Focus farm

Farm landscape

Demonstrating “real decisions on real farms in real circumstances”, Tasmanian focus farmers Peter and Jo Jones are managers of “Limberlost Dairy” in the Tamar Valley. Follow their journey over the next two years as they share their business with us.

Annual cost of production

Throughout this season we will track monthly Peter and Jo’s cost of production.

COP BudgetedCOP ActualIncome BudgetedIncome Actual
Feb3.27 3.62 
Mar3.73 4.31 
Apr4.25 5.13 
May4.80 6.04 
Jun5.18 7.08 

Below is a graph tracking budgeted against actual farm income and cost of production for Peter and Jo on a monthly basis. It is expected that Limberlost’s end year cost of production will be $5.18/kg MS and their income $7.08/kg MS. The graph is cumulative with all costs and income year to date divided by total expected milk production. Peter and Jo expect to produce around 362,000 kg MS for the year.

Cost of production table

Farm details

Limberlost is owned by equity partners and managed by Peter and Jo Jones. Peter and Jo are responsible for all the day to day management of the farm with larger business decisions made by all involved in the business.

Physical details  
Milking Platform253 ha246 ha
Area Irrigated196 ha196 ha
Peak Cow numbers780770
Stocking rate (cows/ha)2.93.13
Calving Start Date5 February5 February
Annual Production (Kg Milk Solids)323,000363,000
Feed details  
Annual Pasture Utilisation (t DM/ha)9.49.0
Grazed Pasture per cow (t DM/cow)2.72.7
Concentrates per cow (t DM/cow)1.21.3
Hay, silage and other feed per cow (t DM/cow)1.31.5
Total feed per cow5.25.5
Business details  
Annual Cost of Production ($/kg MS)$5.02$4.91
Return on Assets for 2013/14 season13.2%13.5%
Cows milked per full-time equivalent247266

*Information taken from 2013/14 Dairy Business of the Year data
**Information taken from 2014/15 Dairy Farm Monitor Project data

Limberlost herd

Limberlost herd

Key goals to be achieved

Outside of day to day running of the farm Peter and Jo need to consider not only their business goals, but also those of the owners. Including the farm owners in the project is important. As outcomes from the project the farm owners would like to see the farm:

  • Utilise the resource base of the farm – pastures, water, land, labour and stock in order to achieve “industry-best” profitability
  • To use a farming business model that is sustainable, and environmentally and socially responsible.
  • Provide a workplace where staff feel valued, challenged, rewarded and provide opportunities for career development.
  • Ensure business assets are maintained or improved over time.
  • Timely reporting on KPIs to enable regular monitoring of the business performance.

As managers Peter and Jo then take these objectives and attempt to marry them with their own personal objectives. Peter and Jo’s personal objectives are:

  • Achieve a lifestyle that allows for a balance between work and family.
  • Provide a good income for everybody involved in the business.
  • Be able to balance their own business interests without compromising their interests in Limberlost and the business performance of this farm.

Key challenges

Although early in the project a few key management challenges have been identified.

Controlling cost of production. As with any business cost of production is a key to profitability.

Maintaining a lifestyle while having a profitable business. For Peter and Jo life is not all about just dairy farming and they like to be able to spend time with their young family.

Managing salinity. Comprehensive soil testing and analysis through the Dairy Australia Fert$mart project identified saline areas of the farm. To manage this issue salt tolerant crops and improved drainage will be used.

Meet the project team

As part of being a focus farmer Peter and Jo meet regularly with a project team that consists of Andrew Wright as lead consultant and Sandra Bennett as mentee consultant. Overall the project is managed by Dairy Australia and DairyTas with Liz Mann as the project manager.

In addition to the project team the project also has a focus farm support group. This group consists of 12 farmers and service providers that meet every 6 to 8 weeks on the farm. This group challenges to Peter and Jo around the management decisions that they are making.

The Focus Farm project team (L to R) Andrew Wright, Sandra Bennett, Liz Mann, Peter and Jo Jones

The Focus Farm project team (L to R) Andrew Wright, Sandra Bennett, Liz Mann, Peter and Jo Jones

Getting involved

You can get involved by attending the three field days held on farm over the two years of the project. The first of these days was held on May 14 2015.

You can also read about what is happening on the focus farm monthly in the Tassie Dairy News newsletter published by the TIA Dairy Centre, or fortnightly in the DairyTas enewsletter.

Happenings on the farm can also be followed on Facebook on the Tasmanian Dairy Focus Farm page.


Limberlost farm

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This page has been produced by DairyTas and was last modified Wednesday 20 April 2016.

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