Let’s kick thing’s off by thanking everyone who contributed to our 2018 customer survey. Certainly not a “sexy” task by any means, but one we’re grateful for as an improvement opportunity and giving a pat on the back to those in the team mentioned for outstanding service. Congratulations to Richard Rayner who was the lucky candidate for a bulker bag of choice. This survey comment particularly resonated; “The power of a family business is that you see true harmony across the whole work line of the company; effort and passion of your people in the job.” Thanks Belinda, your words are reassuring and appreciated.
Lisa Dickinson representing Victoria for the Stockfeed Manufacturers Council of Australia (SFMCA) Emerging Leaders Award. L to R: Ian Reid, Rosli Reid, Max Scales, Lisa Dickinson, Bruce Le Maitre, Phil van Gent
July will sadly see some long-time faces depart and excitingly others arrive. After nine years, our South-West Ruminant Manager, Daniel Allen will be moving with the family to Queensland, pursuing a warmer climate and an opportunity as operations manager of a Stockfeed Mill. To Dan, Mim and family we wish you all the very best in this new adventure. Popular Goulburn Valley nutritionist Dom Conheady will return to the family farm and has promised a personal tour, doubled-up with a snag at Noorat footy training afterwards. As one Conheady departs another arrives with Laura returning after maternity leave. An experienced nutritionist we look forward to our South- West customers benefiting from her insight. Julie Walker begins this month servicing our packaged division in Eastern Victoria and Mark Loving will provide essential inputs around work safety for the team. In other developments Sander Nijskens will take on my role as Sales & Marketing Manager as I take over from Dad and he…, dusts off the clubs?
Covering events news there’s an opportunity coming up on Wednesday, August 08 for our Goulburn Valley customers to attend a Grain Risk Discussion with two special guest speakers covering topics on why they take out grain contracts and how they make those decisions to limit their average feed-costs across the year. While in Gippsland on Thursday September 28th we’ll be partnering with Fonterra for the first time in hosting the South Gippsland Dairy Expo breakfast. Each year is a full house with entertaining presentations so be sure to get your RSVP’s in nice and early.
“Grab your torches, head back to camp. Good-night!” – The tech team bonding over tiki torches during a quarterly training session. L to R: Phil van Gent, Sander Nijskens, Ross Winfield, Daniel Espinosa, Bec Wyper, Dom Conheady, Rachael Tromp, Daniel Allen & Daniel Bacon.
Back in 2002 we made the finals list for the Telstra Business Awards, and in 2018 we’ve made the grade again for the “Medium & Making Waves” division. It’s a privilege to be a part of this award which thoroughly analyses the business across all its departments. All our team from millers, drivers, admin and gardeners (yes you Pete) play a part in this achievement. Thanks to all for your dedication. Telstra have promised free phones for everyone if we win. No not really, but it would be nice wouldn’t it?
Talking with a buyer from a large Victorian hay exporter today it probably cemented what I thought was going on in the domestic hay business. The exporter – Steve said, “if you haven’t secured your hay requirements for the year then it’s probably too late”. He was referring particularly to domestic hay in the Wimmera and Mallee. All of it to his knowledge has been committed and Steve knows a lot of hay growers.
What an interesting year we have had with hay supplies this season. There was so much surplus hay carried over from 2016 we didn’t think we’d see the end of it for a few years. In the 2017 season many growers decided to produce less as their storage was insufficient and overflowing (some 2016 hay still sat out in the weather). So, most were not prepared to produce more when the market was so flat.
In late November 2017 hay was coming into the western district at a very reasonably priced with lucerne and vetch hay being delivered for $220-$245 p/t and cereal hay for $120-$140 p/t and similar into Gippsland region. But with uncertainties in milk prices and funds short not many dairy farmers took advantage of these cheaper prices.
In the southern parts of NSW many crops that were moisture stressed or not going to finish their cut for hay. This hay mostly went straight off the paddock to feed drought affected cattle in central and north NSW as well as QLD.
Things were far different in the western district with areas like Skipton and Lake Bolac producing some of the best crops that had grown there in recent years only to be destroyed by frosts. It’s said that hundreds of acres of wheat crops for grain were totally wiped out. For some there was an opportunity to cut for hay but many decided against it only having to drive a short distance down the road to see a big stack of hay on their neighbours place that had sat there since the previous year.
Some tried to sell their crops standing to baling contractors, but even though many of these fellas would have loved the work were too nervous to take it on as they still had customers pushing them to sell last season hay with no success. And no-one wanted a large contracting bill they couldn’t pay.
Then it started. Early in the new year and for not a great amount of money hay from the Goulburn Valley, Mallee and Wimmera regions started to sell to NSW and QLD due to the dry (drought) conditions. Cereal hay was being purchased for $80 p/t and trucked north. The freight costs were more expensive than the fodder itself with some hay traveling 1000 km and a $5.50 a loaded km. As demand grew, so did price. Prices have now increased to $200-$250 ex-farm and even top bales (weather damaged) are making $50 each or $100 p/t. Its believed that 70% of hay from Victoria and South Australia has gone north.
If you are just starting a new back-yard free range venture you need to know some basics before starting.
Most chicken rearers will supply an information page to get you started but it’s important to get birds from a reputable rearer.
With day length now increasing, backyard birds will start to get back into a proper laying cycle. Hens come into lay which is dictated by the amount of light they receive whether this is natural or artificial.
It is important to ensure that the hens have everything spot on and available to them as they come into lay.
The three main essentials are feed, water and light. Make sure birds have enough feeder space so the birds donot have to fight one another for feed. Clean drinkers as required. Birds love clean fresh water; once a week give birds 1ml per litre of cider vinegar. This will help the birds gut health which will improve the uptake of nutrients and minerals in the feed. Try and make their roosting area where they lay as draft free as possible.
Have plenty of perching space available. Keep the nest boxes clean by adding wood shavings/straw or sawdust (DO NOT use treated shavings). Also spray or apply some form of lice/mite powder every 2-3 weeks depending on severity of problem.
Alex Brown pictured with his chickens at Glorious Googies
Worm birds regularly. If you are serious about being a back-yard free-range farmer try and stay awayfrom other avian species and ask visitors if they have been near other birds. This is due to bugs/viruses being easily transmitted from one property to another.
Most birds purchased from markets or rearers will hopefully have been vaccinated forvarious common diseases that laying hens can get, this is similar to your pet cat and dogs having to be vaccinated. It is recommended that birds also get revaccinated so when they have lost the maternal anti–bodies they have immunity to disease. The main disease is called IB (infectious bronchitis) this is a respiratory disease and can cause depressed production and thin shelled eggs. If you see this in your birds it is time to revaccinate via the water and should be repeated every 8-10 weeks.
Sit and observe the birds now and again to see if they are happy and comfortable.
A happy chicken will lay as often as it biologically can.
When calves are born the only compartment of their stomach that is fully functional is the abomasum. The omasum, rumen and reticulum compartments are present but not functional yet (See Fig. 1). Hence, newborn calves are not yet functioning as ruminants. (more…)
Studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Latrobe University Bundoora, Amabel joined us over the Summer to observe the practices of a ruminant nutritionist and to undertake a series of work projects.
The modern dairy cow is a high performance animal, and of all domesticated animals arguably the most at risk from heat stress. In our Victorian climate we are not immune to the impacts of heat stress. (more…)
A ration out of balance is the second worst way to feed cows and expect them to perform in a sustained, profitable way. What is the worst? Feeding them junk; luckily this is less common, but out of balance rations certainly aren’t. Point of the story – feed your cows well and they will look after you. Only well-fed, healthy cows will perform profitably. (more…)
According to the age-old tale, chickens have been laying eggs since the dawn of time, if not before however, producing an object as big as your own head every day, is a feat that should not be understated. As the backyard farmer knows well, it’s easy to make a scramble of the process, with soft or fractured egg shells a sure sign that your birds are lacking a nutritious diet.