Gordon Family - Cohuna | Rabobank Australia Client
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The Gordon Family, Cohuna

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For Victorian dairy farmers Ross and Janette Gordon 2016 has been one of their tougher years. Their farm, south-west of Cohuna in Victoria, supplies milk solids to Murray Goulburn and like many others they have been significantly impacted by the series of price cuts received over the past 12 months.

However Ross says that while they have had to streamline their operations they are confident that prices will soon begin to pick up. “Earlier this month Murray Goulburn increased their price for the first time in over year and a lot of the information we’re receiving is pointing toward reduced global stocks and hopefully some price recovery in 2017,” Ross said.

“We’ve definitely had to tighten the belt and go into a bit of a holding pattern while the prices have been this low, although we have been helped somewhat by the seasonal conditions.”

“We’ve also been fortunate that beef prices are still doing well and so we’ve been able to sell our younger bull calves for decent money as well.”

Breeding and genetics of their Holstein Friesian herd has also been a passion for the Gordon family and one that they have become more involved in since sons Glen, Chad and Drew returned to the farm.

“We were fortunate to be able to help our son Chad and his wife Kristen up on their own farm a few years back and as part of our succession plan Glen and Drew are taking over the running of things here,”

“The boys have a passion for breeding elite cows and have had some considerable success, Glen actually topped the Elite Holstein Female Sale in Nowra recently with one of his cows going for $12,000.”

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Breeding elite Holsteins

The breeding side of the Gordons’ business continues to evolve and is a significant contributor to their bottom line. “We have focussed heavily on genetics and traceability, which are factors that appeal greatly to Asian buyers, we currently export around 60 of our heifers annually to China,” Ross said.

The Gordons currently milk approximately 600 Holsteins, supplying 400,000 kg milk solids annually, Ross credits their acquisition of additional land and focus on nutrition with improving the milk supply of their cows.

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“Around a decade ago we were getting around 5,500 to 7,000 litres of milk per cow and now we’re getting more like 9,500 to 10,000 litres,” he said.

“Chad has a background in animal nutrition, which has contributed greatly to improvements in our milk output but acquiring additional land back in 2008 has also given us more control over the feed program for our herd.”

Ross and his family had joined Rabobank in 2006 and they worked closely with the bank when financing this additional land.

“We were in a growth phase and Rabobank had a new package, one that the other commercial banks didn’t have,” 

“With the two boys coming home we thought the Rabo approach was a good way to go, and we haven’t been sorry.”

Sustainability in dairy

Ross and Jannette have been in the dairy industry for close 40 years and acknowledge that the recent downturn has somewhat delayed retirement plans.

“We’re about two-thirds of our way through a succession plan, once the price begins to pick up again and our equity ratio becomes a bit more even we’ll be working towards the boys taking on additional ownership,” Ross said.

“What I would like to see happen before I retire though is better stabilisation of our business."

“We’ve had two big price crashes in the past eight years."

“Over the next couple of years we’ll be looking at locking in contracts on our feed and inputs as well as our milk supply, we need to alleviate some of the price volatility in our industry if the next generation is to be successful.

“With these changes hopefully all three boys will be able to continue to make a good living out of what is a very demanding but very rewarding career.”

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