Samantha Flight, TIA Dairy Centre
DairyTas hosted a field day last month at the Clear Springs Dairy Farm, which showcased the second year of operation at the conversion farm. The DairyTas IntoDairy program assisted the conversion process by providing funding for the dairy conversion plan. The farm is owned by a consortium of investors organised by Andrew Beattie and his firm ProAdvice and the actual farm is managed by Tim and Fiona Salter.
Planning a dairy conversion
The key message of the day highlighted the importance of good planning when considering a farm conversion and the amount of detail required when preparing a good plan.
A farm plan should include a whole farm physical plan, a financial budget, key farm objectives and clear operational procedures. Planning around timing is critical in achieving the investor’s goals. The Clear Springs team highlighted the need for strict timeframes with set deadlines for each planning achievement and they stressed that any delays in the development process can prove to be very expensive.
Having the right people involved is the key to success and is essential to having a well-run and successful conversion. Investors are also a key part in this story. Every investor brings a unique set of skills and ideas to the table, taking time to know the other investors and not rushing this process is important!
Engaging and working with contractors is not only necessary but important if the project is to be completed on time. Involve contractors in the big picture, through effective communication and by making them feel valued, this will make the process more enjoyable for everyone. Managing and working well with people is the most important attribute of a farm conversion manager. If you are not a people person then recognise this and employ someone that is. Understand that some people will let you down and that nothing ever goes to completely to plan, accept this and be flexible, always have a plan B.
While the dairy might one of the most noticeable parts of a dairy conversion, there is a lot of planning that needs to take place regarding:
Give consideration to the long-term future of the conversion. The Clear Springs dairy was designed to readily allow for future expansion.
Tim and Fiona Salter use a spring rotation planner, pre-grazing and post-grazing pasture covers are measured and monitored, with a target grazing residual cover of 1400-1500 kg DM/ha.
Their focus in setting-up for the new season is on looking after their pastures. They make sure they are achieving their target grazing residuals and are ensuring a good feed wedge going into the season..
This spring, just over 1000 cows are going to be calved down and milked on the 360 ha milking platform.