Operational area

260 hectares: 80 hectares irrigated for milking cows, 125 hectares dryland pastures often shared between milkers, dries and heifers and 95 hectares used exclusively for dry cows and heifers.

Seasonal Update 2019

In 2018 the long association with Murray Goulburn Coop ended in 2018 when the company was purchased by Saputo Dairy Australia, a Canadian based dairy company with a significant global presence. There was a slight upwards revision of milk prices for the 2018-19 season of approximately 15 cents per kg Milk Solids (MS) giving a predicted milk price of $7.51 per kg MS for 2018-19 season. There was an increase in revenue from supplier bonus payments, with one of the conditions of sale of MG being a payment of a loyalty bonus of 40 cents per kg MS on all production in the 1st July to 31st October 2018 period and a further 40 cents per kg MS for the entire 2017-18 production season. This did provide a much needed boost to income and some confidence that milk prices may return to better levels as the prices received for the past 2 years have been very disappointing.

The biggest impact across 2018 was the price of purchased feed. In response to this, a larger area of Tocal property was given over to dairy cattle with Bona Vista, traditionally used for mixed sheep and beef cattle grazing now for to be used for dairy heifers and sheep. This has reduced purchased feed by 75% for these stock and will  have a big impact on overall feed costs for the consolidated businesses.

The dairy farm has a milking herd averaging 280 - 300 mostly Holstein-Friesians with some Aussie Reds and cross-breeds. With dry cows, heifers (grown for replacement and sale) as well as calves the dairy herd is about 550 - 600 head at any time throughout the year. Cows are milked twice a day and the average production per cow is 23 litres per day. Total milk production for the year is approximately 2.2 million  litres. The milking herd is mostly artificially bred with the semen being purchased from USA, Canada and Australia. Herd recording is undertaken once a month to monitor individual animal performance and assist in management decision making. The NLIS tag, in each animal’s ear, is scanned to assist in this process. Our herd records are maintained electronically using EasyDairy software.

Pastures are managed using the “Managing Pastures for Profit” system devised by the Dairy Pathways project. Additional concentrate feeding occurs during milking and on a feed pad as required. Depending on seasonal conditions about 500 tonnes of silage and hay is made from surplus pasture each year and is fed out to the cattle when needed.

The dairy is both Cattlecare and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) accredited. The finances of the Dairy business are monitored and reviewed as part of the Dairy Farm Monitor Project sponsored by NSW DPI and Dairy Australia.

Sprinklers in the dairy race provide some relief on a hot day

Herd size

Numbers can fluctuate throughout the year, average number of milkers are given below:

2017-18 = 280

2016 = 200

2015 = 225

2014 = 225

2013 = 180

A highlight in 2018 was a significant improvement in reproductive performance for the herd. This has been a real problem in past years but now has turned around significantly with the herd now meeting all industry targets for average Days in Milk (DIM) with 57% of the herd < 150 DIM with average DIM at 155days (industry target is 160-180 days), 80 day submission rate at 67% and 100 day in calf rate at 33%.

Herd composition

Great majority are Holstein (95%) with some Illawarra and Illawarra cross from a previous herd acquisition. In the past Tocal has run a Jersey bull with maiden heifers and approximately 6 Jersey x Holsteins remain in the herd.

Milk per cow/day

Fluctuates with season and ‘freshness’ of herd (i.e. average number of days since calving, also called average Days In Milk (DIM) or Days Open). Common range between 22-30 L per day. Target around 25 L averaged over the year and currently around 24 Litres.

Quantity of milk collected each day

Fluctuates with season and ‘freshness’ of herd. Common range between 10500 and 14500 L per pickup (NB. Tocal is usually on “Skip-a-day Pickup” so daily production is half the pick-up amount). In the autumn production will be approximately 10500 L/pickup rising to 14500 in Spring. The variation in production is due to seasonal conditions, cow numbers and cow condition.

Quality fluctuates also. Key measures of milk quality are Protein and Fat %, Somatic Cell Count (a measure of udder health, especially mastitis), Total Plate Count (a measure of bacterial contamination), Extraneous Matter (a measure of general milking hygiene) and Residue testing for contaminants such as chemicals or medicines. Demerit points can be awarded for milk that does not reach quality targets and this then affects the price received. Tocal produces good quality milk and normally achieves payment in the ‘premium’ milk quality band.

A sample Milk Test Summary is shown below.

Farmgate price

Actual price is affected by quantity, quality and supply management factors. The farmgate price for Tocal for April 2017 was 46.7 cents per Litre (65.45 cpl  last year) based on $6.07 ($6.56 last year) per kg Butterfat and $9.11 ($9.83 last year) per kg Protein. After deductions and incentives the final price paid was 56.8 cpl. Actual price is increased compared with last year, despite a fall in milk price, due to increased fat and protein percentage of milk. See http://www.mgc.com.au/financial/milk-pricing/

Milk revenue was up 30% or $273,262 compared to the 2017 due to a significant increase in milk production and a slight increase in milk price compared to the 2018 year.

Sales

2017

2018

% Change

Total Litres

1,884,613

2,102,709

23%

Total Milk Solids

130,368

150,037

15%

Milk Income

$902,743

$1,176,005

30%

Cattle Sale Income

$156,408

$116,792

-25%

An excellent, in depth review of factors affecting the price for milk and milk products and also of inputs such as grain, fertiliser, water, etc is provided in the Dairy Situation and Outlook available at: https://www.dairyaustralia.com.au/industry/dairy-situation-and-outlook/situation-and-outlook

Part of a sample Milk statement is provided below.