- By Helen Walker (journalist for Queensland Country Life @ Toowoomba - Farmonline.com.au - 5th February 2018.
Norco dairy farmers Andrew and Chris Mullins from Allora Queensland, have been operating in partnership for the past ten years and have a clear vision on how they produce, plus manage, their forage feeding systems.
The brothers milk 250 Holstein Friesian cows on their 250-hectare farm Carinya and supply Norco with 2.4 million litres annually.
But it is their self-producing silage that was highlighted at a recent on-farm visit by delegates attending the Northern Australian Dairy Conference.
"At the moment all the silage we use is grown here," Andrew said.
The brothers share the workload with Chris looking after the cows, while Andrew manages feeding rations and together they both share the farming workload.
The brothers are third-generation dairy farmers on Carinya.
Originally they leased the farm from their parents Tom and Kaye in 2007 and brought it outright in 2010.
Their mother Kaye still gives them a hand to milk.
The brothers grow 26 hectares of Q31 variety lucerne and have achieved seven cuts from their current crop.
It is converted into silage and is stored in on-farm pits.
They farm 76ha of corn, which half is converted to silage while the balance is used to harvest as earlage silage.
Earlage silage is when the grain and cob is removed from the plant using a snapper from on the silage harvester, but leaving the plant in the paddock .
"This is very nutritious, valuable feed that contains both husk and cob roughage and concentrated corn grain plus our cows love it," Andrew said.
The brothers also grow soybeans and forage sorghum, plus if the season permits - wheat.
"If it is a dry winter we buy in grain along with all our protein meal requirements," he said.
In January this year they introduced a shaded 1208 metre feed bunk that can fit up to 200 cows.
"It is shaded so the cows maintain their feed intake during the summer months," Andrew said.
"It is definitely much better for the cows as their appetite will still drop in a heat wave, but it is not as bad as in the past."
Andrew said while milk prices continue to fluctuate and be a contentious issue, he would like all consumers to supported dairy farmers and buy the branded milk labels.