain/concentrate (tonnes dM/yr) 806 678 566 Winter Pasture 79 22 5 6 9
PKe (tonnes dM/yr) 186 124 219 con’trates 84 13 7 7.5 4.5
grass silage (tonnes dM/yr) 0 27 5 silage 65 15 2
Milk Yields PKe 55 16 3.4 1.5
Farm milk solids (t/yr) 164.0 161.2 156.9 dry cows Annual Pasture 79 22 6 6 6
Av lactation (days) 305 305 305 PKe 55 16 3 3 3
Av production (l/cow/day) 18 23 24 Heifers <1 Annual Pasture 79 22 9 9 9
Av production (% Ms/day) 7.55% 7.62% 7.84% Heifers >1 Annual Pasture 79 22 10 10 10
Herd Bulls >1 Annual Pasture 79 22 10 10 10
Milker numbers 350 305 290
Milker av weight (kg) 550 550 550
dry cow numbers 0 0 0
dry cow av weight (kg) 0 0 0
Heifer < 1yo numbers 75 80 79 This project is supported by funding from the Australian
Heifer < 1yo av weight (kg) 150 150 150 Government Department of Agriculture Fisheries and
Heifer < 1yo weight gain (kg/day) 0.45 0.45 0.45
Heifer > 1yo numbers 75 75 80 Forestry under its Australia’s Farming Future initiative.
Heifer > 1yo av weight (kg) 400 400 400
Heifer > 1yo weight gain (kg/day) 0.7 0.7 0.7
Bulls > 1yo numbers 0 0 8
Bulls > 1yo av weight (kg) 400
improving reproduction through utilisation of records
Dr Matthew Izzo BVSc(Hons) MACVSc(Dairy Cattle Medicine)
Dr John House BSc BVMS(Hons) PHD DACVIM
Dr Alison Gunn BVSc MVS MACVSc (Dairy Cattle Medicine)
Livestock Veterinary Teaching and research Unit, University of sydney
410 Werombi rd camden nsW 2570
A successful reproductive plan is one that is proactive; easily carried out and has routine monitors in place in order to assess current
programs and future implementations. records enable herd reproductive performance assessment, enable goals to be set and provide
an objective measure of management changes. ideally the herd performance monitoring system should be as broad as possible because
reproductive performance is impacted by whole herd variables particularly nutrition, cow comfort and disease incidence.
record keeping essentials
in order for records to be used effectively they need to be kept readily available and quickly analysed. Although the use of paper
records may suffice for small herds they are inadequate for any herd greater than 100 cows. computerised records are essential for
troubleshooting larger herd problems as the time and cost incurred sifting through paper records limits effective records analysis.
There are several different software programs available on the market, e.g. easydairy, dairycomp 305, MisTro, dairy data, etc. each
of the programs has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ease of use, information availability and analytical properties. it is
important that the producer involves their veterinarian, nutritionist, etc. in the choice of the programme to ensure that the advisor is able to
utilise the software and provide assistance to the operation.
deciding what data should be monitored is also important. in the ideal world, everything would be recorded as one is never sure when
that piece of information may be of assistance. in the real world this doesn’t always happen so one should discuss with their management
and advisory team which pieces of information are important. A good place to start is to have a discussion with the management team
regarding the type of reports that would be useful for day to day and longer term decision making. defining the questions that are
important for your business also helps determine which software will fit your needs.
When recording data it should be made clear to everyone involved how the data should be entered and that there needs to be a clear
definition for each event recorded. For instance, what is the definition for retained foetal membranes used on the dairy? 12hrs post calving,
24hrs post calving, 2 days post calving or greater? When looking at data one must always be aware of the information that is “missing”.
The 2 main ways that this can occur in data collection is that animals are intentionally removed from analysis (e.g. removing cull cows from
heat detection prior to when they were culled) or exclusion from analysis due to events not being recorded (e.g. determining natural mating
conception rates when not all matings are seen). When it comes to records and reproduction there are few important phrases which hold true.
Firstly, “if you can’t record it, then you can’t improve it”, numbers are an every day part of life and are the way we benchmark the success of
everything we do. secondly, “Poor record keeping is worse than no record keeping at all”, one can spend hours sifting through information
in order to find a meaningful answer only to discover that the answer is wrong because the data was incomplete.
An important part of reproductive monitoring is to not only identify problems on farm but also to resolve these issues. The role of good
advisors is paramount in this department. A good advisor is one that not only can identify the problem but also understand, interpret and
apply existing knowledge to correct the situation. reproduction is extensively studied across the world and new information is continually
available in scientific journals, magazines, online articles, etc. The role of the advisor is to distinguish good information from the bad and
identify the strengths and weaknesses of scientific evidence.
establishing goals and targets is an essential part of reproductive monitoring. The incalf program developed by dairy Australia provides a
series of targets based on the achievements of the top 25% of farmers in a large nationwide survey in the late 90’s. To be of greatest value
to producer, monitoring parameters should represent the most up to date information for the particular group of interest. For instance, it is
of much greater use to look at the average days to conception rather than the average days to calving. This enables corrective measures
to be taken more proactively.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
The indices that will best monitor your herd’s reproductive performance will also vary depending on your calving pattern. in a seasonal
or batch calving system key indices to monitor would include 3-Week submission rate, 6 week in calf rate and conception rate to First
service. in year round herds we use Heat detection efficiency, Pregnancy rate and 150 day not-in calf rate.
Heat detection efficiency: The hallmark of year round reproduction monitoring
Heat detection efficiency (Hde) is a major driver of reproductive performance. Hde efficiency is the proportion of eligible cows that were bred
over a 3 week period (the average cycle length of a cow). eligible cows are cows that have been calved longer than the voluntary waiting
period but not mated and cows that have been pregnancy tested empty. cows on the “to be culled” list are not included. if a cow has been
mated in the 21 days before the monitoring period she is also not eligible as she may be pregnant but too early to be pregnancy checked.
• A 100 cow herd consists of 50 pregnant cows, 5 to be culled cows, 5 cows below the voluntary waiting period and 5 cows that
were bred 21-42 days ago (and have not been pregnancy tested).
• The eligible cows for the last 21 days in this case is = 100 – 50 – 5 – 5 – 5 = 35.
• If the farmer had bred 10 of these cows in the last 21 days, then the heat detection efficiency = 10/35 = 29%
• Typical targets for HDE period should be greater than 50% and ideally 70%.
As part of routine herd health visits, Hde is a key parameter which is reviewed providing a direct measure of what has occurred in the
last few weeks. Hde and pregnancy rate are more dynamic measures of reproductive improvement and deterioration as they are the
most current data available. HDE and conception rate can be used to calculate the pregnancy rate (PR) of the herd, i.e. HDE x CR =
Pr. Pr is calculated over a 3 week period and relates directly to the number of cows that will calve each month. Herds that have a high
conception rate but a low pregnancy rate indicate selective breeding and will have a poor Hde. in this case, selective breeding refers
to only breeding cows which are showing all signs of being in oestrus and not breeding cows showing vague signs. it is important to
remember that the number of cows calving each month drives milk income and not conception rate per se. in commercial herds using
affordable semen, selective breeding is an expensive exercise. inseminators should be encouraged to breed all empty cows that are
possibly on heat, although cheaper semen may be utilised for the more questionable cases. Pushing heat detection efficiency may drop
the conception slightly but the number of pregnancies is increased.
Failure to detect oestrus is either due to poor oestrus expression, cows not cycling or failure to detect heat. The most common cause of
poor heat detection is the failure to detect standing heat. Factors such as poor nutrition (including macro- and microminerals), low body
condition score (Bcs), seasonal anoestrus and cystic ovarian disease may influence the number of cows not cycling. nutrition plays
a pivotal part in reproductive management. Keeping records of nutritional diagnostic tests such as non esterified Fatty Acids (neFA’s),
Betahydroxybutyrate (BoHB), blood urea nitrogen (BUn), urine pH, fat to protein ratios, and milk production can all be useful for
identification of potential metabolic problems. changes in body condition between dry off, calving and peak lactation can also be used
to identify excessive weight loss. Monitoring incidence of transition diseases including retained foetal membranes, metritis, ketosis and left
displaced abomasum are all important as they will predispose to either a poor uterine environment or poor ovarian function.
Problems with heat detection, pregnancy rate and conception rate can be further explored by diving deeper into the reproductive
records. For instance, monitoring the insemination of cows following a dose of prostaglandin. The typical response for a single injection
of prostaglandin is that 60% of cows will be bred within 10 days. if this does not occur and no heats are missed (i.e. heat detection aids
are intact), it then points to a problem with ovarian function and cycling. Another example is determining the cause of poor conception
rates. conception rate can be broken down by days in milk, technician, times bred, parity, heat detection method etc. By investigating
the pieces that make up the whole it is possible to more specifically determine which area is failing and devise a targeted solution.
one of the difficult issues that we face with dealing with smaller herds is to identify when we have a problem, especially when it comes
to conception rates. For example, when one looks at last months sire data below from a small dairy herd.
sire no straws used no of pregnancies conception rate
A 2 0 0%
B 4 1 25%
c 8 4 50%
d 10 4 40%
e 5 1 20%
Using these small numbers it is very difficult to say whether one bull’s conception rate was truly greater than another as one pregnancy
can change the conception rate greatly. in order to alleviate the problems associated with limited numbers, one needs to examine longer
periods such as the last 3 or 6 months. even with small amounts of data one can still look for a trend and continue to monitor it closely to
see if there is an improvement or continued deterioration over the next few time periods.
once a problem has been identified and a change in management has been put in place, it is important to have an outcome assessment
in place to evaluate the effectiveness of the change. changes to management are often based on scientific, theoretical and practical
information but they may not always work on every farm. For instance, fixed time breeding strategies such as oVsYncH programmes are
heavily reliant on injections being performed at a set time. on farms that have good compliance, conception rates can be comparable
to standing heat while in others which “forget” to give injections, conception rates can be very poor. Unfortunately it is all too common for
producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, drug companies, etc. to utilise the silver bullet approach to not only fixing problems but also when
identifying where things are going wrong. it is very rare that a single management change will totally resolve a problem and a whole
herd approach is preferable.
implementing a good record keeping and monitoring system provides motivation by enabling improved planning and by providing both
performance feedback and a means of achieving positive progress.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
A dollars and cents look at genetic Merit
Business development Manager
A dollars and cents look at genetic merit. This topic seems simple enough, but within the world of genetic analysis systems, this concept
often becomes difficult to comprehend, yet is assumed to be correct.
it certainly has been a conundrum for me and the dairy farmers that i work with and listen too. To embrace this conundrum, the initial
question that i asked of myself and of the many dairy farmers and their associates that participate in developing systems to improve their
What is your herds average ASI and does this represent a dollars and cents representation of your herd’s profitability? To use a well
worn phrase, what is the “value proposition” of the genetic merit of your herd?
An initial comprehension of the complexity of genetic inheritance provides the first challenge in coming to terms with this concept.
if you look at your own genetic makeup and realise that there are contributions to your genetic architecture that comes from a number of
generations back within your own pedigree, you begin to understand this complexity. each of us has our own ancestors that you have not
met, yet they have contributed to the intricacies of your genetic makeup.
The next complexity in the field of genetic analysis systems is the dilemma of relative analysis of genetic values. if only it was an absolute
science, and that what is prescribed is exactly what you get. Unfortunately, this is not the case in genetics.
The fact that it is not an absolute science and that this science is extremely complex initiates elements of scepticism and invites subjective
challenges that in some ways degrades the concept of genetic improvement. The science can be confusing and within this confusion,
convenient theories with very little objective background evolve and become a part of the interpretation of our genetic merit system
Therefore, a personal challenge evolved to test the science and to see if some level of support for genetic improvement can be presented.
The objective being to provide a level of confidence for genetic merit to be further embraced and utilised.
The challenge of this type of analysis is in representing the science of genetic improvement into commercial reality. if this science is an
integral part of our dairy farm systems, let’s prove the extent to which it contributes. To prove that it does work is to prove that it is an
effective yet simple tool to use and apply to the advantage of our dairy production systems.
The Asi or Australian selection index is the key genetic merit value within the Australian cow population.
The Asi value of each cow is calculated utilising the genetic components of an individual cow’s production. This commercial index weights
protein by 3.8, Fat by 0.9 and applies a volume deduction of -0.048. This index reflects the commercial value of protein compared to
fat, and incorporates a consideration of a volume charge to represent costs incurred in volume transportation and processing.
To achieve an Asi value for cows within a herd, the herd must be involved in continual herd recording, and each cow must have an
identified sire and date of birth. calving dates and a number of herd tests contribute to the correct comparisons of cows within a herd.
Through genetic linkages and data analysis through the service of the Australian dairy Herd improvement scheme (AdHis), this data
enables each cow to be compared against every other cow herd tested under these guidelines, within Australia.
note: the APr or Australian Profit ranking prescribes additional genetic performance regarding traits such as fertility, somatic cell count
etc. This information is gathered and analysed through the data link of a sire and his larger number of daughters. This larger data set
enables these additional traits to be analysed with a higher degree of reliability. Therefore the APr is currently only applied to a sire, due
to the larger data set required for these additional traits, as provided by his daughters.
The Asi as represented by a cow’s performance at herd testing is the best and most reliable tool that we have at this point of time to
represent and compare a dairy cow’s genetic merit.
The best and most convincing strategy to represent the science of genetic improvement into commercial reality, and to add confidence that
it is an important tool for dairy farmers to contribute to their profitability, is to look at their own herd, and to analyse their own within-herd
genetic data and to see what this can tell us about the genetic analysis systems.
The following herd is a leading Australian Holstein herd in the Maffra district of Victoria.
This herd of approximately 470 cows has production levels of 8347 litres, 312 kg of fat, and 274 kg of protein.
chart 1 prescribes the compounding of genetic improvement for this herd, as represented by the herds average Asi by year of birth. i
reinforce the term “compounding” as this is how generational genetics can contribute to the genetic progress of this herd. That is, each
generation is the genetic contributor to the next generation.
Chart 1: Herd Genetic Progress
The blue line in this chart represents the benchmark value for the average genetic progress of all daughters by identified herd bulls in
the Australian population. The grey line represents the benchmark average genetic progress of all daughters by identified Ai sires in the
Australian population. The red line represents the actual genetic progress of this herd.
if we look at the rate of improvement from a genetic merit perspective, this herd has made excellent genetic progress, with a genetic
prediction for the 2009 heifers to reach the equivalent genetic merit value of cows that are in the top 2.5% of all cows in Australia for Asi.
if we analyse the slope of the genetic progress of this herd as a representation of the rate of genetic gain, it is equivalent to 1.6 times the
average genetic gain of the average Australian herd – and compounding. This is a good news story, and in fact this herd is in the top 2
% of Holstein herds in Australia, and progressing forward. But is this data of use, or is it a feel good story. What is this data telling us?
if we look at the history of the weighted average of the APr of the sires used (based on numbers of daughters) as an indicator of their
contribution to the genetic progress of this herd, as represented in chart 2, we see a history of high values of APr for both proven and
progeny test bulls.
Chart 2: Weighted Average APR of Bulls Used.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Yes, we have a high genetic merit herd, with excellent genetic progress that also participates in progeny testing. But again, the
question has to be asked? What is this telling us, other than reinforcing a positive concept based on prescribed genetic improvement
methodologies? can we make this data more relevant for interpretation? can we make the data work to a point that it can generate a
higher degree of relevance in how the Australian Breeding Value system works within an individual herd?
Therefore we need to test it further.
The left hand graph within chart 3 is an analysis of the Asi values of the herd from a last full lactation period. The key analysis criteria
is to split the herd into five equal percentile groups for Asi i.e. five 20 percentile groups consisting of the 0% to 20%, 20% to40%, 40%
to 60%, 60% to 80% and the 80% to 100% group. We then compare the average APr (weighted by daughter numbers) of the sires of
each of the group.
Chart 3: Economic Analysis of Genetic Merit
We can see a strong relationship between the average Asi values for each group, and the average APr value of their sires. We can
identify and reinforce the relationship that the higher Asi cows in this herd are by higher APr bulls.
Then if we take this same group of cows and apply a corresponding age corrected value for their production and consequent lactation
return, we see an associated trend that the higher genetic merit cows, which are sired by higher genetic merit bulls, return more dollars
even if we were to apply a different price structure to that represented in this analysis, the trend would still be maintained.
now we have the data working for us! now we are reinforcing the link of genetic merit with profitability within a herd! now we
can achieve an improved confidence level in our Australian Breeding Value system! now we are linking dollars and cents with
A subsequent analysis requirement following on from this methodology of making dollars and cents from genetic merit, evolves from the
suggestion within the industry that high ABV animals do not last within the herd.
To pre-empt this perceived correlation, further analysis of the herd data is applied. This is to see if we can identify key elements
within a herd’s data set that can give us a robust indicator of the main factors that contribute to cow survival and longevity within
if we again review this Maffra herd, and apply the rule of analysis of terminated animals within the herd test data whereby the end
of a terminated animal’s last lactation is the end of her productive life, we are able to analyse potential indicators for cow survival
within a herd.
By applying a similar allocation of the 5 by 20 percentile groups based on their 2 year old production index (Pi) as a reference point for
analysis, and we average the number of day’s survival within the herd, we typically see the strong relationship between production and
animal longevity as represented in the following chart.
Chart 4: Cow Survival Analysis
We see the lower 20 percentile group of animals based on their 2 year old Production index (Pi) have a herd survival or productive life
of 1847 days or just on 5 years, compared with the highest 20 percentile group having a productive life of 2517 days or just short of
This analysis is consistently represented in most herds where there are good levels of herd recording data over a number of years.
so the data starts to work for us and helps to reinforce that the key genetic principles of the ABV system can be represented within
Australian herds, and that through this type of analysis, the data can indicate that the genetic merit of cows within your herd is an excellent
indicator of the dollars and cents that contribute to a dairy herd’s profitability.
so the question is presented again.
What is your herds average ASI and does this represent a dollars and cents representation of your herd’s profitability?
This benchmark analysis of dairy herd recording data is part of genetics Australia’s genescreen service. For more information, or to
undertake a genescreen analysis, contact;
Mobile: 0417 307336
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
simplify Bull selection with selectabull
Michelle Axford, ADHIS
since its inception in 1982, AdHis has a history of breaking new ground in the field of genetic evaluation. its strategic goals are focused
on the continual development of its three core business components, namely, genetic evaluation, national database and data services
and industry education and extension services.
Prior to today’s era where computers and internet connections are commonplace on dairy farms, AdHis staff conceived the original
‘selectabull’. Although not used widely at the time, the concept of using independent data to improve bull selection decisions was, and
continues to be, a sound approach to achieving genetic gain.
recent social research that analysed farmer bull selection decision making (Penry and Paine 2008) reported a number of recommendations.
Among them it was recommended that AdHis:
• Develop an easy to use tool for farm advisers to record the traits used to select bulls with farmers
• Promote communication between advisers and farm management teams regarding the selection criteria used to make specific semen
• The development of a web-based tool for re-ranking bulls
in response to this report and consultation with industry, AdHis developed selectabull, a component of the genetics Learning Package
funded by dairy Australia
selectabull offers dairy farmers the capacity to easily access bull ABVs to find the best available bulls for their farm. This free tool is
available for use by dairy farmers and herd improvement organisations.
selectabull focuses on two tasks, namely:
1. Develop a strategic breeding objective. A ‘wizard’ tool asks a short series of questions to develop a list of desirable traits which
becomes the breeding objective.
2. Finding bulls that meet the breeding objective using ABVs. This can be achieved using either a quick search or customised index. A
short list of bulls that meet the input criteria is reported.
develop your own strategic breeding objective
in recognising the variation which exists between farm businesses, AdHis encourages farmers to develop a strategic breeding objective
and apply it over time to achieve genetic gain. selectabull provides a ‘wizard’ tool which asks a series of questions to assist farmers
in documenting their breeding objective. The breeding objective guides bull selection in the current and subsequent breeding seasons.
selectabull saves the breeding objective for easy recall which encourages the strategic application of the objective over time.
Find bulls to suit your objective
once the breeding objective is established, farmers have two bull selection options. The first is a pre-set option which meets the needs
of many breeding objectives.
The second option is a completely customised index that allows farmers to emphasise any trait for which an ABV is available. Using the
customised index, the farmer uses a slider to increase the emphasis on each of the desired traits. selectabull calculates the customised
index for each bull and returns a list of bulls ranked in order of the customised index. Bulls with higher ABVs for the desired traits will
appear higher in the bull list.
Further choices are included to meet the individual needs of each farmer. For example,
1. Multi-breed herds can apply the same objective to all breeds. More than one breed can be selected and the resulting bull list will be
grouped by each breed.
2. Farmers wanting multiple breeding objectives for different herd groups (ie heifers different to mature cows) can save
3. Farmers wanting to include or exclude bulls with ABV(i)s (ABVs that include interbull data), can make their own choice.
Print, download, save and recall
Farmers are typically active seekers of information when it comes to bull selection. Advisers from herd improvement centres and AB
companies provide information such as semen pricing, availability and pedigree. selectabull supports this interaction by providing reports
that are easy to print, download, save and recall. Farmers and their advisers both benefit from having a clearly documented breeding
objective and a resulting list of appropriate bulls when finalising bull selection decisions.
Achieve genetic gain
The rate of genetic gain is increased, in part, by accurately selecting superior bulls over time. selectabull provides
• Easy access to independent data, in the form of ABVs, to accurately select bulls
• A simple tool to find superior bulls
• The ability to save and recall the breeding objective and selection criteria to strategically improve the genetics of the herd over time.
Herd ’09 provided a forum to introduce selectabull to the dairy industry. since this time, the tool has been tested and refined with farmers
and herd improvement service providers and was released to the public in July 2009.
selectabull’s launch to the industry is supported by AdHis through a number of activities, including:
• Workshops and presentations for farmers. In Victoria, workshops are part of a co-operative initiative with the Dairy Extension Centre.
Presentations in Queensland and new south Wales have already commenced with further presentations planned for other states.
• Service provider presentations
• One-on-one support
• Industry awareness through the ADHIS website, Genemail and industry media
selectabull is a free service. go to www.adhis.com.au and choose ‘selectabull’ to begin.
You need to be registered with AdHis to use this service.
• If you have previously registered with ADHIS, simply use your e-mail address and ADHIS password.
• Forgotten your password? Go to the ADHIS home page, select ‘Logon’ and follow the steps to have your password e-mailed to you.
• New registration? Select ‘Register’ and follow the steps to register with ADHIS
For more information contact AdHis at Level 2, swann House, 22 William st., Melbourne, Vic 3000 Australia.
Phone 03 8621 4240. Fax 03 8621 4280. email email@example.com. internet www.adhis.com.au
AdHis is an Australian dairyfarmers initiative that receives the majority of its funding from dairy Australia through the dairy service Levy.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
simplify bull selection with selectabull
Presented by Deanne Kennedy and John Hutcheson – Jaydee Events
Jaydee events, the national managers of the cows create careers program have chosen six schools from throughout Australia to
participate in the innovative Moo’in Transfer – a take-off of the highly successful TV show, gruen Transfer.
six schools have been asked to prepare a 75 second video file explaining why the best and the brightest should choose a career in dairy.
• St Brendan Shaw College – representing Tasmania
• Euroa Secondary College – representing Victoria
• Menai High School – representing NSW
• Cornerstone Christian College – representing Western Australia
• Mount Compass Area School – representing South Australia
• Drayton State School – representing Queensland
dairy Australia is providing $500 cash and a prize to the winning school, while regional development Programs in all states have
provided travel assistance to the schools to attend the event.
The Moo’in Transfer is a snapshot that provides great testimony to the successful of the dairy Australia program cows create careers.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
The Australian government’s department
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
2010 Young dairy scientist communication Award
To be judged at the Australian Dairy Conference 2010
and announced at the Elanco Finale Dinner on Thursday, February 25 in Wollongong
dAFF Young scientist communication Award
This is “a competition with a difference”. The competition features early-stage career scientists who have completed a recognized unit
of study within the past five years. in this competition, scientists must convince scientists and dairy farmers (who see a research levy
deducted from each milk cheque), that their research is soundly based and has exciting implications for the future of the dairy industry.
To be effective, the process requires excellence in communication, both written and verbal – and this competition is designed to combine
scientific excellence with communication prowess – to facilitate the process of communicating quality science to farmers and peers.
The six finalists must:
• Prepare an article considered suitable for submission to the Australian Dairy Farmers Journal. (All articles submitted for the Award are
contained on the following pages. each article is printed exactly as submitted. Formatting changes have not been made).
• Prepare a poster for display at the ADC event
• Deliver a five minute powerpoint presentation to the full plenary session of the Australian Dairy Conference on February 24
The three finalists who gain the highest combined scores from the judging of their verbal and powerpoint presentation, their poster and
their article will be announced during the elanco dinner on February 25.
The dAFF Young scientist communication award is convened by Prof Jock Macmillan, with assistance from dr david nation at dairy
Australia and dr danny donaghy from University Tasmania. The 2010 event has been supported by dairy Youth Australia (youth
supporting youth to be leaders), which is funded via the Australian government department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under its
Australia’s Farming Future initiative. Through this program, dairy Youth Australia is providing all finalists with professional voice coaching
by nidA graduate and Win TV presenter Ann Burbrook prior to the competition.
*dairy Youth Australia is a network of young people between 16 and 25 who share a passion to tell others about the pivotal role
Australian farmers play in feeding the world. To achieve this goal, dairy Youth Australia deliver self managed events and activities which
focus on youth, career opportunities, the arts and community – all linked with agriculture.
Sub-surface Drip irrigation for lucerne production – does it pay?
Dairy farmers in irrigation regions are looking to grow lucerne using ‘sub-surface drip’ irrigation
to make better use of limited water.
However, it is costly. An additional 6 t DM/ha of lucerne yield, plus some water savings, is
required to justify converting from flood irrigation to sub-surface drip.
Declining irrigation water availability has put significant pressure on dairy farmers to use water
more efficiently. This has led to increased interest in:
i) alternative irrigation methods to flood irrigation, such as the micro-irrigation technology sub-
surface drip irrigation (SSD), and
ii) alternative forage systems to perennial ryegrass, such as lucerne.
A SSD irrigation system relies on the use of ‘drip tape’ fitted with ‘emitters’ that is installed below
the soil surface. This tape releases water at a constant flow rate under pressurised conditions,
delivering water directly to the plant root zone. Sub-surface drip irrigation can reduce evaporation
losses, and also has the potential to deliver significant labour savings. The use of SSD irrigation for
lucerne hay/silage production has been more widely tested than for grazed perennial pasture.
But is it a worthwhile investment? That will depend on the amount of additional fodder conserved
and the irrigation water saved. It will also depend on the capital cost.
Using a partial budget analysis (over a 10 year period), a case study farm in the Goulburn Irrigation
Region was selected to investigate whether the conversion from flood irrigation to SSD irrigation to
grow lucerne for hay/silage was a good investment.
The farm was irrigated using a flood irrigation system. Approximately 25 hectares was nominated
as being difficult to irrigate due to small and irregular shaped bays. This loam type soil required re-
levelling and/or development to improve the efficiency of this area. It was this area that was used to
investigate the economics of installing SSD irrigation. The capital cost associated with installing
SSD was assumed to be about $9,060/ha.
The high capital cost associated with installing SSD irrigation would require significant ongoing
cash savings/benefits for it to a worthwhile investment. The investment was considered to be
worthwhile if the internal rate of return (IRR) was greater than 10% over a 10 year period (the
expected life of the tape system).
What if you increase lucerne conservation, or use less water? If an additional 6 t DM/ha lucerne
was conserved, but no water was saved, the additional feed would need to be valued at about $400/t
DM to justify the investment (IRR = 17%). Consistently conserving an additional 6 t DM/ha (worth
about $400/t DM), each year for 10 years, is unlikely, and we question whether irrigated dairy farms
would be profitable under such extreme fodder cost conditions with average manufacturing milk
prices. In situations where water savings of 30% could be achieved (3.9 ML/ha), without any
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
increase in lucerne conservation, the IRR of 4.2% would not be high enough to justify investment in
SSD irrigation. In this situation, the system would not break-even before the 10 year expected life of
the tape/technology (after interest). Water savings of 3.9ML/ha are considered improbable in most
on-farm situations. An increase in lucerne DM conservation would be required, in addition to
irrigation water savings, to justify the investment in SSD irrigation systems.
What if you get more lucerne from less water? If an additional 3 t DM/ha lucerne was conserved,
with a concurrent 20% water savings (2.3 ML/ha), the additional feed would need to be valued at
$400/t DM, to justify the investment. In contrast if 6 t DM/ha additional lucerne was conserved,
with 20% water savings, a feed price of $300/t DM would generate a high enough IRR (16.4%) for
such a system to be economically attractive.
In practice the likelihood of achieving water savings of 30% (3.9 ML/ha) is low in most situations.
In order to achieve such savings, the SSD irrigation system would have to be replacing a very
inefficient flood system. Water loss in such a system may be reduced through the installation of a
recycle dam or automation technology, which has a lower capital cost than the installation of SSD
irrigation. Water savings in the order of 10 to 20% are more likely with the installation of this new
Final Thoughts SSD irrigation technology for lucerne conservation appears to be a moderately
high risk investment. This is due to the initial high cost, uncertainty regarding the durability of the
system and the ability to consistently conserve sufficient additional lucerne using less water.
This analysis suggests that unless a combination of considerable additional lucerne yield and water
savings occur, the proposed installation of a SSD irrigation system would not be a worthwhile
Testing whether such improvements in technical efficiency are likely warrant further research, and it
is important to investigate the potential for improvement in yield and water use efficiency of other
plant species using SSD irrigation, such as maize. Results may be more attractive if the flood layout
is very poor, or SSD irrigation was installed on a ‘greenfield’ site.
DPI-Victoria, Dairy Australia, Murray Dairy, GippsDairy, WestVic Dairy and The University of
Melbourne for project funding. The case study family for providing technical advice regarding their
farming system. The Modelling Irrigated Dairy Farming Systems (DPI) project team and steering
group for comments and direction.
For further information contact:
Department of Primary Industries (DPI)
Future Farming Systems Research Division – Rutherglen
Ph. (02) 6030 4500
Improving Reproductive performance
Detecting ovulating cows is the
key to improved reproductive
By CARL HOCKEY
Despite the fact that already commercialised and between the time of onset of
insemination needs to be co- becoming widely adopted in increased activity and the
ordinated with an ovulation dairy operations. interval to ovulation.
and not standing heat in order
to get a cow pregnant, farmers Previously cow activity In addition, since there
and researchers have almost monitoring devices have only were no precision
always been focused on been able to give a total count instruments for predicting the
observing standing heat when of activity since the last time of ovulation when
selecting cows for AI and milking, but now there are optimal insemination timing
timing inseminations. This is devices that give the count protocols were first
still so, even though the time broken into one or two hour developed, little has been
of ovulation following periods. This means that we known about the best time to
standing heat can vary can know the time of onset of inseminate relative to
considerably and increasingly increased activity within a ovulation. That is, no one has
many ovulating cows show window of one or two hours. previously determined if
little or no signs of standing insemination timing based on
heat before ovulation. With the availability of interval to ovulation could
Combine this with the such precise technology give higher conception rates
difficulties of detecting come questions about the compared with timing based
standing heat in large herds value of this precision. There on onset of standing heat.
and one has to wonder if there has been a lot of research
is a better way? showing that cow activity With this in mind I have
increases around the time of been conducting research
With recent advances in oestrus but little has been assessing automated ways of
technology, we now have the shown about the relationship detecting ovulation in cows
ability to continuously and
accurately monitor changes
in cow physiology and
behaviour. Some of these
new technologies, such as an
electronic nose that detects
changes in cow pheromones,
is still in its infancy and
technologies like automated
milk progesterone monitoring
machines, are still far too
expensive to be commercially
viable. Other technologies
like vaginal electrical
resistance and temperature
monitoring still need further
development in order to be of
practical use. However, cow
activity monitoring is one
new technology that is
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
and have studied the changes results show that the interval
in pregnancy rates caused by from AI to ovulation resulted
varying the interval from in significant changes in
insemination to ovulation. pregnancy rates and there
was substantial variation in
One study I have the interval from AI to
conducted was designed to ovulation within and between
assess the effectiveness of the herds.
cow activity monitoring
using neck-mounted activity Another important finding
meters that record activity in was that the most frequent AI
2hr periods. My findings to ovulation interval did not
showed that cow activity correspond to the interval
monitoring could detect more with the highest observed
than 90% of ovulating cows pregnancy rate. In other
and over 75% of these words, many of the pregnancy rates compared to
ovulations occurred within a inseminations were current practices. The
16 hour period relative to the ineffective due to timing. development of technology
onset of increased activity. The results showed that the that can accurately predict the
This indicates that activity majority of the inseminations time of ovulation in dairy
monitoring could be a useful (53.2%) occurred 16 to 32 cows is worthy of further
tool for detecting which cows hours before ovulation and research and is likely to help
to inseminate and knowing resulted in only a modest improve both submission
when to inseminate them. pregnancy rate of 28.7%. In rates and AI conception rates
contrast a smaller proportion and lead to greater
I conducted another study of all inseminations (31.2%) productivity for dairy
to assess the importance of occurred between 0 and 16 farmers.
timing insemination relative hours before ovulation where
to ovulation. I monitored the the highest pregnancy rate This research was
conducted by Carl Hockey
time of AI, ovulation and was observed (50.8%). from The University of
pregnancy results for over Queensland with funding
200 cows that were My research shows that provided by Dairy Australia
undergoing insemination coordinating the timing of and with supervision from
during routine AI insemination relative to McGowan, and Doctors John
management across two ovulation has the potential to Morton and Scott Norman.
different dairy farms. My significantly increase
Pasture measurement a key to success in Automatic Milking
By Daniel Dickeson
Recent Automatic Milking System (AMS) studies have started to quantify the
importance of accurate pasture allocation in an AMS farm system.
Masters student Mr Daniel Dickeson has been focused on pasture management and
the impact of pasture allocation in AMS. The Australian dairy industry is
predominantly pasture-based with about 60-70% of feed coming from grazed pasture
or pasture conserved as hay or silage. It is therefore not surprising that the
profitability of the industry is driven by the level of pasture utilisation.
To maintain good pasture utilisation on well managed pasture, accurately allocating
pasture can potentially increase milk yield by 10% (and all this is profit) primarily
through reducing pasture wastage and increasing pasture regrowth.
In a conventional farming system animals are given a pasture break and the cows are
fetched for milking generally two or three times a day from that given pasture break.
Many farmers use visual assessment to determine pasture allocation and
supplementary feeding levels. If the accuracy of this visual assessment is suboptimal
the effects are likely to be significant through wasted pasture, reduced pasture
regrowth rates and potentially reduced feed conversion efficiencies.
Mr Dickeson suggests that if there is any chance of AMS having economic viability in
Australia it is imperative that high levels of pasture utilisation are maintained. In an
AMS system the impact of inaccurate pasture allocation is likely to be through cow
traffic and milking frequency more than pasture utilisation. “It is a voluntary milking
system whereby cows leave the paddock for milking only when the pasture is
depleted” said Mr Dickeson. Over-allocation will mean less milkings/cow/day and
under-allocation of pasture will result in hungry cows, reduced feed conversion
efficiencies and less efficient utilisation of the milking stations. “The risk is that
farmers will tighten up pasture allocation to encourage more cow traffic and higher
milking frequencies and increase concentrate allocations to improve the reduced cow
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Mr Dickeson’s studies at the Automatic Milking Systems dairy located at Elizabeth
Macarthur Agricultural Institute near Camden enabled him to identify the potential
impacts of incorrect pasture allocation on the whole production system.
In total there were eight trial runs where animals were offered two pasture allocations
per day. The pasture allocations for each trial run were simulated accurate (50% of
each trial run) or inaccurate (50% of each trial run with a combination of over-
allocation and under-allocation). The inaccurate allocation was simulated rather than
random to ensure that cows received their requirements over a 48 hour period with a
combination of over and under allocation.
All allocations were measured both before and after grazing using a sled like
apparatus towed behind a quad bike called the C-DAX Rapid Pasture Meter.
Mr Dickeson investigated many parameters that are typical performance measures in
an AMS farm including the number of animals being fetched that hadn’t voluntarily
trafficked from each break, how much pasture was consumed, how much pasture was
left behind (wasted), daily milk yield and daily milking frequency.
The results for milk yield (fig.1) showed that there was a trend for higher milk
production with less variability through accurate pasture allocation. This was largely
caused by a more consistent milking frequency.
Figure 1. Average daily milk yield for accurate and inaccurate pasture allocations for all trials
Mr Dickeson’s studies also showed that there were fewer animals being fetched when
they were accurately allocated pasture compared to inaccurate allocation. The
treatment of over allocation showed more animals having to be fetched as the
incentive of searching for fresh pasture became less effective and occurred less
regularly. The increased number of cows being fetched after under-allocation may
have been a carry-over of previous over-allocations in which fewer cows made it out
onto the next break thereby increasing the time to pasture depletion.
Figure 2. Effect of treatment on the percentage (%) of cows fetched
The results Mr Dickeson presented for post-graze pasture mass really spoke for
themselves (figure 3). Higher post-grazing residuals resulted when pasture was over-
allocated – “the cows simply didn’t have sufficient time to consume the allocation”.
When cows were under-allocated they overgrazed the pastures – “this will
undoubtedly result in reduced pasture regrowth” Mr Dickeson said.
Figure 3. The effect of Pasture allocation treatment on Post-graze pasture mass
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Accurate pasture allocation was shown to improve the overall performance of the
pasture-based AMS farm. The work of Mr Dickeson (under the supervision of Dr
Kendra Kerrisk) with the FutureDairy project will be integral in ensuring that AMS
farmers are well informed about the impact of inaccurate pasture allocation on farm.
The success of AMS is heavily reliant on the outcomes that are generated by the
FutureDairy team allowing farmers to be successful with their new ventures.
The FutureDairy project is a collaboration of investment from Dairy Australia, NSW
Industry and Investment, University of Sydney and DeLaval.
Less grain and more gains:
milking from home-grown forage
CFS Whole Farm Study “The focus of this study is on
maximising productivity from land
KEY POINTS: . and water, while reducing the
7,700 litres per cow with 1 reliance on bought-in feed”
tonne of grain
The use of a Complementary Forage
28,000 litres per hectare from System (CFS) combining pasture
home-grown forage (65% of effective area) and a triple
$ 1,240 per hectare crop rotation (35% of effective area)
operating profit made it possible to obtain 25 tonnes
dry matter (DM) of utilised forage/ha
per year over the whole farm area.
A whole farm study at Camden, Previous research has shown that
NSW has obtained an impressive the ceiling yield of utilised pasture is
yield of 28,000 litres of milk (2,159 around 18-20 tonnes DM/ha per
kg milksolids) per hectare from year. Mr Fariña believes the CFS
home-grown forage. The system would suit farmers that have reached
minimises the impact of grain price maximum level of pasture utilised
volatility on farm profit. and still need to increase the size of
“With declining terms of trade and
increasing price of land suitable for The innovative feature of the CFS
dairying, the industry will need to farm is the triple crop rotation. This
increasingly focus on producing involved the sowing of a forage rape
more milk/ha from feed grown on- in Autumn, oversown with a mix of
farm to stay profitable” said Santiago annual ryegrass and Persian clover,
Fariña, PhD student and technical which allowed forage to be available
officer for FutureDairy at The for grazing until the sowing of maize,
University of Sydney. in October.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
“The cost per tonne of DM from this Spring).
intensive crop rotation can be even
lower than pasture. But for this to “The outstanding forage yields
happen it is crucial that you get the obtained allowed us to maintain such
maize yield right, by an appropriate a high stocking rate (4.6 cows/ha)
management of density, nutrition and using no more than 1 tonne of
irrigation of the crop” grain/cow per lactation as the only
purchased feed” said Mr Fariña.
An average of 10.1 tonnes DM/ha
were utilised from the forage Each cow produced on average
rape/ryegrass/Persian clover, and 7,700 litres of milk in 305 days by
23.1 tonnes DM/ha of maize silage consuming a diet of 43% pasture,
were obtained from the same area 10% Winter crops, 30% maize silage
(total 33.2 tonnes DM/ha per year). and 17% concentrates (see Figure
The 2-year farm study consisted of
100 cows on an effective area of “We obtained a high feed conversion
21.5 hectares under full irrigation. efficiency of 1.23 litres of energy
This Holstein Friesian herd had a corrected milk per kg DM. The key to
split-calving pattern (Autumn and achieve this was an accurate
Figure 1: Feed conversion efficiency (FCE), milk yield and dry matter intake at the CFS farm.
(L Milk/kg DM)
1.2 1.4 1.4 1.3
1.2 1.3 1.3
1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2
24 25 25 24
24 24 24
22 21 20 21
Dry matter intake
8 Winter crops
May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
allocation of pasture, forage crops amount of milk/ha but using 2.2
and supplements, which was tonnes of purchased grain/cow.
carefully assessed at the start of
every week” said Mr Fariña. With grain purchased at 250 $/tonne
the CFS farm did not show a large
Cows consumed on average 20.4 kg advantage over the “Pasture +
DM per day with an average Grain” farm in terms of profit. But at
metabolizable energy of 10.1 MJ/kg a grain price of 350 $/tonne, the
DM and crude protein of 19.8 %. operating profit of the CFS farm was
50% higher than the “Pasture +
Pasture management was not Grain” alternative.
overlooked, utilising 20 tonnes
DM/ha from the kikuyu-based Mr Fariña believes that relying on
pasture oversown with short rotation bought in feed to grow enterprise
ryegrass. size can be a risky pathway these
days. “Our research at FutureDairy is
The management applied to achieve showing that milk production from
optimum utilisation of pasture home-grown forage on pasture
included: based farms is still far from having
reached its potential” he said.
Weekly monitoring of pasture
growth to adjust rotation length. This study is part of Santiago
Fariña’s PhD studies into dairy
Grazing based on pre- and farm systems within the
post-grazing biomass target FutureDairy 2 Project under the
and number of leaves (ryegrass supervision of Yani Garcia and
at 2-3 leaves; kikuyu at 4-5 Bill Fulkerson. FutureDairy 2 is
leaves). funded by Dairy Australia,
DeLaval, NSW DPI and The
Applying 110 kg/ha of urea University of Sydney.
every second grazing.
Contact: Santiago Fariña, phone
“Our results show that the intake of (02)93511709, email
pasture explained changes in daily <firstname.lastname@example.org>
milk yield more than any other
component of the diet. This
highlights that quantity and quality of
pasture are still key drivers of milk
production, even in a farming system
like the CFS”.
The CFS farm operating profit was
compared to another FutureDairy
pasture-based farm study (“Pasture
+ Grain”) producing the same
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Reducing emissions and growing more grass
– is it possible?
Tim Huggins, University of Melbourne
There have been numerous studies completed both locally and internationally looking at
ways of reducing nitrous oxide emissions on dairy farms. One option is to use a
‘nitrification inhibitor’, shown to substantially reduce emissions of this potent greenhouse
gas, with the added potential bonus of growing up to 30% more pasture dry matter.
A nitrification inhibitor such as the dicyandiamide (DCD) used in our study, acts on
specific soil microbes and stops them from converting ammonium nitrogen to nitrate
nitrogen. Nitrate nitrogen is readily converted to nitrous oxide and lost to the
atmosphere, no longer available for pasture growth.
Our research set out to determine how effective this technology is on dairy farms in
South-West Victoria, and what sort of a return you might get for your effort and your
To do this we selected six dairy farms across the region to run paddock trials. We
wanted to see how effective DCD would be with our rainfall patterns and soil types, and
also for how long it would have an impact. In addition, eight automatic gas
measurement chambers were set up at DemoDairy to measure nitrous oxide production
(part of a project being conducted by Kevin Kelly). This has allowed us to compare the
soil nitrate levels with the actual amounts of nitrous oxide being emitted for this first
treatment period. The initial trial started in mid-August 2009 with the second round of
DCD applications due to start in autumn 2010.
DCD was added at the start of the experimental period and then synthetic urine
(designed to mimic real cow urine) was added either straight away or one month later.
Then an extensive program of soil and plant tissue testing began, along with regular
pasture cuts at the 2.5 - 3.0 leaf stage.
For the second round of treatments (exactly the same as the first but applied in Autumn)
we will measure the nitrous oxide directly on some of the farms using ‘static chambers’,
which are basically air-tight containers dug into the ground that collect the nitrous oxide
as it is released. We can then use a syringe to draw out some of the air out of these
chambers and have it analysed for nitrous oxide content. Once this second round has
been finished, we will expand into whole paddock trials and carry-out an economic
analysis to determine whether extra pasture growth alone is enough to cover the cost of
spraying on DCD twice a year.
Results so far have shown DCD treated plots were significantly lower in soil nitrogen
(See figure 1). This would suggest a reduction in nitrous oxide emissions which was
confirmed by measurements taken from the automated chambers at DemoDairy (up to
1/3 reduction was measured). We saw a response to applying urine on some farms and
on three of the farms also saw a significant increase in pasture dry matter yield from
applying DCD, but only when DCD was applied at the same time as the urine. This
gives us some hope that under the right conditions, there is certainly potential to grow
more pasture using DCD, depending on whether nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient or
So what does this all mean? If we use the Greenhouse Accounting Decision Support
Framework (www.greenhouse.unimelb.edu.au/site/Tools.htm) to test a common
scenario - 200 hectare farm milking 300 cows that are each producing 8000 litres per
cow - a reduction in nitrous oxide of around 25% (indicated by our results) would be
worth close to $1000, if we were to work on a conservative carbon credit price of $25
per tonne of CO2 equivalent. Then if there is also a 10% increase in pasture yield, that
would add an additional $15 000 to the equation (working on growing an additional 1
tonne dry matter per hectare valued at $100 per tonne). Between the two benefits, the
cost of the treatment is easily covered, bringing you out in front before the cows even
turn the extra pasture into milk.
We hope that with further study, the information from our project will provide farmers
with the confidence they need to use an inhibitor such as DCD as part of their on-farm
strategy to economically meet the requirements of an emissions constrained future
(assuming that is what we have in store for us).
This project is supported by funding from Dairy Australia, the University of Melbourne,
the Victorian Department of Primary Industries and the Australian Government
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry under its Australia’s Farming Future
Climate Change Research Program.
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Figure 1. Effect of application of urine and DCD on soil mineral nitrogen content (Circles – no urine applied,
triangles – urine applied mid September, squares – urine applied mid August; solid symbols – no DCD applied, open
symbols – DCD applied mid August)
Soil ammonium (mg N kg-1 soil)
Soil nitrate (mg N kg-1 soil)
1/8/2009 1/9/2009 1/10/2009 1/11/2009 1/12/2009 1/8/2009 1/9/2009 1/10/2009 1/11/2009 1/12/2009
1/8/2009 1/9/2009 1/10/2009 1/11/2009 1/12/2009 1/8/2009 1/9/2009 1/10/2009 1/11/2009 1/12/2009
Is sexed semen the answer?
In these testing times every dairy farmer wants to genetically advance their herd. One
option is to use “sexed semen”.
Sexed semen has been mechanically sorted to contain a high concentration of X-
sperm. This increases the probability of heifers being conceived. As with all new
technologies, there are potential advantages and disadvantages associated with using
The main advantages of sexed semen include: an increase in replacement heifers born
on the property; more daughters being produced from elite cows; faster genetic
advancement; a reduction in the amount of dystocia, because fewer bull calves are
being born; and an added economic bonus generated from selling excess heifers.
On the other hand, the complex sorting process used to sex the semen adds to the cost
of each semen straw. It takes approximately 10 minutes for one straw to be fully
sorted. The sorting process severely damages the semen, so the longevity and viability
of the semen is often compromised. The sorting process is also only 85% efficient.
Another problem is that sexed semen straws are only 1/20th the concentration of a
conventional straw. This results in a lowered conception rate. The conception rates for
maiden heifers is about 44 %; however the conception rate for lactating cows is only
Another disadvantage is that only bulls with lower genetic merit have had their semen
sexed. Perhaps this is why only 14% of Victorian dairy farmers are using sexed semen.
If fertility could be improved and better bulls were made available, sexed semen has
the ability to affect heifer prices, herd turnover rates, cull cow prices and milk prices.
Farmer’s breeding choices would change because farmers would be able to select an
elite group of dams to produce replacement heifers from. More emphasis would also
need to be put on the rearing of replacement heifers because they would be genetically
A study, funded by Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS), was
completed through The University of Melbourne. This study investigated farmer’s
perceptions of using sexed semen. Farmers from across Victoria were interviewed
during this study. Some had used sexed semen before while others had not. Some
farmers were positive about using sexed semen and intended to use it again; however
the majority of the farmers were negative and sceptical, including a group of farmers
who had used sexed semen in the past. The majority of the farmers believed that the
disadvantages of using this technology far out weighed the advantages.
Most farmers in this study believed that producing more replacement heifers was the
main advantage of using sexed semen (Figure 1). However a large number of farmers
indicated that the conception rates from using sexed semen needed to be improved for
them to benefit from using sexed semen (Figure 2).
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
Figure 1: The responses to a range of perceived advantages among Victorian
Figure 2: The number of responses recorded in regards to what changes could be
made to sexed semen in order for it to be utilised in an enterprise.
Every farmer could see the benefits of using sexed semen technology; however they
felt that the cost of actually reaping these benefits outweighed the advantages. For
example, many farmers felt that it was difficult to justify paying almost three times
the cost of a normal straw of semen from the same bull, when the potential conception
rate from their lactating cows was only 26%. Many of the farmers that were not using
sexed semen indicated that they could still produce enough replacement heifers and at
a much lower cost using conventional semen.
From a purely economic point of view, the chance of getting a heifer from a maiden
heifer, using sexed semen, is about 37.4 % (44% conception rate x 85% chance of a
heifer calf) compared with 28.5 % (57% conception rate x 50% chance of a heifer calf)
from using conventional semen. Therefore sexed straw, which costs about $60, would
infer a cost of $160.43 ($60 ÷ 37.4 %) to get a heifer; however the cost of producing a
heifer calf from a conventional straw, which costs about $20, would only be $70.18
($20 ÷ 28.5 %). Therefore it could cost an extra $90.25 for each heifer calf that is
born when sexed semen is used. The cost difference is even higher when trying to
breed from lactating cows.
Sexed semen still has a long way to come before it becomes a universal tool. The
concentration and quality of the semen needs to be addressed. So, is it really worth
using sexed semen when it is possible to get the required number of replacement
heifers at a lower cost using more elite bulls? At the moment the answer is probably,
Australian Dairy Conference 2010 Proceedings
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Thousands of Australian dairy farmers already
use Rumensin to improve milk production and
control bloat during early lactation. But did
you know that Rumensin improves the health
and performance of your herd throughout the
whole lactation by helping cows to digest
their food more efficiently? During mid and
late lactation, this extra energy can be used
to replenish body condition, sustain foetal
development and reduce the impact of heat
stress in cows.† Likewise, it can be used
to improve growth rates and reproductive
performance in your replacement heifers.
For more information about why Rumensin
is the essential ingredient in every ration,
contact your local feedmill, nutritionist or
Elanco on 1800 226 324.
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