Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : April 10th 2018 Contents PAGE 28 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2018
Greenham is pleased to announce our first
of a series of farmer information days.
Join us to hear the latest information about
the plan for the Greenham Gippsland
Meatworks (Moe), NEVER EVER & Animal
Welfare Programs and meet your local
Greenham buyer and supply chain team.
Venue: Foster Bowling Club
47-53 Station Rd, Foster VIC
Date: Thursday 19th April
Time: 12 Noon - 2.30pm
BBQ lunch provided
Please RSVP to Greenham buyer SEAN KALLADY on 0437 918 870
DO YOU HAVE THE LATEST?
Greenham – Supporting local
communities and organisations
1300 548 378
Resowing this Autumn?
Pasture seed Turf and amenity seed
l Cropping seed
The cost effective way to buy your seed
Trevor and Dianne Aplin
0418 359 517
190 Soldiers Road, BASS
SOUTH GIPPSLAND STOCK AGENTS
VLE – LEONGATHA
There will be no
market on Anzac Day
Wednesday April 25
A TEN per cent increase in milk production
is just one of the benefits Fish Creek dairy
farmers Graeme, Jenny and Shaun Cope have
enjoyed in their two years participating in
GippsDairy’s Focus Farm program.
The Copes milk a mixed herd of 800 Frie-
sian, jersey and crossbred cows, and say
the program, which involves monthly farm
visits from a ‘Focus Group’ of around 30
local farmers, as well as service providers,
bank managers and accountants has enabled
them to access a wealth of information and
resources that they’ll continue to utilise for
years to come.
“I t’s a really good group. It’s been working
really well, ” Graeme said.
“We take them on a tour of the farm, and if
any particular issues or challenges have come
up that month, like a bug in the ground or if
it’s calving time, we’ll look at that.
“People share information, everybody talks
and puts in their two cents and works it out
together,” he said.
“I t’s been a really good learning curve,” says
Jenny, “And an opportunity to see if we could
do things differently. Communication is getting
a lot better with staff, sales reps, agronomists,
bank managers and accountants.
“And it’s also helped Graeme share his
knowledge with our son Shaun, who’s
stepped into more of a management role
over the two years. ”
The Copes’ staff have also benefited from
access to various educational courses such
as first aid, chemical handling, pasture man-
agement, and the Cups On Cups Off course,
which helped solve an ongoing and expensive
The Focus Farm program was a natural pro -
gression for the Copes, who’ve always been
ambitious and innovative farmers.
From a 20 acre farm at Middle Tarwin they
moved to their 1000 acre Fish Creek property
in 2008, building all the sheds from scratch
and working hard to improve soil biology in 60
paddocks using Petrik microbes.
“We’re always trying to learn new things and
how to do things better and pick up ideas from
other people, ” says Graeme of their decision to
apply for the program in 2016.
Their time in the program is nearly up,
with their last on farm ‘Focus Day’ coming
up on June 24, and they wholeheartedly en-
courage other farmers to apply to be a part
of the next one.
“Hopefully others will have a go. We’re
pleased to have done it. It’s been very good for
all of us,” Graeme said.
“The GippsDairy consultants have been very
good in terms of helping us improve pasture
management and herd health, as well as with
our banking and farm safety procedures.
“They also helped us develop a roster which
has been working well in terms of staff man-
agement and time management,” he said.
“You get a lot of support from GippsDairy,”
“They check in with you and see where you’re
at and what’s working, and if you have any is-
sues, you can always ring them.
“That support is available for anybody to
access but this experience has highlighted to
us that we should make more use of it. It’s
a very beneficial opportunity, especially for
“If they need help, there are people to help
them along and if they’re going through a
tough time - because there have been plenty of
those recently - they’re not on their own.”
GippsDairy regional manager Allan Camer-
on urges interested farmers to apply for the
two year program.
“There’s no type of farm business that makes
for a better Focus Farm. We’ve had large and
small herds, share -farmers, new industry en-
trants and people who have been farming for
decades,” he said.
“Every farm business improves by being a
Focus Farm and, more importantly, the les-
sons that are learned spread through the
support group and into the wider farming
Applications for the next round of three
Focus Farms starting in July 2018 are now
open. Contact Karen Romano for an applica-
tion form on 0417 524 916 or email karen@
gippsdairy.com.au. Submissions close at 5pm
on Friday, April 20.
AN ANALOGY I like to use to highlight this
issue is: grandpa used power kero to fuel his
35 Fergie. Why don’t we run our ‘genetically im-
proved’ 200hp Fendt on power kero? (Forget
The answer every dairy farmer knows. So
why do we fuel our ‘Fendt genetic’ cows on
1950s diets expecting ‘Fendt’ performance?
Grandpa had very few fresh cow problems. But
Grandpa was on a roll at 10lt from fresh cows.
Back to the 35 Fergie/Fendt analogy and the fuel.
Mike Hutjens, dairy professor extraordinaire,
has a favourite saying; “Dry matter intake (DMI)
solves a lot of problems”.
This applies across the board; fresh cow,
joining cow, lactating cow and dry cow. And all
from the same problem, Negative Energy Bal-
ance (NEB). When cows are mobilising body fat
we get a cascade of metabolic problems, both
dry and fresh.
This article however, is interested in DMI pre
and post calving. There is very scant evidence
that milk production per se contributes to
greater disease incidence at or around calving.
Grandpa’s transition management consisted of
putting dry cows in the back paddock and check-
ing once a week if any had calved, or died! I vividly
recall trying to outrun week old calves. The evi-
dence is in the pending knee and hip replacements.
In our ‘Fendt’ age transition, we measure dry
matter intake by strip grazing pasture and of-
fering hay/silage adlib and recording hay/silage
By this method we can measure energy, fibre
and protein intakes and adjust strip fence size
accordingly. Oh, and we do this daily, not weekly.
The goal with dry cows is they dry off in calving
BCS and do not gain or lose weight pre-calving.
Either will precipitate calving problems, NEB es-
pecially, which invites all other issues.
To quote the science, cows that mobilise body
fat, or increase it, through this period will expe-
rience lower dry matter intake before and after
calving inducing NEB disease from impaired
immune function (mastitis, metritis etc), in-
crease indicators of inflammation in blood
reducing fertility as well as other cell damage
from oxidative stress.
I, personally, am not a fan of BCS scoring as
it always seems like shutting the gate after the
horse has bolted.
Managing the diet to prevent this is far more
proactive, and less costly. I have written previ-
ously of the immense fertility gains from man-
aging calcium intake through the dry cow (and
springer) phase, but general mineral nutrition
is equally important at this time too. We use
self-feed minerals for this purpose.
As we move closer to calving, the 21 days of
springer cow management, we have an excel-
lent tool to assist in getting blood calcium levels
right. Monitoring urine pH. This will mitigate
the vast majority of our calving, and post-calv-
ing problems when coupled with rising dry
matter intake post calving for a cow that has no
clinical or sub-clinical milk fever.
Our management of urine pH can determine
the cow’s future. There is no happy plateau
here. It is a rapid spiral; either up or down!
She is going to be highly productive and fertile,
or a 60 day cull statistic (or worse, a carry-over).
Milk fever, clinical or sub-clinical, has a Sia-
mese twin called ketosis, clinical or sub-clini-
cal, and they go everywhere together.
Fortunately, we have another wonderful tool for
managing ketosis as well. Milk keto test strips.
Simply strip milk onto the keto test strip on day
three post-calving and drench with propylene gly-
col if she registers any BHBA reading on the strip.
We have a number of clients by virtue of their
computerised rotary dairies who simply feed
25ml of propylene glycol on top of their bale
feed for 20 days.
All done automatically and discontinued au-
tomatically as the fresh cow passes the 20 day
threshold on the computer.
A brutal measure of transition efficiency/suc-
cess is the 60 day cull rate. The goal should be
less than 5 per cent fresh cows leaving the herd
before 60 days-in-milk, and less than 3 per cent
deaths in this same category, a total of 8 per
cent exits by chopper truck or knackery truck.
Back to our dry cow. She is capable, even in a
low energy diet, of consuming 40 to 80 per cent
more energy than required, although, for Grand-
pa’s back paddock transition management in
drier times of the year, the reverse is usually true.
The variations in energy intake through dif-
fering seasons are massive. As above, both
beckon calving problems.
High fibre diets that meet energy and protein
requirements are the goal. Dry cow rumen re-
generation thrives on high fibre diets.
With all our advances in dairy science and an-
alytical assays, we still cannot pass up Grand-
pa’s ‘acid test’ of diet and cow’s health; the age-
old husbandry skill of observing manure. The
test offers instant feedback. Manure is the win-
dow of the rumen.
It does not tell us much about NEB, sub-
clinical milk fever or ketosis, but we have those
covered, but it certainly tells us when rumen
function has gone awry. Any dysfunction of the
digestive tract will derail our best efforts in all
other transition management activities.
Those ‘Fendt genetic’ cows will milk them-
selves to death if we do not manage their needs.
Grandpa’s cows just dried themselves off when
he failed to meet their needs.
- John Lyne is a dairy production specialist
with Dairytech Nutrition, www.dairytechnu-
Today’s cows genetically driven to produce milk
By John Lyne
Shaun, Jenny and Graham Cope on their 1000 acre dairy farm at Fish Creek that’s been a
GippsDairy Focus Farm for the past two years. kg141518
Making good farmers even better
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