Farming Flexibility

The combination of resources available in the region allows for a range of different farming systems to be employed.

There is a choice in location from higher rainfall areas in the northeast to the more intense irrigation area in the central region to the broader acre options in southern NSW.

A key characteristic of the Murray Dairy region is the diverse range of profitable dairy production systems that exist.

This diversity has evolved over time as individual farming businesses have responded to the opportunities and challenges that have been presented to them.

Some of the drivers of change include:

  • Different milk price signals as the industry has moved from a regulated domestic dominated market to a unregulated export dominated market;
  • Continued uptake of new technologies including;
    milk harvesting and rotary dairies;
    pasture and fodder species;
    - irrigation infrastructure and automation; and
    animal genetics.
  • Increasing use of bought in feeds to complement the home grown feed base; and                 

The introduction of the ability to trade water entitlements both temporarily and permanently.

Underpinning how farmers have responded to changes in the operating environment has been the need to continually improve the profitability and productivity of their dairy businesses.

There is no one production system that outperforms all others, and what system a farmer will employ will be dependent on a range of factors including:

  • Skills, attitude to risk and areas of interest of the main decision makers for the operation;
  • The resource base that is available including land, water, people and financial; and
  • Stage of business cycle.

The different production systems employed in the region range from farms predominately perennial pasture based, to others that rely more on annual pastures and those that will double crop and incorporate summer fodder crops such as millet, sorghum and maize into their feeding program.

There are also some operations that have moved closer to feed lot operations and will cut and carry the majority of the feed for the dairy herd as opposed to direct grazing by the dairy herd.

Within each of these production systems there will be different levels of intensity employed from farms running high stocking rates with a high reliance on bought in feed to others that will have lower stocking rates and limited use of bought in feed.

There will be different advantages and disadvantages of the various systems and levels of intensity employed but examples of profitable farm businesses across the different production systems can be found throughout the region and this driven the affordability and availability of the key resources required.

Proximity to Large Grain and Fodder Growing Regions

The close proximity of the large grain and fodder growing regions provides easy access to brought in feeds. Transport costs are kept to a minimum which improves the cost effectiveness of bought in feeds.