Tuesday, 14 February 2017 12:14

Queensland farm conversion clears way for expansion

Written by  Gordon Collie
Jason and Lisa Rozynski with children, Angus and Paton. Jason and Lisa Rozynski with children, Angus and Paton.

Converting a second farm for dairying, breeding up the expansion milking herd and commissioning a new grain ration mill made for a big 2016 for Queensland farmers Jason and Lisa Rozynski.

“Looking back, we’ve achieved a lot in the space of 12 months,” said Jason.

“It’s been a big investment to scale up our enterprise and with things now coming together we will soon have 500 milkers producing over three million litres between the two farms.

“We were hopeful for an industry bounce when we started on our expansion course, but unfortunately prices have plateaued and we are still waiting,” Jason said.

Jason left school in 1995 and started work on the farm, then on to partnership with Jason’s father from 2008 and took over the family holding in 2012 at Imbil in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, which was initially cleared for dairying by his grandparents Harry and Jess who purchased the property in 1946.

The property on Yabba Creek, a tributary of the Mary River, will soon be milking 300 cows, with Jason’sfather Gary still actively involved in the enterprise.

The opportunity arose to purchase the second property about 10 km away within the footprint of the ill-fated Queensland Government’s Traveston Dam project.

“It had been run as a beef enterprise for many years, so we had to pretty much start from scratch with fencing, stock watering and irrigation systems and pasture renovation.”

A new herringbone dairy and yard facilities with automatic cup removers to facilitate one-person milking were completed to start in June.

“We bred 200 heifers in batch calvings over the space of three months for the new dairy with another 57 calved in August-September and another 67 calved at Christmas.”

Their dairy herd has a strong infusion of Brown Swiss which have been impressive performers since the first bull was introduced about 15 years ago.

“We’ve been breeding Brown Swiss fairly extensively for a good while now using bulls, artificial insemination and embryo transfers from top Australian, European and US bloodlines,” Jason said.

 “We’ve reared every heifer born in the last 10 years, initially to upgrade and expand our own herds

The Beez Neez Brown Swiss stud was established about five years ago and they now enjoy strong local demand for both heifers and bulls.

“It’s been a great experience, but we still have a long way to go.

“The Brown Swiss have great heat tolerance, strong feet and legs to cope well in the wet and are very good calvers.

“They are cost effective milk producers with good components.  Our averages are around 3.7% protein and 4.7% fat,” Jason said.

He has been very pleased with the results of a change in enterprise feeding focus from partial mixed ration to pasture with a bail-fed grain-based ration in both dairies.

A high-capacity automated mill can turn out multiple formulations of precision batched-weighed feed.

With the installation of grain silos they now enjoy the consistency of forward ordering wheat and barley for bulk deliveries.

Grain ration mix is bale-fed at the rate of 8 kilos a day split between morning and evening milking.

Canola meal can be blended in varying quantities to balance protein according to seasonal conditions.

“We can dial down to minute quantities during winter and crank it up to compensate for the lower feed value of summer kikuyu grazing,” he said.

The new milling and mixing system commissioned in May can produce a batch of 1500 kilos of precision blend feed in around 45 minutes.

“It’s been really good – the best thing I’ve done,” Jason said.

“You can blend to exact requirements and we make different rations for heifers, springers and calves.”

A feed additive Betain sourced from Trouw Nutritional International has proved very successful in helping combat milk fluctuations triggered by hot weather.

“We use it during the summers when a stretch of hot weather can badly affect production. Daily production can suffer by hundreds of litres during a heat event.  It can really knock cows about, especially towards the end of their lactation.”

“It’s an expensive additive, but well worth strategic use to keep production on a more even keel,” Jason said.

Their pasture feeding is based on kikuyu summer grazing with annual ryegrass with a mix of chicory and plantain.  Some lucerne provides end of winter – early spring feeding, but feeding needs to be carefully managed to avoid bloat issues.

The rye mix planted around March provides quality grazing through to the end of October. Cultivation with a disc and power harrow has proved most successful in getting fast crop establishment for early grazing.

This year Jason tried an application of chicken manure applied at a rate of about 15 cubic metres a hectare and worked in before planting.

“It replaced our normal pre-plant fertiliser and seems to have made a real difference. We’ve been very pleased with the result,” he said.

The family has successfully used two centre pivot irrigators on the home farm for several years. Each covers about 25 hectares.

“They provide fast, precision watering on undulating country. We use a lot less irrigation in winter, just enough to water the fertiliser in with applications stepped up during the hot summer months.’’

A pivot irrigator was customised for their second property, covering about 60 hectares in a half circle. The variable speed irrigator has nine spans with the last three hinged to wrap around an electricity pylon. An end gun fills in variations around the boundary.

“We made up wire pushers so the wheels can traverse over electric fences.”

“It’s been a brilliant set up for really efficient watering of our farming flats,” Jason said.

The family farm consigns its milk to Parmalat in Brisbane, but their new dairy supplies expanding hinterland processor Maleny Milk.

“We are still hoping for an improvement in milk prices, but at least with this arrangement we have spread our options with a local business supplying quality branded milk,” Jason said.

More like this

Veterinary disbudding: what’s all the fuss about?

Over the past few years various combinations of local anaesthetic, sedation and pain relief have become more widespread during the removal of horn buds in dairy calves.

This ‘veterinary disbudding’ has been commonplace in some areas of Australia and New Zealand for a while, but in other regions it is considered a reasonably new concept.

This article aims to de-mystify the technique of veterinary disbudding allowing dairy farmers to make an informed decision on which method of disbudding is suitable for their herd. 

Traditional methods

Most dairy calves are born with ‘horn buds’ which are freely moveable but not attached to the bony skull below.

The correct term for removal of these is ‘disbudding’.

The disbudding procedure is quicker and less painful prior to 8 weeks of age, before the horn bud has fused with the skull.

The preferred time to disbud calves is between 3 and 8 weeks.

In Australia, hot iron cautery using electric or gas disbudding irons has been used for the removal of horn buds for decades.

Calves are fully conscious but physically restrained for the duration of this process to allow the procedure to be performed safely and effectively.

After 8 weeks of age, there is fusion between the horn bud and underlying bone meaning the horns are no longer freely moveable and they require amputation.

This is generally done using guillotine-style dehorners, ‘scoop’ dehorners or embryotome wire in the case of large established horns.

New methods: Combination therapies

The routine use of sedatives, local anaesthetics and analgesics (pain relief) for the purpose of disbudding dairy calves has been embraced in the UK, New Zealand, USA, Sweden, Canada and Denmark. Regulation and legislation varies by country but there is a general acceptance that the use of these drugs for disbudding reduces the stress for calves and handlers, improves calf growth and optimises animal welfare.

So what are the available options?

Method Description Advantages Disadvantages Who can do this?
  1. Local anaesthetic and hot iron cautery*
Local anaesthetic is injected around the base of the horn bud prior to removal.

“Blocks’’ the immediate pain associated with the procedure.

Allows safer removal of horn bud.

Physical restraint still required as the calf is fully awake. Effects of local anaesthetic will subside by 1-2 hours post-procedure. Direct pain can last for 8 hours. Veterinarians are trained to handle and administer local anaesthetic.
  1. Sedation, local anaesthetic and hot iron cautery (“Double combination”)
Intramuscular sedation with xylazine. Once recumbent, local anaesthetic is infused around the base of the horn bud prior to removal.

Physical restraint is not required for horn bud removal allowing stress-free and efficient removal of horn bud.

Extra teats can also be checked for and removed as necessary. 

The sedative has mild pain-relief properties but these are short-lived. Direct pain can last for 8 hours.

Risk of death (low) with any sedation.

In addition to Method 1, veterinarians are trained to select and administer sedatives, along with the recovery of calves post-procedure.
  1. Sedation, local anaesthetic, long-acting pain relief and hot iron cautery (“Triple combination”)
Intramuscular sedation with xylazine. Once recumbent, a subcutaneous injection of long-acting pain relief, followed by local anaesthetic infusion around the base of the horn bud prior to removal.

Virtually abolishes the pain response as the long-acting pain relief can last for up to 3 days.

Horn buds and extra teats can be removed safely and pain-free.

Improved weight gains post-procedure.

Increased cost per head and time-consuming compared to traditional method.

Risk of death (low) with any sedation.

In addition to methods 1 and 2, veterinarians are trained to select and administer long-acting pain relief.

*Long acting pain relief can also be used in combination with traditional disbudding and method 1.

The triple combination method is the preferred option due to its superior and sustained pain relief.

Additionally, research has also shown that this method has resulted in an 18% and 15% improvement in growth rates over the subsequent 15 and 30 days respectively.

A perceived disadvantage with all of these combination therapies is the need for a veterinarian to administer the sedative and local anaesthetic.

However, despite a common misconception of additional costs associated with veterinary services, many clinics are offering this service at a very competitive price.

Availability will vary by region but if you are interested in trying veterinary disbudding with your calves, it is worth contacting your local clinic and discussing this service with them.    

Dr Gemma Chuck is a veterinary advisor at Apiam Animal Health. 

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Victor Rodwell, who milks 840 Holstein Friesians and crossbreds on a dairy platform of 250ha at Boyanup, 200km south of Perth, plans to sow more AberMagic high sugar ryegrass this autumn for its persistent and dense tiller and root growth, as well as its high nutritional value.

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Initially I wanted to challenge this suggestion but found that it is true in my life.

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MANY FARM tracks are in need of serious maintenance after the wet conditions prevalent across most of Australia last year. Following are some practical tips that will hopefully help save time and money when the season permits some repair work.


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