The Boundaries

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I am blessed to work with farmers who continually push all available boundaries and are innovative thinkers. Their achievements never cease to amaze me, like the increase in profits of 10-40% per year over the past five years.

But when traveling around the country I am constantly shocked at seeing paddocks stuffed full of animals of all varieties, shapes and sizes, all struggling to get enough feed.

There are thousands and thousands of them. Not yours, of course.

The alarming and disappointing thing – apart from animal health considerations – is the paddocks being shut up for silage at the same time. This represents profit opportunity wasted; take the profits now by feeding stock well and getting the best production you can from them. Profits are easiest to get in spring.

Then take a good hard look at your stocking rate. Yes, choosing the right stocking rate is so important and not hard to work out if you have the right tools. The eCOGENT Herd Size Indicator, for example, takes into account your seasonal rainfall and temperature profiles along with liveweight and production figures and makes it so easy to modify your stock policy to achieve optimum profits.

You will also need to be concerned about pasture quality, so make sure you get a Brix meter and check your pasture daily.

We now have many examples of farmers lifting grazing residuals to produce more fodder of better quality, and gaining results in improved animal health. Longer pasture has a better root structure and better opportunity to incorporate the essential stock nutrients from down deep.

They also say that pasture is the best and cheapest feed and supplements drag down their profits so they avoid or reduce their use. It means having a flexible stocking policy, but grazing the right stock on pasture definitely gives the highest profit per kilo of dry matter consumed.

Members believe by using the Six Laws of Best Business Farming Practice to improve soil, pasture composition and Brix levels, even the mature grass becomes more palatable and the clumps of uneaten rank growth start to disappear.

I was once convinced that conventional management was best but all the changes made by the farmers I work with have challenged my thinking. Now as a farmer measuring daily profit opportunities I have definitely changed my mind.

The key is to feed those animals well and you too can improve your profits by 10-40% per year.

Peter Floyd


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