Tactics for success
PAUL Hannigan and partner Kylie Irvin seem to live by the mantra, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
The Fish Creek farmers are the South Gippsland focus of the Tactics for Tight Times project, which is aimed at spreading information on how to cope with low milk prices and high grain costs.
A series of long term investments in recent times has helped reduce running costs of the farm and helped them cope with the reduced income caused by factors out of their control.
Among the proactive decisions have been installing a feed mill to crush their own grain, a fertiliser bunker to reduce cartage costs and leasing neighbouring land to protect pasture over winter.
A silage pit has also saved up to $20,000 a year compared to baling.
While many farmers would be tempted to keep their herd current numbers or even reduce stocking rates, Paul said he was planning to lift his herd size from 270, to 400 next year and more than 500 in 2014.
“A lot of the higher stocked farms, particularly the wet ones who have struggled through the spring because of damage they did during winter, have cut back on numbers because they can’t grow the grass and can’t afford the feed,” Paul said.
With plenty of planning and a little luck with lower rainfall than many in the district, Paul and Kylie were able to protect their pastures and make the most of good spring growing condition. They are confident they can use this season as a launching pad for further expansion.
Tactics for Tight Times facilitator, Matt Harms, believes Paul’s ability to understand his farm business is the key factor in dealing successfully with a tough season.
“He is a strategic thinker who understands the drivers of profit and he has a good handle on those drivers,” Matt said.
“He understands where his money is going to come from.”
Matt used the example of well timed cropping as one of the many decisions that has helped Paul and Kylie deal successfully with a tough 2012.
“What that has allowed him to do is put it in the pit or graze it, which gives him flexibility,” he said.
“He was right in thinking that money spent to cropping would save even more money that would have been spent on hay.”
Tactics For Tight times was developed by Dairy Australia to help dairy farmers across Australia who are facing major challenges in the 2012/13 season, as lower milk prices and higher input costs and climatic challenges affect cash flow and on-going farm profitability.
GippsDairy will help co-ordinate the regional project, with information sent to farmers and field days organised at project farms.
GippsDairy executive officer Dr Danielle Auldist said Tactics for Tight Times was developed by Dairy Australia after farmers made it clear they could do with a helping hand during difficult seasons.
“This is a great example of levy funds being used in ways that directly help dairy farmers to remain productive and profitable in tough years like 2012,” she said.
The next Tactics for Tight Times field day at Fish Creek will be held on January 24, 2013 from 11am to 2pm. BBQ lunch will be provided.
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