Feed your Cows to Feed your Pocket

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David and Glenyce Johnston of Boorcan, milk about 200 Holstein cows. In December last year Dave decided he would try a different approach to feeding his cows.

Dave and Glenyce calve all year round and run the farm by themselves with one outside worker. This change in approach was brought on by a consultant coincidentally turning up on his door and explaining that there was more profit to be had. But more profit meant more input.

Like many farmers Dave’s concerns of feeding more or higher input costs was a scary notion. Dave used to feed his cows 5-6 kg of grain in the dairy and then ration his hay or silage by allowing one bale for each 30 cows in summer months. Often the type of fodder purchased was done so on cost and did not taking into account nutritive figures. Dave’s pasture grazing management was also different. Rotation would just continue no matter the height of the grass.

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David Johnson beside milk vat in dairy shed

Dave reading his milk slips with one of two overflowing vats. Milk quantity lifted in late December 2014.

Today Dave feeds 8kg in the dairy and allocates good fodder to the cows on their daily requirement. He also changed some grazing practices by firstly in autumn allowing the pasture to mature before grazing. This was done by running a couple of sacrifice paddocks and feeding more fodder through this time. The pasture on farm today has a lot more bulk in it and will recover better throughout the rest of the season.

Dave’s production is already up 25% over last milk season, with only 7 months on the new management system. His average solids per cow per year are up 78kg. Yes his input costs also increased however his profit looks better still. Not to mention the change in the cows, today they are better conditioned and healthier animals.

Many farmers are in a position similar to where Dave found himself. Finance is what is holding them back from the first step, however there is more to be made and Dave is one example. Those in this boat need to find a way to make it happen because the end result will be better. The key is to feed good quality feed sources and get enough feed or dry matter into the cows system to maximise profit.

Full credit to Dave and Glenyce for embracing the advice and taking the opportunity to increase production and profit. Each alteration was made with trepidation but equated to a much improved outcome.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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