THE final Tactics for Dry Times Shed Day was held in Gippsland last Wednesday, with all minds turned towards the future.
With a tough period behind them, host farmers Ian, Shelley and Matt Conn are looking towards the rest of 2016 as an opportunity to bounce back and replenish fodder reserves.
The Shed Days, which are short, sharp and informal sessions, have been rolled out across Gippsland in recent months after an overwhelmingly positive response to the Dry Times events held in late 2015.
Ian, who was at the first Dry Times event in Calrossie in November, said his Hedley, Vic, farm had been hit hard by below average rainfall, but he was hoping for better times ahead.
“We started feeding cows on the 21st of October,” he said.
“Spring didn’t happen and there’s been very little moisture which meant we have had to feed a lot of hay and silage.
“By the end of winter we will have well and truly depleted our fodder stocks, so we are trying to make sure we put ourselves in the best place we can be for growing grass in the spring.”
Dry Times facilitator Matt Harms said smart planning had allowed the Conn’s to weather the harsh conditions as well as they possibly could have done.
“They’ve done a really good job. They have put a plan in place to deal with the circumstances that have been thrown at them,” he said.
“They reviewed that plan – and it was a wise plan to begin with – when the circumstances changed a little bit with that summer rain. That allowed them to stretch fodder reserves out a bit, which has really got them through until now.
“The plan has rolled out beautifully, with the next stage being how dry cows and transition cows are managed and how grass is being built-up from now until the cows start calving in six weeks.”
For GippsDairy projects and events co-ordinator Karen Romano, the final Tactics for Dry Times field day was typical of other sessions, which have attracted more than 620 farmers from Inverloch to Maffra.
“Just standing here today listening to the way farmers and neighbours share their knowledge and experience, it really makes you realise what a great industry we work in,” she said.
“It’s been a tough times right across this district, but dairyfarmers are still coming together and helping each other out at days like these.
“The feedback we have been getting since the first session at Calrossie is that organising these days has been dairy service levy money well spent.”