Northern Victoria dairy farmer Steve Hawken’s biggest profit drivers are cows calving when they should and growing as much grass as possible. Over the past decade, Steve has managed to turn the tables on both counts.
His 440-acre farm at Bamawm, between Echuca and Rochester, is now thriving with earthworms in the soil and more calves on the ground than he needs. Steve attributes his success to a focus on sustainable farming and a shift to VikingGenetics.
He now milks 40 per cent more cows and produces double the amount of conserved fodder compared to 10 years ago. Before moving to VikingGenetics, the herd was struggling for replacements. “I couldn’t keep farming and not getting them in calf,” Steve said.
Traditionally a Holstein herd, Steve introduced VikingJersey crossbreds about six years ago and the mix is working. “We had backed ourselves into a corner as far as herd fertility went and that’s why we changed to VikingGenetics,” Steve said. “We’d been selectively breeding forever but couldn’t get them in calf.
“It’s important to get fertility right. My rule of thumb is from the day of calving to 150 days in milk any cow will give you two litres for a kilo of feed, after 150 days they could go 300-400 days in milk before getting in calf but the same kilo of feed only gives one litre of milk.
“Herd fertility and health are all I focus on.”