Innovation gives valuable boost to Australian dairy industry

Posted by James Ferre on 24th December 2008

A new report has discovered that, since 1991-92, Australian dairy farmers have improved performance and productivity by continuing to change their management practices and adopt various new technologies.

The findings are contained in the report, Australian Dairy industry: use of technology and management practices on dairy farms, 1991-92 to 2006-07, released last week by ABARE Executive Director, Phillip Glyde.

Results from a survey conducted by ABARE (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics) show differences in productivity are related to the type of dairy shed used, the proportion of irrigated farm area and the number of cows milked.

“Farms with higher productivity tend to employ either rotary or swing-over dairy shed technology and have almost three times the proportion of land used for irrigation,” said Mr Glyde.

Mr Glyde noted that since the early 1990s there has been a general trend toward installing or improving milking sheds and equipment to improve labour use efficiency and to cater for large-scale milk production.

“Increases in the number of cows milked per hour and per operator have been achieved by a combination of changes, including labour saving technologies such as increased use of automatic cup removers,” Mr Glyde advised.

Supplementary feeding of cows on concentrates and grains has increased significantly since 1991-92, with the average quantity of purchased grains and concentrates increasing by more than three times, while the average quantity fed per cow has doubled.

Results from the survey indicate dairy farmers planned to attend a range of training courses in the year ahead, with courses on herd nutrition, feeding and pasture management deemed to be the most important. “The report’s findings are valuable in gaining an improved understanding of how the uptake of new technologies and better farm management practices relate to productivity gains and financial returns achieved by Australian dairy farms,” said Mr Glyde.