WestVic Dairy Programs
WestVic Dairy invests in, supports and manages a wide range of programs aligned to dairy industry priorities.
These programs are funded through the Dairy Service Levy; State, Commonwealth and local government agencies; regional NRM and development boards; and commercial businesses as relevant and appropriate.
Programs listed by the following focus areas:
InCharge: Cow Health and Fertility
This workshop is a five-day course delivered over eight weeks and focuses on improving cow fertility.
Local experts present on topics such as calving systems, transition cow management, heat detection, synchrony, artificial insemination, bull management and heifer rearing. It helps farmers to evaluate their current herd’s reproductive performance and develop an individual plan to improve their performance.
Transition Cow Management (Springer to Calver)
This program is delivered as day four of the InCharge: Cow Health and Fertility course or a standalone one-day workshop to help farmers understand the benefits and mechanics of implementing a transition cow management plan for their farm.
Cups On Cups Off
This two-day accredited course, delivered over two weeks, is designed to achieve best practice in milk harvesting including the detection and treatment of clinical cases of mastitis.
The course is delivered through South West TAFE.
Topics covered include:
- How and why infections occur
- Practical mastitis control
- The importance of teat disinfection
- Reducing the risk of infection
- How to detect and deal with clinical mastitis
- The real cost of mastitis
Euthanasia of Livestock
This is an accredited one-day workshop that is delivered through Rural Industries Skill Training (RIST) by an accredited trainer. The course teaches participants safe, effective and humane euthanasia of livestock using a captive bolt gun.
These are standalone workshops, which deliver Dairy Australia programs to farmers in a format that suits their needs. They can be tailored to the specific demands of a group and utilise local experts. At times, these workshops may be delivered off-farm to suit the needs of larger groups.
The workshops available include:
- Rearing Healthy Calves – fundamentals of good practice in infrastructure, colostrum management, nutrition and health management
- Heifers on Target – increasing farmer capability to grow heifers from weaning to calving in order to achieve good fertility and milk production
- Healthy Hooves – lameness prevention and treatment
- Heat Detective – discussion group module to prepare farmers for the mating period
- Low Stress Calving – discussion group module which is short format of the Transition Cow Management workshop
This two-day course gives farmers a basic understanding of a cow’s nutritional requirements. It focuses on how these needs can be met in the most profitable way, by maximising pasture consumption then addressing feed gaps with supplements.
Topics covered include:
- The importance of getting nutrition right
- Ruminant digestion and factors that limit intake
- Nutrients supplied by different feeds
- Balancing the diet
- Condition scoring
- The cost of rearing young stock
- Feed budgeting
- Comparing the cost of nutrients
Feeding Pastures for Profit
This highly-regarded course is delivered over a 12-month period and includes two classroom sessions commencing in autumn, where the principles of the program are outlined.
These are followed by five on-farm days in autumn, winter, early spring, late spring and summer. These sessions focus on the challenges and opportunities of each particular season.
Profitable Feeding Systems
The Profitable Feeding Systems program aims to educate farmers in how to best utilise the resources on their farm to maximise home-grown feed and hence profitability. It offers tools in feedbase planning and management to ultimately improve performance.
The program provides a catalyst to drive participation in other feedbase programs including Feeding Pastures for Profit. Workshops are generally held in spring and autumn with two workshops held in each season across the region
Farm Business Management
Farm Business Management Courses
Workshops are delivered on two levels, Fundamentals and Analysis, offering farmers the opportunity to learn about financial management with the aim to improve farm business skills.
Delivered in small groups, the two workshops (each four hours in length) allow farmers to apply the skills gained directly to their own farm data.
Farm Business Fundamentals
- Good record keeping systems
- Understand the difference between management and tax compliance
- Understand the Standard Chart of Accounts
- Recognise business obligations – tax, banks, people and the law
- Prepare an annual farm budget
- Introduce participants to Dairy Australia’s DairyBase
- Farm Business Analysis
- Accurately interpret and analyse data in DairyBase
- Industry comparison analysis of their business
- Review budgets and compare to actuals
- Prepare and interpret a balance sheet
Our Farm, Our Plan
Our Farm, Our Plan is designed to help farmers identify long-term goals, improve business performance and manage volatility.
The program uses a simple process involving all key decision makers in a farm business to identify how a farm is currently performing and the steps needed to achieve long-term goals.
It is a two-day workshop facilitated by an experienced farm consultant. There are approximately six weeks between the two days, which allows time for those involved to work through program.
Business Focus Farms
The Business Focus Farm program gives the region's farmers the opportunity to learn from the featured farm business. There is a strong focus on key profit drivers and business management.
The Business Focus Farmers benefit from a support group, made up of local farmers and service providers. The group is led by an experienced farm consultant. The group meets several times a year, with the aim of achieving the goals of the Focus Farm.
The goals and performance of the Focus Farms are shared with the farming community through newsletter articles, data reports and on-farm open days.
Discussion Group Support Program
Dairy Discussion Groups have always been a great way for farmers to get together, catch up with neighbours, share experiences, thrash out new ideas and explore new technologies. Dairy Australia invests in group-based extension and practice change activities that support the adoption and application of new technology and best practices. Dairy Australia supports farmers to improve farm business management performance through Discussion Groups.
Young Dairy Network (YDN)
The YDN caters to the needs of young farmers and service providers aged 18 to 40 in the region. The focus is on helping young farmers set up for the future and develop their leadership skills. The YDN holds various educational and social events each year.
The People in Dairy Website
This website, also known as ‘TPID’, forms the foundations of the people space within Dairy Australia. The website holds resources and information for all things people, employment and safety on farm.
Dairy Australia has developed a Farm Safety Starter Kit (FSSK) and a Farm Safety Manual, which are both available to farmers and other industry personnel. The FSSK has been widely distributed to farmers and is also used by Worksafe in their farm safety programs.
The comprehensive manual is available through participation in safety workshops offered across the region and is also available to download off The People in Dairy website.
Employment Starter Kit Initiative
The Employment Starter Kit initiative (ESKi) is an employment guide written and published by Dairy Australia which is well-used within the industry. The kit is available electronically on TPID website, as well as in form of a folder, for which updates are provided regularly.
Employment Basics Workshops
Employment Basics workshops are delivered regularly across the region. The workshops give attendees an overview of employment in a farming context, including navigating the ESKi and The People in Dairy website. Participants are given the opportunity to discuss and clarify any issues.
Stepping Up, Stepping Back
This program has three stages:
- Stepping Up, which sets out possible options for those wishing to progress within the industry
- Stepping Back, which puts together a game plan focusing on those looking to reduce their involvement in the industry
- Taking Steps, which looks at the logistics involved in options such as share farming, leasing and shared equity arrangements.
These sessions are complimented by a suite of paper and electronic resources available on TPID, including various template agreements.
Every second year or as required, a HR update is delivered in the region for service providers, and farmers. These sessions utilise the skills of well-regarded industry professionals.
Direct support is provided to farmers and service providers, in the form of email and phone queries. As time allows, farm visits are also performed giving one on one support to farmers with specific HR queries.
Other group sessions
Sessions relating to employment compliance, safety, share farming, leasing, succession planning and other related topics are conducted on request, particularly at Discussion Groups and other industry meetings.
Land, Water and Climate
Fert$mart has been developed to improve the efficiency and profitability of fertiliser use and to improve soil health on Australian dairy farms.
It provides easy-to-follow steps to guide farmers and advisors with fertiliser planning and helps them to make more informed cost-effective fertiliser management decisions.
Farmers will benefit from the Fert$mart program though:
- The opportunity to produce more feed at no extra cost with strategic fertiliser management
- Better understanding of nutrient management which assists in minimising nutrient loss into waterways, thereby maintaining a healthy environment
- Ensuring productive soils with good soil structure, optimum fertility and which are biologically active
Detailed nutrient management plans and maps produced for each farm enable participants to better understand nutrient management including the recycling of nutrients.
Smarter Irrigation for Profit Project
Dairy Australia is one of five industry groups collaborating in the national Smarter Irrigation for Profit Project, funded by the Commonwealth Government.
This project is providing an exciting opportunity for irrigators looking to improve their irrigation efficiency. A research site has been established in the South West region. Research will reflect local irrigation, soil and agronomic knowledge gaps with an aim to increase irrigation production and profit through trial and demonstration of cost-effective management practices and technologies that increase water, energy and labour efficiencies.
The research site is supported by a project advisory group comprised of local dairy farmers and service providers. The group provides ongoing input to the project, learning from the research and then applying practices to their own irrigated areas and undertaking measurement were applicable.
The Great South West Dairy Awards have become a highlight of the dairy industry calendar. Held biennially, the awards set out to recognise and reward the skill, dedication, leadership, ingenuity and environmental responsibility of the farming community in south-west Victoria.
Awards recognises excellence in the following categories:
- Dairy Farm Business Management
- Natural Resource and Sustainability Management
- Young Dairy Leader
- Service Provider
- Dairy Farm Photo
- Dairy Industry Honour Board
Sungold Field Days
WestVic Dairy collaborates with Agriculture Victoria to provide an interactive display and promote its services at the Sungold Field Days which are held at Allansford each February.
Dairy Ladies' Luncheon
The Dairy Ladies’ Luncheon brings together about 300 ladies to relax, reflect and rejuvenate while enjoying an inspiring speaker and fabulous food. The luncheon provides a valuable opportunity for ladies to network with those involved in other dairy farming businesses and industry representatives.