Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20th

Today we started our day at 7:45am with heading out to our first stop. The first stop of our day was a rotary dairy that is owned by Dean Leslie. His family has owned their farm for 28 years. They are currently growing crops, milking cows and they are doing custom work for other farmers. Leslie’s farm has a total of 4,500 acres that he uses to grow crops and graze cattle. As a farm they are completely self-sufficient which means they grow all of the crops that they need to be able to feed their cattle during times when grass is poor.   They are trying to minimize their input costs by having family help and manage different aspects of their farm.  For example the youngest son runs the operation as a whole while the father operates the dairy.  They are now milking 400 head of cattle on a 50 cow rotary system; which takes 10 minutes per rotation.  During this rotation the cattle are fed a mixed ration.  This ration includes triticale, corn, canola, and Lucene.  Essentially they eat about 10 kilo’s per day.  Other than the mixed rations they are put out in flood irrigated pastures daily.  They have a housing unit if need be, but rarely use it. They keep their heifers that are born on the operation. The calving system they use is simple. When the calves are first born they are in their own pens for a couple of days. After a couple days they are put into a larger group where they are fed at one time off a feeder called the milk bar. The last part of their system is where the calves a placed on pasture and fed as a large group. They slowly increase the amount of calves in the pen to allow the calves to get used to eating together.  Besides the dairy they are also contracting/custom farming. They do forage harvesting and combining and look after other farmers that don’t have the machinery and implements to farm.

One of the calves at Dean Leslies dairy farm.

The feeding system for the calves on Dean dairy.

Dean Leslie explaining the rotatory milking parlor.

Our next stop was at Royal hotel in Seymore, Victoria. Here we were able to sit down and eat a variety of foods. This restaurant still resides as the oldest building in Seymore. After a nice meal the group walked down the road for a quick ice cream break at Macca’s (McDonalds) and headed back to the bus for our next tour.

Lunch at the Royal Hotel in Seymore, Victoria.

Our last tour took place at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria. La Trobe University is home to nearly 30,000 students and 400 staff members. We started this tour with a few presentation given by graduate students. The first presentation covered research in genetics of the dairy industry. Here they are gathering data from cattle regarding diseases and background genetics. They were able to gather genetics from cows around Australia and through different programs help farms make better decisions for breeding purposes. The next presentation outlined a new program that offered farmers an opportunity to get more reliable genetic information at a faster rate. Instead of waiting for their cattle to mature, farmers are able to make a faster more reliable decision regarding the production and genetics of an animal at a young age. This offers farmers an opportunity to keep their best livestock while being able to thin out their herds. In the middle of the last presentation the group was startled as a bird flew into the window. We looked over as feathers floated down around this poor animal. Although many of us thought it was done for, after ten minutes the bird regained consciousness and flew off.
Ethan explaining the way that proteins are broken down. 

One of the labs used for genetic analysis at La Trobe University.


The bird that flew into the window during the presentations at the University.

Ashley, Angel, and Raquel

We took a stop along the way at Black Caviar Monument. Bus Driver Kim Smith in front.


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