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Potential For Victoria 's Dairy Industry

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Potential for Victoria’s Dairy Industry to Move towards a Partial Mixed Ration Feeding System
Jasmine Hasluck
Feed is a major cost in the production of milk so it is important for Victorian dairy farmers to consider which feeding strategy is going to be the most efficient in generating high profit and productivity. We can broadly group dairy feeding strategies into 5 systems (Little, S 2010). System 1 is pasture based with other forages and up to 1 tonne of grain or concentrates fed in bail. System 2 is pasture based with other forages and more than 1 tonne of grain or concentrate fed in bail. System 3 is a partial mixed ration (PMR) fed on a feed pad, grazed pasture and grain or concentrate may be fed in bail. System 4 is a hybrid system,
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It requires minimal capital and infrastructure by allowing cattle to graze pasture. However this system has become less efficient as Victorian dairy farms have become more intense and climatic conditions and milk prices are volatile. Since the price of milk became deregulated in 2000 there was a push for Australian dairy farms to become more productive to remain competitive with international dairy industries (Edwards, G 2003). This led to increases in stocking density and ultimately put pressure on pasture supply. Rainfall is a limiting factor on pasture growth and year-to-year variability in rainfall has had a huge negative effect on Victorian dairy farmers. In 2009/10 Victoria was faced with severe droughts, which showed a fall in milk production of over 340 million litres (Dairy Australia, 2015). During an extended period of low rainfall the quantity and quality of pasture is limited, which means pasture-based farms are forced to buy in supplementary feed and/or irrigation water to satisfy the feed requirements of dairy cattle. Climatic variability poses a high risk in this system, which has led to farmers to start considering other feeding options such as a partial mixed ration which might alleviate this risk. Figure 1. Dairy Feeding Systems (Little, S 2010)
Partial mixed ration systems combine the cost effectiveness of pasture-based feeding with a formulated diet which gives the potential to improve productivity and decrease the risk associated with climatic
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