THE recent downpour across much of South Gippsland has done little to ease feed problems for the district’s dairy farmers.
A Tactics for Dry Times Shed Day held in Toora on Tuesday saw more than 20 farmers turn out to discuss strategies for getting through the next few months.
The Shed Days, which are short, sharp and informal sessions, have been rolled out across Gippsland in recent weeks after an overwhelmingly positive response to the Dry Times events before Christmas.
Host farmer Wendy Whelan, who share farms with Bruce and Jan Best on their South Gippsland Highway property, said the extended dry spell needs a prolonged wet period to fill dams and create suitable growing conditions.
“It’s been very dry for the last two winters – no run off at all,” she said.
“We need moisture to build up the water-table and sub-soil moisture.”
Tactics for Dry Times facilitator Matt Hall said the Toora farm was typical of many in the district, having struggled to grow sufficient feed to reach the autumn break.
“It’s been a very difficult season right back to October where we had 60 per cent of normal growth rate,” he said.
“This particular farm started feeding cows in early November or late October, which is about six weeks earlier than usual.
“They’ve done it with purchased fodder because their silage yields were about 50 per cent of normal.
“They normally feed four rolls of silage per cow per year, but this year they only produced two.”
Matt said the Tactics for Dry Times days offered participants a chance to learn from other farmers and implement that knowledge on their own properties.
“It’s about sharing ideas and having a discussion about how they might be implemented on farm,” he said.
“It’s about creating a plan for this farm as a demonstration for others of how they are going to feed cows, how much pasture they need to renovate and how they are going to manage growing a pasture wedge when it does rain.”
For Wendy, getting farmers together to share their experiences is a positive move when times are tough.
“Just to get on other people’s farms and see that they are going through the same thing – it really helps and makes you feel not so bad,” she said.
GippsDairy projects and events coordinator Karen Romano said the response to the Shed Days program had confirmed that farmers wanted this type of assistance.
“The Tactics for Dry Times program is a great example of how the dairy service levy is being invested and returned back to them in the form of information and assistance,” she said.
“We’ve had a great response all over Gippsland, which shows that these sorts of programs are hitting the mark as far as farmers are concerned.”
The Toora Tactics for Tight Times event was supported by Young Dairy Network Gippsland.
Talking tactics for coming months