Success Stories in Gannawarra

From New Zealand to Kerang
2012/06/02 | Sophie Bruns

It's a long way from New Zealand to Kerang but for Tony Barlow and his partner Tina Hardcastle the area was just what they were looking for, when the couple dcided to purchase their first dairy farm The dairy industry has provided Tina and Tony with many different opportunites and experiences over the years. They have milked both large and small herds, they have milked in different countries including New Zealand, Brazil, Chilli and Australia but farm ownership has always been their goal. “We wanted to buy our own farm but we would have had to get a huge loan in New Zealand, here in Australia we were able to buy our place debt free,” Tina said. “We looked mainly in Victoria and when we saw this farm advertised in the paper we knew we could get in here debt free and build our asset base up,” Tony said. The farm that took their eye was a fully lasered 73 hectare property at Kerang with a 9 unit swingover dairy. They moved on in September 2010. While their first few months were uneventful, the arrival of the floods and their baby Charlie at the same time proved to be a little stressful, with Tina ending up getting a ride to hospital in the neighbours tractor. She is hoping the arrival of the next baby due in July will be a lot less complicated. Tina and Tony are currently concentrating on improving pasture and they have started to get on top of the weed problem that covered many of the paddocks. They have sown 24ha of perenials and they intend to plant more in the spring. The 8ha of sorghum they planted last summer was pretty successful so that will be part of the rotation again this year. “Our goal is to build up stock numbers. We are milking 75 at the moment but with peak numbers we should get to around 110, In two years time we will have over 200 animals,” Tony said. With a young family Gracie 6, Warren 3 and Charlie 18 months, both Tina and Tony love the lifestyle the dairy industry provides. “You are self employed, you have job security and if you work hard you can make money and grow your asset base quite fast. “And even though we have only supplied the company for a short time I think the direction they are heading is really good. You don’t want to see people losing their jobs but if it is making the co-opertive more efficient then these things have to happen.

On farm efficiency program helps irrigators.
2012/01/31 | Sophie Bruns

Running a dairy operation has just become a whole lot easier for Leitchville farmer Graham Douglas. Through the On Farm Efficiency Program, 68 ha of his 129 ha farm has been laid out with 2.2km of black brute pipe and 32 risers, all controlled by a fully automated computer program, irrigation has become a whole lot easier. “These works mean I can throw away the shovel,” Graham laughs. “This whole program is a step in the right direction for the farming community. Five years ago I was sceptical about pumping water because I could gravitate but this is the only way the Government should be getting water, and that’s through programs like this. “There is no way we could have ever afforded these works without the On Farm Efficiency Program.” While Graham is no stranger to automation (he rigged up his own system back in the 90’s that was 100 per cent reliable) the installation of black brute means channel maintenance and blow outs are now a thing of the past. Paddocks are watered one at a time with a full stream of water down each lasered bay. A quarter of the farm is sown down to lucerne- two varieties one for grazing and one for hay production and some summer pasture. “My overall aim is for the cows to be grazing on half pasture and the rest lucerne. We will be running all our young stock here and this new system will help carry us into the future.” “I trust our new automated system 100 per cent. I just have to check to make sure I have my watering times for the different bays correct and once that’s right, everything will be done through the computer.” Graham admits he is no expert on the computer but he is learning his way around and after a couple of emergency calls to the computer technician, he has got things pretty much under control. The Douglas’ are hoping the rest of the farm will be upgraded through Stage

The township of Leitchville battles on
2011/02/22 | Sophie Bruns

It has been 12 months since Murray Goulburn closed the factory at Leitchville and residents continue to support the town.

Young farmer looks to the future
2011/10/03 | Sophie Bruns

Adam Link always knew he would end up coming home to work on the family farm even though he has a science degree which he completed at university, with honours under his belt. Taking over the reins from his parents Keith and Anne-Marie Link and expanding the families piggery venture at Leitchville to include a grower unit at Pyramid Hill and beef and cropping has been challenging but also rewarding too. The first 10 years since buying half the business have been a roller coaster ride of drought and flood, and issues in the pig industry including cheap imports, high grain prices and labor issues, but Adam and wife, Susanne have remained positive and steadily grown the business. “I have confidence in the sustainability of agriculture, my generation have a lot of opportunity heading into the future,” Adam said. “I do believe the family farm structure will remain an important part of our industry” For the last 18 months the business has been milling their own pig feed. While this was a significant investment, it has given them more control over their feed rations and helped with the bottom line. “Feed costs are 60 per cent of our expenses. We wanted to have the economic benefit from milling as well as a bit more control over grain quality when we feed our pigs,” Keith said. “We wouldn’t have survived the tough times if we didn’t start milling our own feed, I really believe it has helped us with our long term viability and it helps us to adapt out business in different ways.” “The mill also gives us the ability to value add any grain we can produce on our farm,” Adam adds. Purchasing 541 ha at Pyramid Hill for the grower unit has enabled the family to grow some of their own grain requirements. This season they had a bumper barley crop which went 43 bags to the acre which was in Adam’s words ‘exceptional.’ The crop was grown using super phosphate and composted waste litter from the grower shed igloos. “The pigs in the grower sheds are housed in igloos because they create a friendly, social environment. They have a deep litter bottom made up of rice hulls and straw which when combined with pig manure composts down into fertiliser. We simply clean the sheds and stockpile the litter for later use. “Adam said. “The management program we have in place for nutrient recycling helps cut down on our fertiliser costs. Everything is integrated, but it has to be for business to survive.” Looking to the future of the pork industry Adam can see skilled labour becoming more of an issue moving forward. “We are very happy with our staff, although some of the bigger piggeries are employing Phillipino’s to combat some of their labor shortages.” Meanwhile Adam is making the most of the ‘cheap’ labor provided by his parents when they aren’t off in their caravan until they retire and head off in their caravan. “Mum and Dad have been great. They have stepped back a bit and allowed me to make the decisions. There are many things in farming that are out of your control, but controlling what you can is the essence of managing your business.”

Iconic business
2010/05/16 | Sophie Bruns

Cohuna based business Mawsons is proud to be a major employer in the food bowl region.

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