A family dairy farm in Forest has been named the 2017 Tasmanian Dairy Business of the Year.
Gerard and Ria Mulder, along with their son Ronnie, received the top prize at the annual Tasmanian Dairy Awards, which are jointly presented by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and DairyTas.
The winners of the 2017 Share Dairy Farmer of the Year, Dairy Safety Award, Dairy Environmental Award and Young Farmer Encouragement Award were also announced at the event.
The Tasmanian Dairy Business of the Year is awarded to the business that records the best overall results in the TIA benchmarking program, which measures financial and physical information such as costs (per cow, per hectare and per kilogram of milk solids), milk and feed production, labour efficiency and pasture utilisation.
The owners of the 2017 Tasmanian Dairy Business of the Year, Gerard and Ria Mulder, purchased their farm at Forest 10 years ago, after moving to Tasmania from the Netherlands.
While Gerard and Ria had dairy farming experience before moving to Tasmania, they have continued to improve their business by taking advantage of the high-quality training and development opportunities provided by TIA and DairyTas.
Gerard and Ria are members of the TIA North West discussion group and participate in benchmarking to monitor their farm and make changes to improve productivity and profitability.
TIA Dairy Development and Extension Team Leader Lesley Irvine said Gerard and Ria have participated in benchmarking for 10 years in Tasmania and while this is the first year they have been a finalist, they have always been achieving good returns in their business.
“The Mulders have focused on knowing and working on the profit drivers in their business, including pasture production and utilisation, healthy cows, managing costs and focussing on the details,” Ms Irvine said.
“Utilising home grown feed, and increasing pasture consumption has also had a big impact on their businesses efficiencies.
“Since 2016 they have taken weekly measurements of the pasture cover of each paddock to determine average pasture cover and growth rate for the farm, which is really important for making informed decisions.
“We know that consuming more home-grown feed is linked to greater profitability, and this is particularly important with the recent challenging seasons that have restricted dairy farm business profits.”
The Mulder family have also implemented a Fert$mart plan, a service offered by DairyTas to ensure they are applying the right nutrients to maximise their pasture growth.
DairyTas Executive Officer Mark Smith said it was pleasing to see farmers benefiting from the programs DairyTas offer.
The Fert$smart program is a service offered to all Tasmanian farmers to improve the efficiency and profitability of fertiliser use, and to improve soil health on their farms.
“Many farmers, just like Gerard and Ria, are now finding that when they get soil and fertiliser management ‘right’, they can produce more feed at no extra cost, and with careful planning fertiliser becomes a strategic tool to be managed to the farm’s requirements and conditions.”
2017 Dairy Business of the Year
Mulder Family with Gerard and Ria Mulder and Ronnie Mulder
- Agrilac’s Oxberry Dairy at Waterhouse, managed by David Risbey-Pearn;
- Limberlost Dairy at Kayena, managed by Peter and Jo Jones;
- Gary and Helen Strickland, King Island.
Share Dairy Farmer of the Year
Cody and Denieka Korpershoek
Dairy Safety Award
Dairy Environmental Award
(Joint winners) Nigel and Rachael Brock and Nick Midson
Young Farmer Encouragement Award
(Joint winners) Jeffrey Gijsbers and Marcus Haywood
The major sponsors of the Tasmanian Dairy Business Awards are ANZ, Roberts, Rex James Stockfeeds and Murray Goulburn. Other award sponsors include Veolia, VDL Farms, Fonterra and Cadbury.
TIA is a joint venture between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.
Image: Gerard and Ria Mulder