After major milk processors Murray Goulburn and Fonterra lowered prices below the cost of production in May last year, the Robertsons, who supply to Fonterra, said they “didn’t see a milk cheque” as their business equity dropped by $200,000.
They had already been considering their options and, a week prior to the price drop, had signed onto the Dairy Farm Business Strategic Review pilot program, offered through Rural Business Support.
“We ran through all of the different possibilities and strategies and used (RBS) as a sounding board to work through the options,” Mrs Robertson said.
The Roberstons decided to lease a centre pivot and water to a sharefarmer to grow seed potatoes. They also sold beef-cross calves and halved their dairy herd to 150 milkers, keeping the Normande portion and selling their Swiss Brown cows.
“It was very hard to part with them,” Mrs Robertson said. “But, many people knew we were going to be selling them through the Warrnambool Livestock Auction, and as people don’t often sell Swiss Browns, there were a lot of people after them.
“After the sale, a lot of people who had bought them got in touch through Facebook, so we were able to see they had gone on and done well, which made us happy.”
They had spent many years building up their herd of Normande cows, a relatively rare dairy breed in Australia, which producers high protein A2 milk and BB Kappa-casein – sought after in cheesemaking. By leasing the centre pivot farthest from the dairy the cows had a shorter walk.
“The (review) helped us have the confidence to go to the bank and we’ve changed our outlook significantly since,” she said.
Registrations are open for the free program.
- Details: ruralbusinesssupport.org.au