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Hill J.,Ternes Agricultural Consulting | Chapman D.F.,Lincoln University at Christchurch | Chapman D.F.,University of Melbourne | Tharmaraj J.,University of Melbourne | And 2 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2014

This paper reports the performance [intake, milk production, bodyweight and body condition score (BCS)] of cows managed under two feeding systems over 4 years (June 2005-May 2009) in south-west Victoria, Australia. The feeding systems were 'Ryegrass Max' (RM) a well managed perennial ryegrass pasture-based system stocked at 2.2 cows/ha, and a 'Complementary Forage' (CF) system based on perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and a double crop of winter-sown cereal and summer-sown brassica crops stocked at 2.82 cows/ha. There were no significant differences in milk production per lactation between feeding systems, with an average of 543 and 553 kg milk solids per cow (1246 and 1642 kg milk solids per ha) produced in the RM and CF systems, respectively. These production levels were 20.9 and 10.8% above pre-experimental model targets, respectively. The bodyweight and BCS of multiparous cows were not significantly different between the two feeding systems; however, bodyweight of heifers in early lactation declined more rapidly in the CF compared with RM feeding system. Over the 4-year study in the RM system pasture comprised 60% of total DM consumed (grazed + conserved), with 26% of the ration being concentrate and the balance being purchased hay supplements. In the CF system, home-grown forage contributed 57.9% of total DM consumed of which 46.6% was pasture (grazed + conserved) and 11.3% was from the double cropping system. These levels of home-grown forage consumption were lower than those predicted by the pre-experimental modelling, leading to higher than predicted levels of purchased concentrates and conserved forages being fed. The lower than expected levels of consumption of the forages produced in the double cropping system reflected both the low intake potential and moderate nutritive value of cereal silage, and the failure of establishment and subsequent low DM yields from the summer brassica crop. Further work is required to determine the risk of implementing CF in rain-fed dairy systems reflecting uncertainties in forage management planning and nutrient delivery to support high levels of milk production. © 2014 CSIRO.

Chapman D.F.,University of Melbourne | Chapman D.F.,Lincoln University at Christchurch | Beca D.,Red Sky Agricultural Pty Ltd. | Hill J.,Ternes Agricultural Consulting | And 3 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2014

The profitability of dairy farm systems in southern Australia is closely related to the amount of pasture grown and consumed on-farm by dairy cows. However, there are doubts regarding the extent to which gains in feed supply from perennial ryegrass pasture can continue to support productivity growth in the industry. A farmlet experiment was conducted in south-western Victoria for 4 years (June 2005-May 2009), comparing a production system based on the use of forage species that complement perennial ryegrass in their seasonal growth pattern ('Complementary Forages', or CF) with a well managed system solely based on perennial ryegrass pasture ('Ryegrass Max', or RM). The forage base in CF included perennial ryegrass with a double-cropping rotation of winter cereal grown for whole-crop silage, followed by a summer brassica for grazing on 15% of farmlet area, a summer-active pasture based on tall fescue (on average 20% of farmlet area), perennial ryegrass oversown with short-rotation ryegrasses (average 16% of farmlet area) and summer brassica crops used in the process of pasture renovation (average 5% of farmlet area). The stocking rate was 2.2 and 2.8 cows/ha on RM and CF, respectively. Both systems were profitable over the 4 years of the experiment, with the modified internal rate of return over 4 years being 14.4% and 14.7% for the RM and CF farmlets, respectively. The coefficient of variation (%) of annual operating profit over 4 years was higher for the CF farmlet (56% and 63% for RM and CF, respectively). A severe drought in one of the 4 years exposed the more highly stocked CF system to greater supplementary feed costs and business risk. By comparison, the RM system performed consistently well across different seasons and in the face of a range of milk prices. The very small gain in profit from CF, plus the associated higher risk, makes it difficult to endorse a substantial change away from the traditional RM feed supply to greater reliance on summer-grown forages on non-irrigated dairy farms in southern Australia, as implemented in this experiment. © 2014 CSIRO.

Tharmaraj J.,University of Melbourne | Chapman D.F.,University of Melbourne | Chapman D.F.,Lincoln University at Christchurch | Hill J.,Ternes Agricultural Consulting | And 2 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2014

A dairy farmlet experiment was conducted at Terang in south-west Victoria, Australia, over 4 years to test the hypothesis that a 30% increase in forage harvested per ha could be achieved in a production system that incorporated a range of Complementary Forages wth perennial ryegrass (CF) compared with a well managed perennial ryegrass-only farmlet ('Ryegrass Max', RM). The CF farmlet included perennial ryegrass pasture (44% of the farmlet area on average over 4 years), but also incorporated oversowing perennial ryegrass with short-term ryegrasses (average 16% of farmlet area) to increase winter growth, tall fescue-based pasture (average 20% of farmlet area) to increase production in the late spring-summer period, a double cropping rotation (15% of farmlet area) based on winter cereal for silage production followed by summer brassica crops for grazing, and summer crops used in the pasture renovation process (average 5% of farmlet area). The RM and CF farmlets were stocked at 2.2 and 2.82 June-calving cows/ha, respectively and average annual nitrogen (N) fertiliser application rates (pasture only) were 141 and 153 kg N/ha, respectively. The total amount of forage harvested per year was generally less than predicted from pre-experimental modelling of both farmlets. However, the proposed target of a 30% increase in home-grown forage harvest per ha in the CF system compared with RM was exceeded in 2005-06 (+33%), with 21, 16 and 11% higher forage harvest achieved in CF in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09, respectively (average for all 4 years ≤ 20%). Annual forage harvested in RM ranged between 6.5 and 8.9 t DM/ha compared with 7.9-10.3 t DM/ha in CF. Approximately two-thirds of the increased forage harvest in CF came from higher rates of pasture consumption per ha and one-third from the double cropping component of the system, although the performance of the double crop (mean annual production of 11.5 t DM/ha) was well below the expected 20 t DM/ha based on pre-experimental modelling. The higher per-hectare pasture harvest rates in CF were primarily due to increased perennial ryegrass pasture consumption achieved through higher stocking rates and efficient responses to higher N inputs from both higher fertiliser rates and additional supplementary feeding. In CF, the DM harvested from pastures oversown with short-term ryegrasses was lower than perennial ryegrass, while tall fescue-based pastures were similar to perennial ryegrass. Poor spring rainfall in 2006-07 and 2008-09 likely contributed to the lower than expected DM yields of tall fescue-based pasture and the summer crops within the double cropping component. Home-grown forage harvest rates can be increased by 11-33% above what is currently achieved by best industry practice with perennial ryegrass-only pastures using complementary forages but perennial ryegrass will remain a key component of the forage base for dairy production in southern Australia. © 2014 CSIRO.

Bland I.,University of Melbourne | Hill J.,Ternes Agricultural Consulting
CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources | Year: 2011

Obesity is a growing welfare and health problem facing companion animals. While obesity has underlying genetic and environmental causes, the dog owners' almost complete control of food and exercise mean that any stratagem to control or treat the condition must include and allow for the attitudes of the owner. A greater understanding of how owner attitudes contribute both to the cause and prevention/treatment of dog obesity is required. Treatment and prevention regimes must involve education and constant, measurable outcomes, similar to the programmes seen in human obesity management. © CAB International 2010.

Ozkan T.,University of Melbourne | Ozkan T.,Mehmet Akif Ersoy University | Farquharson R.J.,University of Melbourne | Hill J.,Ternes Agricultural Consulting | Malcolm B.,University of Melbourne
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2015

The imposition of a carbon tax in the economy will have indirect impacts on dairy farmers in Australia. Although there is a great deal of information available regarding mitigation strategies both in Australia and internationally, there seems to be a lack of research investigating the variable prices of carbon-based emissions on dairy farm operating profits in Australia. In this study, a stochastic analysis comparing the uncertainty in income in response to different prices on carbon-based emissions was conducted. The impact of variability in pasture consumption and variable prices of concentrates and hay on farm profitability was also investigated. The two different feeding systems examined were a ryegrass pasture-based system (RM) and a complementary forage-based system (CF). Imposing a carbon price ($20-$60) and not changing the systems reduced the farm operating profits by 28.4% and 25.6% in the RM and CF systems, respectively compared to a scenario where no carbon price was imposed. Different farming businesses will respond to variability in the rapidly changing operating environment such as fluctuations in pasture availability, price of purchased feeds and price of milk or carbon emissions differently. Further, in case there is a carbon price imposed for GHG emissions emanated from dairy farming systems, changing from pasture-based to more complex feeding systems incorporating home-grown double crops may reduce the reductions in farm operating profits. There is opportunity for future studies to focus on the impacts of different mitigation strategies and policy applications on farm operating profits. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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