Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just a few photos of the places and people I have seen and met over the last few days.  After a few days in melbourne and talking with all the agency people it was nice to get out into the country and see some landscape, cows and farmers!  it was especially nice to get the practical side of australian dairy farming and thier views on the dairy industry.  They are a hard-working group and a varied group in thier approach to farming.  It is an industry much more based on the export market as that is the biggest part of their industry.  There are some very different aspects such as they do pre milk prep just put the machines on yet the cows are remarkably clean (udders anyway) and they still maintain quality numbers well below USA standards.  Somatic cells average 150,000 or lower on most farms.  400,000 is legal limit in australia.  Many have begun to institute partial mixed rations into thier feeding systems to help increase production and cut down on acidosis.  Acidosis is a big problem since all cows are fed a large amount of grain in the parlor.  most parlors are rotary, or rapid exit herringbone.  i have not heard of any flat barn parlors and there are no barns--just milking sheds(what we call a parlor).  They may lack investment in the barns as we do, but they have huge investment in fences and "lanes".  The lanes are in better shape than most gravel roads in the US and are made of "soft gravel" to avoid foot problems since often cows have to walk up to 3.5kilometers from paddock to milking shed.  Milking sheds are built to get cows in and out and back to pasture as fast as possible.  Most figure they milk 300 cows per hour with 1 man milking.  Everything is based on milk solids and they get a deduct for volume.  It is a little difficult to explain, but basically they get a big hauling charge because the processors do not want to extract any more water than is necessary so by penalizing for volume and paying on solids puts pressure on farmers to increase protein and fat.  protein is worth about 2.5 times that of fat at present.  most farms are seasonal calvers but many now have moved to a two times a year calving.  Spent firday morning doing calls with a vet.  He is considered by many of the farmers to be one of the best cow vets around.  He reminds me of Dr. Beneke--does not do cats/dogs, not fond of horses, drives like a maniac, little patience and does not like to stand around, and he smokes. (he is the australian dr. George)  got to see how post calving checks are done--very different from what we are use to, strictly a check of vaginal fluid and treatmeant is based on color of discharge--no arm work at that point.  Did some preg checks and then drained a few gallons of puss from a calf's navel.  Biosecurity is not nearly as big a concern here as it is in the states and they have no TB, Brucellosis, but have a huge Johne's problem.  Something they are trying very hard to deal with.  And they lack any real problem with rabies so dogs don't need vaccines for rabies.

On the lighter side, driving on the wrong side of the road was interesting if not scary at times.  Only once did I forget and turn right into oncoming traffic--on a divided highway no less.  You can get across the median strip in a hurry when you need to.  i am begining to get the hang of it but still not use to looking to the left to find the rearview mirror.  Still not use to seeing road signs that say "keep Left" or low tree branches next two miles or instead of deer crossing it is signs to look out for Koalas (sp?), wombats and kangaroos!  Did get to see a wombat but none of the others.  hitting a wombat, so I was told, would total a car if you hit it between the tires.  If you hit it with a tire you can flip your car!  i think it best just not to hit them. I also kept turning on the wipers when i went to turn on my directionals.  Damn tourist!  until later.....  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the details, provides a whole other level of appreciation - and the photos are amazing! Is that for a gaggle of calves? And how big are these car-flipping wombats?!?