With cows calving right throughout South-West Victoria at present, transition management should certainly be at the top of the list for dairy farmers, along with the outlook on milk prices and profitability for the season ahead. On Tuesday April 12, around 40 farmers from across South-West Victoria attended a presentation held in Warrnambool to outline the latest research findings impacting the area of transition. Additionally great insights were offered on the dairy industry outlook, both domestically and on a world scale.
Dr Steve Little (Grains2Milk Program Leader) first outlined the latest research findings from Dairy Australia on transition management. Dr Little said that while many farmers would “leed feed” for 10-14 days, the cows transition period actually extends from 4weeks prior to calving to 4 weeks post calving. Transition diets which were extended to 3-4weeks pre-calving not only increased milk and milk solids production but also impacted greatly on fertility, having more cows in calf earlier.
Dr Little then went on to outline what made up a transition diet and that “leed feed” itself was not the only consideration. Farmers need to know at least the DCAD, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium levels of all the feeds going into the diet at this stage and that the only way to know this is through proper feed testing. Other traditional indicators such as urine pH tests simply are not accurate.
Following Dr Little, Michael Harvey (Senior Analyst, RaboBank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory) presented an industry outlook which was appropriately titled ‘A positive outlook in a volatile market’. He discussed the issues creating volatility in the market for both milk pricing and input pricing and how the short to medium demand for dairy product seems strong.
The night was sponsored jointly by Langdon Produce and RaboBank and was the first such presentation held by these companies in co-operation. Both before and after the presentations, farmers had the chance to network with each other and technical business advisors. Moving into the future, it is hoped that more of these presentations will take place and that both the science and business of dairy farming will continue to come together to improve sustainability and profit to our regions dairy farmers.