Trimming the fat

By Country News on August 06, 2016
  • Trimming the fat

    Columnist Katie MacAulay lives in South Gippsland, and has been married to a diary farmer long enough to appreciate the smell of good silage. She looks chooks, enjoys stacking hay bales with the tractor and wonders why the lawn grows twice as quickly as the grass in the paddocks.

When the farm budget is done, the family feed budget also comes under scrutiny. 

Hubby is one of those rare people who likes creating budgets. He says he enjoys the challenge of balancing each area of our business expenditure and “getting it right.”

Normally, he disappears into his office for hours and apart from the occasional groan and the tapping of his calculator keys, there is silence until he emerges triumphant.

However, with the current dairy industry outlook less appealing than a thunderstorm at an outdoor wedding, we’ve decided that Hubby’s customary trim of our costs needs to be more of a slash and burn.

Where to start?

After a long examination of each area, we decided that we needed to cut our fertiliser, AI and feed costs.

We don’t put on large amounts of nitrogen but Hubby is a fan of super and potash. Most years after our autumn application, the dry paddocks look like they have dandruff. Maybe I could send him to Fertilizers Anonymous?

Although who knows what new habits he might pick up? The last thing we need is the fertiliser savings to be channelled into a new obsession.

Hmm, scrap that idea. The time it would take to drive to FA meetings would be better spent looking at bull catalogues.

We’ve always sought good semen for our girls but now we can’t afford to be fussy. This year it’s goodbye Fabio, hello Homer Simpson. Doh!

Regardless of which bulls we choose, mouths still need to be fed. Homer Simpson’s voracious appetite would fit in quite well around here.

Hubby and I both agree that feed costs need to be heavily pruned — there was too much fat in the system. The only problem was that while I thought bovine feed costs needed cutting, Hubby had his eye on my grocery expenditure.

“You spend this much on food? No wonder the budget’s tight.”

“Well, you eat it. What do you suggest we cut out?”

Junior piped up from his corner of the couch, “broccoli, silverbeet, …”

Hubby joined in — “kidney beans, lentils, grainy bread …”

“Healthy food is an investment in our future,” I argued.

“Besides, it’s not those foods that are responsible. It’s the chocolate biscuits, cakes and ready-made desserts. Maybe we could cut them?”

They stared at me aghast. Hubby mumbled something about reviewing the bovine menu before we made any radical changes.

Our slash-and-burn was a sobering experience but amongst all the hard decisions, something was clear. We all agreed that our ice-cream expenditure was not negotiable. Not only do we want to support the dairy industry, but Hubby insists that for peak efficiency, he needs to be maintained in condition score 5.

By Country News on August 06, 2016

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