When art becomes the voice

Our eco warrior Erin Lake is leaving us to take up her placement in the Graduate Program for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC). This department is responsible for a lot of things including a commitment to  conserve Australia’s environment and to promote sustainable living within Australia.

Erin is perfect for this position which is offered to people who demonstrate leadership potential, enthusiasm and initiative

Erin is particularly hoping to work in the Land and Coasts division (which look after initiatives such as Caring for Our Country), where she will be able to apply the fundamental knowledge she has gained while working on ground, to achieve the best outcomes for managing Australia’s natural resources.

See previous posts about Erin here

Custodians of the Land

Next Gen Giving our Farm lots of TLC

Start the day with the perfect cocktail

Erin and Megan Rowlatt who heads up Illawarra Youth Landcare are the driving force of a group of young people who are not only passionate about the sustainability of the planet they are actually doing something about it.In fact Megan is the current NSW Young Landcarer of the Year.

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Megan and Erin in full flight

Together we have been coordinating a number of activities which include film and social media and now art to engage, enthuse, educate and empower both farmers and rural landholders who care about their land but don’t necessarily have the skills sets to ensure the best outcomes for the landscape and the native animals.

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We are using art to reinvigorate Landcare messages and Erin has left us with these superb artistic reminders ( made from 44 gallon drums) of her time with us..

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Drum Art is now protecting endangered and treasured native species at Clover Hill

The drum artworks are Erin Lake inspired masterpieces painted by artists from La Division. This is a highly motivated group of young people who showcase the talent of local artists and share their passions through art, film, photography, surf and skate.

Visit LA’DIVISION Facebook page here

The label, La Division, is an outlet to produce clothing to help support local artists. La Division artists have been supporters of many community events including Landcare Illawarra’s Dune Day festival and the recent KISS arts festival.

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LA’DIVISION artist at Dune Day

One of the great things about art is it enables participation from people of all ages and backgrounds. Its highly visual. It captures attention. It ensures people stop and think and appreciate

LA’DIVISION artist Trait said “Painting tawny frog mouths and fleshy fruits on 44 gallon drums is not exactly traditional street art but it was a great challenge and an even greater cause” 

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Erin Megan and Anna plant our special trees

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Each drum lists the botanic name and the common name of the species it is hosting and providing shade and shelter for

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This drum has the prestigious role of hosting the endangered  Illawarra Socketwood

What a great idea Erin and what great outcomes

We finished the tree plantings with a celebration party to say a big thank you to Erin and wish her all the best in the “Bush Capital

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Erin will be christening her new job with a bottle of the delicious Clover Hill Champagne 2001 Vintage

 

Special thanks to LADIVISION artists

Trait

Mirko Sossai

Boyd.e

Chris Anderson

Farmers call to arms

Each year the Readers Digest does a poll to determine Australia’s most trusted professions. Last year as you can see farmers came in at number 7.

Top ten most trusted professions in 2011

1. Paramedics

2. Firefighters

3. Pilots

4. Rescue volunteers

5. Nurses

6. Pharmacists

7. Farmers

8. Medical specialists

9. GPs

10. Veterinarians

Four years ago when farmers were at number 9 I showed the list to a group of farmers and posed the question “ why aren’t farmers at the top of the list”. The farmers around the table replied “ the majority of the professions in the top 10 save lives”. My reply was without farmers supplying people with food, their most basic of needs, there would be no life and we need to find away to remind people just how important farmers are.

At that time I received mostly blank looks to my suggestion from the farmers around the table. I thought this was very sad and recognised we also needed to find a way to make farmers realise just how important they are. After all if you don’t believe in yourself how can you expect anyone else too.

So I began a crusade to fix this lack of appreciation of farmer self worth and initiated the Art4Agriculture programs to provide opportunities for farmers to share their stories with the community and in turn get a greater understanding of the community’s expectations of the people who supply them with food and fibre. The aim was to create a two way appreciation between rural and urban communities and an understanding of how much we rely on each other.

This year is Australian Year of the Farmer. A once in a life time opportunity to remind people (farmers and the community alike) just how important our farmers are.

Australian Year of the Farmer is an opportunity for every primary industry, every rural community and every farmer to invite their urban cousins to join them in a 365 day celebration.

Beyond Art4agriculture’s activities I am having a dinner party once a month for my urban friends. They will receive a copy of an Australian rural showcase like Fiona Lake’s books which my first guests were lucky enough to get.

AYOF dinner

We will celebrate local produce, drink local wine and I will be encouraging them to wake up each morning and say “I thank a farmer today”

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There is no shortage of great food on the South Coast.  And just to prove it we recently won the 100 mile challenge

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What do you have planned?

Well known Australian author Fleur McDonald– the voice of outback has pledged to get hold of 52 Farmers and post a blog a week from a farmer. From every part of Agriculture; grain, stock, mixed, fishing, dairy, viticulture, communications and so on and so forth!

This week I am very honoured to say I am farmer no 4. You will find my blog on Fleur’s site as well as at the bottom of this post.

CALL TO ARMS

This is my challenge to Australian farmers. Farmers are currently number 7 on Australia’s most trusted professions list. How can we work together to make 2012 the year Australia votes to put their farmers at number 1?

I look forward to working with each and everyone of you to make this happen

Fleur McDonald – Australian Year of the Farmer – a farmers story No 4 by Lynne Strong Clover Hill Dairies

Firstly I would like thank Fleur McDonald for giving me this opportunity to share my story and congratulate her for taking the lead in Australian Year of the Farmer by sharing 52 farmers’ stories. For too long food has been about cooking and eating and recipes and restaurants with little attention paid to the origin of the key ingredients. It’s time for everyone in the food value chain to follow Fleur’s lead and put faces to the product and give our customers real farmers they can relate to

1. Summary of your family and farming enterprise

My name is Lynne Strong and I farm at Clover Hill Dairies in partnership with my husband Michael and son Nick in what I refer to as paradise – the beautiful Jamberoo valley on the South Coast of NSW.

Clover Hill Dairies

Jamberoo is the birth place of the Australian dairy industry and the cooperative movement and my family has been farming here for 180 years.

I am actively involved in the day to day running of our two dairy farms where we milk 500 cows that produce milk to supply over 50,000 Australians daily. Lynne and Michael Strong

The highlight of my farming journey to date has been winning the National Landcare Primary Producer Award. This award recognises farmers who have a holistic view of farming and are committed to achieving the delicate balance between sustainable and profitable food production, and the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the planet

Nick Strong

2. Why I farm

· I farm because the people I care about most in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul

· I farm because I believe feeding, clothing and housing the world is the noblest profession

· I farm because I like the mental intensity, the constant review process, the drive to get up each day and do it better. The fulfilling challenge of balancing productivity, people, animals and the planet

· I farm because inspirational people farm. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. When I work with inspirational people, they light my fire, feed my soul and challenge me to continue to strive to make a unique contribution to agriculture and the community.

3. What do you foresee as the biggest short term and long term challenges in farming?

Sadly Australia is complacent about the challenges to food security. There is a lack of appreciation by society in general of the interdependence of environment, agriculture, food and health.

However if we are to progress and fuel the mushrooming food needs of the cities while meeting the community’s expectations for environmental sustainability and animal well-being, then both rural and urban communities must have greater mutual empathy and respect.

This I believe is the real challenge facing farmers in the immediate future -How do we fix it?

As I see it we can do one of two things. We (farmers) can sit back and lament that we are victims or we can actively acknowledge that farmers are business people selling a product and successful businesses recognise marketing is a strategic part of doing business.

Marketing doesn’t mean every farmer needs to have a logo, spend money on advertising, write a marketing plan, write a blog, join Twitter or Facebook – it simply means being customer focused. This means you have to understand your customer and their values and your business has to BE the image you want your customer to see.Then whenever you get a chance, put that image out there. It may be at the farmgate, at a local farmers market, a community meeting, a media interview or whenever you are in contact with consumers.

Every sector of the food system whether they be farmers, manufacturers, branded food companies, supermarkets or restaurants is under ever increasing pressure to demonstrate they are operating in a way that is consistent with stakeholder values and expectations. Farmers cannot expect to be exempted from this scrutiny just because we grow the food.

Businesses are built on relationships. This means we (farmers) have to get out there in our communities and start having two way conversations with our customers

Excitingly I know that once farmers embrace the concept they will discover like me that it can be very rewarding talking to your customers. They are interested and they do care.

There are so many ways farmers can share their stories. To help achieve this I initiated the innovative ‘Art4Agriculture’ programs which started with Picasso Cows and is now the Archibull Prize. The Archibull Prize uses art and multimedia to engage thousands of students in learning about the valuable role farmers play in Australia’s future.

With the Art4Agriculture team I am working on establishing an Australia wide network of ‘young agricultural champions’ who are trained to tell the great story of Australian agriculture to the next generation of consumers – students.

This program connects young people from different food and fibre industries. They get to see their similarities, they find common ground, they realise each has issues that are just as challenging, and they learn how they can help each other.

Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions program for 2012 will train a team of 24 young farmers from regional Australia to actively engage with students in schools around Australia. The students will focus on a particular food or fibre industry, receive a unique insight from their Young Farming Champion and then enter their project work (their Archie) to vie for the ‘Archibull Prize’.

Our Young Farming Champions will also have the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive and diverse array of initiatives offered by our supporting partners. These events will provide a platform from which to develop, build and strengthen the capacity of the Young Farming Champions and allow primary industries to develop key farmer-to-stakeholder and farmer-to-consumer relationships.

Through their involvement in Art4Agriculture school programs our Young Farming Champions will be able to directly market their food or fibre industry and its diverse career pathways to a captive and relevant audience. The legacy of the Young Farming Champions program is to create an Australia wide network of enthusiastic young professionals and build their capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry.

We believe this program will not only help build the capability of young rural people to farm with resilience and confidence it will provide a great platform to spark the next generations’ interest in an agricultural career.

4. What is my vision for the future?

My vision for the future isn’t too difficult; it just requires a different way of thinking. I believe a profitable and sustainable healthy future for the farming sector is achievable – the health and welfare of all Australians and many people around the world depends on it.

To drive the process of change requires champions and leaders. But to change grass roots perceptions, we need grass roots action. Farmers care about the country, their livestock and the people they provide with food and fibre. Beyond best farming practices, farmers have to be out in communities, walking the talk – from paddock to plate, from cow to consumer – and building trust between rural and urban communities. I want farming men and women to go out and sell the message that feeding and clothing the world is an awesome responsibility and a noble profession, and that it offers great careers. Just imagine if we could achieve my vision of an Australia-wide network of trained, passionate farmers talking directly with the communities they supply!

5. What do you wish non-farmers / city people & the Australian Government understood about farming?

Australian farmers proudly feed and clothe 60 million people. If they were doctors or nurses or pharmacists or ambulance officers or firemen there would be a moment in most people’s lives when they would be reminded just how important those professions are.
But farmers, at less than 1 per cent of the Australian population, are almost invisible and with food in abundance in this country, there is little opportunity to remind Australians just how important our farmers are.
I am hoping Australian Year of the Farmer starts a very long conversation and a new appreciation for the land that produces our food and the hands that grow it

6. What would I like to see on a billboard?

Billboard – across Sydney Harbour Bridge

“If you want safe, affordable, nutritious food forever love the land that produces it and the hands that grow it.”

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You can visit us at the following websites:

Clover Hill Dairies www.cloverhilldairies.com.au

Art4agriculture www.art4agriculture.com.au

Read our blogs at:

Clover Hill Dairies Diary https://chdairiesdiary.wordpress.com/

Art4agriculturechat http://art4agriculturechat.wordpress.com

Follow us on twitter:

@chdairies and @art4ag

Follow us on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clover-Hill-Dairies/211850082224503

http://www.facebook.com/art4agriculture/

You can find links to our Flickr, Slideshare and YouTube accounts on our websites as well as my email address. Looking forward to hearing from you

Wow what a cow

This is one amazing dairy cow. Her name is Murribrook Lieutenant Tina 2EX and she is a superb example of a Holstein dairy cow.

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Tina is 16 years old and has had 12 calves and has just gone into the resting paddock waiting to have her thirteenth calf.

In her lifetime she has produced a whopping 153000 litres of milk. That means Tina  provides 1500 Australians with milk each year

Up until recently Tina has always taken pride of place leading the cows to and from the dairy. She has this knack of knowing when milking is due and lines up at the paddock gate to notify the herd its times to walk back to the dairy.

Contrary to animal activist propaganda which suggests dairy farmers treat their cows  “as little more than milk-producing machines,” good dairy farmers select and breed from cows who have a number of qualities that ensure healthy and happy cows.

These qualities include:

  1. longevity
  2. compact udders that allow cows to carry their milk comfortably
  3. good “feet and legs” which help them to walk comfortably. This is very important on our farm as we milk three times daily and our cows walk a lot. For more info see previous  post “ when too much walking is not a good thing “
  4. Feed conversion efficiency. The aim here is to breed cows who can turn grass into milk as efficiently as possible. This has a number of advantages including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and all livestock owners know how important that is. Our cows have a feed conversion efficiency rating of 2.7 which is very high. This means they can turn 1kg of feed into 2.7 litres of milk  which means not only high productivity but little eco footprints

There is lots of science to cow breeding and genes that deliver these qualities have all been identified through genomic mapping

A mature cow like Tina is a product of both her genes (15% genetics) and how she was raised (85% environmental influences)

Tina is a great example of this proven science. Tina is a direct descendent of a very famous imported cow  called  Walkerbrae Triple T Toni, Ex 24*.  Toni was imported by Murray Sowter .

Walkerbrae Triple T Toni

How gorgeous is she and how much does Tina look like her.

Murray was involved in the first live exports from Canada. See his website here http://www.murribrook.com/cow-families/toni.html

We are very pleased to have a number of Tina’s decedents in our herd such as Lightening Tina who is her granddaughter and just about to have a calf of her own

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Lightening Tina – Tina’s granddaughter they are all peas in pod

These days Lieutenant Tina has a life of luxury. She lives in a paddock close to the dairy and doesn’t have to walk very far to access water and shade.  She is just adorable and she has a special place in our hearts.

Read about Tina in the Illawarra Mercury here 

Eileen stars at International Dairy Week

My family has been showing dairy cattle since the late 1800’s. In those day the premier breed was Ayrshires. Today the Ayrshire is listed as rare breed with Holsteins the predominant breed not only in Australia but also world wide

This is Honeycomb who belonged to my great great great Grandfather John Lindsay Honeycomb sepia

She is an example of the best of the best Ayrshire of her era.  According to www.illawarrasqld.com.au she carried the Champion Dairy Cow of the world title in the early eighteen nineties, she was also invincible in the show ring and winner of all the milk and butterfat awards.  Honeycomb is also the cow that inspired Australia’s own breed of dairy cattle the Illawarras, 

As point of interest note her very long teats – in those days this was a huge positive as cows were milked by hand. The introduction of milking machines has seen cows bred with a much shorter teats like in this picture of one of the show stars from our Holstein team

Fond 

Tangalla Leduc Fond.

Another interesting aside on this is Fond holds the milk production record for her age in NSW and produces 50% more milk than Honeycomb who produced the most milk in one day in the world at that time.  It doesn’t take much to see that Fond has a much more compact udder than Honeycomb which flies in the face of the animal activists who say dairy farmers are deliberately breeding cows with huge udders and forcing them to produce huge volumes of milk. This is rubbish.  All good dairy farmers are doing the opposite. We are selecting and breeding cows with the genes to indeed produce large volumes of milk but in vessels (udders) that sit as snuggly and comfortably on the cow as they possibly can.   Just like Fond

Off my soap box and onto the centrepiece of this story. We have regularly exhibited Holsteins at International Dairy Week (IDW) the premier stud cattle show in Australia. See previous story here “Gearing up for the Countdown”. We have only exhibited on and off since we began focusing on the milk business including moving to milking 3x daily in 2005 and less on breeding stud cattle.

This year was a first for us and we took our one and only Jersey cow who we have nick named Princess Eileen

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This is the flyer which our professional cow fitter at IDW Brad Gavenlock created for Shirlin ILB Eileen to tell visitors all about her. As you can see has previously starred at a number of high profile Jersey shows in NSW.

Eileen handled the 800km journey to IDW with no effort and apparently alighted the truck bright eyed and bushy tailed and scoffed down grains and hay that awaited her as she joined Brad’s team of stars

Eilleen at IDW 1 P1180088

Eileen enjoying the luxury conditions show cows are afforded.

Eileen enters the ring

The big day arrives and Eileen enters the ring looking fantastic. What a great job Brad has done preparing her. By the way that is Brad leading her.

Eileen lined up second in her class 

How excited were we when the judge pulled Eileen in 2nd

Eileen final class lineup

The judge eventually had a rethink and placed Eileen 6th but when you think this is  the final line-up and there were 45 cows in Eileen’s class she did very well and we are very proud of her

Eileen proudly displays her riboon

Eileen proudly shows off her ribbon.

 

Maybe next year we will have a whole team of Jerseys. There is no denying they are just adorable to look at. 

Eileen Crop

Why I farm

I am often asked why I like being a farmer and to be honest it was never my lifelong dream to farm. I farm today because the people I most care about in the world farm and they are in it for the long haul.

I grew up on a farm and even though I enjoyed being hands on in the day to day running of the farm and the lifestyle that comes with it the idea of being a farmer was most definitely not on my list of top 10 professions.

I have been back on the farm for ten years now and I will be the first to admit farming is a highly rewarding profession for a multitude of reasons.

Today I will list just a few

Firstly farmers are an essential service, they feed people and whether people admit it or not everybody wants to be needed.

Secondly farming today is a very risky business and I like the mental intensity, the constant review process, the drive to get up each day and do it better. The fulfilling challenge of balancing productivity, people, animals and the planet  

Thirdly inspirational people farm. Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge. When I work with inspirational people, they light my fire, feed my soul and challenge me to continue to strive to make a unique contribution to agriculture and the community.  

and then there is this

the satisfaction you get when you have managed to farm in a way that balances the needs of the rainforest and the animals who live there

Lynne In The Rainforest

with farm productivity that allows you to supply 50,000 Australians daily with milk whilst at the same time ensuring your cows cow remain happy and healthy. 

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the buzz you get when next gen share the passion and commitment 

Nick  (3)

the fascination of watching generations of cows tread the same path each time they walk into the paddock 

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the amusement you get when the cow who detours to the water trough

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then charges down the paddock like a teenager to ensure she doesn’t miss out on the sweetest grass

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and the special relationships you develop with the people and the animals in your team

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the satisfaction of working with next gen

 

to turn this

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into this

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then this  

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and today

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Picasso Corner a triumph for community partnerships, biodiversity and the farm 

and then the raw reality of watching the circle of life each day. When the chickens you nurtured  from eggs are killed and eaten by a goshawk (thanks to twitter verse for identifying my nasty bird) and wake up next morning and remember the chickens got three weeks of a great life they wouldn’t have had without you interfering with nature. Even if in the end it was nature who decided they would play a different role in the food chain .

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I love to farm because its real, there is a true sense of place and time. There is an purity and an innocence that comes with a respect of the land that feeds us  that living and working in the city will never deliver

Two way conversations are the key

As anyone who knows me will tell you I have very strong opinions about the way forward for sustainable agriculture.

Today my post reflects on the importance of both talking and listening.

Sadly Australia is complacent about the challenges to food security.  There is a lack of appreciation by society in general of the interdependence of environment, agriculture, food and health.

However if we are to progress and fuel the mushrooming food needs of the cities while meeting the community’s expectations for environmental sustainability and animal well being, then both rural and urban communities must have greater mutual empathy and respect.

This I believe is the real challenge facing farmers in the immediate future – how do we fix it?

As I see it we can do one of two things

We (farmers) can sit back and lament that we are victims or we can actively acknowledge that farmers are business people selling a product and successful businesses recognise marketing is the strategic part of doing business.

Marketing doesn’t mean every farmer needs to write a blog, join Twitter or Facebook it simply means being customer focused. This means you have to understand your customer and their values and your business has to BE the image you want your customer to see.

Every sector of the food system whether that be farmers, manufactures, branded food companies, supermarkets or restaurants is under ever increasing pressure to demonstrate they are operating in a way that is consistent with stakeholder values and expectations. Farmers cannot expect to be exempted from this scrutiny just because we grow the food.

Businesses are built on relationships. This means we (farmers) have to get out there in our communities and start having two way conversations with our customers

Excitingly I know that once farmers embrace the concept they will discover like me that it can be very rewarding talking to your customers. They are interested and they do care.

There are so many ways farmers can share their stories. This one is very quirky and I just love it. Check it out you will too

Cobargo Dairy Farmer Stephanie Tarlinton shares her story via YouTube

Fascinating facts about cows

Now here is a quirky fact you may not know

 

Dairy cows ( Bos Taurus ) only sweat through their noses. 

As dairy cows perspire at only 10 per cent of the human rate we have to help them maintain a comfortable body temperature in the hotter summer months.

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Cattle dissipate heat primarily through breathing. That is why during the summer months cows’ tongues may be hanging out of their mouths. This is an attempt to increase the volume of air that passes through the airways, maximizing the exchange of heat with the environment.

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And they have this very quirky way of wiping the sweat off their noses

To reduce the levels of cow heat stress the trick is to be constantly aware of the  weather and what is likely to be coming.

For example a combination of the following can act as a warning

Slide1

http://www.coolcows.com.au/

The most useful and practical way to determine how your cows are actually coping with the prevailing conditions and managing their heat load is to check their breathing rate.

Slide2

http://www.coolcows.com.au/

Holsteins being black and white have the added burden that black cows feel the heat more and seem to attract more flies that whiter cows. Whereas white cows will suffer sunburn.

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Flies seem to more prevalent on black cows

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Whilst this much whiter cow sitting next to her didn’t seem to be at all troubled by flies

We have the added complication of the home farm being very steep which means the   the cows require extra energy provided via a higher feed intake to walk up and down the hills. Metabolising this extra feed generates more heat aggravating any extra heat stress being incurred from the weather.

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The cows are in paddock 3 this week between the morning and the noon milking.

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Like this paddock it has a 5 to 6 gradient. That’s almost mountain goat terrain

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And they traverse the hills like mountain goats on the walk home 

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Udders full of milk prior to midday milking

On top of this our cows already have high feed intake because they produce a lot of milk so it goes with out saying higher milk production cows will begin experiencing heat stress before lower producing or dry cows (cows not lactating)

Okay so what do you do?

With wise advice from our nutritionist Dr Neil Moss we adjust the feed by packing the nutrients into smaller volumes of feed that we feed in the dairy.

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Our cows get fed a mixture of grains and vitamins and mineral supplements three times daily in the dairy. 

On hot days, we put the cows in paddocks where they have access to adequate amounts of shade.

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And you need to keep your eyes wide open for the ones in the bushes

High producing cows will often drink 50 per cent more water on a hot day so again it goes without saying they must have access to good quality, cool drinking water

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Big troughs and lots of them.

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Allowing the cows to take their time their time walking backwards and forwards from the dairy is always a high priority

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Cows don’t seem to like hot concrete and will avoid it if the can

Milking three times daily makes it tricky too and our cows are walking backwards and forwards to the dairy during the hottest part of the day. Whilst its hard to modify the times of milking we normally start early ( 4am) so that milking is completed early in the morning before it gets too hot. IMG_5334

Early starts mean the cows get to the paddock before it gets too hot

We keep the cows close to the dairy for the midday milking and the night time milking (8am) is in the cooler part of the evening. Research says during hot weather,cows prefer to eat at night so we pick the paddock with the highest quality feed for the night feed.

Then we get to the fun part. We have sprinklers set up in the milking yard to cool the cows while they wait to be milked and large fans in the milking shed which helps keep both the people and cows a lot cooler

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Cows love to stand under the sprinklers whilst they wait to get milked

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The dairy is also protected from the hot sun by two huge Morton Bay figs

Its a challenge but we get better at it every year

For those who like the science – courtesy of Dr Moss

PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO HEAT STRESS
Heat stress induces a number of physiological responses by the cow in an attempt to keep body temperatures within normal limits. The following are some of the physiological changes occurring in the cow as heat stress conditions are incurred:

  1. Respiration rates increase and may reach the stage of panting. In this attempt to increase evaporative cooling, increased amounts of CO2 are exhaled resulting an a decrease in H2CO3 and an increase in blood pH. In response to the decrease in blood pH, the kidney increases resorption of H+ and more HCO3 and cations, primarily sodium, are excreted in the urine.
  2. Heat stressed cows lose two thirds of their evaporative water loss by sweating and one third by panting. The maximum sweat loss at 95° F is estimated to be 150g/m2 of body surface per hour. Cows lose potassium rather than sodium through sweating.
  3. Reticulo-rumen motility and overall rate of digesta passage is decreased during heat stress. There also is a change in rumen fermentation with less total volatile fatty acids produced and an increase in the molar percent of acetate.
  4. Blood flow to the digestive tract and other internal tissues is decreased and flow to the skin surface is increased
  5. Urine volume generally increases

Weddings in Paradise

Believe it or not this is a story about growing grass.

Rolling green hills, seascapes and briescapes ( not that I think either of our processors make soft cheeses out of our milk – what a shame).

Recognise the backdrop

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Four days earlier it looked like this

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This wedding was in November and the bride and groom and the photographer Peter Merison did a rekkie for wedding photos at Clover Hill in late September.

When Peter knocked on the door and asked if he could take wedding photos in the front paddock little did he know how much preparation would go into the timing of the cows eating the paddock off in order to have the grass at the perfect height (and manure free- well almost) to provide the best experience for all parties concerned including most importantly the cows .

The weather was perfect, the grass was perfect, the photos look superb and if the wedding blog is anything to go by the wedding was perfect.

Now back to the finely tuned art form of growing grass for best practice pasture based dairying.

Greener than Green

Looking back from the west to the dairy and the paddock in front of my house  – can you see it?

This picture was taken in the spring and the grass in the forefront of this paddock is almost perfect. A nice blend of oats and annual rye grass at just the right height, with  high energy (carbohydrate) levels and balanced protein content.

Good dairy farmers know their grass so well they can pretty accurately estimate the energy and protein levels of the grass just by looking at it at any given point of the year. Take my word for it this grass is short and sweet and the cows quicken their step when they saw it.

During spring our rotation (number of days its takes the cows to eat off every paddock on the farm) is approximately fourteen days and thanks to the temperate weather and high rainfall this year our current rotation is still 14 days as the ryegrass is still hanging in there. As ryegrass is a cooler climate grass normally at this time of the year it would be too hot and the ryegrass will have died out or gone to seed (grass loses 40% of its energy content when it goes to seed) and the kikuyu will have taken over.

Good dairy farmers are always casting their eyes over their paddocks on a day to day basis to pick the best grass for their cows. If one paddock has got away (the grass is past its peak ) and another paddock is at the perfect stage you go with the paddock that is perfect otherwise you spend your time chasing your tail. Our cows go into a different paddock after every milking. This allows us to pick a paddock with good shade for the hottest part of the day. This means we need to pick three ideal paddocks every day.

Cows on heat  

Yesterday when we bought the cows home from Jack’s paddock we had a number of options which is always a good thing unless more than one paddock is past its best by date. We chose this one known as the dam paddock (for obvious reasons) or paddock 27

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Each paddock has a number but they also have another name that often has no relevance to the present. Jack’s paddock has an historical significance. Jack and Viv used to own the 100 acres next door and as we have fond memories of them  I imagine this paddock will be called Jack’s paddock for a long while yet.

Back to the wedding. How impressive does this look

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and my favourite photo from the blog

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Wedding photos in this blog have been used with permission

Walking when too much is not a good thing

At Clover Hill Dairies we milk 500 cows three times daily on two farms.

Milking three times a day is not the norm but we do it for a multitude of reasons which are good for people, cows and the planet.

Milking three times a day means lots and lots of health benefits for our cows but those health benefits rely on good time management.

Good time management is essential because cows need at least 12 hours a day to sleep. ( If you want to read the heavy science you can find it here.)

So as our cows walk backwards and forwards to the dairy three times daily we need to make sure they do that with as much cow comfort as we can provide so they can do it as quickly and efficiently as they can.

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Cows travel super highways at Clover Hill  (special thanks to Penny Scott who took this gorgeous photo)

To help them do this we have created a series of “supermoo highways” on our farms.

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Like this and this –  Cars and people like them too. We get lots of the “keep fit” crowd walking up this road

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50% of our farm is rainforest and part of our role as land stewards is to make sure our farming practices do not impact on the native vegetation or the wildlife.

So we have supermoo highways through our rainforest as well .

Here is a great example of development of one through the rainforest

Cows Walking thru rainforest

This one was fine like this when we milked twice daily but it looked like this when we got a lot of rain and the cows started using it three times daily

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So what did we do. We got some advice from rainforest experts and some cow comfort experts and we did this

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Picasso Corner

Firstly we separated the cows and the rainforest with a fence.

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Then we poured concrete on the laneway.  We had happy cows and a happy farm team who found the cows liked the new comfortable road and were very keen to come back to the dairy for milking.

Then we needed to spend some time nurturing the rainforest. So we found some more experts to give us the right advice like Erin and the team at Landcare Illawarra

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Erin with Tony Hepworth and Mike Swanson from South East Landcare 

The troops came in and did their bush regeneration thing and achieved some great outcomes like this

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What about those cows getting their 40 winks!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I went for a walk and it gave me great pleasure when I came across the cows in the paddock at the end of the laneway we call Picasso Corner (another story) and saw this paddock full of very happy cows RESTING

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Great outcomes all round me thinks