Re-designing large herd farm systems to better manage animal movement and nutritonal management (2016-17)

Project outcomes

Sponsored by Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)


Project title: 
Re-designing large herd farm systems to better manage animal movement and nutritonal management
Description of the project: 

Owners of large dairy herds (>700 cows) in pasture-based dairying systems face unique challenges in providing optimal nutrition for their herds. These challenges relate to cows walking long distances to the dairy, and spending extended time waiting to be milked. Based on available data from Dairy Australia, it is estimated that around 6% of Australian dairy farmers have herds of over 700 cows, with this sector producing approximately 29% of the nation’s milk. It is likely that as average herd size increases, the number of herds above 700 will increase further.

Managing these large herds in pasture-based dairying systems presents unique challenges with implications for herd feed supply and milk production. Many of these challenges relate to compromised nutrient intakes and behavioural patterns of cattle that are required to walk long distances to the farm dairy each day, and in turn spend significant periods of time off pasture. At any milking there is large variation in the time cows are away from feed, with cows milked early potentially returning to feed much sooner than cows milked later. Anecdotal evidence suggests that depending upon the proportion of grazed feed in the diet, size of milking platform, other feeding areas and farm layout, that farmers often have to manage these large herds in smaller groups. This in turn often requires additional labour units and questions on the most practical management options arise.

This project would seek to develop novel farm layout, animal movement and flow, paddock design and feeding system solutions for such large herds. Outputs would relate to challenges such as herd size, proportion of grazed feed in the diet, other feeding facilities on farm, proportion of conserved forage fed, milk platform designs, walking distances of animals, time off feed. For a given herd size (and allowing for the aforementioned parameters) what is the most practical (and economical) farm design. Novel engineering options to the above challenges are sought.

Project brief

Project brief

Sponsored by Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

Location: 
Ellinbank, West Gippsland (Regional Victoria)
Description of the project: 

Owners of large dairy herds (>700 cows) in pasture-based dairying systems face unique challenges in providing optimal nutrition for their herds. These challenges relate to cows walking long distances to the dairy, and spending extended time waiting to be milked. Based on available data from Dairy Australia, it is estimated that around 6% of Australian dairy farmers have herds of over 700 cows, with this sector producing approximately 29% of the nation’s milk. It is likely that as average herd size increases, the number of herds above 700 will increase further.

Managing these large herds in pasture-based dairying systems presents unique challenges with implications for herd feed supply and milk production. Many of these challenges relate to compromised nutrient intakes and behavioural patterns of cattle that are required to walk long distances to the farm dairy each day, and in turn spend significant periods of time off pasture. At any milking there is large variation in the time cows are away from feed, with cows milked early potentially returning to feed much sooner than cows milked later. Anecdotal evidence suggests that depending upon the proportion of grazed feed in the diet, size of milking platform, other feeding areas and farm layout, that farmers often have to manage these large herds in smaller groups. This in turn often requires additional labour units and questions on the most practical management options arise.

This project would seek to develop novel farm layout, animal movement and flow, paddock design and feeding system solutions for such large herds. Outputs would relate to challenges such as herd size, proportion of grazed feed in the diet, other feeding facilities on farm, proportion of conserved forage fed, milk platform designs, walking distances of animals, time off feed. For a given herd size (and allowing for the aforementioned parameters) what is the most practical (and economical) farm design. Novel engineering options to the above challenges are sought.

Project outcomes

This project has been closed
Project Aims: 

This project aims to design options for large herd farm systems that optimise animal management and maximise profitability.

Faculty or Department: 
Business and Economics
Engineering-Civil
Engineering-Environmental
Engineering-Mechanical
Information Technology
Science
Disciplines: 
Biological Science
Civil Engineering
Economics
Environmental Engineering
Games Development
Mechanical Engineering
Sector: 
Agriculture
Government
Employment Type: 
Scholarship

Applications for this project are welcome from penultimate and subsequent year undergraduates, Masters and PhD students (coursework and research) who are enrolled full-time at Monash.

Selection Criteria: 

Your application will be reviewed by senior faculty members and assessed against the following criteria:

  • Quality of covering letter, resume and on-line application form including spelling & grammar
  • Relevance of your degree to the project(s) you select
  • Skills, ability, knowledge and experience relevant to the project (s) you apply for
  • Extra - curricular activities (i.e. sports/clubs & societies/memberships)
  • Career goals & ambitions
  • Academic performance
  • Successful completion of group activity
  • Successful interview with industry partner

 Please note:

  • Scope for MITI projects are determined by the industry partners, this includes student disciplines and whether they require students at undergraduate, Masters or PhD level.
  • The final selection of the MITI project team will be made by the industry partner.
  • Each industry project will run for 12 weeks over the summer vacation period that is December 2016 through to February 2017.
  • If selected you must be available and agree to commit for the entire 12 week period. 
Duration: 
12 weeks
Max number of recipients: 
4
Application process: 

Applications are submitted online via the MITI website and must include a cover letter (no more than one page) and current CV.

 Your cover letter should include the following information:

  • why the project is of particular interest to you
  • an outline of relevant experience either through vacation work, study or other extra curricula activities
  • what you can contribute as a member of the team

Please note: if selected to participate in this project you may be required to undertake a national background check and security clearance in line with APS guidelines.

Prior to applying for this opportunity please consider the location of the project. Ellinbank is situated in West Gippsland, (Regional Victoria) approximately 95 kms from Melbourne CBD. You may be required to live away from home for the duration of the project therefore own transport maybe required. 

Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) was established by the Victorian Government on 1 January 2015.

The government created the department to bring together many of the key functions that drive economic development and job creation across Victoria. These include transport and ports, investment attraction and facilitation, trade, innovation, regional development and small business, together with key services to sectors such as agriculture, the creative industries, resources and tourism.

The department supports nine ministers, spans 13 portfolios and operates in more than 80 locations in Victoria and 22 offices around the world.
Agriculture Victoria works with the agriculture and fisheries industries on research, development and extension to improve production, connect the sector with international markets, support development and maintain effective biosecurity controls.