Meet our Business Focus Farmers
The Business Focus Farms have been developed following farmer’s feedback to Dairy Australia and WestVic Dairy that they would like to learn about key profit drivers through discussions and hands-on experiences.
Our Business Focus Farmers are supported by an experienced farm consultant, who acts as a group facilitator, as well as a support/ideas group made up of farmers and service providers selected by the Focus Farm family.
The support group works with the Focus Farmer to assist the farming family with making objective decisions towards improving the farm business operation and profitability.
The WestVic Dairy Business Focus Farms are:
- Casey and Bonnie Taylor, along with parents Peter & Wendy Taylor from Heathmere
- Mat and Renee Whitehead, and John and Leanne Whitehead from Timboon
- Simon Scott and Linda Knight from Barongarook West
You can find monthly reports from each of the Business Focus Farms, including DemoDAIRY below.
The Business Focus Farms, which have been running in Western Victoria for the first year in 2013/14, are supported by WestVic Dairy and Dairy Australia.
Keeping an open mind, the Taylors are excited about the scrutiny that comes with being a Business Focus Farm Family.
The Taylor family from Heathmere currently milk 460 cows on 305ha and are particularly keen to have more control over grazing management and production during winter when paddocks are wet and at times out of the grazing rotation. However, they also want to make better use of the property when it is dry. They have approached the Business Focus Farm initiative with an “open mind”. Their specific challenges are addressing include:
· Lifting milk production using home-grown feed and maintaining grain usage at less than one tonne/cow/year
· Shifting calving forward to mid-February so cows are peaking in production prior to the wettest/coldest months
· Expanding the irrigation system to better utilise current water allocation
Casey Taylor said he is looking forward to the tough questions that are part of being a Focus Farmer.
“We want to focus on the one-per-centers and I am looking forward to the scrutinising,” Casey said.
“I know I am probably going to get frustrated from time-to-time, but we are really looking forward to it, so is our full-time worker, Daniel Ross.”
Maximising fertility, while implementing a successful succession plan is the focus of the Whitehead family.
The Whiteheads from Timboon milk 650 cows on 303ha. They have combined two farms and herds and built a new dairy in 2013.
Some key challenges Mat and Renee aim to address as a Business Focus Farm include:
· Increasing fertility and maintaining a seasonal calving herd
· Growing more home-grown feed
· Business succession planning
· Monitoring and improving return on investment
These Focus Farmers want to make sure their current calving pattern in sustainable to increase profitability.
“It’s to do with the milk price .You get paid more that time of the year,” Mat said.
For Leanne and Jon Whitehead it’s not only about maximising profitability, but also about being able to “ease back” with a good succession plan in place.
Wanting to reduce the cost of production, the Barongarook Business Focus Farm has “nothing to lose” and much to gain.
Simon Scott and Linda Knight from Barongarook West milk 360 – 400 cows on 190ha. Some of the key areas they want to focus on are:
· Reducing and understanding costs
· Fertiliser application and increasing pasture consumption, while creating a simpler system
· Explore the opportunity to install a feed pad, for the wet weather to help manage the wet soils
· Develop a breeding program to suit a seasonal calving pattern
The Focus Farm family is currently applying a split calving system rendering their cost of production rather high.
Simon said that they were hoping to reduce costs by implementing seasonal calving with the help of their support group and their farm consultant.
“It would be only one calving and one joining, at the moment it feels like we are running two farms on the one property.”
A true family business, Simon’s dad Lionel works full time on the farm. Simon and Linda, with children Lionel, 10, Leo, 10, Albert, 8, Bronte, 4 and Gwen, 2 said they had nothing to lose by becoming a Business Focus Farm.