TIM and Grit Cashin have only one regret about their time as Focus Farmers – they wish it could have gone on longer.
The Leongatha South couple have been under the microscope for two years, with their farm business being scrutinised both publicly and by a support group of local farmers and service providers.
The Cashin Focus Farm, which was funded by GippsDairy and Dairy Australia using dairy service levy funds, held its final field day last Friday.
“We’ve got a heap out of it,” Tim said.
“It’s been a fantastic experience, almost to the point where it feels a shame it’s only two years.”
Tim said having a group of quality dairy farmers looking closely at their business was challenging at times, but had paid dividends by the end of the Focus Farm period.
“It made it quite intense with so many good farmers saying ‘I’d do it this way’ or ‘I’d do it that way’,” he said.
“But the group as a whole, by the end of it, had started to work out where we were coming from.”
The biggest change that the Cashins made during the two years was starting to improve the genetics of their herd, which was identified as a weakness of the farm business.
“One of our goals was to look at the make-up of the herd,” Tim said.
“I think they put it pretty well, that we have a pretty good herd but it’s just five years behind the really good herds now in terms of genetics and the way they are built.
“In the past it hasn’t been a focus and now I have a much better hold on it.”
Focus Farm facilitator Matt Harms has enjoyed watching Tim and Grit develop the farm business over the past two years.
“What we have seen is Tim and Grit understand their business and understand which direction to take their business, particularly in terms of stocking rate, production system, grain feeding levels, young stock numbers and young stock management.
“I think that is the major outcome of the Focus Farm,” he said.
“They are now clearer about how the business ticks and what its strengths are.”
Matt said hump and hollow work that was started before the Focus Farm period had allowed Tim and Grit to change the way they approach farm management.
“That has turned that farm from being one of the wettest in the area into being a lot more manageable, which has allowed them to manage pasture better and has allowed their stocking rate to be managed much more easily,” he said.
GippsDairy extension coordinator Tony Platt said the Cashin Focus Farm was a good example of what can be achieved through a strong support group and a receptive farm family.
“I think the strong interest we have had in this Focus Farm reflects the potential that people see for Tim and Grit’s business and the satisfaction in helping them make large strides forward,” he said.
“GippsDairy would like to thank Tim and Grit for being such an open and giving couple during the whole Focus Farm experience.”
Field days for the next round of Focus Farms will be announced shortly.