Improving Feed Base Efficiency

Investigation into how dairy farmers in Northern Victoria can improve the efficiency of their feedbase through better use of irrigation water and forage crop/pasture rotations.

A large proportion of the expense of dairying comes from the cost of feeding milking cows.

In many businesses this makes up 50 per cent or more of the variable costs.

If dairy farmers can grow and utilise more home-grown feed rather than relying on bought in feed then this can potentially reduce their costs and also risk associated with feed price fluctuations.

Dairy farmers are also faced with the problem of improving the utilisation of a limited resources being land and water.

Future Dairy has shown it is possible to grow 40tDM/ha using an intensive triple crop rotation that utilises both land and water efficiently and provides a large amount of home-grown feed to help reduce costs.

My project is working with Dairy Farmers in Northern Victoria and Riverina to look at the commercial reality of utilising irrigation water more effectively to produce more home-grown feed in a flexible system to limit risk.

The key measure is looking at increasing kilograms of milk solids/mega litre of irrigation water. It is envisaged that there will be several different effective approaches to this issue.

The research approach is to develop 6 case study farms and monitor these farms on a regular basis to gather quantitative production and business data.

This information will then be used to analyse the different forage systems adopted and the potential for alternative systems.

The use of modelling (both economic and biophysical) will be used along with component research to complement the case studies.

This project is being undertaken by PhD student Michael Campbell, from Charles Sturt University and is funded by Future Dairy 2.

Further information:

For further information please contact Michael Campbell on micampbell@csu.edu.au