Two upcoming Field Days will give Western Victorian dairy farmers the opportunity to see the progress being made at WestVic Dairy’s Focus Farms.
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Held early next month the events give attendees the chance to get a behind the scenes look at the decision-making processes and the results seen so far.

The first field day will be held on Peter and Fiona Musson’s farm at Macarthur on Thursday, March 4.

This is the first chance for farmers to see Peter and Fiona’s business first-hand, with the pandemic impacting this project that started in January last year.

Over the past 20 years the Musson’s have built a very successful business which now extends to 730 hectares and milks 770 cows. The goals outlined at the start of the project included developing staff capability, utilising technology and to continue pasture improvement by exploring different cultivars.

WestVic Dairy extension officer Debbie Twiss is managing the project along with facilitator, consultant Owen Rees.

“It is fantastic to be able to hold an on-farm event at last. There are many interesting aspects of this project to show off to the broader dairy community,” Ms Twiss said.

“On the day we will introduce Peter, Fiona and their business, then focus on: activity monitors and using the resulting data in an extensive sexed semen program; nutrition challenges and opportunities; Clare Leddin will provide a Pasture Smarts report; and we will discuss the pros and cons of building a cow shelter to prevent pasture damage.”

The second Field Day will take place a week later on Thursday, March 11 at Ondit.

Dale and Karen Angus are now 18 months into the Focus Farm project and have made great strides towards their goals.

After discussing various options with the Support Group, the Angus’ have implemented multiple changes, including: improvements to irrigation infrastructure, lead feeding of cows, silage sampling, increased home-grown feed consumption and cow activity monitors which will be fitted any day.

These changes, combined with an excellent season, have seen milk production increase by 18 percent in the last calendar year. In turn, this has allowed significant debt reduction – a key goal of the project.

The support group is led by farm consultant Paul Groves

“Dale and Karen continue to show how it is possible to run a highly profitable dairy business in an area with lower rainfall and shorter growing seasons. During the project we have looked at lifting production without complicating or adding risk to a system that works. They have made use of the resources on-farm to raise production, without increasing purchased feed costs,” Mr Groves said.

“There are many learnings that farmers throughout south-west Victoria can take away from what is being achieved here.

“At this Field Day we will go over the busines financials, looking at what is going well, as well as any areas of potential improvement. The use of genomics will be discussed, the R1 heifers were tested recently, so we’ll see the results and discover how this information can be used to boost farm profitability. Autumn resowing will also be covered – 80 hectares are resown here each year. We’ll look at the best varieties available, along with sowing strategies to ensure good fodder production,” said Mr Groves.

Both Field Days will run from 11.00am to 2.00pm. All farmers and service providers are welcome.

COVIDSafe rules in place at the time of each event will be adhered to. RSVP’s are required, contact WestVic Dairy on 5557 1000 or visit the events page at westvicdairy.com.au

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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