C4 Milk Project
C4 Milk aims to increase operating profit margin through the development of management strategies that increase milk production from forage and reduce overall feed related costs through:
- Increased on-farm trialling and adoption of forage and nutrition management strategies, technologies and systems through development activities;
- Development of forage and nutrition management strategies that increase the quality of tropical forages and diets to increase milk from forage;
- Increased engagement of subtropical dairy farmers and service providers through the use of e-Extension technologies in conjunction with existing extension activities to demonstrate and deliver forage and nutrition management strategies;
Improving the operating profit of northern dairy farms through the development of a tropical forage system that decreases feed related costs is a key priority of the northern dairy industry. The reliance on high cost purchased concentrates has increased in the subtropical region over the past 10 years, and with volatile grain and protein meal costs, operating profit margin has decreased by ~8.8 c/L (QDAS, 2013). There is the potential to develop ‘high milk from forage’ production systems in northern Australia that maintain or improve milk yield while increasing the proportion of forage used in dairy cow diets, thereby reducing feed related costs.
The C4Milk project delivers an integrated approach to development, research and extension across the Subtropical dairy region to assist dairy farmers to reduce feed related costs through increased production of milk from forage. Research and development activities at University of Queensland Gatton Campus and within sub-regions will test and regionalise forage and nutrition based management strategies to increase the uptake and adoption of profitable feedbase management options.
Extension activities are based on existing discussion groups and demonstration activities supported by innovative approaches, such as e-Extension, to address the dispersed nature of the subtropical dairy industry. Extension of knowledge and skills around subtropical forage and nutrition management will lead to a greater confidence of dairy farmers to adopt feedbase management practices that decrease feed related costs and increase profitability.
The objectives of the QDAS project are:
- To provide dairy industry stakeholders with reports on the current financial performance of dairy farms in Queensland as well monitoring performance over time.
- To improve the understanding of financial performance and management of farmers who take part in QDAS data collection and extension activities.
Each year 50 Queensland dairy farms undertake the QDAS production and financial analysis. All farmers who supply data receive a feedback report on their farm performance over time and comparatively with other farms in their region.
\The QDAS report is published each year showing the average production, cash flow and profit performance of all farms surveyed, the top 25% and production systems (grazing, partial mixed ration and total mixed ration farms). Report back meetings are held for farmers supplying data to discuss results, trends and implications in a group environment.
QDAS follows nationally agreed guidelines for dairy farm business analysis. QDAS data becomes verified data within DairyBase (the online national dairy farm business analysis tool) and is used to provide DairyBase users with Queensland farm averages.
DAIRY BEEF Project
C4Milk team together with UQ Dairy have investigated and developed profitable pathways for male dairy calves.
- A desktop study (funded by Meat and Livestock Australia) outlined potential pathways for dairy beef, leading to the development of management and feeding strategies for steers grown out to produce a high-quality product suitable for the domestic beef market.
- Steers were fed with conventional ‘milking herd’ diets or a weaner diet, and castrated at different ages to assess the potential growth rates and feed conversion efficiencies with low labour costs.
- Steers were fed a high energy, feedlot style ration in bunks aiming to increase muscle growth and fat cover relative to frame. There were three groups, entire males, castrated males and HGP treated castrated males.