Jade and Belinda Clymo and Don and Meg Stewart will open the gate of their farms to showcase the structures they built to provide shade and shelter for their milking herds and reduce their business’ exposure to climate risk.
The visits to these farm businesses, in central Victoria, are included in the ‘Raising the Roof’ conference and will provide a practical insight into these farm systems and support presentations from industry experts.
Entegra Design Consultant Charles McCalman said the Clymo and Stewart families had led the Victorian dairy industry in adopting shade and shelter and intensive feeding systems.
“Jade and Belinda and Don and Meg, they understood their dairy businesses needed to evolve so they could better manage risk and increase cow comfort and production,” he said.
“Their insights into housed cow and intensive feeding systems will be invaluable for anyone contemplating changing their farm system.”
For Jade and Belinda, milk production at their “Calmo Farms” operation at Calivil has increased since they moved their 1800-cow herd into a free-stall system in their Entegra Ridgeback shed.
Per cow milk production has increased from 1.8 kilograms of milk solids a day to 2.4kgMS/day/cow.
Jade attributed this rise to the shelter and how it enabled them to feed a better and more consistent ration to their herd each day.
“With this sheltered cow system, they are fully fed, and we notice that they are happy and content and that happened really quickly,” he said.
“The cows entered the shelter and three weeks later, we were walking through them, and they’d just look at us, they were so content. Fully fed, they are never wanting for anything and that’s great for us.”
Don and Meg Stewart built an Entegra shed as a maternity barn and dry-lot shelters at their 800-cow a2-milk dairy farm at nearby Yarrawalla.
They use the maternity barn as shelter for cows and heifers on the point-of-calving and sick animals.
The maternity barn has been fitted-out with yards, a crush, and other implements to make cow and calf handling simple, while the compost floor provides a comfortable and clean environment.
“For me, if anyone is calving year-round, the maternity barn is just a no-brainer,” Don said.
“We had a few a1 cows left at our home farm – not at the a2-farm – and when we had to go down the paddock to get a cow in after calving, we were thinking ‘this is so time consuming compared to the maternity barn’.”
“Having that facility right next to the dairy makes it easier for everyone on farm to do their job. Sure, any dairy farmer can set the same thing up without a shed, but up here when we were calving in the heat of January and February, under the shelter the cows are always comfortable.”