Large Scale Dairying Only Beginning

AUSTRALIA - Cow herds of 600 are only the beginning of large scale dairying in the future, according to the Nuffield Farming Scholars.
calendar icon 8 January 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

More expansion and the merits of pasture based systems in temperate climates are the messages of Paul Lambert, Nuffield Australia in Challenges and Opportunities for Large Scale Dairies which looks at the current state of global dairy systems and what the future holds.

Milk operations are believed to be set for expansion with limitations and opportunities lying in wait from how corporate strucutres will develop to how the energy and growth rates of grass varieties can be altered.

The report outlines enterprise size. Average herd sizes in New Zealand and south America are over 800 cows per farm in some regions. Herds of 40,000 split over six farms are now seen. The goal could be to have 1500 cows over three herds of 500 utilising one centrally located milking unit.

Pasture systems are marked as the set-ups with the greatest potential for gross margin improvement long term. The reduced labour and feed savings outweight obvious movement set backs with mobile dairy units and temporary shelters outlined as ways to reduce the negatives of large-scale outdoor grazing.

Robotic systems are recommended for the future. The report stated that installing appropriate systems now is essential. Grass dairies will accomodate robotic milking and the report added electronic gates amongst key features to aid herd logistics. Milking hours of 18-20 hours per day are expected.

Renewable energy systems are expected to finance and drive the technology of future businesses more and more. Tarrifs, leasing land to energy companies and embedded generations systems are noted as current areas of success to farmers.

Biomass gasifiers, reported as popular throughout India, have secondary effects of soil improvement. Biochar, not produced from dairy waste instead relies on farm, municipal and forest waste.

Biogas units powered by cow manure were not favoured by Mr Lambert. Breakdowns and dangerous gasses were listed as negatives of the process. Cost and payoff periods were listed as very dependent on the cost of silage maize.

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