Spring warms hopes
EVERYTHING seems to be lining up for local farmers in the lead up to spring including the weather, paddock conditions, milk prices and feed availability.
Koonwarra farmer Shawn Hollingworth said there was definitely an air of confidence among farming discussion groups and other industry bodies.
“We have done really well over the winter, so now we just need to make sure we can capitalise on these promising conditions,” he said.
To the end of August in 2012, Mr Hollingworth had recorded 329mm of rain and in 2013 he recorded 438mm.
“The difference was in 2012 was it started raining in January. This year it didn’t start raining until the end of April,” he said.
“Our feed pad has really helped in the wet conditions, as it has allowed us to manage where we put the cows and utilise on-off grazing.
“We have done little damage to our paddocks compared to last year and we won’t have to do any re-sowing.”
Midway through winter, farmers across South Gippsland were concerned there was not going to be enough fodder available to maintain their herds.
“We are lucky enough to still have some home grown silage and hay left, however we did buy in some lucerne and vetch to start the cows off,” Mr Hollingworth said.
With the milk price sitting at around $6.70 per kilogram of milk solids, Mr Hollingworth said it gives them a lot of flexibility when it comes to improving the farm.
“We are in a good cash position and have the ability to throw a fair bit of fertiliser out. Our ultimate goal is to conserve two years of fodder,” he said.
“It usually takes two years to recover from one bad year. That’s not everybody, but people will now be able to try and consolidate and pay back the tough season.
“Everyone is upbeat, which is good.”
Mr Hollingworth said it was also important to note that after a tough season, cattle may be behind their best.
“Dry cows may be in worse condition than they would normally be, so the cows have to catch up as well and a lot of people outside the dairy industry may not realise that,” he said.
For now, it is a matter of going hard with grass production and Mr Hollingworth is hoping to get two cuts of hay or silage across his farm this year.
“Fingers crossed we get the right conditions,” he said.
“We are in the process of completing soil tests and plant tissue tests to work out our fertiliser regime. This will get the whole system of plants, bugs and soil all working together.”
As is often the case, Mr Hollingworth said the main concern moving into spring is the weather.
“Some weather sites still suggest above average rainfall into late summer, which is good for grass growth later in season, but it could also hamper silage production,” he said.
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