Meningie dairy farmer Tim Wright was named Best Young Farmer at 2021 South Australian Dairy Awards in August.
Dairysafe caught up with Tim for a chat about how he manages the food safety and milk quality program at his 1440-hectare dairy operation, which includes 350 milking cows.
Tim’s Majesta Dairies supplies BD Farm Paris Creek and follows Paris Creek’s Food Safety Program.
“We were running our own Food Safety Program until this year when we picked up Paris Creek’s, which we’ve modified for our situation,” Tm said. “This documents all of our systems and procedures. We used this program in our Dairysafe audit and it went well.”
Majesta has three full time staff, Tim and two others, who have been at the dairy for many years, and know the systems inside and out. Tim ensures one of the full timers is always rostered on to oversee the less experienced part time staff.
“That makes managing our Food Safety Program easier,” he said. “Dad has always run our program and kept up with standards. I started doing the Dairysafe audit two years ago, initially with Dad, and have slowly taken over the program. I’ve inherited a really good system.”
Tim organises training for staff when opportunities pop up, and all staff, including part timers, have done the Cups On, Cups Off short course through TAFE.
Managing of mastitis in the herd is a holistic approach at Majesta. As the farm is certified organic to enable milk supply to Paris Creek, an example of this is the decision to stop using post milking teat spray.
“We went through some short-term pain and took a hit with high cell counts when we phased out teat spray,” Tim said.
“Now our cell counts have gone back down again. We work hard to prevent mastitis infection at the front end, not cover it up with sprays at the back end. A clean environment is critical to infection control, especially around calving and drying off.”
Results from milk testing at Paris Creek and regular herd testing indicate the strategy is working. Tim said it was great working with a small processor, as they dealt with the same person at the lab all the time.
The Dairysafe audit is one of three the dairy completes each year, as well as the Australian Organic Audit, and now an Export Audit, which was organised by Paris Creek for the Chinese market.
“We feel like we’re always either preparing for an audit or coming down from an audit,” Tim said.
The Majesta dairy has been through many changes over the years. It started life as a 22 swing over in 1987 and was upgraded to a 44 swing over in 2000. “The vats are still original, but we recently put in a new compressor and the vacuum pump was replaced 12 months ago,” Tim said.
Tim takes care of management of the dairy, overseeing and rostering of workers, milking, feeding, maintenance of farm infrastructure and breeding.
He said labour shortage was a major challenge in the dairy industry, but his business was managing this well. “We’ve got stable labour and we pay them well to keep them stable,” Tim said.
On top of his day-to-day work, Tim participates in industry groups and learning opportunities. For example, Tim was one of 14 people from each of the eight national dairy regions who took part in the 2016 Emerging Dairy Leaders Program and was the sole SA representative.
“I got to study and travel and meet lots of other like-minded people, which was probably the best part of the whole thing,” Tim said.