Our business is very technology driven. We were one of the first operations in Victoria to install a rotary platform and we have been early adopters of computer assisted technology in managing both the plant (machinery) and the animals.
In 2006 we installed automatic cup removers and milk meters to each bale on the rotary. The milk meters allow us to measure total milk flow and conductivity per cow.
We use GEA’s automatic identification system and run Dairy Plan as our main computer program. Every animal on the property has a permanent computer record which identifies a vast array of details about her including nutrition, genetics, feed allowances and production. These records commence on the day of birth and are maintained for the life of the cow.
Every milking cow on the property wears a collar which not only visually identifies the animal, but also has a transponder that links each animal to the computer system. Twice a day each cow is identified by the computer when she comes into the shed for milking. This allows for any of the milking staff to instantly find out what stage that cow is at; for example, whether she is fresh, ready to inseminate, lame, needs drafting etc. The information fed to the computer provides information on the cow for every 2hr period.
The transponders allow us to allocate feed to individuals or to draft without having to physically be in the shed. The transponders record individual activity allowing us to identify cows that are potentially coming on heat, or are sick or injured and need vet attention. The system also allows us to weigh the cows twice a day which is critical when matching feed to production output.
In 2015, we trialled 100 new transponders (CowScout) that fed live data back to the computer system via WiFi. This allowed for real time monitoring of these animals.
The machinery that we run on the property has significantly grown over the years.
The vast majority of dairy farmers produce silage off paddocks. In order to do this, a mower, a rake and either the use of contractors (to bale silage or put it into pits) or baler are needed.
In late 2014, we purchased a CLAAS baler-wrapper (UniWrap) in order to do our own silage. The reason behind this purchase was twofold; we were able to determine the exact time a paddock was ready for cutting and baling (as opposed to just cutting it because contractors we at the farm), and to better manage cash flow.
In the current economic climate, managing cash flow and reducing enormous payments in any one month is paramount to business success.
We have now gone through 2 silage seasons with this machinery and are extremely pleased with he quality of feed, the ease of time management and the ability to manage cash flow.
The arrival of this piece of equipment necessitated the upgrade of our silage wagon. Whilst this occurred 18 months ahead of our machinery schedule, it has meant that we are better utilise time in feeding out. We also purchased a new bale slicer which enables the majority of the feeding out task to be completed from inside the tractor. This addressed an OH&S area for us.
Weather determines sowing times for pastures or summer crops. It is always a combination of educated guesswork, good luck and prayer that determines when sowing occurs! And of course, machinery and implements play a huge role in this activity. Harrows, seeders, rollers and where available, effluent irrigation are all used to produce the vast amount of home grown feed for the stock.