Cochrane family- Longreach Dairy NSW Region

Farmer 1

Daniel and Rebecca Cochrane

Wogamai, Dairy NSW region

Striving to improve pasture use efficiency is a key focus for young NSW dairy farmers Daniel and Rebeca Cochrane.

The amount of pasture their cows to consume goes directly to bottom line profitability of the intensive grazing enterprise in the Wogamia district, just west of Nowra.

Feed management is a continual challenge to maximise performance of their herd, currently milking about 325 cows on a dairying area of 115 hectares with dry cattle running on leased country.

Always open to new ideas, the couple are about six months into a two year project hosting a local producer focus group supported by both Dairy NSW and Dairy Australia.

“We will be looking at all aspects of dairy business management aiming to learn and improve by sharing our experiences,” Daniel said.

  • Farm Details

    Kikuyu pasture provides about half his feed base, oversown with annual ryegrass and oats.

    Milkers are fed a mixed ration on a feedpad for about six months of the year at variable rates according to seasonal conditions.  The pad is generally operational between February and May and mid-August to October.

    “Kikuyu is pretty much the best weed we’ve got. We get some fantastic growth with a bit of nitrogen and irrigation, producing high volume feed of reasonable quality.

    “It handles grazing pressure and gives us consistently high production through to late summer, early autumn.”

    “We feed ryegrass from May through the winter months and the kikuyu is starting to come back towards the end of October,” Daniel said.

    About half to a third of the pasture production area is irrigated, depending on seasonal conditions.

    “We are in a 1000 mm rainfall area and we like to minimise the cost of irrigation and our labour input,” Daniel said.

  • Farm Performance

    The Cochrane’s have been using the services of dairy consultant Neil Moss from the outset for farm management and nutrition advice, and are in regular contact to fine tune day to day operations.

    “He runs our feed rations through the CPM modelling program and the results are pretty spot on.

    “We take regular test samples to build up an accurate picture of our feed regime, particularly the quality of our silage.  Tests over the last couple of years give us a basis for comparison,”

    “Our aim is to provide our cows with as much feed as possible, pushing our stocking rates up without cutting ourselves short.

    “It’s a matter of balancing quantity with quality. This season we’ve had to top some paddocks.”

    Daniel said their aim was to get daily milk solids per cow up from 1.7 to 1.8 kilos to 2 kilos and have production averaging body weight over a lactation.”

    His milk price is secure for another 12 months and Daniel said he was confident about the future industry prospects.

    During the second focus group meeting discussion turned to the issue of making full use of pastures.  There was an extra body of feed available after a rain break, but Daniel was keen to conserve as much fodder as possible to make silage.

    There was a suggestion that the grazing rotation could be sped up slightly to take advantage of the extra feed available.

    After the meeting, Daniel increased the pasture available to his milkers by about 15 percent and dropped the grain fed in the bale by 1 kilo. Milk production increased by 1.2 litres a cow.

    Daniel said pasture would always be his cheapest milk production option, but it was important to take a strategic approach to buying in feed and producing a partial mixed ration based on his own corn and sorghum silage.

    “We have forward contracted a hay supply to lock in pricing certainty,” he said.

    The margin over feed costs is the critical performance indicator which reflects how successfully they are managing the property, said Daniel.

    “We like to keep the margin sitting over $8 per cow per day.  There are times when we are pushing it over $9 which is good.”

    At the end of November, the indicator slipped below $8, reflecting buy in feed costs, the need for increased irrigation and lower spring milk prices.

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  • Detailed Reports

    January 2016

    October 2015

    December 2015 Media Release 

    December 2014 Media Release

    August 2014 Media Release