Talking tactics

By Country News on October 24, 2016

Taking advantage of pasture use is way forward for increased profit.

‘Grow your own’ was the clear message from the latest Tactics for Tight Times session at Craig and Kellie McWhinney’s Shady Creek farm on Wednesday.

Despite cold conditions, 66 people packed into the McWhinneys’ shed to drill down into their farming methods and philosophies.

Tactics for Tight Times is funded by Dairy Australia using dairy service levy funds and is being rolled out across the region by GippsDairy. It is aimed at helping farmers to build skills and resilience during a difficult period.

The Shady Creek session, which was facilitated by farm consultant Jeff Urie, focused on methods for minimising costs in a tight season.

There was no ‘silver bullet’ solution for the farmers who came along, just a strong message that knowing your business well and growing your own fodder is a clear path towards profitability.

“We’ve got the fundamentals right for a profitable business, then it’s just a matter of tweaking around the edges,” Mr McWhinney said.

“It’s about stocking rates, percentage of imported energy and pasture and fodder. Once you get them right — with a good dash of tight-a*** factor — the business will be pretty robust.”

He pointed to a figure in the field day notes that he said every farmer should consider before they made decisions on how to feed their cows.

“It costs about $110 to $115 per tonne of dry matter to grow a tonne of grass. That’s less than half to a third of the price of any other supplement that you are going to put into the cows,” he said.

“If someone offered you a supplement at $110 per tonne of dry matter that was 12ME and 20 per cent crude protein, you would take it any day of the week. People are missing that opportunity.”

It was a message backed up by Mr Urie who said farmers seeking cost savings should be looking in their paddocks.

“The take-home message is probably the same as I always give: that we make our profit out of pasture and everything should be considered in terms of whether it gets more grass through the cow and into the vat,” he said.

“All the other stuff about cost savings, grain use, fodder use — all those things — are on top of that.”

GippsDairy regional extension officer Karen Romano said the Tactics for Tight Times day was a success on a number of levels.

“Not only did we have a great turnout, we also saw a lot of faces that don’t always come to these events,” she said.

“It’s so important that we can spread positive messages from good farmers like Craig out into the wider farming community. There’s so much knowledge that people in this industry are willing to share, which is what Tactics for Tight Times is all about.”

Tactics for Tight Times facts sheets can be found at or by phoning GippsDairy on 56243900.

By Country News on October 24, 2016

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