GUNDAGAI Dairy was established in 1953, as a four-stand walk through dairy on a 100 hectare farm. In 1970 the family expanded into a five a side herringbone dairy, milking 100 cows. The next expansion came in 1993, with a move to a new 50 stand rotary dairy, 200 cows, and a goal of expanding to 300 cows. Since then Gundagai Dairy has expanded again to milking in excess of 1000 cows, producing 10 million litres of milk every year, rearing 1000 calves and running 2500 cattle in total.
Feeding and operation
Field work and pasture are a big part of our operation: as we have no irrigation, it’s all about annual pasture and forage production. Spring forage production is stored in the form of silage to enable us to feed the dairy cows throughout the 7-8 dry months. The silage is subsidised with extensive use of cereal grain, lupins, and canola meal.
We cultivate around 25% of our farmland each year, put extra pasture seed on about 80% of our grazing area and use around 500 kilograms per hectare of granular and or liquid fertiliser.
Minimal use is made of contractors, most paddock work, fodder conservation, engineering and farm maintenance is done by ourselves.
We hope to put approximately 12000 tonne of pasture silage into 1 stack at the dairy from approximately 600 hectares each year.
Caring For Our Cows
Our cows are our number one priority. We take a gentle approach, ensuring they are not stressed out – and we will not maintain staff who are pushy to the cows.
We partner with a vet nutritionist to ensure our cows receive optimal nutrition, and we hold that relationship in high regard.
An electronic monitoring system utilising collars on the cows allows us to monitor mobility and rumination (digestion) monitoring our cows this way gives us valuable details such a accurate detection of oestrus, as well as health and metabolic status of individuals.
One of the first things we did when we built the new, bigger dairy in 1993 was to put up shade shelters to see our cows through the long, hot, dry summers when there is no feed in the paddocks. The cows loaf under the shade structures throughout the day, and feed from adjacent feed sheds. Cow comfort is maximised, with minimal heat stress. We also put an extensive sprinkler system on all the yarding for cow cooling through the summer.
We do all we can to allow our animals to perform to their maximum genetic potential . This includes shading of cows in summer, careful feed allocation to provide correct nutritional, mineral and vitamin levels, providing plentiful easily available drinking water and maintaining cattle raceways in good condition to help prevent feet problems.
We now have a calving shed, where we can calve all of our cows down in a controlled environment, on bedding, protecting them from the elements, in clean calving conditions.
We put a lot of focus on the integrity of cattle raceways, to minimise feet trouble with the cows.
Our approach to technology is based on the principle of preventative maintenance. We are especially proactive about two major problems prevalent in larger scale operations: Mastitis and Stable Fly.
Our whole team helps to maintain all of our machines, as part of our big focus on mastitis. The bigger you get, the more that you have to control natural pollutants. It’s vital to deal with manure and keep areas clean.
We’ve also developed a big focus on preventing stable flies, a stinging fly that bite the cattle. Not only do they attack, they’re bloodsuckers – they bite teats, which can cause blistering, resulting in skin loss, mastitis, and death.
Chemical treatments from the past are less effective now, so we’ve established a big program of controlling the breeding of these stable flies to prevent their attacking the cows. We’ve put a lot of focus on natural ways where possible of controlling, reducing and removing breeding sites for these flies.
We’ve resisted looking at alternate breeds at Gundagai Dairy.
Our milking herd remains 100% Holstein Friesian: they are a larger, full-bodied animal, with a good temperament and the capacity for high production.
We use angus as our beef breed.
All of our dairy cattle are artificially bred, we use Angus bulls as back up, and on some heifer programs.
Established in 1953, Gundagai Dairy is a family-run dairy farm producing 10 million litres of milk every year, supplying milk and 1st cross beef breeders and store steers to WA markets.
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