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Family farm in focus

Watching it grow: Fish Creek’s Gillian Hayman, Leongatha’s Trevor Walder, WGMC’s Tony Gardner and Focus Farm facilitator Craig McWhinney at the Newry field day.

FOCUS farmers Jon and Lauren Ryan and Alan and Christine Clyne have a problem many Gippsland farmers would like to have – how to keep up with the rate of grass growth.

The Newry dairy farmers have plenty of water, but aren’t saturated like other parts of the region.

Combine that with the warm weather in central Gippsland and there is no shortage of the green stuff for their 696 strong herd to graze on.

The two couples (Lauren is the daughter of the Clynes), who have shared equity in the farm have been looking for improved performance through the Focus Farm program.

Focus Farms are funded by GippsDairy and Dairy Australia using dairy levy funds and provide an  experienced farm consultant as a facilitator as well as a support group made up of fellow farmers and local service providers.

At a field day recently, members of the Newry support group praised Jon in particular for his willingness to make changes to his business methods that have resulted in lower costs and increased profits.

Facilitator Craig McWhinney said Jon’s willingness to listen and take advice was a key reason the farm is benefiting from the Focus Farm
experience.

“They were a business that put their hand up and wanted help, they had a lot to grow and a lot to learn, but they are certainly on the right track,” Craig said.

“Jon has put his hand up and opened up his books – and himself – so he can get advice from some really good people.”

With Jon and Lauren likely to move from the 316 hectare farm in the medium term to allow Lauren’s brother to take over, the plan for the young couple is to build their equity as fast as possible.

Jon, who hails from Camperdown in south west Victoria, said the Focus Farm program was about making the most of everything at their disposal.

“One of the things Lauren and I are looking for is to network, to get our face out there and to put some runs on the board financially,” he said.

Jon said the support group, which includes a mix of younger and more experienced farmers, had been a great sounding board.

While he gratefully uses the collective wisdom of the group, he said it’s sometimes just as important to know what advice to ignore.

“Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it is right …. you really have to take the financials and how it will affect the day-to-day running of the farm before you do anything,” he said.

Certainly one thing they are doing well is growing grass.

One herd is currently consuming 90 per cent home grown feed, with an average of 70 per cent throughout the year.

For Craig McWhinney, getting the simple things right is a solid basis for a profitable farm.

“The more home grown feed you put down the cow’s throat, and still maintain reasonable production, it’s more profitable at the moment with grain prices the way they are,” he said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5527

Posted by on Nov 13 2012. Filed under Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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