A FOCUS Farm field day at Toora North last week took some of the focus off Dan and Cindy Knee and put it on dry and transition cow feeding.
Tarwin Veterinary Clinic’s Peter DeGaris was the guest speaker at Thursday’s event, which saw around 40 farmers and service providers turn-out for a fascinating insight into an important topic.
The Leongatha-based vet spoke on a range of topics regarding transitional feeding, although milk fever was an area to which the conversation constantly returned to.
“There are three main issues around the transitional period and they come back to optimising health, optimising production and optimising reproduction,” Peter said.
“A lot of the health issues come back to controlling milk fever and metabolic diseases in particular.”
Speaking at the Focus Farm meeting at the Toora CFA, Peter said the dairy industry has made great advances in transitional feeding, but still can improve performance.
“A lot of people are tinkering around the edges, but for 95 per cent of farmers there are still gains to be made,” he said.
“It’s certainly a complicated area and getting it right does take a bit of effort, but it’s very achievable.”
Following the dry and transition cow session, the Focus Farm field day moved to the Knees’ Toora North property, where the discussion on feeding options continued.
Dan and Cindy, who took full ownership of the property almost a year ago, have set four Focus Farm goals, including setting up the farm business and having the cash surpluses to support it; having more profitable production or having a lower cost of production; maintaining a low cell count and continuing to grow young stock.
For Dan, setting goals and striving to reach them is one of the real benefits of being a Focus Farmer.
“One of my goals is rearing good heifers,” he said.
“Right now, in winter time, is one of my downfalls in grazing management and feeding, which I have been trying to improve this year.
“The rising yearlings have been getting a bit of silage which I haven’t normally stuck in there.”
Making decisions like extra feed for young stock has been helped by the input of a support group made up of experienced farmers and service providers.
Focus Farms, which is funded by GippsDairy and Dairy Australia using dairy levy funds, also provides an experienced farm consultant as a facilitator.
“It’s been fun,” Dan said.
“The main reason I did it is that I think you can always be better than what you are and my goal is to try and improve.
“I want to improve the whole business, not just the things we’ve written down as our goals.”
Almost a year into the Focus Farm, facilitator Matt Hall said the enthusiasm for the project was still evident among everyone involved.
“The support group has been fantastic, they understand the goals brilliantly,” he said.