Does a herd's genetics matter to the farm's bottom line? How do farmers know?
The ImProving Herds project has brought together a wealth of collaboration, science and understanding to ask those questions.
Farmers are invited to come to an event called the National Muster, to be held at the Jelbarts' farm at Pound Creek, Leongatha South, to hear the answer.
Tim Jelbart has been involved in the project as one of the 27 Genetics Focus Farmers.
"When we heard about the project, we thought it would be a great opportunity to learn something more about our business and what drives profitability," Mr Jelbart said.
ImProving Herds was initiated by Gardiner Dairy Foundation in 2015, with an investment of $1.5 million across three years. Led by world-class scientists from Agriculture Victoria, the project has important contributions from DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia and National Herd Improvement Association (NHIA).
It is led by principal research scientist at Agriculture Victoria/La Trobe University Dr Jennie Pryce.
The project has examined the on-farm value of a range of herd-improvement tools and technologies, from breeding values to herd testing to DNA testing. The 27 Genetic Focus Farms are from diverse locations all over Australia, as well as seven Herd Test Focus Farms from five states.
Farmers will hear how herd-improvement tools and technologies impact the bottom line for farmers with different systems spread across a large geographic area.
Profitability is important for Mr Jelbart who is the general manager of the family business. Milking about 1000 cows on a platform of about 800 hectares, the business involves the Jelbart brothers, their wives and very good employees.
Clear, objective data is important so everyone can understand what is happening. "We try to make the business transparent and maximise our returns, where we can," he said. "It's an investment for us, and we enjoy being part of it, but the investment has to stack up."
The farm also has 1200 young stock, from calves through to two-year-olds, which are a combination of replacements, export, steers and dairy sales to diversify the revenue streams of the business.
After working as an associate director (rural valuations) for Colliers International, Mr Jelbart returned to work in the family business in July 2015. The Jelbarts sold Caldermeade Farm and Cafe during 2017 to simplify the operation and focus on their Pound Creek business.
Although he admits to being a little nervous about hosting the National Muster, Mr Jelbart encourages farmers to come along. "It'll be a good opportunity to mix with other farmers and hear about how they use herd improvement," he said.
The National Muster will be held from 10am on Thursday, May 10, at the Jelbart farm at Leongatha South, Vic.D
For more information, visit website www.nationalmuster.com or contact Erika Oakes, DataGene, phone 0427 995 248, email email@example.com or Sallie Clynes, GippsDairy, phone 0437 832 877, Sallie@gippsdairy.com.au.