Ideal time to review calving

NOW is a good time for dairy farmers to review how well they prepared their spring-calving cows in for the new lactation.
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Industry body Dairy Australia says it has released three simple tools to help with this review.

The three weeks before calving is the time to get springers ready for lactation and mating. Getting their nutrition right is the key to getting more cows in calf, sooner; having fewer health problems at calving and setting up for a highly productive lactation.

Dairy Australia’s Grains2Milk and InCalf programs have developed three new resources to help farmers better manage their transition program: a review worksheet, a tally sheet for animal health problems and a milk fever risk assessment tool.

The review worksheet helps farmers assess how well the transition program performed, and what changes need to be made for the future.

The tally sheet allows farmers to record each cow health problem encountered, week by week, during the calving period. The levels of each problem (such as milk fever, assisted calvings and retained placenta) can be easily tallied up for the herd and compared to the recommended targets for each.

The transition diet milk fever risk calculator makes it easy to calculate the energy, protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and DCAD levels of a pre-calving transition diet and assess its risk for milk fever. The diet can then be adjusted as necessary.

These new resources, as well as the ‘Springers: repro ready’ handout and checklist for transition cow management, are available on the web and will be distributed to advisers and farmers who participate in upcoming Transition Cow Management workshops run by Grains2Milk and InCalf’s for advisers and farmers.

For more information contact Steve Little 0400 004 841 email [email protected]南京夜网419论坛.

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Canberra moves to stop alpine grazing in Victoria

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke will rush through new rules today to stop the return of cattle grazing to Victoria’s Alpine National Park this summer.
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In a blow to the Baillieu government’s grazing trial, the rules will come into force almost immediately and will mean that Victoria will need federal approval before cattle can return to the park. The rules also specify that grazing would have significant impact on the heritage values of the alpine region. Legal experts say this effectively ends the trial’s chances of federal approval and casts doubt over the project’s future.

Earlier this week, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the state government intended to send cattle back into the park this summer.

Mr Burke said yesterday: ”I don’t expect the Baillieu government to be grateful, but the truth is we’ve saved them from themselves. This gives them the opportunity to put a silly policy on the shelf as a reminder of what not to do.”

State Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the new rules were ”a stunt because Mr Burke knows the Victorian government has already committed to referring the scientific trial to review under the [federal environment] act”. He said the rules should be tested in Federal Parliament along with the broader overhaul of federal environment laws announced in August.

The alpine rules will be made through regulation and come into effect tomorrow.

Federal opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the Coalition was ”deeply suspicious” of the federal government overriding states. The opposition would ”ensure proper process is followed”.

Australian National University environmental law expert Andrew Macintosh said that under the regulations ”the Victorian government and mountain cattlemen will have few, if any, legal options”.

”The regulations will remove the ambiguity that arguably currently exists about whether the impacts of cattle grazing clear the liability thresholds under the relevant piece of federal environmental legislation,” he said. ”Any subsequent attempt by either the Victorian government or the mountain cattlemen to take cattle into the Alpine National Park is likely to be illegal under Commonwealth law and could lead to heavy fines or even jail for those found guilty.”

The new rules can be removed only if there is a majority vote to disallow them in one house of Federal Parliament within 15 sitting days.

The Victorian National Parks Association’s Philip Ingamells said it was a landmark day as ”our national heritage-listed Alpine National Park, one of the nation’s most important conservation reserves, now has national protection”.

Mountain Cattlemen’s Association president Mark Coleman said ”it is up to the state to sort it out, but this [the new rules] will be to the detriment of ecosystems because grazing is a key tool to reducing fuel loads”.

The state government says the six-year trial is necessary to determine whether cattle grazing reduces bushfire at lower altitudes.

Environment groups say a review of last summer’s grazing found that cattle could access endangered vegetation and frog habitats and that fencing might be needed.

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Chance on canola

Matt Curtis.MERBEIN South farmer Matt Curtis is hoping his canola crops live up to potential, in what has been an unusual year for the Millewa.
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“We had 500mm between November and March, in an area where we normally get 250mm annual rainfall.”

He said the stored moisture had given crops a valuable kick during the year, but there have also been drawbacks.

“The crops on the sandhills don’t appear to have done as well as some years, and we think there have been a fair lot of nutrients leached out of the sandier soils.”

He said this year was an unusual one in recent times in that he expected the crop on the heavier ground to outdo the lighter ground.

Generally, crops in recent times have been better in lighter areas.

Canola is not a traditional Millewa crop, but Mr Curtis said the subsoil moisture encouraged many growers to try it.

And he is heartened by what he sees thus far.

“It looks like we can grow it when the moisture is there – and at the current prices, it could be a good earner.”

He said it had been tough cropping in the Millewa region, which was largely opened up after World War I, with several drought-induced wipe-outs in recent years.

“You need some rain with the Belah country to grow a crop.”

However, this year he is happy with crop potential.

“We’ve been lucky, we had some rain at the end of September that was just what the doctor ordered, as paddocks dried out.

“You head out further west, where they didn’t get the rain and things don’t look as good.”

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VFF Grains Group rallies against Grain Growers proposals

THE Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Grains Group council members say they have voted unanimously to reject changes on national grains representation and constitutional changes proposed by Grains Growers Limited (GGL) and will be voting “NO” at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) of GGL, according to VFF
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Grains Group President Andrew Weidemann.

“This motion builds on the frustration that has been expressed by members of GGL at a large number of VFF

Branch meetings held recently. It is clear that the Board of GGL is not listening to grass roots growers.”

“VFF has continued to work to reconcile all parties around national representation and has sent a letter to the chairman of GGL summarising the views held by the State Farming organisations. These views include but are

not limited to;

The Representative Organisation (RO) should meet DAFF’s criteria for determining an industry RO under Members of the national RO should be GRDC Levy Paying producers; No Standing Proxies; Weighted voting on policy issues of dissent; State Farming Organisation’s constituted involvement in Policy development; Board elected by 1 member 1 Vote; Board separated from policy development beyond oversight of process; and A sustainable funding model. “The VFF Grains Group does not believe that GGL currently or under the proposed constitutional changes will meet these criteria and as a result recommends members vote NO at the AGM, on 26 October 2011,” Mr Weidemann said.

“If GGL is to take on the mantle of national grower representative, constitutional and cultural reform have to

go a lot further than proposed and growers should not settle for what is on offer at the moment.”

The VFF Grains Group holds a large block of standing proxies and is encouraging members to revoke these

proxies and vote NO for themselves.

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$261 top for ewes at Yarrawonga

THE 2011 Victorian crossbred ewe selling season began officially at Yarrawonga in the state’s north yesterday (Thursday) with a top price of $261 paid during a sale of 9500.
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Offering a yarding that was considered well short on anticipated quality the top priced line, sold by the Dye family of Kentucky Corowa, went to Philip Julian “Annandayle” Holbrook, NSW.

The line of 198 was July/August 10-drop and September shorn while the feature line of 633 March/April-drop, 1.5yo, offered by W & D Bott “Emu Park” Corren which provided generous freight assistance, opened the sale making $260 selling to repeat buyer Peter Redfern of Moulamein, NSW.

Another pen to make $260 a head was a yard of the Aramat Pastoral ewes (119 BLM-cross), sold by Peter Bailey “Yarragon” Mulwala.

Better grown and presented lines made upwards of $230 while those of lines of lesser quality or genuine one year-olds made $170 to $200.

In spite of a good crowd attending, the market struggled for buyer depth with no down-country representation provided by the southwest or Gippsland.

A small selection of autumn born 11-drop young ewe lambs made $155- $181.

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Passion drives Speckle Park endeavour

Jenny Churchill is a fifth generation Kilcunda farmer. FOR Jenny and Wayne Churchill, the Speckle Park breed is more than just something pretty to look at.
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The brother and sister team and fifth generation farmers from Kilcunda decided to try their hand at the commercial side of the Speckle Park breed in 2009 and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

These are the first Speckle Park cattle to be bred in Gippsland and Ms Churchill said they initially thought that hobby farmers would be their target market but commercial farmers have been the interested parties.

“In 2009 we imported 18 embryos from Ponderosa stud in Canada and started our Nunkeeri Park Speckle Park stud,” Ms Churchill said.

“After selecting the best surrogate mothers we had our first Speckle Park calves on the ground in January 2010.

“Since then, we’ve sold bulls and heifers to breeders in Cobram, Warragul, Coleraine, Flinders and Tatyoon.”

It’s the amount of meat in the calves that’s driving buyer’s interest and the Churchills see a real place for the Speckle Parks as vealer producers.

Currently, the Churchills have an arrangement with a neighbouring dairy farmer who is using their Speckle Park semen over his dairy herd so the Churchills can develop a commercial cross-bred Speckle herd.

“We will hand rare the calves and therefore develop a quiet and easy to handle commercial herd,” Ms Churchill said.

The Churchills have also imported 13 embryos using sire River Hill Traffic Jam and which will be implanted in December, whilst Speckle Park bulls and heifers continue to be for sale on their property.

Mr Churchill was first introduced to the Speckle Park breed when he was on a farm tour in Canada in 2008 where he noted the breed’s features and benefits.

“I was impressed with the carcase quality and the nature of the cattle,” Mr Churchill said.

Ms Churchill said the Speckle Park breed were a bit smaller and easier to handle.

“They have moderate birth weights and high marbling,” she said.

“They are also highly fertile and have high milk flow.”

Aside from the Speckle Park breed the Churchills also run a number of commercial Limousin and Angus breeders.

They run their stud cattle on 75 acres and their commercial herd on 400 acres.

At a recent Pakenham store sale they sold heifers weighing 322 kilograms to $724.

Mr Churchill has been involved with the Limousin breed for over 30 years and has shown cattle all over Australia.

It is these previous experiences that have led him to have a keen eye for beef and the initiative and knowledge to increase and develop his Speckle Park herd.

Ms Churchill has worked on the Kilcunda farm her whole life.

The property was previously a dairy and Ms Churchill and her mother, Emily, managed the farm together for many years.

It is obvious that Ms Churchill is passionate about the family farm and it’s this passion that she employs into the Speckle Park project.

Whilst it may take the brother and sister team a couple of years to build a large commercial Speckle Park herd, it won’t be lacking in enthusiasm.

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Technology on the rise

Sam Trengove.SPAA (Precision Agriculture Australia) committee member Sam Trengove (pictured) demonstrated the varied possibilities for new technology at the recent Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSFP) field day at Ouyen.
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Mr Trengove said there were good applications for technology such as crop sensors, which he said could either be used for weed or nutrition management.

He said the sensors, which are still reasonably expensive, but coming down in price with technology improvements, were particularly good for identifying weeds in canola and pulse crops.

“In cereals, the crops tend to grow a bit fast, so it is hard to isolate the weeds, but you can do it successfully in oilseeds and pulses early in the season.”

He said it could also be used to assess nutrition needs, although farmers needed to make sure that crop discolouration was due to a nitrogen deficiency and not another issue.

Mr Trengove said one of the advantages of the crop sensors was that they had better resolution than human eyes.

“You can pick up some things with the sensors that you couldn’t just by doing a visual inspection.”

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Where has September rain gone?

ALTHOUGH at face value, spring rain across Victoria appears to have improved in recent years, there are still worrying trends – such as the lack of September rainfall.
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Again, this year’s crops are likely to be limited by a poor September.

Even last year, where crops were thick enough for the proverbial dog to run across, there was a dry patch in September, which experts attributed to the sub-tropical ridge pushing further south than normal.

Although it was lost in all the commotion surrounding the floods later on during harvest, there were early reports that crops were not yielding quite as well as expected upon visual inspection, which was attributed in part to the dry September.

The rainfall figures for September in my rain gauge in Horsham over the past five years are as follows.

2007: 25mm

2008: 23mm

2009: 72.5mm

2010: 39.5mm

2011: 16mm

This compares with a long-term average September rainfall of 46mm, meaning just one year in five has been above average.

But that’s not all – even these figures tell a bit of a fib – with little of the rainfall falling in the crucial middle three weeks of the month.

Here’s the figures from September 5-25 each year.

2007: 14mm

2008:14.5mm

2009: 40mm

2010: 2.5mm

2011: 3.5mm

These figures are firmly in decile1-3 range every year but one.

Much of the September rain either falls very early in the month, when crops in the last three years have been too wet to profit from the rain, or late in the month, when yield potential has been lost.

It may just be a statistical anomaly, but it is a sobering picture in light of projected further falls in crucial spring rainfall.

My records here indicate that winter rainfall is holding relatively strong, there has been at least one significant rain event from November to February, but spring and autumn falls are under pressure.

Let’s hope we start getting rain at the time we want and need it once again!

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Bronton – a classic grazing property

Bronton in Chetwynd is a picturesque grazing property LOCATED on the Casterton-Edenhope Road in Chetwynd , Bronton, a classic grazing property.
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Currently Bronton is used for fattening and backgrounding cattle as well as breeding prime lambs.

In early September this year sucker lambs were sold to the supermarket trade, illustrating the property’s winter carrying capabilities.

Ideally the property is suited to prime lambs, sheep and wool and cattle breeding and fattening.

Bronton is set up as a standalone farming unit or is alternatively suited for consolidation purposes.

The property is subdivided into 12 well fenced paddocks.

Farming improvements include a two stand G1 woolshed with the capacity for approximately 300 head as well as steel sheep yards.

Further features are the new post and rail cattle holding yards and ample hay and machinery shedding.

Bronton is set on gently undulating red gum country which is reliably watered by dams, spring and some Chetwynd river access.

Pastures consists of mainly phalaris with a clover base and some pasture recently sown.

The property furthermore boasts a three bedroom home with views over the Chetwynd village.

Selling agent, Andrew Dufty, said Bronton is an affordable and viable grazing property.

Expressions of interest close on November 7.

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Unravelling variable soils

Pic: Ben Jones, Mallee Focus, looks at a soil sample at Ouyen.MALLEE farmers will be able to make good productivity gains if they can better understand the variable soil zones, according to Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSFP) agronomist Michael Moodie.
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Mr Moodie said the three key soil types were dune, midslope and swale, or flat, and between them, characteristics varied enormously.

“Understanding the difference in properties between soil types will play a big role in increasing production, while at the same time reducing risk.”

He said there was already a lot of variable rate farming through the region, with croppers using different inputs according to the soil type.

“You might find they boost the fertiliser on the sand-hills, where it can leach away a bit, or they may not put anything out in the really bad boron-impacted patches.

“It’s already happening, but there’s more than can be investigated.”

Mr Moodie said there were issues with soil toxicity and subsoil constraints in the region, and these needed to be understood better.

Ben Jones, Mallee Focus, said there were large differences in-paddock in terms of nitrogen and phosphorus fertility.

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