Farm

Farming In South Gippsland

SEASONAL DAIRY FARMING PRACTICES

Now into Autumn when farmers who are not Autumn calving take time to do repairs on fencing, troughs, cow tracks etc.  My children also calve during Autumn because of those cows that did not get in calf with rest of herd.  It ensures continuous milk supply to factories also, but feed, after a very dry summer, deters some farmers from this practice.

 Seasonal Farm practice viewing (milking in 60 cow rotary, cropping, silage/hay making, calf feeding), because unfortunately, cannot be  a hands on experience: viewing only.

Spring

Herd: Health, Joining (involves tail painting cows tails, heat detection and A.Iing (Artificial Insemination to all cows after heat detection).

Calves: Weaning with 5 in 1 drench, dehorning

Pasture: Spray chosen paddocks ready to turn up and plant to Summer crops, sow  millet/turnip mix in treated paddocks. Lock up silage and hay paddocks

Silage Wrapping during early Summer at A Fare With Nature

Silage Wrapping during early Summer at A Fare With Nature @ Prom Road Farm, Foster

Late Spring – cutting, raking, baling, wrapping  and carting of silage and hay.  Silage being wet, green hay wrapped in plastic sheeting

Summer

Herd: health, (Pink eye, worming, condition)

Calves: growing into next year’s heifer replacement: keeping up condition

Pasture: strip graze summer crops.  For a herd of 800 cows, to help fully feed cows, …. Paddocks sown down to crops of millet and turnips and silage fed out of morning and afternoon after milking.

Autumn

Herd: Drying off treatment.  Selection and homework into A.I. sires for complete herd plus replacement heifers

Calves: Preparation of Calf Sheds – after cleaning out of last year’s pads, lime and replace with rice hulls.

Pasture: After completion of strip grazing, sow back to pasture (perennial rye grass as clover encourages milk fever)

Winter

Herd: Health: apply supplements in water troughs to cows close to calving to help solve calving down problems.  Keep up cow energy by lead feeding on rotary platform prior to evening milking.

Calves: new born calves needing more colostrum for first few days before going on ordinary milk and supplied with water, straw and calf pellets to ensure the growth of strong calves.  Individual calves fed for 6-8 weeks before weaning onto pasture and straw.

Pasture: Continual

Daily Practice

5 am: Cows to Dairy Shed

The Hard Work

Milking in 60 cow rotary shed at Prom Road Farm

5.30: Cups On – Time of Year determines how long a milking takes, i.e. Early Spring = Peak Time (3 hrs in 60 cow rotary shed for 750 cows)

Feeding of calves in Winter, feeding out hay/silage to dry cattle, continual pasture practice, be it strip grazing, fertilizing, cropping.  Maintenance of assets, be it mechanical, fencing, water pipes, plantations, weed control

3.30 pm: Cows to shed for night milking.

4 pm: Milking.

After milking, out to spray weeds during spring and summer if not done prior to, depending on weather conditions.

Cow Feed

Cows fed a daily diet of pasture, grain, silage (depending on time of year), crop in Summer and Autumn and molasses to ensure maximum milk production from cows.

Hazards out of a dairy farmer’s control

  • Climatic Conditions
  • Factory Prices
  • Global Factors

History of Prom Road Farm Since Purchase in 2003

Prom Road Farm was purchased on our behalf by a friendly bank in September, 2003.  The 1270 acre dairy farm was purchased because of location, terrain, soil, natural springs and size of existing rotary shed.  The farm is on 3 titles, all of which were individual farms, made into one.

During the first year, we developed one farm (first title) by removing all fences, water troughs and tracks, refencing paddocks into 11 acre paddocks to accommodate a herd of 800 cows or more (depending on season and availability of replacements).  New water pipe was laid, cow troughs placed under plain wired fence lines at each end of paddocks and laneways also widened and formed for faster passage for cows to and from the milking shed. Note all fences are electric.

Cows-at-newly-installed-trough-2001

Newly laid water trough

The 2nd year saw the middle part of farm being ‘renovated’ in the same way.  During this time, native tree plantations were also planted in water ways to protect erosion as well as keep fertilizers from entering Corner Inlet.

The third year saw same progress.  Building new calf and machinery sheds was also a priority since purchasing the farm.  Farming is always an ongoing exercise in pasture, buildings, plant and herd management.