This event was held to give farmers a chance to learn about how the Singletons manage their successful dairy operation; what led them to make the change to the drylot system, their focus on feeding strategies and how they maintain cow comfort.
Rob and Gai Singleton milk 750 cows at Blighty using a drylot where the herd receive a total mixed ration through the summer months, before returning to pasture in March.
The move away from grazing summer pasture happened in 2008 when they started to measure the amount of pasture being grazed through the hot summer months and found that the cows weren’t consuming much. Compounding this was the fact that pasture became very expensive reaching a peak of $403 per tonne of dry matter when water allocations were at zero.
The hybrid feeding system adopted by the Singletons also allowed then to focus on cow comfort. Rob believes that when cows are comfortable they eat more feed and produce more milk. Sprinklers are used in the dairy and 4m2 of shade per cow is provided in the drylot to reduce heat stress. Laneways to the drylot have been concreted and the drylots are groomed daily to provide clean and dry loafing for cows as well as reduce fly populations. At the same time, the drylot systems also supports better feeding efficiency through reduced wastage.
Recent heavy rains were a challenge – Rob and Gai did remove the cows from the drylot for a couple of days but generally find that the system can cope if rainfall doesn’t exceed 50 mm – the well drained surface dries quickly during the hotter months.
The Singletons focus on feeding strategies has supported their continued success through the difficult years:
The day also saw Martin Auldist from DPI Victoria discuss the results of their PMR research being carried out at Ellinbank.
In spite of the March floods, 33 people attended to take part in what was a very informative day.
Mar 13, 2012