Feed prices put pressure put on dairy operation

Feed prices put pressure put on dairy operation


Dairy
BOTTOM LINE: Mount Torrens dairyfarmer Rick Gladigau said stress about feed availability encouraged him to drop his herd by about 10pc.

BOTTOM LINE: Mount Torrens dairyfarmer Rick Gladigau said stress about feed availability encouraged him to drop his herd by about 10pc.

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FEED costs have risen to “stupid” prices in recent months, creating increased stress to the bottom line of Adelaide Hills dairyfarmer Rick Gladigau.

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FEED costs have risen to “stupid” prices in recent months, creating increased stress to the bottom line of Adelaide Hills dairyfarmer Rick Gladigau.

“Feed costs have never been so high in my life, even during the Millennium Drought, they were not this high,” he said. “The cost of feed almost starts to make electricity seem cheap.”

Mr Gladigau said autumn rain and feed growth had been minimal at Mount Torrens, leaving him handfeeding through winter.

“The past 12 months have been the driest in my memory,” he said. “By September I was really concerned about where we were going to be.

“At that stage there was maybe one month of feed and I thought we’d be handfeeding again by October.”

Mr Gladigau said rain in September helped ease some pressure, but he expected to be feeding again this month.

Related reading: Dairy outlook predicts drop in production

Drought subsidies blamed for soaring hay prices

In August, despite starting the season with excess hay, feed availability and cost concerns lead Mr Gladigau to cull his older dairy cows and some beef cattle. He cut numbers about 10 per cent. If conditions do not improve, he will need to cull again.

“It’s a bit of a gamble about how much of the herd to carry through and how much feed we have,” he said.

“If someone is charging $140 for a round bale and I use five in a day, it gets expensive and there is not a return on that.”

He has also begun irrigating earlier than ever before, to try and minimise risks.

As well as the rising hay costs, he is also concerned about the availability and price of grain in coming months with so much of the state’s crop cut for fodder.

It’s a bit of a gamble about how much of the herd to carry through and how much feed we have. - RICK GLADIGAU

Mr Gladigau supplies milk to Adelaide Hills cheesemaker Udder Delights at a "good price” and says in a year like this, he is grateful for that buffer.

“Had I been on the standard exporters price, I’m not sure I’d still be milking cows,” he said.

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