Scholarship winner: changing forage management for a future in dair

Media Release

3 August 2020

Scholarship winner: changing forage management for a future in dairy

We aren’t dairy farmers anymore; we are crop growers who milk cows.

That’s according to Mitchell Lumsden, the latest Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) GenAg Scholarship winner.

The 22-year-old will use the $3000 scholarship to investigate transitioning his family’s pasture-based, grazing dairy operation in northern Victoria to a housed-cow total mixed ration system.

His research will focus on the viability of TMR farming, especially in low farmgate milk price seasons.

Mitchell said water availability and cost determined dairy profitability in recent years and he didn’t think this would change.

“The irrigation water reliability isn’t here anymore, it has changed with environmental flows and foreign buyers,” he said.

“Water is hard to come by, this means to run a successful business we are going to have to think differently and farm differently.”

Mitchell is a fourth-generation dairy farmer at Leitchville where his parents milk up to 800 cows.

Running the family farm is his dream, but since finishing school he has furthered his skills and education working at other dairy farms, for a forage contracting business in Canada and is currently employed by Eade Forages in northern Victoria.

Managing seasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning was something he learnt in Canada.

Mitchell wants to use the GenAg Scholarship to further explore this in an Australian context where farmgate milk prices fluctuate.

“In NSW, they have almost already gone through this transition period – between grazing and TMR – where we are at,” he said.

“They are more of a dryland operation which can get water sometimes. Last year they got 0 per cent allocation and we, in Victoria, got 80 per cent. We are only 100 metres away from NSW, there’s every possibility that could happen in Victoria.”

“I want to meet those people and see what changes they have made to their businesses, what they think the key points are now, with their business, and what their focus has changed too.”

“We all know grazing is the cheapest form of feed, but if water is over $250-$300 a megalitre, it is not viable, and you can’t get the quantity of milk out of the cows.”

Mitchell anticipates his research will discover the extra cost of TMR – up to $100 a dry tonne to chop silage, feed it out and labour – would mean the business would have to produce more milk to cover costs.

Feed planning and the development of a self-sufficient dairy farm is also something Mitchell wants to explore.

Lallemand Animal Nutrition is proud to support the next generation of professionals in the forage industry, Lallemand Animal Nutrition Managing Director – Australia, Alex Turney said.

“As a global leader in natural microbial products, Lallemand is committed to working with and supporting the future industry leaders,” he said.

“Mitch demonstrates a commitment to growth and has specific interests that will contribute to the forage industry for years to come.

“Lallemand is happy to have a small part in supporting his success.”

“The future of agriculture is in good hands.”

AFIA Chief Executive Officer John McKew said the GenAg Scholarship is an important financial aid for young people in the fodder industry.

“It helps to develop their knowledge, experience and career aspirations,” he said.

“I commend Lallemand for their support of the next generation of agricultural leaders and influencers.”

 

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
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NEXT GEN: Mitchell Lumsden will investigate the transition from pasture-based dairying to TMR with the scholarship from AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

FORAGE FUTURE: Fourth generation northern Victorian dairy farmer Mitchell Lumsden will use the funds from an AFIA and Lallemand Animal Nutrition scholarship to learn more about managingseasonal and price risk through forage conservation and planning.

 

Hay shed build boom

Media Release

27 April 2020

Victorian hay shed construction has surged off-the-back of a record 2019 fodder harvest.

Growers in the southern Mallee and Wimmera regions are leading the charge, all wanting to invest in infrastructure to protect the quality of their hay.

Sales of hay sheds are on track to double this season for Entegra, one of the Wimmera and Mallee’s largest shed construction businesses.

Since the beginning of this year, Entegra has sold 65 per cent of the total number of hay sheds it sold in 2019.

Hay shed construction is the fastest growing business category for Entegra, which manufactures all types of agricultural and industry sheds.

“A lot of farmers had so much hay at the end of harvest that it was stacked-up to 10 bales high in the paddocks,” Entegra General Manager Laurie McCalman said.

“This has been an incredible turnaround in a region which had gone through severe drought and then a flood during the 2018 harvest.

“This past season, record prices encouraged hay production and now it is flowing through to on-farm investment.”

Warracknabeal grower Travis Penny recently purchased a new hay shed.

“Hay’s an important part of our operation now and if you’re going to go to the expense of doing hay, you’ve got to store it well,” he said.

“The market price fluctuates and with our latest hay shed, we’ll be able to better maintain the (quality of our hay) and have more options.”

Pre-engineered structural hay sheds (kits) which can store from 1,000 to 2,500 have been the most popular locally, due to the large volumes of hay produced, according to Laurie McCalman.

“Farmers want their sheds installed faster and thanks to the introduction of the kits, this has been possible,” he said.

“Thanks to the hay shed kits, we were able to install a record number of sheds before they were needed for vital hay storage.”

Customised hay sheds have also been popular with growers.

Mr McCalman said some sheds, up to 7.5 metres high, were constructed because farmers have the machinery to stack bales at that level and it’s also cost effective.

“For example, if you increase the height of a 2,500 bale shed from 6m to 7.5m you can store at least an additional 300 bales of hay,” he said.

“So, we’ve just introduced the 2800 bale hay shed for this season.”

Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) Chief Executive Officer John McKew said the rise in hay shed sales was good news for the industry.

“A well-constructed shed adds value to stored fodder and this provides a quality and consistent product for our customers,” he said.

For more information about hay shed construction:

Visit: https://www.entegra.com.au/how-to-store-a-bale-of-hay/

Or  https://www.afia.org.au/files/Fodder_Brief_-_Fodder_Storage_and_Hay_Sheds.pdf

Media Contact:

John McKew Adam Smith Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer Entegra Media officer
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How are you going to make the most of excess feed?

Media Release

6 April 2020

Now’s the time to plan for the spring fodder harvest and help rebuild the nation’s hay stocks.

That’s according to the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) chair Frank McRae.

With some regions recording their best autumn break for more than a decade, Mr McRae encouraged people to think to the future and consider fodder as part of their drought mitigation strategy.

“It really is the time to think forward to spring, what silage and hay could I make? How will I be able to maintain the quality of the stored feed for years to come?” he said.

“If there is a lot of fodder around, we must be smart about storing it. Pit silage is a way to preserve feed for many years.”

Mr McRae said timely rains in Queensland were keeping local contractors and farmers busy harvesting forage sorghum and pasture.

In NSW, farmers who had to destock due to the drought have been offering their fresh pasture as agistment.

This comes as demand for hay has dropped-off due to improved seasonal conditions.

Rainfall was reflected in hay prices at the end of February, with all categories of hay recording price decreases.

The most predominate price declines were throughout NSW and Queensland. An example was a price fall of almost 50 per cent for pasture hay delivered to Queensland’s Darling Downs, according to the AFIA Hay Report.

The price of hay in other regions dropped slightly into March but values in most regions for all varieties of hay has remained steady since.

AFIA chief executive officer John McKew said the recent tempering of the hay market would help realign market supply and demand.

“Widespread, near drought-breaking rains has relieved the pressure on both sides of the hay market,” he said.

“This rain has provided many hay industry customers with the confidence to restock and strengthen their businesses, this is all good news for the future of the fodder industry.”

 

Media Contact:

John McKew Frank McRae Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer AFIA Chair Media officer
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Lallemand GenAg Future Fund $3,000 Scholarship applications open

Media Release

11 February 2020

Are you a young person working in the fodder industry or studying?

Would you like to contribute to the future of Australia’s growing hay and silage industry?

Do you need $3000 to kick-start your project, or help with educational costs?

If the answers were yes, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) want to hear from you.

“The next generation are the drivers of our industry,” AFIA CEO John McKew said.

“Their skills, knowledge and experience will lead the expanding and developing fodder industry and we want to provide their educational journey with a head-start.”

“Lallemand Animal Nutrition and AFIA see this scholarship as a long-term investment in the industry.”

Fodder producer Cameron Lowe, from Wasleys in the Mid North of South Australia used the money from his 2018 scholarship to travel to China as part of his university course.

Studying a Bachelor of Farm Business Management, he said the tour provided insight into the hay market few growers had ever seen.

“In China, exporters Hay Australia showed us what happens on the ground and at the plant,” Cameron said.

“As a fodder producer, this understanding of the market, customers and the process involved in selling our hay cemented my trust in the industry and its future.”

But the benefits of the scholarship stretched beyond the financial assistance.

“I travelled with Lallemand to regions of Victoria where I learnt about silage production,” Cameron said.

“At home, we produce about 120,000 small squares a year but we are always on the lookout to do something else.”

“Farming these days is about diversity and this opportunity to learn about other parts of the industry gave me the confidence to consider different options on-farm.”

The scholarship is open for those 18-35 years of age (at the time of application) and they must be studying, planning to study or wishing to undertake a specific project to benefit the Australian fodder industry.

The successful applicant will be the individual who has best demonstrated they can make a long-term contribution to the Australian fodder industry and more broadly, Australian agriculture.

Applications must include:

  • Full name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Telephone contact number (mobile preferred)
  • Resume detailing current and previous work experience including employers, roles and responsibilities
  • Education completed or being undertaken
  • Details of any experience within the Australian fodder industry
  • Contact details of two referees
  • A current photograph
  • A maximum of 400 words describing how you would apply the funds from the Lallemand GenAg Future Fund if you were the successful applicant.  This may comprise a summary of project work that you are undertaking or considering, or it may describe the completion of additional education and how these funds will be used as part of this.

Participation in an interview panel assessment comprising Lallemand and AFIA appointed representatives may be required.

Applications can be posted to:

Mr John McKew
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Fodder Industry Association
PO Box 527
Ascot Vale Victoria 3032

Or via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a subject title “2020 Lallemand GenAg Future Fund Application”

Applications for the 2020 Lallemand GenAg Future Fund close on Tuesday June 30, 2020.

Together we can build a sustainable future for the Australian fodder industry.

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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AFIA welcomes new Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management

Media Release

6 February 2020

The nation’s peak organisation representing hay growers, the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) congratulates David Littleproud on his appointment as the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management.

AFIA CEO John McKew said the fodder industry was looking forward to working with Minister Littleproud to improve hay market transparency.

“Fodder has played a key role in Australian agriculture’s ability to endure drought and it will continue to be vital in the rebuild once there’s widespread rain,” Mr McKew said.

“AFIA is looking forward to working with Minister Littleproud and the Department of Agriculture to improve the management of data in the fodder industry.”

“A more comprehensive understanding of hay stocks and demand forecasts would ensure farmers have the best information in times of crisis such as droughts and bushfires.”

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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Stacking Safely

Media Release

3 February 2020

 

Stacking safely

Loading, unloading and stacking hay is almost second nature for those in the fodder industry.

For some, it’s a daily task and often completed without consideration of the risks.

But complacency in the workplace can lead to accidents and dangerous incidents, even for the most seasoned operators.

That’s why the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) has developed a Hay Stacking Guide.

The resource, available free on the AFIA website, was created with everyone along the fodder supply chain in mind.

“It’s for fodder growers, customers and managers, anyone who uses hay, silage or straw,” AFIA CEO John McKew said.

“The easily accessible guide, complete with diagrams and pictures, can be used to train new employees or as a skills refresher for long-term workers or business managers.”

The Hay Stacking Guide includes best practice tips, such as stacking two bales together to reduce the chances of building an unstable stack and practical “rule of thumb” measurements to ensure stack stability.

There are also guidelines for stacking round bales, storing hay near powerlines and loading and unloading trucks and trailers.

Take a look at the guide: https://www.afia.org.au/index.php/projects/safety/hay-stacking-guide

For more safety tips and fodder information: www.afia.org.au

 

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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Australia needs a national fodder database for market transparency

Media Release

20 January 2020

The national fodder industry body has ramped-up calls for a market database to provide better insight into stocks and demand, as the growing need for livestock feed drains hay supplies.

Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) Chief Executive John McKew said the recent bushfire crisis, coupled with on-going drought, was depleting the low national fodder stocks but a more accurate picture of the situation was required.

Mr McKew spoke about the need for reliable fodder information at the Bushfire Roundtable Meeting in Canberra last week, attended by agricultural industry organisations and hosted by Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.

“Industry representatives continually ask ‘how much fodder is in the system? Where is it going? How much is there in reserves?’ he said. “Quantitatively – I don’t know. The industry doesn’t know. That information is not recorded for domestic fodder production and sales. What we know is qualitative information. But in times like this – drought and bushfire recovery – there needs to be more transparency in the market so Australian agriculture has the capacity to forecast feed requirements and plan.”

“It is something everyone wants, it was mentioned by the Grains industry, and there’s value across a lot of industries, but it is a hard nut to crack.”

Mr McKew said the need for better data was a theme of the discussions at the Canberra meeting.

While the Roundtable was a first step in a long process, Mr McKew was buoyed by the Agriculture Department’s “sympathetic ear” regarding the database.

He hoped Government involvement would provide the much-needed assistance and funding, which had previously been lacking, to develop a model to allow Australia’s agricultural industry to better manage seasonal risk.

During his address to the Roundtable, Mr McKew praised the agricultural industry for banning together to donate fodder, and the subsequent transport, to fire affected farmers.

But he stressed the urgent need for fodder in bushfire regions would further drain the nation’s low stocks.

“Australia will not necessarily run out of fodder, but the quantities available for trading – available for those who need to buy it in quantity – could run out,” he said. “AFIA has been told that some farmers with stocks of hay have held-off putting it into the marketplace due to the uncertainty clouding the season and a need to sustain their own livestock enterprise.”

Importing fodder won’t be an option either, according to Mr McKew.

“The biosecurity risk is too high, and the Agriculture Department has said that in the past too,” he said.

“We could potentially end up with a lot of worse problems linked to imported weeds and diseases.”

 

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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Northern demand strips national fodder stocks

Media Release

26 December 2019

Hay is being trucked to northern states at a frantic pace, igniting concerns about autumn fodder supplies.

Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) Chief Executive Officer John McKew cautioned hay buyers that despite a bumper yield in parts of Victoria, South Australia and the NSW Riverina, fodder supplies shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“During spring, hay prices softened marginally but we’ve recently seen consecutive weeks of market stabilisation – an indicator that demand is meeting supply,” Mr McKew said.

“There’s still a lot of hay in Western and Central Victoria as well as South East South Australia, but all reports suggest it’s being snapped-up quickly by those in drought affected regions.”

AFIA has also revised its market forecast and now anticipates a shortage of fodder by as early as March or April 2020, without a widespread and adequate autumn break.

Initial forecasts from the peak fodder industry body estimated there would be enough hay to supply the nation until winter.

This revision follows ongoing dry conditions and unprecedented northern market demand for southern hay.

“If you require hay in autumn, act now to secure it,” Mr McKew said.

For more information on hay prices contact the AFIA office on (03) 9670 0523 or www.afia.org.au

 

Media Contact:

John McKew   Simone Smith
Chief Executive Officer   Media officer
W: (03) 9670 0523    
M: 0438 182 600   0438 847 742
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