The recently released Tasmanian Dairy Farm Monitor Project (DFMP) report outlines the physical and financial performance of 29 Tasmanian dairy farms for the last financial year.
In 2015-16, Tasmania produced 883 million litres of milk from the 434 dairy farms in the state.
This was a slight reduction from the record of 891 million litres in the previous season.
The farms participating the DFMP experienced a 50 per cent reduction in Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT), partly as a consequence of the 10 per cent decrease in milk price and a higher cost of production.
This is the third consecutive year a DFMP report has been produced for Tasmania, which makes it possible to start analysing some trends.
One area of interest is the comparison between average performing farms and those in the top 25 per cent (based on Return on Assets Managed).
Common characteristics of farms in the top 25 per cent included: Higher stocking rate. Higher percentage of home-grown feed in the diet. Higher per cow milk production. Higher per hectare milk production. Higher labour use efficiency. Lower cost of production.
The above is true for each of the past three seasons, though just knowing this information doesn't always help in understanding how the top 25 per cent farms actually achieved these metrics. Finalists in the annual Tasmanian Dairy Business of the Year Award provide additional information that helps us learn more about these top performing farms.
Some of the similarities between this year's finalists include: Managing costs – different to minimising cost, top performing farms have a focus on getting a return on what they spend. Cow health – a healthy cow is a productive cow. Valuing the people working on the farm. Training – for everyone involved in the business.
If you are interested in learning more, come along to the Dairy Business of the Year Award field days held in April this year, or get involved in benchmarking and/or a dairy business discussion group.
Download the 2015-16 Dairy Farm Monitor Project report at www.utas.edu.au/tia/dairy-benchmarking.
*Lesley Irvine is dairy development and extension team leader with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.