Cows are happier and crops are healthier at the Cahill’s Beaudesert dairy since the introduction of milking robots and herbicide resistant corn crops.

Matthew Cahill, who runs the 365-hectare farm with wife Allison, said modernising their operation has improved animal health, cut labour costs and reduced the weed burden.

“Instead of the cows being herded twice a day into the old herringbone setup, they are free to roam in and out of the automatic milking machines, which has improved their temperament,” he said.

Mr Cahill said their 280 Fresians are fed a total mixed ration (TMR) and do not graze, instead moving between the robots, the feedpad and two loafing areas.

“It used to take two or three people three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon to milk the cows. Now we only need one or two workers – just myself if it comes to it.”

They installed five DeLaval Voluntary Milking System robots in 2010, which feature milk meters, online cell counters, floor cleaning and a hydraulic arm which sprays iodine on the teats after milking.

Consequently, this freed up time to grow most of the crops for silage and hay – cutting feed bills.

Eighty hectares of irrigation area allows them to grow corn for silage, Lucerne for hay and a small amount of oats or barley for winter feed.

Mr Cahill made the move to imidazolinone-tolerant (IT) corn varieties in the 2014-15 summer season to get more silage in the pit while also tackling weeds, particularly nutgrass, in-crop with Lightning herbicide.

The most recent season was one of his best ever, seeing up to 57 tonnes per hectare of wet silage off the corn.

“We sowed 3ha of PAC 727IT, 3ha of PAC 606IT and 6ha of another variety at the end of October and it was a tough start, as the crop was rained on heavily.

We sprayed Lightning once at the 2-3 leaf stage which took care of the nutgrass, and in the end we managed to get 57t/ha off the best lot.

“The combination of the milking machines and the imi corn has made the workplace more lifestyle friendly and has helped production as we move into uncertain times in the industry.”

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