I guess for most of us farmers this year, the huge crash in forecast payout is making us look hard at our systems and justify any spending we do. I’m quietly grateful that we took the opportunity last year to get into a stronger cash position, taking advantage of the higher payout to reduce debt and also invest in overdue upgrades of our milk cooling system and buy another tractor. The icebank that runs all night on cheap power enables our milk to hit the vat a lot cooler than it used to, meaning at the end of milking the temp is now about 12 deg instead of the 18 it used to be! This was a worthwhile investment, simple easy and efficient, meaning I don’t need to look at the daily docket with trepidation any more, especially if the tanker comes early! As for the tractor, another John Deere 2040S was purchased, identical to the one that has done us proud for the last 15 years. Only the new one has only done a paltry 7700 hours, still a long way from the 11500 hours the old one has done!! Wow, two tractors…..Now the old girl can keep the feedout wagon hooked up 24/7, while the as new one does the loader work and any topping etc. Still no cab though, much to the disgust of young Hayze!!
An ever lingering area of concern over the last few years has been our stubbornly high cell count. For a number of reasons we have been averaging around 250 000 SCC for the year. Way, way too high. We have machine checked, used dry cow and teat seal, culled what we could and always teat sprayed but not gained any ground. This year however, we got some expert advice from an external source and tweaked a few minor things in several areas. I am thrilled to say that our SCC is still in 6 figures, but only just, a huge drop from the last few years. Bernard the manager seems to think it’s his good management, but I am quick to point out to him that if he’s so good then why is it only improving in his third year on our place??? On that note, I need to mention that Bernard has been doing a fantastic job managing our farm, following on from Fraser, the first guy we employed. However, he has secured his first 50/50 job for next season, so he and his wife Jo and family will be off on the 1st of June 2015. More on this to come….