The third of four Focus Farm open days at Peter and Susan Wearden’s Kyabram dairy farm heard of the successes and obstacles the pair has endured in the past six months.
On Tuesday, December 1, farmers from across the Goulburn Valley heard a farm progress report and how the Weardens had worked to achieve their Focus Farm plans and goals.
Their property currently totals about 271.49ha, which includes a recently purchased 84.09ha property on the south boundary of the dairy block.
Unfortunately, recent dry weather affected plans the pair had for a recently purchased adjoining property.
The Weardens was forced to reduce the over-all farm property they irrigate and consider drying off their property for January and February, depending on summer rainfall and the price of water.
``We bought it, and the dry weather has meant the plans we have for that land had to be changed; the temp water market is out of our reach, ’’ Mrs Wearden said.
``We did our budget on water being around the $180/Ml but it has hit $300.’’
Focus Farm facilitator Cameron Smith from Farmanco ran those in attendance through an analysis of drying off pasture with research evidence from the DEDJTR and anecdotal evidence.
By drying off the pasture during January and February, the Weardens will save 6.32Ml/ha of irrigation water across eight planned waters, but will accumulate $991/ha of extra costs come autumn and their overall break-even price for water will equate to $186/Ml.
Guest speaker Dr Mick McAuliffe from Kyabram Veterinary Clinic discussed the farm’s fertility focus results.
Dr McAuliffe helped the Weardens organise their first fixed-time AI synchrony program, which they utilised in June this year.
``With the fixed-time AI program they joined 171 cows and got 88 in calf, so that was a really brilliant start,’’ Dr McAuliffe said.
``That was just over 50 per cent conception rate, that is an excellent result and above average result.
Dr McAuliffe said the Weardens’ herd calved down twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, and their fertility was excellent.
‘‘I just did not expect that high rate with a fixed AI program, it’s very unusual but it’s because they’re such good managers, and they’ve got a high-fertility heard,’’ he said.
‘‘Their fertility is excellent.
‘‘It’s a product of how they feed their cows pre- and post-calving and how well they grow their heifers into adult cows.’’
The addition of 55 heifers calving in spring this year brings their total to 360, and another 30 to calve in autumn will mean the Weardens will have accomplished one of their Focus Farm goals: to grow from 250 cows in 2014 to 400 cows.