FOR dairy farmers interested in soil biology, succession planning or the ‘nuts and bolts’ of business finance, then the first Fish Creek Focus Farm open day is the place to be.
Graeme and Jenny Cope bought a 408-hectare cattle property in 2008, investing heavily to turn it into a dairy farm.
This year they are milking around 730 mostly Friesian cows.
Apart from the home farm at Kerrs Road, the Copes also have another 170 hectares spread over three turnout blocks.
The Copes, who have son Shaun working with them, have entered the Focus Farm project with their use of Petriks, succession planning and improved volume in the vat as some of the main discussion areas.
Petriks – the use of live microbes and green manure spread on pasture – has been a cornerstone of the family’s farming operation for 25 years.
“We’d like to highlight the use of Petriks, try to show it off a bit,” Graeme said.
“It helps improve the soil biology. We seem to get different benefits. In the summer when we get a little bit of rain, we seem to get a good response from the grass greening up again. It has water retention abilities.”
The Copes have a split calving pattern (30 per cent March-April, 70 per cent July-Nov) with milker numbers peaking around October 31.
Infrastructure on the gently undulating property includes a 50 stand rotary with auto-ID and cup removers.
There are good laneways and fencing, with water troughs in every paddock. Water is supplied via permanent creek with a network of 20 dams across the farm.
The farm finances will be opened up to the support group as the family attempts to take a fresh look at how they manage the books.
“If you saw the figures you would probably say we are right out there as far as borrowed money. But that’s what I wanted to do and we have managed it so far,” Graeme said.
GippsDairy regional extension officer Karen Romano, who is facilitating the Focus Farm along with OMJ’s John Mulvany, encouraged dairy farmers to come along to the open day on Wednesday.
“The Copes are impressive farmers in many ways, but they are also more than willing to improve the way they go about things,” she said.
“Through the Focus Farm support group meetings, we have already had some wins with improved utilisation of pasture during the spring and there are plenty of other areas where Graeme, Jenny and Shaun are being challenged to reassess their thinking.
“Anyone who wants to have a close-up look at how an already highly successful farm business is trying to improve even further should come along to the open day.”
The open day will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30 at 195 Kerrs Road, Fish Creek from 11am to 2pm, with lunch provided.
Please RSVP to Karen on 0417 524 916 or email karen@gippsdairy.com.au