Consistently Profitable in a Variable Climate

DAFF - Dairy Tasmania

Type: Case Study
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Sharefarming can offer  the appropriate rewards for the energy and effort put in but will require careful and thorough discussion and planning before each season to develop a strategy for success.


Leigh and Kellie Schuuring hosted 30 farmers for a Future Ready Dairy Systems field day in May 2012.

Because they farm with no irrigation, the Schuuring’s farm was a good property to look at modeling around rainfall variability and pasture growth. Dr Richard Rawnsley (TIA Dairy Branch Leader) presented some modelling for the farm. This was also extended to modelling of farm profitability under a range of climate scenarios.

Leigh and Kellie are 2012 Dairy Business of the Year finalists and the field day was an opportunity to review some of the factors that have made their business successful. Basil Doonan (dairy consultant) highlighted that flexibility has been one of the key drivers for their success on a dryland farm.

What is the problem?

This review is comprised of the cooperation of Grant and Kim Archer as the farmowners and Leigh and Kellie Schuuring as the sharefarmers on how they successfully handled their farm business with their various effective strategies. This review aimed to provide information to farmers.

What did the research involve?

This review involved brief information about the families’ herd and the evaluation of their successful business due to the factors that include sufficient cooperation, appropriate planning, and strategic actualization.

What were the key findings?

  • the family’s’ herd were Friesian X Jersey cows. They mainly focused on the animal health, spring calving, 5 as the target condition score and decreases to around 4.75 condition score as the calving ends.
  • for the seasonal outlook, both families developed a strategy ensuring that they have good quality information on milk and grain price, determined the stocking rate and the level of per cow production they expected to achieve, variable costs, and capital.
  • respective to their roles in the business, the families’ had the corresponding budget for the farm plans.

Their strategies and plans:

  • grazing strategy – With the target grazing residual of 1500-1600kg DM/ha, the farm is firmly set up each year. They constantly monitored to the pasture as cow’s diet and assured that they intake adequate feed
  • supplement and feeding strategy – To attain high stocking rate, at least some level of concentration that varies from 2 kg/ cow/day to 6kg/cow/day are fed all year round
  • cropping plan – To shift feed in the slow-growth seasons of pastures which is from spring to summer, fodder crops are used as a low-cost option
  • herd fertility – Synchronization and calving inductions were used in ensuring a tight calving period
  • dry-off strategy – At the end of every lactation period, the cows were completely dried off for a short calving period

Final comment

Some of the families’ keys to success were their cooperative disposition and flexibility in handling the dryland farm and its correlated strategies. As a result, Leigh and Kellie Schuuring were one of the Dairy Business of the Year finalists, proving their evident triumph in the business.

2012 - Australia - DAFF - Dairy Tasmania
Read ArticleSave For Later

Related Resources